Sunday, 22 April 2018

22/04/18 - Geocaching in Brailes

Distance - 7 Miles
Geocaches - 21
First Cache

Mrs M is working in Stratford-upon-Avon.  A scene of two of my walks this year already, so I headed further afield to look for a caching trail.

I wasn't going to blog today but the walking is so spectacular that I felt the need to share my photos.  A gorgeous circuit of Brailes Hill, providing superb views across Warwickshire.   Good footpaths, little mud and sheep the occasional lifestock.

The caching is perfect.  7 miles, parking co-ordinates provided, a bonus to identify from letter clues in each cache and hides that aren't simply signposted in the hints.  I say this, having failed to find the 1st on the trail.  I do get the bonus.

Here's what awaits.

View from Brailes Hill
First views from Brailes Hill
TB Drop Off
Dropping off a TB 
Coming down off the hill
Bottom of the hill
Flower Avenue
Avenue of flowers takes you to Sutton Under Brailes
Sutton Under Brailes
Church at Sutton Under Brailes
King of the Cache Containers
King of the Cache Containers
Coming back into Lower Brailes
Path back to Lower Brailes
Lower Brailes Church
Lower Brailes Church

Superb Round - Thanks to the CO Griff Grof 

But I know what you're thinking.... where's the post walk real ale.

Mrs M is picked up bang on the allotted time and we stop off at the home of the Archers in Inkberrow.

The Old Bull is a perfect country pub - worthy of a coach load of pensioners coming for a Archers themed visit and not worrying about the personal space of patiently waiting diners.

London Pride in fair condition.

The Old Bull
The Old Bull, Inkberrow
London Pride
London Pride

Saturday, 21 April 2018

21/04/18 - This Country, Northleach

Distance - 6 Miles
Walk Inspiration - Country Walking Magazine, August 1999, Walk 14
Geocaches - 6

A walk inspired by a TV programme, completed with no jacket required and ending with a fine lunch.

If you've not seen This Country, you could be excused but you really should search it out.  It is is available on catch up from the BBC iPlayer.  If you can forgive its blatant rip off of the Office Format, there are a lot of laughs to had from a couple of young adults fighting boredom in a small Cotswold Town.

The Cotswold Town where it was filmed?  Northleach.  Not South Cerney, North Cerney, Cerney Wick or Bourton on the Water - where you will find enemies.

On a glorious spring day, we head down - parking in the bustling market square and investigating the church.  Big enough to be christened as the Cathedral of the Cotswolds.

Northleach Market Square
The Market Sqaure
The Cathedral of the Cotswolds
Northleach Church

The walking is what you would expect - glorious countryside, new born lambs, easy to follow and mud free paths.   Lovely.
Striding Out
Following Mrs M to a Geocache Location
Cotswold Views

The route is simple - head west to Yanworth, have a look at the tiny hamlet and head back on lanes and paths used by both the Monarch's Way and the Macmillan Way.

Yanworth Church
The tiny church at Yanworth
Coming back into Northleach
Looking over Northleach as we return

Before hitting the pub, we see if we can find any off the filming locations.  We recognise the play area where Kerry's Gang hang out, the bowling club where Kurtan gets a job and we'll leave you with photos of Kerry's house and the bus stop, where they pass time.

Kerry's House
Kerry's Mom, bellowing from upstairs
Their bus shelter, behind the classic
Classic Car, with the bus stop behind.

A decent lunch is taken at the Sherborne Arms - the more down to earth of the two pubs in town. Average beer (Marstons 61 Deep) but fine sandwiches rounding off a perfect walk.

Not the keepers
Not Butcombe

Friday, 20 April 2018

14/04/18 - The Inn Way to the North Yorkshire Moors Summary

Distance of the Inn Way to the North Yorkshire Moors - 89 (85 Completed) Miles
Days completed in - 6
Pubs Visited - 14 out of the 31 detailed in the guide
Geocaches - 21
Timeframe - 09/04/18 to 14/04/18

This is the third Inn Way that I have completed and the one that presented the most challenges.  Don't get me wrong, I loved this in its own way and will be back next year to complete another in the series.

If you're thinking of doing one, start with the Yorkshire Dales or the Lake District and then move onto this one.

It's a touch more complicated for ticking the pubs and completing the walking.

The walking is hard.  89 miles are covered in 6 days.  This is the same distance as the Inn Way to Lake District where you get 7 days.   The moors are completely bleak and if you get bad weather, its quite relentless.  I was on the moors over four days with visibility of less than 20 feet.  The views eluded me, unless you like views of peat bogs.

And the pubs have changed after 20 years.   Many are now closed.  Many don't open Monday Lunch.  Some don't open until the evening, which makes them pointless for our needs.  And finally, two classic looking ones - Blacksmith Arms in Lastingham and Feversham Arms in Church Houses are passed a long time before lunch.

Worryingly, Day 5 currently has no pubs open at all, including the one at the end of the walk.  Which was also my bed for the night!

As with all undertakings - there needs to be a roll of honour.

Best Walk - Day 3 - The first time we hit the moors and have varied walking through Cropton Forest
Best Pub - Day 3 - The Horseshoe Hotel, Egton Bridge.  A proper drinkers pubs, whereas many that we open we more dining pubs.
Best Pint - Day 6 - The Black Sheep outside the Feathers, as the sun went down.  Not much diversity on this Inn Way.  Mainly Black Sheep everywhere, with just the Cropton Micro brewery represented elsewhere.
Best Meal - Day 3 - And it wasn't a pie.  The Postgate Inn, Egton Bridge, does very good food.  Only one pub had a curry on the menu.  North Yorkshire doesn't do spice.
Advice - Parking is available for a week in Helmsley.  Plenty of spaces but you can't buy your ticket until 10am, when the castle shop opens.  Don't start on a Monday.  Most pubs closed at Monday Lunch.  Pay particular care on Day 5.  The Inn at Hawnby - the only pub in the village - is closed.  There is a B&B at a farm nearby but you will need to arrange an evening meal.  Don't forget that Helmsley has a new brewery!

Each leg of the walk has been detailed on a separate blog, available at the link;

Day 1 - Helmsley to Hutton-le-Hole
Day 2 - Hutton-le-Hole to Levisham
Day 3 - Levisham to Egton Bridge
Day 4 - Egton Bridge to Rosedale Abbey
Day 5 - Rosedale Abbey to Hawnby
Day 6 - A circular walk from Helmsely

The Photo Album on Flickr

The Photos!

Saturday, 14 April 2018

14/04/18 - Day 6 - Inn Way to North Yorkshire Moors - From Helmsley

Start - Helmsley
Finish - Helmsley
Distance -  11 Miles
Key Features - Cleveland Way, Rievaulx Abbey
Geocaches - 3
Pubs - 4 attempted, 3 Successfully
Previous Stages - Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4, Day 5

It's not every day that you wake in one hotel, open your curtains and look directly at the hotel that you are staying in for the next night.

Look at the Royal Oak from the Feathers
Looking at the Royal Oak from my room in the Feathers
Day 5 left me dazed and confused in Hawnby Bus Shelter.  My meal, bed and drinks for the night had closed down three months prior.  I had booked and paid for it four months prior.

Still, there is no problem that cannot be solved with a 4G Signal and a credit card.  Fortunately, I have both.  I get the final room in the Feathers in Helmsley and order a taxi, that surely in a charging structure unique to Yorkshire, makes me pay a call out fee.

This leaves me with an issue on what to do today.  I cannot afford two call out fees in 12 hours, so starting back at Hawnby is not an option.  Instead, I fashion a walk that takes in the three key features of day 6 walk...... The final pub on the Inn Way, Rievaulx Abbey and striding back into Helmsely like a conquering hero.

We pick up the action at Scawton, home of the Hare Pub and the last in the Guide.  But you're getting used to this blog by now.   It's no longer a pub and is open only by appointment at lunch time.

Every village needs a Michelin starred restaurant.

Footpath Sign Lies
Ooh Look - A sign to a Pub
The Hare
Doesn't really look much like a pub
And Its opening hours
That's that then

Fortunately, the walking through Nettledale is lovely.  Sun is shining, new born lambs are frolicking.  After four days in mist, this cannot help but put a smile on one's face.  And its all leading to the architectural high point of the Inn Way.

Nettledale in Spring

Last Inn Way Sign
Looking forward to Rievaulx
Rievaulx Abbey
And its magnificent

A lovely little coffee shop to stop for refreshments, soaking up the atmosphere.

It's the Cleveland Way that takes me back into Helmsley and the end of the walk.   I have mixed feelings about the end of these adventures.  On one hand, you know you no longer have to walk double digit miles, with your week's supplies strapped onto your back.  On the other hand, you know that every step is taking you closer to conference calls and tax returns.  It's a double edged sword.

Coming into Helmsley
Cleveland Way bringing me closer to reality
Coming into Helmsley
Helmsley castle in the distance
Coming into Helmsley
With me, 6 days in, getting in the way of it.

Celebration Pint in Royal Oak
I've done it.... celebration pint at the end of the Inn Way in the Royal Oak

Another bucket list item completed and a summary blog, with traditional awards, will be posted.

I have a Saturday night in Helmsley to let you know quickly about the pub situation, all neatly arranged around a beautiful market square.

Let's knock off the two dead ones - The Crown is now a Fat Face.  You can get a drink at the Feversham Arms Hotel, but it comes in a bottle and is served by a man in a bow tie.  It's not really for the likes of us, is it.  Unless you're the type who has arranged lunch at the Scawton Hare.

To counteract the missing two, Helmsley does have a new brewery, with attached Tap House open till 9pm.  I spied it on my way out but much to my annoyance, forget to visit when I returned 6 days later.  It's a shame that in 21 pubs visited, I didn't see their produce on sale.

The Feathers - My bed for night 1 and possibly pick of the bunch.  Large, sprawling hotel with separate dining rooms and a proper little pub attached to the side.  Great juke box, lovely Black Sheep Beer.  Popular with the kids, who like to take their herbal cigarettes outside, unaware that the cloying stink follows them back in.

It smelled like Howard Marks front room.

The Feathers
The Feathers - where the action is.
The Black Swan - Slightly posher hotel but with a good non-residents bar, again selling Black Sheep.  Large function room at the back which had a wedding on both nights.  It was kind of fun seeing the size of the rounds increase as the night wore on, and the bride's fathers bib and tucker getting more and more disheveled.

The Black Swan
Black Swan by Night
The Royal Oak - the most down to earth pub in the square.  Uninspiring beer voice of Bombardier and Wainwright but a beautifully presented room for night 2.   Empty at 10pm.  Forced to go back to the Feathers.  And the Black Swan.

Royal Oak
Royal Oak, Cask Marque, yet uninspiring beer.
My over riding memory of my night in Helmsley will be sitting outside the Feathers, watching the sun go down over the market square and regaling locals with my expedition experiences.

They apologised on behalf of Yorkshire for the Inn at Hawnby.

Outside the Feathers
Till Next Year and the Inn Way to the Peak District

Friday, 13 April 2018

13/04/18 - Day 5 - Inn Way to North Yorkshire Moors - From Rosedale Abbey

Start - Rosedale Abbey
Finish - Hawnby
Distance -  16 Miles
Key Features - Four Ascents, Yorkshire's Oldest House
Geocaches - 1
Pubs - 3 attempted, 0 Successfully
Previous Stages - Day 1Day 2Day 3, Day 4

This was always going to be the day of terror;
  • 16 Miles of Walking
  • Climbs in and out of four valleys, giving a total ascent of 2799ft.
  • Mist
  • Just three pubs, the first I know I will pass before noon
  • No other chance of supplies
With hindsight, maybe I shouldn't have attempted it on Friday the 13th.

I leave the wonderful White Horse Farm Inn, making my way along lanes to the tiny hamlet of Thorgill.  A chat with a local reveals ominous tidings.  He points to the ridge that we can see and says most tourists think that is the top, but really its only a third of the way.

Top of Thorgill
Not much to look at when you get to the top - former Mine Workings

Crossing the road at Lower Blakey Moor, I feel a special shout-out should be made to the Lion Inn, a couple of miles further along.   Whenever I mentioned my expedition to locals during the week, they've all insisted that I take in this place, proclaiming it in the most revered tones.  One for future investigation, I think.

My first (unlikely) chance of refreshment is the Feversham Arms in Church Houses, the tiniest of hamlets.  Its only 11am but feeling lucky, I do try the door.  Unsurprisingly, it doesn't budge.

Church Houses and the Faversham Arms
Too early for the pub
What follows is as bleak as the Inn Way gets.  Its a squelch when I am lucky.  When I am unlucky, I disappear up to my knees in Peat.  I work out that the white bits of peat are usually more solid than the dark bits of peat.  There are significant exceptions to this rule.

I also take my one and only tumble on the Inn Way.  I lose my footing on a peat hag and the balance affecting 70l Osprey rucksack does the rest for a slow motion, face slap down in the mud.

I see one other human - a farmer on a quad bike.  We get into a chat and he asks where I am off to.  The Sun Inn I tell him, asking if it will be open.  He insists it should be.   That's all the inspiration I need to get out of this.

The Moors
Its about 2:30pm when I drop down to the pubs door.  There appears to be two buildings that are marked the Sun Inn.  The original 1550 cottage - a pub since 1714 and the newer brick building built 200 years later.

The Sun Inn, Bilsdale
How Pubs used to be!

I don't really need to tell you what is coming, do I?  Yes, both are locked.  I sit in their beer garden - complete with a massive sign for use by pub patrons only - and take stock of my situation.  I stole the bedside water and two ginger nut biscuits from my hotel last night, so I have enough supplies to get me over the next four miles.

I feel I need to share my pain with the members of a facebook community who have also pledged to walk 1000 miles this year.

This is the face they get to laugh at from their warm houses and offices.

The Sun Inn, Bilsdale
Not quite the nadir of the Inn Way
Get a lot of laughs and words of encouragement.  Just think of that first cold pint when you get to the final destination they LOL.  It does pick me up to move on along the Bilsdale Valley Floor and other another climb.

Bilsdale Valley Floor - There are worse places to be with a Ginger Nut
I let the facebook group know that I am nearly done by sharing a photo of the last mile.   Its all tarmac, appears to be down hill and the AA Rosette Starred Inn at Hawnby has been booked and paid for, with a hot meal, bath, bed and beer a-waiting.

After 15 miles, I wouldn't say I had a spring in my step but I was slightly more enthusiastic than the earlier photo.

Looking over Hawnby
Hawnby Below for Chez Mappiman
The pub does look in darkness when I arrive.   There isn't a light on but I think to myself that maybe they start at 17:30 and haven't opened up.

The Inn and Hawnby
The Inn at Hawnby - not quite as welcoming as it should be.
I have a look through the windows.   It bereft of furniture and fixtures and fittings.   Maybe they are just redecorating, I think to myself.

Maybe they are redecorating
Its only when I try the spider web encrusted doorbell and start typing "Inn at Hawnby" into Google on my phone and get the auto complete "Inn at Hawnby Closed?"  I realise I am in trouble.

The owners have done a flit!  With my £79. And my hot meal, bath, bed and beer.

I retire to the bus shelter opposite to consider my options.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

12/04/18 - Day 4 - Inn Way to North Yorkshire Moors - From Egton Bridge

Start - Egton Bridge
Finish - Rosedale Abbey
Distance -  15 Miles
Key Features - Early Pint, The Moors, First Views
Geocaches - 1
Pubs - 5 attempted, 3 Successfully, 1 shut, 1 closed.
Previous Stages - Day 1Day 2, Day 3

There's probably a German phrase for the uncomfortable silence felt when you breakfast at a B&B.    If I knew it I'd use it, for this morning it's just me and the dirty weekend couple from last night's drinkathon, making small talk over the expired orange juice.

I'm off and out as soon as I can.

Today is a question of re-routing from the official path.  Its not raining, but the mist and mud are  beyond grim.  At the end of the day, I haven't cheated on miles, even if I have tried to stick to terra firma.

Early walking is fine, heading along the River Esk and through Arnecliffe Woods to Glaisdale. I arrive at the Arncliffe Arms (no spelling mistake, it's lost it's "e") at 10 am. Pub is still open, as I pass a rambler who stayed there last night

Arnecliffe Woods
Into the Woods
Arncliffe Arms
Arncliffe Arms - Having work done but still functional

Mill by the Esk
Watermill down on the Esk
Lealholm is reached at 10:50am.  Pretty little village where the Board Arms front door is open, even at this early hour.  Knowing I have 9 miles of moorland to the next stop, I use all my powers of persuasion to successfully receive fortification.

The landlady is most accommodating, serving me a Black Sheep and warning me that I need to stock up in the village, as there is nowhere else for supplies until I reach my destination.

Board Inn
Board Inn, Leaholm
Fortification at the Board Inn
Yorkshire Head

It's a climb out of the village and into the mist.  Last item of entertainment is the geocache at an ancient cross road marker.
Only Cache of the Day on a Crossroads Sign
Geocache at the Crossroads

And then its all like this....

Let's get out of this
What did you do on your holidays?
I am meant to have fine views over Great Fryup (oh the irony, I'm on my fourth consecutive Full English Breakfast) but its relentlessly grim.  I follow Glaisdale Rigg and Cut Road Path successfully but overshoot the turning to George Gap and have to retrace my steps.   When I hit the lane, I decide I've had enough of the North Yorkshire Moors and take advantage of tarmac to get the easiest route to Rosedale Abbey.

Don't you dare tell me you wouldn't have done the same.

I pick up the official path in Rosedale, walking through a deserted caravan park as though I was a cowboy walking through an Apache burial ground. I can't see them, but I know they are watching.

Safety is arrived at, after a puff up the hill to the White Horse Farm Inn - a fine place to spend a night.  The mist lifts and I am rewarded, for the first time in days, with some super views.

White Horse Farm Inn
Home for the night - Hose pipe to the right used for cleaning
Rosedale - Fine views once the mists have lifted...
Better Views
... Getting Finer

Once clean, I head down to the village to check out the two pubs.

The Millburn Arms is temporarily closed down and having a refit but the Coach House Inn is fully functional.

Coach House Inn
Coach House Inn
This is one of the better pub's on the Inn Way.  It's got some unusual CAMRA approved ales on. I start with an unrefined Rising Tide from the Turning Point Brewery.  This means no finings were used in production and is deliberately cloudy.  No problem with that but is was a touch floral for my tastes.  I soon moved on to a Whitby Brewery Porter.

But the real success here was the food.  After 3 nights of excellent evening meals, there's been nothing on any menu in the slightest bit spicy. The Coach House Inn changes this and has a reasonable Jalfrezi.

If I come back to North Yorkshire, it will be in the Summer and I am bringing with me a collection of chilis.  I'll lure them in with the mild green ones, get them hooked and clean up like Pablo Escobar on the scotch bonnets.