Friday, July 28, 2006

Travelogue Pt 5

Grassington to Buckden

After a pleasant and comfy night on the sheep farm, the proprietess returned us to Grassington. We tapped the cash machine (again) to stock up for the ATM-less days ahead, bought sandwiches, and set off uphill. It took us a little bit of wandering through fields to find the right path, but eventually we were headed through farm land and then open country.

We passed a lady walking her dog, Daisy. Don't mistake Daisy for a useful sheepdog or anything - what she's staring at so intently in this picture is a red rubber toy. After seeing several of these lean, short-haired border collies on our trip, we began to think that our own dear Stella, for all her blue heeler markings, is part border collie. Eek.

The first half of the 10 or so miles we did on this day were up on the walls of the valley, with incredible views

and lots of sheep. This is a Swaledale (or Dalesbred, I'm unclear on the difference), and a stylized version of its head is the logo for the Dales National Park.

We had lunch at a pub in Kettlewell, a jacket potato for me and a roast beef sandwich (and beer!) for Trent. The second half of the day's walk was more along the Wharfe, with yet more sheep. I went gaga over a small herd of what I thought were blue faced leicester, but which I later discovered were Wenleydale longwools. Trent had the camera, and unfortunately didn't take a picture of these beauties.

We arrived in Buckden and found our B&B, Hartrigg House. It was the last place I had called in an increasingly desperate search for an available room. It turns out that there was only a room available because they were supposed to be closed that weekend, but their teenage son, who answered the phone, didn't know that. At any rate, this was hands down the nicest place I've ever stayed. The room was vast and gorgeous. They did our laundry. They brought us tea on a silver tray, complete with slabs of lemon pound cake. They had a lovely yellow lab named Molly. They fed us the biggest breakfast we ate at any time on our trip (or maybe ever), and they were incredibly kind and friendly throughout. If I ever have the chance to go park myself in the English countryside for a week and luxuriate, this is where I'm going. Sadly, we didn't take any pictures of the room because we were too busy soaking up the comfort.

We ate at one of the two eating establishments in the village. Our hosts had strongly recommended that we go to the restaurant in town instead of the pub at the Buck Inn (which apparently used to be nice but has gone downhill), so we did. Trent had something called "The Buckden Trencher" for dinner, which was a giant Yorkshire pudding with steak and kidneys, gravy, veg, and chips. It was enormous.

The next morning, I was absolutely horrified to discover that our hostess not only washed our clothes, but IRONED them (right before we were going to stuff them back into our packs). We ate our enormous breakfast, complete with black pudding, and sadly departed.

Buckden to Aysgarth

I'm going to reproduce exactly what I wrote in my journal at the end of this day, when I was whiny, dehydrated, and sunburned. I'll add some editorial comments and pictures.

7-2, Day 8, Buckden-Aysgarth Village via Bishopdale, about 8 or 9 miles. [Maybe more - we did a bit of backtracking here and there.]

Today was the first day it felt like a death march. We started the day steeply uphill on a stony Roman Road. We didn't hit the road until after 10, because of the magnificence of breakfast at Hartrigg House. Oy, it was huge.

Anyway, hot, uphill, stony.

Then a nice bit on the fellside.

We did not take the precipitous descent to the pub in Cray. [This is significant because we started the day with a liter each of water, and it was blazing hot. By the time we decided not to go down to the pub in Cray, we'd covered only 2 miles and been through a liter.]

Hot uphill walk on road, then turn off into farm road. The nice lady at Dale Head Farm let us refill water there - thank god! Then bushwhacking along the supposed marked path - a bit hazy in spots, kind of challenging overall. Happily, a very nice lady who lives in the house by the public phone box by Ribba Hall Farm gave us more water. We slogged on, up another fairly stony track. We got lost after Howsdyke Farm - couldn't figure out which way the supposedly pleasant lane went. Grr. [At this point, we had decided to go with the easier looking route downhill through mowed fields, which worked great until we got to an electric fence. We were reminded of the eternal truth of walking: if you're going to go off-course, it's ALWAYS going to involve walking up a hill to get back on track.]

Got nettled on the sunburn on the backs of my legs and was bitterly unhappy. Peed by an old barn. Ate a melty granola bar at some point. Swatted bugs. Pub closed in Thoralby when we got there. Decided to take road instead of path to Aysgarth to make navigation easier. That road was fuckin' steep! At one point, I though we'd doen the worst of it, but we rounded a corner and it went up and up more, and more steeply. I threw my head back and howled and whined in a very pathetic fashion. [Somewhere along the way, Bishopdale met up with Wensleydale. We could tell we were in Wensleydale because the main livestock were now cows instead of sheep.]

There ain't shit in Aysgarth except the very nice Yoredale B&B and tearoom where we're staying,

and a posh and hideously overpriced pub with the meanest bartender in England. [Note that this didn't stop us from having a drink there. I have no idea what's up with the tiki decor. The pub is otherwise very traditional.]

We had dinner at the tearoom, which was lovely. [Pasta with salmon and a light tomato cream sauce] I had the sticky toffee pudding for dessert, which was divine.

Tomorrow, stroll to the falls and back, and BUS to Hawes. [To be covered in future blog entries.]


Blogger Rebecca said...

Oh I love this! My most amusing English fact is that my English Mum often irons my underware when she does my laundry and it doesn't matter how much I squawk about it, she still does it. Makes both of us laugh because I'm horrified that she is ironing my unmentionables and she is horrified because I don't iron my unmentionables!

12:36 PM  
Anonymous He who longs for more black pudding said...

Black pudding. You invoked the black pudding. Waaaah!

1:47 PM  
Anonymous perkster said...

you guys are so much more hydrated and robust than i. i wouldn't have made it past breakfast, your vacation was such hard work. i loved the bit that started with where you peed and got short and to the point right before the breakdown. i would have run out of water before leaving the inn and then just shortcut to peeing and being pissed. and so hot. see, i'm whining already and i didn't even go. you guys rock! english style. p.s. what's the story on all those stone walls for those of us who don't have time to research where you went? oxo, p.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Camera Obscura said...

I can hear John Cleese saying "Wenselydale" in my head, I can't for the life of me remember which Python sketch it's from... Guess I'll ask He-who-knows-all-Python (aka Hubs).

11:07 AM  
Blogger Melinda said...

Are you sure you're not hearing Wallace (of Wallace & Gromit) saying Wensleydale?

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Dipsy said...

Ahhh, I loved reading through your story and seeing all those pics, such an amazing countryside! I would have loved to join you there, though it sounds like pretty much of a walk to me, I'm afraid I would have crashed after a few miles :) Thanks for sharing!

1:05 AM  

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