Butt-Squeezing Walls: Day 7 & 8: Walking Across England: Coast to Coast

As I was leaving the chocolate shop in Orton, I pulled my rain jacket out of my day pack. My sunglasses fell out, smacking the cobblestones and snapping in two.

I held the broken frames up, exclaiming, “Now I’ll have to buy a pair of English sunglasses.”

“No you won’t,” said a British passer-by, pointing at the gray, misty skies.

Day 7: Orton to Kirkby Stephen: 12.75 miles

The pastures continue to roll on. After a severely steep hill, we happened onto a stone railway

Boarded-Up railway depot

Boarded-Up railway depot. The tracks once ran down the valley.

cottage that seems to sit in the middle of nowhere. Three Brits, out walking their dogs on the path where the rails used to be, tell me that this line used to haul iron ore across the country to the coal mines, so the ore could be smelted.

Centuries ago, this ha24.1400 yr old bridge.Kirby Stephend been a crossroads of trade—as evidenced by this rock bridge built on a cobblestone road in the 1400s. Now it sits in the middle of pastureland.

Stone fences in strange geometric shapes outline the lower fields. And this would be a good time to tell you about stiles.

By law, farmers must provide at least a 9 inch passageway, so they’ve constructed clever methods to keep animals in and let humans through.

But here’s the thing.  If you’re tall, you can simply slip your long ol’ legs through the slots and walk on. But if you’re short like me, your bottom and hips better only be 9 inches across or you’ll be stuck and squirming like an ox trying to step through a rubberband.  It can be done, but not without a struggle or the person behind you laughing like crazy. After a while, crossing pasture to pasture, these quaint slot or “squeeze” passages get a bit annoying, and all that compressing doesn’t minimize hip size AT ALL.

23a.Rock walls in YorkshireIt drizzles on us most of the day.  That evening, touring the town, we step into St. Stephens church in Kirkby Stephen, arriving in the narthex just in time for Evensong. “Go drag them in,” says an old lady to the vicar. And that’s how we end up joining the two parishioners for the lovely, thoughtful service.

The good-humored vicar and priest also give us a blessing for safe passage and then take us on a personal, historical tour of the church. This site (since the days of the Norse) has been a place of different types of worship for 2,000 years and contains the only Loki stone in England. (There are only two Loki stones in Europe).

Day 8: Kirkby Stephen to Keld: 12 Miles

25a.Low Road to Keld

Yes, I’m leaning heavily on my poles, but I figured the road beat wading through bogs. Yep. We’re headed for the far horizon.

I’m smooshing the report of this section with previous one, because…well, the rain greeted us and stayed with us for the entire stretch. It was sort of miserable. Not much to look at. Not even many sheep.

We could’ve passed over the high route of 9-Standard Rigg, but it was covered in fog (even in late July), and very boggy (even in late July). So we took to the low route along the road.

7.The whole town of Keld

The whole town of Keld

Perhaps in sunny weather Keld is a blast. 26a.Keld phone boothBut today…not so much. I’m sad there is no confetti or autograph seekers.  After all—this is our half-way point. We’ve strolled over 98 miles. Keld used to be at the center of the local lead-mining. The village hangs on because of tourism. There are public toilets (always welcome on the C2C and one of Her Majesty’s red telephone booths.  As we eat dinner in our B&B, we notice the telephone booth stays quite busy.  There’s no cell phone signal in Keld.

NEXT: Toasties, Tea, in the Middle of Sheep: Day 9 & 10: Walking Across England: Coast to Coast

About Barb

I escaped from a hardscrabble farm in Oklahoma. I'm not sure why people think I have an accent. I miss the sunshine, but not the fried foods.
This entry was posted in A Laugh, Change, Coast to Coast, England, Humor, Traveling and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Butt-Squeezing Walls: Day 7 & 8: Walking Across England: Coast to Coast

  1. Thanks for taking us along on your hike with you. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Your pics are’t crappy; they’re great! The countryside, that amazing stone house, and the stiles are wonderful to see, but the red telephone booth really made me smile. I love it. With only a couple parishioners in that big beautiful nave with you, tell me… did you and your hubby still sit in the back row? 🙂


    • Barb says:

      Oh, Susan, I’m so glad you’re enjoying it. I really wanted to share the experience with others, so thanks for reading. The service was taking place in a small chapel to the side of the sanctuary. It was cozy. There were only 3 pews: the 2 funny old ladies in front, we sat in the middle, and the Vicar sat in the last pew behind us. (A couple of dead guys flanked us in their tombs with stone knights lying on top.


  2. Really great photos for day 7! Your bum doesn’t look that big to me! That said, 9″ is a tight squeeze for just one of my thighs. Lucky I’m also tall!


  3. Love those stone walls.
    I am on the tall side, but big butted and as flexible as a brick. Which would have created a quandary. If I attempted to swing my leg over, a face plant would have ensued. I don’t squeeze well either. Perhaps I would still be with the other animals in the first field with a style.
    I am so enjoying walking with you. Thank you.


    • Barb says:

      I’m so glad you’re walking with me virtually. Some of the walls had poles to hang onto as you swing your leg over. After crossing about a hundred-thousand stone walls, I’ve become an expert on well-designed crossing apparatus. Sometimes I imagine Edward (which is the best British name I can come up with), telling his sons. “Today we’re fixing fence on the north lands” And all the young lads groan and whine…”Aw Dad, leave some fence fixing for the next generation..or four generations.”

      And the lads, being bored and mischievous make the fence gaps skinny, or rough, or high and snicker how old Mrs. Barnstoke won’t be dropping by as often because she can’t make it through the wall.

      (That’s the kind of stuff I imagine when walking along stone fences for hours.)


  4. Pingback: The Clock is Ticking. Now We Have To Hurry: Day 6: Walking Across England: Coast to Coast | Before Morning Breaks

  5. Rose L. says:

    That title sure had me going! I would never squeeze through most but probably could place my butt on top and twirl across. Or one would hope! Oh, if you want I can help you lighten up any dark photos! Just send via email and I will work on them! I hope the rest of the time there may be only cloudy skies and no rain!


    • Barb says:

      Hi Rose, thanks for the offer of help on the photos. There’s probably an adjustment on my camera to lighten them up, but I think I’m doing something technically amazing by just working the camera out of the layers of clothing I’m wearing to snap a crappy photo.


  6. Alice Lynn says:

    Oh Barb, what fun you and the Dallas Cowboy Fan must have had, slogging along the pastures, squeezing through the stiles! Seeing the real England! Of such stuff, are memories made. I can’t wait to hear what befell you on the second half of your journey.


  7. digipicsphotography says:

    When you get done with this coast to coast hike, how about doing the AT?


    • Barb says:

      We’ve done sections of the PCT, and I read Bill Bryson’s account of hiking the AT, but I’ve become old and lazy. When we finished the Wonderland Trail 5 years ago, I vowed I’d never carry a 40 pound pack again. And now that I’ve experienced having my pack “sherpa-ed” to my next B&B, I’ve decided tht this is the way to go.
      I still admire those young backs and knees which haul everything they need on their backs for 2,000 miles.

      Liked by 1 person

      • digipicsphotography says:

        My youngest is paring his down to just under 30 pounds. Everything he has bought so far for the trek is super light weight.


  8. Elyse says:

    I’ve tried to squeeze my ample butt through some of those stiles. It would be my epitaph had anyone filmed it for YouTube.


  9. Jon says:

    Halfway! Is butt squeezing easier or more difficult as you have, no doubt, firmed up?


    • Barb says:

      Well, that’s an interesting question Jon. And you’re right. On styles that have steps, it’s become easier to swing a leg over the top as all my hiking muscles become stronger. But…those cracks in the wall are made for long-legged Ichabod Crane people. “Firming up” didn’t help, but my “bad vocabulary” increased.


  10. nrhatch says:

    Woo Hoo!
    A red telephone booth signals a red letter day ~> halfway home.

    Enjoyed your photos of stiles & stiles and miles & miles.


    • Barb says:

      Yeah…the half-way point is sorta anti-climatic. I never expected to make it that far, so I’m pretty happy. I just thought there’d be more fanfare…you know like trumpets, the sun breaking out in glorious rainbows. Fairies singing “You’re outta the woods. You’re outta the dark.” (like they did in the Wizard of Oz).

      And so, I have to adjust my expectations…like I have so many times already. This trip is turning out to be a pretty good lesson in changing my expectations.


  11. Al says:

    I may be seeing that picture wrong, but is that a big “S” on your shirt in the phone booth?


    • Barb says:

      Ha Ha Ha. Thanks for the hopeful compliment. But because this is England, it’s Dr. Who in the booth with me. (And he’s making me do computations of how much mileage is remaining). Darn it…why can’t James Bond ever be in these phone booths?


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