Sunday, 12 April 2015

Cleveland Way Day 2

Day 2 - 22.96mi or 36.96km
Spring Bank Wood >> Over Silton Moor My alarm goes off at around half 7. It’s pretty quiet outside, no birds chirping away, no bustle of the wind through the trees, nothing. It’s already light and cold outside. I roll over and stare at the tent door in anticipation of getting up. It doesn’t really happen how I intend it too and we begin walking late. Breakfast doesn't happen either. I was eager to get walking, despite our late start and could see a blue sky which makes a difference when you're out all day in the elements. We were heading towards a little village called Osmotherly which we were optimistic to get to. This was false hope as we believed it to have a Topshop and a Boots - 2 shops you’d find on the high street giving us the impression that we could restock our food well and that it was more of a town than a little village. It turns out that the “Boots” shop related to hiking shoes and the “Topshop” was a small local shop, the shelves dusty and bare. Course any food is better than no food even if our hopes had taken a sudden nose dive. We got a chocolate bar each and some overly priced water. The owner chatting away merrily to a local then scowling slightly as she stamped our Cleveland passports. We had a pit stop at the public toilet which were free! They also happened to be twinned with a toilet in Cambodia, which was very cool but also very random. For the next section we didn’t have this map as it was only 2 miles onto another map then back.

Returning to the wilderness we immediately gain height climbing a hill and arrive at the top. We manage to keep going, our steady pace due to over taking a group of day hikers and wanting to avoid that awkward repassing moment again. Were huffing by the time we reach the top but are pleased to have maintain our steady pace. I smile faintly as I remember what my DOE instructor (fondly called Bossman) said about anyone can walk but being able to ascend an incline and keep going at the top - that separated walkers from the hikers.
From the top we can see the whole of the moorland and Middlesborough to the west it’s blue Transporter Bridge an obvious landmark.

“I’m so glad it stopped raining and the visibility is good” I say to Joe who agrees.

“and there is little wind, for now” Yeah the light breeze was appreciated to cool us down but we knew once we reached the coast the gales would soon be sweeping inland. One of my pet hates is the wind, give me rain or snow, but the wind...

Through the moors we follow the sloping hills of the trail, walking on stones laid by farmers and volunteers. All worn down so perfectly they look so natural. The pastoral stone walls, verdant hills and grey landscape the epitome of walking in Britain. Then out of nowhere 4 Tornados fighter jets blast in over head. I’m too slow to get my camera out but manage a shaky video of their tail ends.

Joe checks the map and points out 5 sudden hills coming up in succession gaining and loosing heights of around 450ft - 137m. We tackled the first one head on and the views from the top were pretty spectacular, everything below us was extremely flat and small. The little patchwork quilt of greens and browns fields with roads splitting them. Dark shadows of the clouds loom over them from above. Then back down we went and then back up. We ascend and descend, the wind picking up. By the last hill me feet were feeling the pinch and Joe’s left knee was not happy especially on the descent.  Those hills had pretty much finished us off for the day.

It was slightly annoying that we were so tired and yet it felt like we’d barely covered any distance - in terms of height we’d made progress but in terms of mileage per hour we had slowed. Even if today was our highest mileage count. We were knackered by the end of the onslaught and were running low on water, I’m glad it wasn’t sunny. Kildale was our next refuel point which was still 7 miles across more open moorland. We had miscalculated the mileage and if we maintained a steady 3.5 miles an hour it would get us to Kildale before dark. We ascended the final hill and entered dense moorland separated only by a sandy dirt road and reached  Bloworth Crossing. The only other hiker we saw this late was (thinking back) a serious thru-hiker. His pack was small and he had 2 little pouches attached to his front. Dull clouds piled in from the coast and our heads were down as we hiked, pouring out miles as fast as our battered feet and limbs would carry us. Joe's knee got worse in last few miles making downhill a painful effort. Descending down into Battersby Moor as we skirt the edge of Kildale Moor.  I was getting desperate to get into the little village before dark and find somewhere to pitch the tent.  My feet were pretty tender at this point and every second step had me wincing. I hated stopping as the pain would return and I’d have to rebuild the numbness in my feet to brace the pain. Joe stopped frequently, his knees needing rest.

“I just need to rest a bit, my knees”

“But it’s getting dark, we need to get there before dark, the pub might close, we need to keep walking, ok 5 minutes”

Kildale was getting close were we could relax and the sooner we got there the sooner we could stop for good. We knew there was pub there which meant warmth and shelter from the moorland wind and most importantly it meant pub food!!  We’d been talking of food as though it was porn in it’s own right, pints of ale and cider which would send us merrily to sleep after our long day of hiking hardship. I had to bride Joe into the last 2 miles saying I’d pay for us to eat, I’d buy him several pints. He gradually sped up and we hit a more level walking ground. Eventually Kildale came into view, the twinkling lights beckoning us closer and leading us into the center of the tiny village. I check the map and see that there should be public house and unfortunately there isn’t.

“But it has to be here! It has to be! Look!” I jab angrily at the map, “PH which means public house”

“The maps old, it probably closed down years ago”

At this point we were hobbling and extremely exasperated by thirst and hunger. The meager meals left in our packs not worthy to be eaten. Our dreams of plates piled high with steaming food were at an end. My choice had been a bulging tuna sandwich with melted cheese oozing out the sides with salad and chips followed by a hot golden syrup steamed pudding and custard accompanied by a sugary cider or coke. My mouth watered at the prospect as it disappeared into thin air before my eyes. Joe’s choice of grub had been a steak and Ale pie with all the trimmings and a lovely smooth ale to top it off nicely. It was getting dark and we wandered  the hamlet aimlessly and deflated.

After searching every corner of the village we eventually came to rest at the train station. It had public toilets and a weather worn wooden bench. I filled our water bottles up in the bathroom using those button operated hole-in-the-wall sinks which 3 options for water, soap and air. It took a while to fill our bottles and platypuses but I’m glad I took that moment in time to hobble back and forth between the toilet block as they automatically locked themselves at 8pm. If I had known they were going to that I would have locked myself inside, be it a toilet it had some form of heating. I don’t know how exactly but it was warm in there.

Regardless of the toilets self barricading themselves from any night time visitors I was relieved to have some form of water. We boiled up our last 2 packets of noodles, the cheap ramen floating in the powdery mixture, swirling from the heat. It tasted so good even though it was pretty dismal comparison to the pub food we had originally envisioned. In the growing twilight we had to pitch our tent somewhere and were well aware that that was not going to be easy in the village center next to the trail station. We devoured our meal with ease still hungry and opted for the sparse woodland behind the train station. The ground wasn’t exactly flat and we cleared as much as we could but gave up and pitched the tent which was a messy affair. By 10pm we were sleeping and exhausted. My legs ached from the miles we traverse today and prevented me from sleeping. We watched as headlights drove around us pausing for apparently no reason making us hold our breath before driving off and leaving us in darkness. The wind circled the tent, running around the trees surrounding us sounding like heavy traffic. Somewhere nearby an owl hooted.  The tent is a dark blue but still not exactly discreet.  We eventually fell asleep but the deep restful sleep we needed eluded us and when we woke it felt like only a few hours had passed.