Day 14: Blakey to Grosmont: 13.75 Miles
I look outside and see rain with low clouds hanging over Carlton Moors and take another Advil. By now, our 14th English breakfast has lost all novelty. I order porridge with bacon crushed up in it, which seems to amuse the waitress. She’d never had that combo before.
Suited up in our rain gear with pack covers, we again begin walking across the moors through the fog and mist. I interrupt our striding to stop at Fat Betty. For some reason this stumpy landmark of a cross exists without explanation. Tradition requires that you take a snack and leave a snack.
I leave one of my favorite nut-bars. Dallas Cowboy Fan grouses, “Who wants to take anything that’s been lying out in the rain, for who knows how long?” Finally he has the brilliant idea to leave coins. He feels pretty smug and triumphant about this because at every opportunity on this trip, he tries to pay with the “weird coinage.” He says each time he buys something, he gets heavy money back (instead of paper bills) and it’s dragging one side of his pants down.
Off he goes, but I call him back. We HAVE to take something. Tradition demands it! I take a few of the coins he just laid down. I don’t mind having my pants dragged off by money. He frowns at the whole offering, finally tweezing between his fingers a tiny single piece of cello-wrapped hard candy, grumbling like an old badger that it’s probably laced with LSD.
After hours of hiking, the topography slowly changes. Trees appear along with old terraced houses built for the early ironstone miners. We know the calendar has flipped from July to August, but we’ve lost track of the days. When we discover that it’s Sunday, we’re concerned—usually every store closes on Sunday in the country. Fortunately, one place has stayed open (Bless you Glaisdale Tea Gardens!). We get cheese and onion toasties and huge slices of coffee cake. Through the windows, the owners point out we’re only 8 miles from our final destination. “Just over a couple of hills.” But it’s going to takes us much much longer to get there.
We leave and follow soggyy tracks beside the River Esk. I rip my hat from my head, flogging the hundreds of black flies buzzing us. And in doing so, I pop the BB-size stud out of my ear. It’s a memento of another hiking trip, and Dallas Cowboy Fan thinks he can find it since he’s pretty good at finding golf balls in the rough. I think he’s nuts, and besides, I’ve been wanting to get some new “English” earrings. But……… I’ll be jiggered! Due to his persistence, we find that ear stud even though it’s jade green. Buoyed with our success, the sun decides to break between the clouds. We pass through the quaintest town of the whole C2C: Egton Bridge. Grand stone houses surround an uninhabited island on the river. An old toll road leads us on to Grosmont. The toll fares are still displayed in shillings.
As we near town, the screech of a train whistle makes us look at each other. In a few minutes the chuff-chuff-chuff of the engine travels across the countryside. We pick up the pace. This we gotta see!!
The one-street former iron-smelting town is dominated by the station and intermittent comings and goings of steam trains. We can get up close and personal with the big ol’ magnificent monsters hissing white vapors and belching smoke. These locomotives were part of the Hogwarts Express and were featured in the first Harry Potter movie. We’re also able to amble through a loooooong tunnel and visit the old loco sheds.
We bump into Brits John and Mary, another pair of C2Cers, in the railway shop. They
explain the uniqueness of a local stone called Whitby Jet, (wood from the Monkey Puzzle tree which has been compressed in the cliffs for a million years …really…I’m not making this stuff up.) Well, say no more… I can get jewelry crafted by a local gal, from local jet stone, with a portion of the sale helping the local locomotive museum. Even though I found my lost earring, how can I resist the opportunity to wear British Monkey Tree fossils?
Our B&B is part of the Geall Art Gallery, beautifully adorned and right beside the depot. Once again, we wish we had more time to hang around. What’s not to love about a town that has a bookshop with overloaded shelves and a village store with jars and jars of multi-colored pence candy? I buy 50p of pear drops. The clerk tucks it in a bitty paper packet just like they do for BBC’s Father Brown. I sit at the station, drinking Elderflower juice (yep, that’s what the bottle says) and waiting for Harry Potter to arrive.
“Pear drop?” I offer Dallas Cowboy Fan as he strolls past like a local.
“Nope. I ate whatever that candy was that I picked up at Fat Betty,” he calls over his shoulder and keeps going. “It was good.”
It looks like he’s headed toward the Tavern.
I’m guessing he plans to unload more heavy coins.