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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Indian Pipe Dance

There was only time for a quick hike this morning.  I had duties at work and I wanted to finish before 1:00

I went to the far side of Cougar Mountain regional park.  There is a trail there that I knew was a good solid climb of about 4 miles round trip. 

It was foggy with low marine clouds but that did not stop me from working up a sweat.  About half way up the trail it started raining as the clouds and moisture condensed and dripped down from the leaves and needles of the trees.  Our trees have aerial roots in the limbs which can harvest these dripping condensates.

There were tons of birds singing and moving about.  I saw young Spotted Towhees, Robin and Varied Thrush.  Band-tailed pigeons and many sparrows and thrush were feeding on Red Elder berries.  The pigeons were particularly noisy as they flapped away from the bushes.  It was good to see these uncommon wood pigeons, I rarely get glimpses of them.  The woods here were filled with flowering Ocean Spray,  Red Elder , Red Huckleberry and Salal.  Berries everywhere.

As I walked up the steep rocky trail I rounded a hairpin and my eye instantly caught a glimpse of a rare woodland plant.  Indian Pipe ~ Monotropa uniflora

Ahh Pipes!!! I exclaimed out loud.  This is how I usually find them, little mysteries just poking out of the soil.

They are oddballs.  This is how my plant book groups them.  Indian Pipe, is a member of the wintergreen family and are connected to the roots of coniferous trees using a combination of fungal and plants roots called mycorrhiza.  Nutritionally it is a parasite, but it is not a direct parasite since it makes use of the mycorrhiza to transport the nutrition.  Douglas fir trees are interconnected with other firs by mycorrhiza, the Indian Pipes tap in.

I am usually content with these little emergent pipes, but a few steps up the trail there was this

Tall pipes, showing their flowers, beginning to turn black and go to seed.  These also showed some of the pink tint they can have.

I was delighted, but it wasn't over.  A few steps along more and more.  Large bouquets like I have never seen.  These had a purple cast.

What a thrill.  I found a few random clusters further along, hiding under ferns.  It was only along about 100 feet of trail.  Hard to see what it was that made this spot better than any other along the way.

But there was a bit of magic here, that is for sure.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Like Here Only Different ~ Day 17 Egton Bridge to Robin Hood's Bay.

Egton Bridge to Robin Hoods Bay 16 miles / 25.7 Km 7 hours ~ Egton Bridge - Grosmont - High Bride Stone - Littlebeck  - The Hermitage - Falling Foss - THE NORTH SEA - Robin Hoods Bay.  Tonight I stay at The Villa www.thevillarhb.co.uk

Here we are, the last day.  At 7 1/2 hours this feels like the longest day.  Sixteen miles and my walking companions of the day agree that today had everything we have encountered in the last  two weeks, condensed.

I did not get out to Whitby yesterday and now I have a little regret.  The last few days I have not slept well and feel like I am at home, waking up at 5a.m.

I set out from Egton Bridge in blazing sun.  My walking companions are Geoff and Trudi from Australia.  We have shared meals and chats along the way, today we stuck together.

It is hot and sunny and thankfully this route today had some nice woods.  It wanders back and forth in the environment, and it dawned on  us that we were having a recap.

Lovely farmland

We strolled easily to Gromont and pass its historic train depot

To remind us how much we loved the Lakes district, we had about one mile of hill climb.  Up roads marked 30% Grade.

At the top, we are one again, and for the last time, in a heather moor.

Pink Bell Heather

Red Grouse and Curlew fly and call.  It was a sharp regret that the climb up was now met with a road walk down to Littlebeck.

We pass through several small hamlets which were once the center of Alum mining.  Passing through Littlebeck and into Littlebeck Woo d was a wonderful treat.  The woods were dark and cool and we had the wonderful May Beck tumbling over rocks.. Here in the woods we find The Hermitage.  A little hut carved out of an old erratic boulder.  The year 1790 is carved on the doorway.  There is a bench carved around the inside and two stone seats on top.

Falling Foss comes just in time for lunch. Waterfall and friendly Tea Garden.  It is a wonderful spot and the sound of the falls made everything feel cool.  Lemonade and ginger cake for me.

All along the way today, we had clear views of Whitby and the North Sea.  That first official glimpse was a smile moment.  Our big landmark is the Whitby Abbey, on a hill south of town.  At the edge of the sea, this ruin was the inspiration for Dracula.

You will have to view large to make out the Abby.  Our journey today seemed to have the Abbey as the pivot point.

Pushing on we finally take that momentous right turn and head south along the cliffs of the North Sea.

We sat down here for cold drinks from the cafe up the way.

My guide books firmly request a check in at my room before heading down into town for a celebration. 

Down into town is right.  One last toe crunching walk down the narrow lane.

I let my rock loose in the North Sea.  Wainwrights Bar has a ledger book to sign and I toasted the finish with a cider.  Lift a glass and bid goodbye to companions of the trail.

A trip finished  and a lifetime of memories begin.

Tomorrow I head back to London via bus and 2 trains, then home on Thursday with a ton of stinky laundry.

Cheers, everyone.  Hope you had fun.

I certainly did.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Like Here Only Different ~ Day 16 Blakey Ridge to Egton Bridge / Grosmont

Blakey Ridge to Egton Bridge 10 miles / 16Km 4 hours ~  Blakey Ridge - Young Ralph Cross - Fat Betty - Great Fry-up Dale - Glaisdale Rigg - Glaisdale - Beggars Bridge.  Tonight I stay at Horseshoe Hotel, www.egtonbridgehotel.co.uk

The way today is easy and mostly downhill.  From 394m at Lion Inn down to double digits, 46m at Egton Bridge.  The fog and mist don't want to burn away this morning.

We start out with two crosses.  Young Ralph Cross dates back to the 1200's and was said to have been erected by a farmer called Ralph upon finding a dead traveler who was penny-less.  The current stone cross dates from the 1800's.  It is a tradition to leave a coin here.

Along the trail is Fat Betty.  A short and tubby stone cross, the trail tradition is to leave a snack and take a snack. 

The snack supply looks a bit dodgy, so I gave Betty my regards and tucked the KitKat away for later.

This site has a wonderful gallery of many walks in the region of North York Moors.


Here you will find an index of the many crosses and stones.  Some of the stories are quite fun.


We pass above Great Fry-up Dale.  A Fry-up is the traditional British Breakfast of eggs bacon beans mushrooms toast all done up in a pan.  Usually associated with a lot of calories and a lot of fat, it is not an every day thing, though it is tempting.  Can I just say, English bacon  (!!!!!)   I think I have had more eggs in the last 2 weeks than in the last year.  I will have to return to slim rations.  Servings here are monstrous.

The way continues along over rolling land and when we are on Glaisdale High Moor, if it is clear we could possibly see our first glimpse of the North Sea.  Today there is no such luck.  As we slowly descend I still cannot be sure of what I am seeing.  I was sorry to miss the pretty views.  I'm sure I will feel the joy Lewis and Clark felt when they saw the Pacific Ocean.  The heath held a few grouse families to spy on, and I also spotted a Golden Plover.

As quickly as the heather moors started a few days ago, bang they are gone.  We enter into cultivated fields and pick up the River Desk in Glaisdale.

The road tumbled down steeply through the village and at the river I went out to the rocks to get a picture of the Beggars Bridge.  This bridge comes with a legend.  A poor man named Ferris was trying to woo a girl from a higher class.  She lived on the other side of the river.  To be worthy of her, he had to improve his standing and set away to seek his fortune.  He wanted a fair well with his love, but the river Esk was so high that he could not cross, spoiling the goodbye.  As in all heroic stories, he returned successful, and used some of his money to build a bridge so that no one would ever have the misfortune to be unable to cross.

I had hoped to push on to Grosmont and the historic train depot. I will pass through there tomorrow but today was the chance to take a ride on the famous North Yorkshire Moors railway out to the seaside town of Whitby.   http://www.nymr.co.uk/  This historic railway has been featured in many TV and movie productions, including the Harry Potter series.

Today it was not to be.  I arrived without enough time to catch the 130 to the seaside town of Whitby.  I was surprised to find an old stone marker in the high moor that said the path we were on was the Whitby Road.

So it is a quiet afternoon in the sunny yard getting ready for the final 16 mile march to the sea.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Like Here Only Different ~ Day 15 Clay Bank Top / Chop gate to Blakey

Chop Gate to Blakey  9 miles 4.5 hours. ~ Clay Bank Top - Carr Ridge - Urra Moor - Rosedale - Ironstone Railway - Farndale Moor - High Blakey Moor - Lion Inn.  Tonight I am staying at the Lion Inn. http://www.lionblakey.co.uk/index.htm

A day of easy walking and the route finding could not be more simple.  Anyone who can walk can do this walk and not be distressed.  A well marked trail we continue on the Cleveland Way trail.  This is part of the national trail system and is well signed.

I got a ride back up to Clay Bank Top by the owner of the Buck Inn.  Breakfast was delish, scrambled DUCK eggs.  Smooth and creamy, done slow and low.

Going to take note.

I got and early start and forced myself to move slow.  I have found when the way is difficult, I tend to take slower shorter steps.  This is actually more tiring than long bold strides.  Today is only 9 miles of almost flat walking.  Blissfully not on rough rock, but sand small stone.  The horizon is wide.  If I were to relate it, this is what the central Columbia Basin would be if it had more rainfall and was not scoured by the Brietz Floods.  I could simply stride along.

It is sunny, creeping into the low 80's.  Here on top, a gentle breeze makes it all perfect.

Where I leave the Cleveland Way, the trail makes use of the abandoned Rosedale Ironstone Railway bed.  That guarantees smooth , nearly level walking. 

There are some wonderful things to discover Along the way.  There are boundary stones along the way.  What they are the boundary of, I don't know.  They date from the 17th century.  Two of them have carvings.  One, the pointing finger... Hard to see

The other , The Face Stone, very obvious.

This is rare land, the heath moor.  Carefully managed, it is vital ecology for the Red Grouse and for other upland nesting birds.  North York Moors is the largest track of such ecology.  Signs warn of ticks, so I tuck in the pants to socks.

Trails come and go and people appear as if out of nowhere.  Mountain bikes obviously love this path.

I was thrilled to see grouse; lone males and a female with chicks in tow.

If you view large you might see the young.

I had to slow myself down.  I was on track to hit the 9 miles in 3 hours.  I didn't want to get to Lion Inn before one o'clock.    I had a sit with some gents at noon.  They were on a loop and said the usually planned a lunch stop on the trail, then a turn around at a pub, back to their car by late afternoon.  What a great country, you can do rambles like this most anywhere.  I get a sense, however, that here in Yorkshire, it is a passionate pastime.

The Inn appears out of nowhere.  From a very far distance you could see the glint of sun off cars on the road going along High Blakey Moor.

I timed it just right but still beat my bags in.  I tidied up as best I could and joined the gents I met on the trail for a pint of Old Rosey.

Well pint and half, when a gent is buying they don't take no for and answer.

I love my little room, not enough room to swing a cat, but nice everything, a comfy double bed and bliss itself,


The Lion Inn is a top of the line inn and very isolated.  Please do visit their site.  In 2010 there was an extraordinary snowstorm which  stranded staff and two visitors for 8 days.  The pictures on the Inns web-site and in the article from the Daily Mail are something to see.  I doubt my photos will do justice.

I cannot imagine how beautiful and isolated this place must be in Winter.  On a clear night the winter stars would be spectacular.  I hope to get out tonight with my big camera and see what an eight seconds exposure will produce.  The is the first high open horizon of the trip.



This morning, we awake to a famous Dale top fog.  I am sure it will burn off in no time.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Like Here Only Different ~ Day 14 Osmotherley to Clay Bank Top/ Chop Gate

Osmotherley to Clay Bank Top / Chop Gate  11-13 miles 5 hours ~ Osmotherley - North York Moors NP- Arncliffe Woods- Carlton Moor - Cringle Moor - Chop Gate  Tonight I stay at Buck Inn Hotel in Chop Gate.  www.buck-inn.co.uk  The menu promises some serious eating

Todays walk takes us into new territory, the open moors.  It is said the North York Moors are the largest expanse of heather in the world.  It is wide vistas and rolling hills.  It can also be winds and mists.  With new territory come new plants to see and birds to spy.  This is upland hunting country so game birds might tease.

I got an early start.  It is a sunny day which promises to get quite warm.

I headed up a long track out of the village and soon came to a gate marking the start of Scarth Wood Moor.  Prior to getting to the gate I noticed that the soil had change from the other side of the hill, which I came up yesterday.

This soil is sandy, sparkling just like a beach.  Heather in several different type, almost none in bloom.  It is strangely quiet, no flying Swallows, no singing Skylark.  It is wonderful to see such wild open hills, you can really see where you are going.  Google Maps will give you a feel for this country.  You can see the heather on the land view.

I met a gentleman and we had a chat.  He is a local man and has a special interest in ancient sites; burial grounds / mounds, stone circles.  He was very excited having just confirmed a mound near by and how it lines up with a local hill and another mound on a distant moor.  He must have been up very early for the sunrise, for it is these events which point out the sacred line up.  The moon also plays a role.  He said that stone circles that are white stone are usually based on moon movements.

Here is a shot of the valley to the north.  The hill with the tree cap is Whorl Hill and it is the sacred site (known) which lines up with the burial mound he was working on.

While we were chatting we heard feet.  Hundreds of feet, here come the racers from the Osmotherly Games.  These are tough folk, the ground is paved with flat(ish) paving stones.  These help preserve the soft soil.  You know by now how I feel about this stone.

I though there would be a small hand full of runners, but there were over 400 entrants.  Running or walking 5 , 10 or 23 Km.  I  kept to the right and at times had to pull over.

We went through some fine woods on real dirt trails.  I didn't see anything of note except the remains of the spring Bluebells.  Thousands of stems with seed pods.  It must be glorious.

So it was an up and down day.  Up one side of a moor, then down, steeply down on stone steps and pavers.  OSHA did not supervise the placement of the stepping stones.  You pick your way through.  I much rather climb up than go down..

This is called a staircase.  There were five of them, some longer and steeper.

Here is the last big up.  The Wain Stones are a major landmark before Clay Bank Top.  The large boulders on the ground either fell from the ledge, or were leftovers from mining.  Evidence exists for both.  Today they are a favorite rock climbing venue.

All day we had glorious views to the north.  Today it is quite hazy on the horizon, on a clear day you can see the North Sea.  We are almost done!

Around the Wain Stones and along the sheer cliff edge then down one more staircase to Clay Bank Top.  I found race monitors for the Osmotherly race.  Ten miles out,  but I am not done.  My booking is down the road, 2Km.  I quickly saw that it is much further ( easily 5 Km) and the road does not have a wide shoulder.  Everyone out racing up and down this twisty road.  I felt very frustrated, both by the misreported distance and the dangerous road.  I could have called for a lift, though with no phone, not an option.  I tried to get one in London but it turned into a technophobes nightmare.  Plus I thought it was just 2km, 20 minutes turned into a hour.

Chaffing is not my friend right now.  Tomorrow I get a lift back up to Clay Bank Top and the way promises to be a bit easier.  A 250m climb up to Round Hill, the a long slow passage along an old railbed to The Lion Inn.  Lion Inn is famous for the snowing in that happened a few years ago.  I hope to be able to get out in the dark and open the lens on my camera.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Like Here Only Different ~ Day 13 Danby Wiske to Osmotherley

Danby Whiske to Osmotherly 10 miles 16 Km 5 hours ~  Danby Whiske - Ingleby Cross - Arncliffe Wood - Mt Grace Priory - Osmotherley  Tonight I stay at Vane House http://www.vanehouse.co.uk/index.html

I thought today's  leg would be a simple and swift one.  It was indeed simple, but not as swift as the times recommended or advised in the route guides.  I pictured myself sleeping in and taking a leisurely stroll, visiting Mt Grace Priory before going into Osmotherly for the evening.  I don't know who the race walker is who did these time measurements.

The land here reminds me of the Skagit area, flat land filled with green farms.  Again, barley and wheat, cows cows cows.  We pass through many fields, right through the crops.

There are crossroads marked with pointers.  Most are contemporary with what is likely some visually standardized design.  Then there is an old painted iron sign like this.

In one farmyard there was another honor box, this time with sport drink.  I found a flyer for a new national trail, the Yorkshire Wolds Way.  This area south from Scarborough promises easier , gentler walking.

In one hamlet the map shows a water tower as a landmark.  This is not what I was expecting.

I had to cross the busy A19, a 4 lane highway.  I could hear  noise a long way off and lost in thought, almost walked into a swarm of bees.  Not cars, the buzzy sound was bees.  The cars came soon enough though.  It struck me today how noisy they are.  For so many days there has been few cars and outside noise that the A19 sounds like roaring.  Even the trains passing down the line we crossed over passed quietly.  I think I counted at least 8 trains passing through in the short time I was in the area of the tracks.  Freight and passenger trains back and forth.  Climbing up Arncliffe, it was jarring to hear the distant freeway.

While planning this trip I paged through the maps over and over.  I remember seeing this page and noticing that it mentions that flapjacks are often for sale at the church hall.  "Nice, pancake feed" I thought.

Today I had a chuckle.  A flapjack is a hybrid of a date bar and a granola bar.  A softish oatmeal / grain mixed any combination of with fruit, nuts , chocolate chips and the like.  Baked and cut into squares

As you can see, the weather is glorious and sunny, warm but not too hot.

The Priory was built in 1398 by the Carthusian order founded by St Bruno.  His order lived as hermits, seeing the world as wicked.  Here in the Priory each monk lived and essentially solitary life, eating alone and meditating in his cell.  Only the Prior was permitted to have contact with the outside world.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Grace_Priory

My map and route book talks about visit in the priory, but sadly the path off the C2C is now marked as a no trespass nature reserve.  These signs must be  respected.  I was disappointed that the path through Arncliffe Woods turned out to be a road and the edges devoid of woodland nature.  I mentioned to the bartender at the pub my disappointment in not being able to get to the priory.  He said even the road way is difficult.

Osmotherly town is a beauty.  There are many stone terraced cottages.  John Wesley preached here and a chapel build in 1754 is the oldest Methodist chapel in the country.  Tomorrow is the village Summer Games.  I don't think I will get to linger too long as the route tomorrow looks not too long ( 10 miles) but somewhat technical with climbing and descending several fells.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Like Here Only Different ~ Day 12 Richmond to Danby Whiske

Richmond to Danby Whiske 14 miles 22.5Km 5 hours  Richmond River Swale, Catterick  , Bolton on Swale , Danby Whiske.  Tonight I stay at Ashfield House with dinner at The White Swan.

Poor Mr Wainwright.  He was a hill walker, a seeker of high places and todays walk is simply a march through low lands and farms, pastures and roadways.  Clearly he hated this leg as he called the village of Danby Whiske   "a slough of dispond"

I zipped along roads and through farmland.  Cows and fields of barley, wheat and hay.  We have left the river Swale behind.

Richmond yields one more photo, this from the Swale River bridge.

The way starts through woods at the edge of the river.  To remind me that I am in a relatively urban area, I get to go behind the sewage treatment ponds.

Catterick and Richmond are towns with garrisons, and to remind me of that I was overtaken by a sweating, running troop of trainees.  Fortunately I had captured this orchid and bee before the lads distracted me.

This was not a day filled with highlight, but it is still great to be rolling along.  Rain was falling, but it was that soft, barely visible stuff that did not even warrant  putting on wet gear.  The sun came out, off and on and this is the last of the weather.  It is supposed to be sunny, even warm.  Nothing like it has been at home.  Hiking in full sun is going to be a challenge.

In Bolton on Swale I stopped into the church for some refreshment.  Many village churches have honor tables for walkers.  This church asks for us to sign a log book and even push a pin into the map.  People from all over the world, all to continents are represented.

Sometimes you can find treats at the town pump.  Today there was nothing but the pump.

In the graveyard, which surrounds the church, a monument to Henry Jenkins, a man claimed to be 169.  The more realistic  122, seems to be the official version

Pushing along it was fields of wheat, barley and hay rippling in the wind.  Amber waves of grain.

With all the cement pavement I was desperate for a sit down. This countryside yields few places to sit down.  No logs , rocks or even handy stiles.  Finally I simply sat down along the road I was on.  All it takes is 5 or 10 minutes.  Loosen the laces and wiggle the feet.  The others in our merry cluster said the same thing about plopping down for a rest.

Danby Whiskey as outgrown the sharp comments of Wainwright.  Welcoming one and all, the single pub is happening here at dinner.  I held out hope that there might be BBQ, so I can celebrate in true American style, but alas.  There is, however, Tennessee Toffee Cream Pie on the dessert menu.  

 Am feeling lemony tonight.  A lemon concoction that has lemon in multiple forms, custard, peel, glaze on and on.

The 11th Century Norman church beckons for an early morning stroll.  Tomorrow is a short day with this church and an abbey to explore along the way, it time will fly along.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Like Here Only Different ~ Day 11 Reeth to Richmond

Reeth  to Richmond 12.5 miles 20Km 5 hours ~  Reeth - Marrick Priory - Nuns Steps - Marrick - Richmond.  Tonight I stay at The Old Brewery Guest House www.oldbreweryguesthouse.com

An easy stroll day on a  combination of trails and roads.  Slow start getting out of town.  There was traffic on the throughway.

Farm land rolls along.  The route is easy and there was no mistaking the way.

Marrick Priory was very picturesque but I was unable to get a fine photo.  The property is owned by a private concern which let's the grounds for group meetings.  Nature study, outdoor adventure, seminars and meetings.  Sadly the priory is surrounded by all the stuff of modern life.  The Nuns Steps were a seemingly unending path of flat , slick stones.  Tough old gals to set this hillside in stone.

The way through the farm land requires that you make your way through many walls.  You climb over stiles.

Through stone gaps.  Wide enough to walk like an Egyptian.

The gate on these gap crossings have huge snap shut springs.

The squeeze gate is  not a gate at all as you can see.

I think this is where I ripped my favorite hiking pants.  I did not know it until a gent mentioned it to me while I was buying apples for my lunches.  Now what to do.  The folks at the hotel were kind enough to round up a sewing kit.

The ladder styles are usually straightforward, though when you are tired, the can be plenty risky.

In no time at all, about  5 1/2 hours, I was in Richmond.

Seventy nine miles to go.

Beautiful wonderful buildings around every corner.

Richmond Castle is the center of town.  Established in 1080 by Alan of Brittany  by the castle went to ruin in the 1500's.

There were attempts to preserve the large central tower.  During WWI 16 Conscientious Objectors were imprisoned here.  They  wrote on walls using pencils.

The art and words are not for public display as they are contained in climate control.  There is a nice exhibit where you can see photos of their words.

It is hard to imagine the confinement of these men inside the stone, behind these slit windows, solitary confinement.

I walked uptown to the Amatala Tandoori and had a long awaited feast.  I may regret it in the morning, but ahh it was a dream of spices.