Day 12: Danby Wisk to Osmotherly-9 miles
Okay. I’ve become a rebel. A malcontent. I LIKE using the public right-of-ways across private land and shouting (with fist raised), “Power to the People!!” I have now learned that wherever we go, there’s a back way the locals use to get there.
I study our maps, wondering why Wainright has us traveling so far north today, just to have us turnabout and wander the same distance back south again. I’m starting to question Mr. Wainright’s thinking. I don’t see any eighth wonder of the world we might miss, so I seek out locals with hidden knowledge and sidle up to them asking, “Hey, um…do you know a shortcut to Osmotherly?”
And they do! Take the road. Goes directly there. No circling around. Yes, walking on pavement is really hard on the feet and back, but this shortcut has wide, grassy right of ways to hike on. It’ll cut 3-4 miles out of the day.
Dallas Cowboy Fan isn’t so thrilled, but he lost his vote on the 3rd day when he elected that we traverse the “HIgh Road,” the ever-lasting ridgeline climb along Helm’s Crag.
So, looking forward to a day without sheep or mudslick trails, we take off. My feet are pacing to the beat as I hum the Wizard of Oz’s “Follow the yellow brick road.” We make wonderful time along the sidewalk that partners with the road.
Then the sidewalk ends.
Before us are knee-high weeds and thistles. Walking on the asphalt is out of the question. Traffic is buzzing past like it’s a Mad Max movie. If I didn’t have a hat with one of those neck strings, it would blow off with each passing lorry. Dallas Cowboy Fan stomps through the nettled puckerbrush, his hand clamped to his head to keep his Dallas Cowboy ball cap on.
At one point, we climb under trees and crawl under a fence so we can walk at the edge of a wheat field, away from traffic . I get a handful of stickers for the effort—AND the wheat field soon ends. Dallas Cowboy Fan is walking in front of me, parting the grasses and stepping over road debris. I’m pretty sure I can see steam coming out of his ears.
After two and a half hours of tramping through knee-high weeds, we come to the A19. Now, if we had taken the original Wainright trail, north of here, we would’ve had to run across this motorway, dodging 6 lanes of traffic. But this shortcut leads us through a nifty underpass, onto a lonely road. Road noise falls away, and we’re suddenly standing next to a sign, announcing we’ve reached the moors.
Within 30 minutes we’re sitting at the oak tables in the delightful Golden Lion in Osmotherly, having a pint. And who should we find there? KIM. Kim, the 24-year-old Berliner, who we’d first met 12 days and 143 miles ago, who’d banged up her knee a few days ago, whose journey should’ve ended. And yet, she’s still moving forward.
And that’s one of the joys of the C2C. No matter the trail. The difficulties. The Not-So-Smart shortcuts. There’s an inexplicable delight in the surprise meeting of our other sojourners.
Osmotherly is an enchanted village for a hiker. The wide windows of our room in the Golden Lion look down on the town center where John Wesley preached at that market table (next to the tractor going down the street). Tidy, terraced cottages whisper of the flax workers who used to labor at the mill. There’s even the Boot & Coffee Shop (in addition to 3 pubs). And to add comfort and homey-ness , each table at the Golden Lion is graced with a lit taper (even at breakfast).
As we drift off to sleep in the best, firmest bed that I’ve encountered so far on the trip (with Little Pillow snugged under my back), Dallas Cowboy fan says, “Okay. I admit that it was nice to get in early and have some exploration and rest time, BUT NOW….NO more shortcuts, okay?”
Just then the church bells begin their slow toll in minor keys, and THAT should’ve foretold me: I’D AGREED TOO SOON.