Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Travelogue Pt 4, plus packing

We finally begin walking

After a final tromp around York, and a visit to its farmer’s market, we headed to the train station, armed with pork pies. Sitting on the platform eating pies was a real pleasure. The woman who announces arrivals and departures at the York station sings them in plainsong. You hear “The 13:40 for Manchester now arriving at platform 3. All passengers for [somewhere, somewhere else], Leeds, and Manchester should be on platform 3,” and it sounded like the Eucharist at an Episcopalian church. Cool!

We trained to Ilkley, by way of Leeds, to begin our walk. Ilkley is quiet, but lovely. It’s an old spa town, and it has a gorgeous city park all along the Wharfe River. We stayed at the Roberts Family B&B, which was the same price as our B&B in York but had a much more plush room. The hostess, Petra, was a stitch, flooding us with information for 20 minutes straight after we arrived. Among that information was the location of the best pub in town for real ale, the Bar T’at. (The name is a play on the town’s famous song, “On Ilkley Moor Baht’at,” which means on Ilkley moor without a hat.) There was a staggering variety of beer (although I should point out that we weren’t responsible for emptying all the casks you see in the background)

and I tried hard to keep it all to myself.

After a stroll around town (didn’t take long) we visited the riverside park, which has very handsome ducks and is a popular spot for people to bring their dogs to play (look in the background of the second picture).

We chatted with a lovely gentleman who had a dog that reminded us strongly of Stella (so now we’re thinking she’s part Border Collie), who we didn’t get a picture of because she was moving too fast.

We had “light” dinner at the pub that Petra recommended (for food, whereas the Bar T'at was recommended for drinking) and went to bed early.

The next morning, fortified with another giant English breakfast, we set out along the Dales Way toward Grassington. Ilkley is, I believe, the official start (or end, if you’re going the other way). And here’s another picture in which I look dorky (and Trent looks less dorky).

The scenery was stupidly beautiful.

There were lots of sheep, and consequently lots of wool stuck in the fences. If I had started collecting it when I started seeing it, I would have had a sizable bale in a couple of days. (Don't think I wasn't tempted, but I thought it might cause some problems with customs.)

We got lost (sort of my fault, since I'm the designated navigator, but it really came down to a difference of interpretation with our guidebook author about what constitutes a "pedestrian pavement"), which naturally required walking through a field of nettles once to get lost and once to go back, uphill both ways. Along about that time, we had encounters with livestock. The yellow arrow in the first picture below indicates the path’s right of way. The board that is perpendicular to the fence is called a step stile, a device designed to let walkers through but keep livestock in.

We visited the ruins of Bolton Priory, where Trent took many beautiful pictures.

And then we walked a long ass ways further to Burnsall, which is about 3 miles short of Grassington and about 13 miles from where we started. The scenery was gorgeous the whole way, and varied as the path wound nearer or farther from the river. But by Burnsall we decided we’d had enough, that climbing over one more damn stile was too much.

So, I used the one public phone in Burnsall to call a B&B that I knew was located on a sheep farm. It was 1.5 miles further (uphill, over 18 stiles), but the lovely proprietress came and got us in her car. After sorely needed showers (look how sexy walking through the country makes you! I like to think that's a dirt line, but it might be powdered manure...)

she took us into Grassington for dinner and to use the cash machine – the ONLY cash machine in the vicinity. We had a delicious dinner, a pleasant beer and chat at a pub, and then were picked up and returned to the sheep farm for a good night’s rest.

Oh, and the day included more signs that we found amusing. "Danger of hideous death" is going to be a theme that continues in the sign pictures. (Click the last sign picture to enlarge it and see what I mean. I'm especially fond of the little "you may be electrocuted" ideogram.)

And because this has once again become excessively long, I’ll continue in another post. (It’ll start to go faster, I swear; we took fewer pictures after the first day of walking.)

Karen asked in the comments to the last entry what we packed in those small bags, and how that worked out for us. Here’s my packing list:

4 short sleeved shirts/tops
4 pairs undies
2 pairs pants
1 pair shorts
2 bras
4 pairs socks
Running shoes
Teva sandals
Sweater (thin merino)
Rain jacket (Burley bike jacket)

Toiletries (disposable razors; travel sized deodorant, hand lotion, and shampoo [lost in London B&B]; small tub of moisturizer that doubles as lip balm; assorted medications; and a big bottle of sunscreen)
Small walking path guidebook
Atlas of the Yorkshire Dales National Park
1 liter plastic Nalgene bottle
100 g ball of sock yarn, 8- 2.25 mm bamboo needles and a small crochet hook
Moleskine journal
pen (lost on day 4)
Digital camera

Trent had a comparable quantity of clothes. He carried the Lonely Planet England guidebook, the toothbrushes and toothpaste, and the tubes of cortisone cream and antibiotic ointment (very useful - I was eaten alive by bugs and nettles). At any given time, of course, I was wearing one outfit and a pair of shoes. I never weighed my packed bag, but I’d guess it ran between 12-14 pounds depending on how much water and how many snacks I was carrying. It's worth noting that even at home I'm not much of a girly-girl, so there was never any need for makeup or such (although I did wish for a comb a time or two, but since my hair spent most of its time in a ponytail, I managed).

Had it been cold, the sweater could be layered over any of my short sleeved shirts. With the rain jacket on top, I'd be reasonably warm in any foreseeable English summer weather. Because the weather was abnormally hot during the time we were walking, the sweater and one of my heavier short sleeved tops turned out to be dead weight. We mailed back our sweaters, the top, one of my pairs of pants (which I developed passionate hatred for – I should have just donated the damn things) the Lonely Planet (which was mildly useful for pre-trip planning and in London, but really didn't cover the Dales), and a few misc. items that we bought. I ended up buying a new pair of shorts and a t-shirt while we were in Hawes (after 4 days in the Dales). We both bought hats (though mine turned out to be more suitable for rain than sun, so I didn’t wear it all that much), and Trent bought a trekking pole. We also had to buy more sunscreen because we ran out. All in all, I’d say we packed about right.

We always managed to find a launderette or stay at a B&B that would do laundry when we needed it, so we never really had a problem with stinky wardrobe. You have to sort of embrace looking dorky when you’ve packed clothes for comfort and light weight, which can make you feel conspicuously touristy, especially in London. But I was truly grateful for the relatively small bag every time we took a train or bus. Carrying a small bag also discourages shopping, which is good for the budget but sometimes frustrating. Toward the end of the trip, we did start acquiring stuff (a Delia Smith cookbook, a million postcards, a box of Yorkshire tea, several packs of biscuits), and we somehow managed to slide all of that into the backpacks, although I complained bitterly because the structure of my bag made it easier to pack than Trent’s so I got stuck with the cookbook.


Anonymous Trent said...

One thing to add re: packing: For underwear, I brought along a couple pairs of quick-drying synthetic travel / camping briefs available at any REI. Trust me, you want at least two pair. After a couple of weeks with just one (which I did last year on the bike tour) you develop a deep and visceral hatred for them....

11:06 PM  
Anonymous perkster said...

thanks so much for posting all this, you two! you know how much i could use a vacation ; ). i esp. like the pics in which there are wet leaves and pavement. fantasizing...

6:08 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

You went to Bolton! Oh I love that half destroyed church so much! There is a great restaurant near there that provides the largest bowls of soup I've ever seen. So nice!

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Peggy said...

Hey Melinda:
Did you know you can find Yorkshire tea at Metropolitan Market? (40th & 55th)
They have Yorkshire Gold @ $5.99 and regular Yorkshire in the red label box @ $4.99.
PS: Have you decided yet? Double Castle or Single new design?

11:39 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home