« Episode 20 | Main | Worm Farm »

Ancient Feet: 48 - REETH 3? MILES

Alan Nolan, continuing his hilarious account of a Coast to Coast walk with his mates, tells of a sign which builds up then dashes the hopes of tired hikers.

To purchase a copy of Ancient Feet visit

Signed copies of the book are available from Alan http://apn.thelea@yahoo.co.uk

The weather was improving as we walked from Gunnerside through fields of pasture, until we emerged onto the road at Isles Bridge. Where we crossed the road there was a public footpath sign indicating REETH 3? MILES. At the pace we were walking, I reckoned we should be in Reeth in just over an hour. Exactly one hour later, we reached the village of Heelaugh where there was a road sign REETH 1?. Now, admittedly this was a road sign rather than a public footpath sign but, as the footpath runs parallel to the road all the way into Reeth, there was no doubt that we still had a long way to walk. In any event, we had walked far more than two miles in the last hour.

We were lucky because we were not walking a great distance that day and were not very tired but, in other circumstances, it would have been quite distressing to find that we still had so much farther to walk than we anticipated. Whoever is responsible for these signs should be punished.

As we walked, I imagined the scene in the local Highways Department in Richmond back in the 1950s with two young men lounging with their feet up on their desks.

'Arnold, is there owt for us today?'

'We've got to let t'signwriting department know how far it is from Isles Bridge to Reeth so they can put up a footpath sign.'

'Well how far is it?'

'No idea.'

'We'll have to measure it then, but I don't fancy going out in this rain.'
'We'll just have to guess then. T'signwriters won't know any better. Any road, I was along there last week and I reckon it's about two miles.'

'But that was in your Dad's car, Arnold.'

'You're reet there, Ern. It takes much longer on a bike tha knows.'

'Exactly, it must be at least three and a half miles by bike.'

'But don't forget this is a footpath sign and it takes even longer on foot. I reckon it must be at least five miles.'

'I don't think t'signwriting department will be very 'appy if we ask 'em to do a sign saying REETH 2 (BUT 3? BY BIKE AND 5 ON FOOT).'

'I think I'll just tell 'em to put REETH 3?.'

'That's reet sensible that is, Arnold.'

So it is Arnold and Ernie who are responsible for building up and dashing the hopes of tired walkers in the Swaledale area.


Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.