Day 3: Grassington to Buckden (Part 4/9)
Total Miles Planned: 10.2
Actual Miles Walked: 12.6 (includes an epic wrong turn and a walk to the B&B)
Weather: Brooding skies, which opened up to pouring rain
Pints of beer consumed at the end of the day: It’s not worth mentioning, really
Day Three of our walk was the most physically challenging so far (steep uphill climbs and driving rain), but it was also the most social, as we met several new friends along the way.
Immediately upon starting out this morning, the guidebook stated that we could take the marked trail, or divert onto “a stone track”, which would be “easier” and “people have been doing it for 40 years”, blah blah blah. Well, let me tell you. The diversion that people have “been doing for 40 years” was not the diversion we took. Apparently, we found a whole new diversion! You know all those pictures of Yorkshire dry stone walls that I’ve been posting? Well, we got ourselves trapped in a paddock, surrounded on all sides. We weren’t alone, though, as there was a flock of sheep in the same paddock who, I believe, were totally judging us. Alone on the moors, with the cold rain coming down, I began to imagine a farmer finding our remains the following spring, our bones picked clean by vultures, when Michelle said, “Wait, did you hear someone?” You can only imagine how glad we were to see some other walkers (forever more to be known as “our rescuers”) far off in the distance! They were on a path parallel to us, but of course, we were trapped in the stone paddock. Rather than retrace our steps, which would have likely added a couple of miles distance to our walk, we found a low spot in the wall and hoisted ourselves over it, then cut across another pasture to meet up with the other walkers. But, no sooner did we reach them when we realized we were separated from them (and the Dales Way) by a barbed wire fence. Undeterred, I tossed over my rucksack and we shimmied our way under the wire, popping out under the fence just as some fellow hikers walked by. They greeted us with a “Good morning!” and asked if we’d like to do that again so they could get a picture. We declined.
Our rescuers, Mic and Jo, are retired military and were walking the entire Dales Way as well, but they were doing it in five days, as compared to our eight. Embarrassing! We took photos of one another by Conistone Pie (not to be confused with cow pie, which was also present) and chatted about our families, jobs, etc.
Soaking wet at mile 6 ½, Michelle and I stopped in the charming village of Kettlewell (with a name like that, how could it be anything other than charming?) for a warm drink and some lunch. We ate at Zarina’s Tea Room, which was the setting for the Calendar Girls movie. Surprisingly, the tea room was busy with other walkers and cyclists, also cold and dripping wet, though not lacking in optimism. Apparently, there are lots of other people who would choose to set off an outdoor adventure in awful weather! As one new friend put it, “if you don’t want to do anything because it’s raining, you’ll end up not doing anything at all.”
Michelle and I walk at a
fairly moderate pace, and within a mile or two some folks from the tea room had
met up with us. These three friends were locals and were doing the whole
of the Dales Way together as well, section by section and on different weekends
as work and family schedules allowed. We appreciated that they didn’t let
the rain stop them, either. Robin, one of the three guys, confessed that
his friends were much too fast for him, so he joined us for the last stretch.
He said he liked to chat with people while on long-distance walks, as it helped
pass the time. And indeed, it did. We three chatted about our
families, kids, work, and my
least favorite topic, the POTUS.
Our walk ended at the Buck Inn, a pub in Buckden (alliteration!) where we shared a half pint and went on our way. At the Inn, Michelle and I tried to login to the wifi, to get the address of our next B&B, but the pub’s wifi was down and the bartender didn’t know the directions to the B&B, either. We asked a fellow patron at the bar if he knew the address, but he was from Oregon, which meant he had as much an idea where our B&B was as we did.
On late Sunday afternoon in a rural village, the only other option was to ask at the B&B across the street. We didn’t immediately see where the main entrance was, so Michelle opened a somewhat hidden Dutch door into what appeared to be someone’s living room. It was very dark inside, smelled of burning incense, and had a most interesting décor and exotic music playing throughout. We found it somewhat discomforting, as it had the air of a place where one might find themselves if they were to be sacrificed to the pagan gods or else have their organs harvested on the black market. Fortunately for us, first impressions can be deceiving, and the inn guests who were sitting in the living room logged into their wifi and gave us directions to our B&B.
Vital organs intact, we walked the ¼ mile to our B&B, which is quite unique, as it is on a working farm. We were greeted by barking sheep dogs and a flock of geese. Inside the house, the innkeeper immediately asked, “Right. Hot showers or tea first?” She kindly made us a pot of tea while we dried off, then made us a dinner reservation at a local pub. She even drove us there. Inside the pub, the fire was lit and the food was comforting. Michelle discovered the health benefits of the great British sticky toffee pudding (the benefit being it is so delicious that you can’t help but feel happy). All in all, the perfect ending.