Distance: 13.5 miles
The exertions of the day before resulting in sore, cramping legs combined with a room that was too hot, meant I had a poor night sleep. Examining my feet in the morning, I found a huge blister on my baby toe, which wasn't really painful but made fitting my foot in my boot a bit of a squeeze. More of an issue was shin splints. Almost two weeks of solid walking, combined with a gargantuan effort the previous day had put serious strain on my feet and legs. Only two more days to go but every step was going to hurt. A lot.
After our usual dance of lotions, potions, unpacking and repacking, we had a hasty breakfast in an overheated dining room and were ready to leave. After saying our goodbyes to the Italian Job and Aussies, we set off into a mild, muggy and misty day.
Although we were still in the moors, the day's stomp was along a road. It was a slightly eerie feeling walking through mist, with no perception of where we really were. As the morning grew warner, the mists slowly started to burn off, revealing valleys in the distance. Our only company was sheep and the sound of our boots crunching on tarmac.
Our guide book told us to look out for Fat Betty, a white landmark where tradition dictates that you both take and leave a gift for fellow travellers. We duly did this, getting rid of some of the many packed lunch biscuits we'd manage to accumulate on our travels. (Top tip: if paying for a packed lunch, ask for sandwich only every few days to avoid an accumulation of crisps, biscuits and fruit weighing down your pack.)
We punctuated our walk with many rest stops as our feet and legs were not happy. At last we left the road behind and set off across Glaisdale High Moor, slowly climbing before dropping down into village, where we took advantage of the Glaisdale tearoom. Two lovely, cheerful ladies running the tearoom served us cups of tea and cheese toasties. We weren't hungry but felt we had to buy something in exchange for being able to sit down a while.
We couldn't sit there all day though, much as our feet would have liked it, so we plodded on down a steep hill, past Beggar's Bridge and then through the woods that run alongside the Esk River. I'd done this particular stretch of the Esk River Valley Walk once before and had damaged my achilles in the process. And here I was again in just about as much agony.
Our route - with many ups and downs but which felt flat in contrast to the day before - took us on to the ridiculously pretty village of Egton Bridge. The coast to coast path takes you past the Egton Estate with a palatial house and grounds, complete with sheep. A sign from an old toll house spoke of simpler days gone by.
At last we got to Grosmont, a place I'd passed through before on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. As luck would have it, the Pullman train was there with everyone dressed in their finery for a fancy meal out on the old steam train. We stared at them and they at us, in our bedraggled state. We arrived at our B&B for the night, a very fancy place called the Gallery. The decor looked more like that of a posh London hotel so it was a treat to have a long soak in the bath and rest our weary legs. Less fun was the fact that the Packhorse bag van had broken down so we had to put our dirty, smelly clothes back on before we could head out for dinner. But by this point, we were well beyond caring what we looked like.
We found the village pub and after another low fat meal of burgers, chips, beer and whisky, we headed back to find our bags waiting for us. We spent a lot of time massing our legs that night in preparation for our final push. We only had one more day to go and we needed our legs to complete it! I had mixed feelings about it all ending. What a fabulous adventure it had been, but my legs and feet were certainly in need of a long rest.