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Ancient Feet: 60 - Nowt So Queer As Folk

...However, one of the main attractions and the main attraction for us was the presence of the Lord Stones Cafe, which is built into the hillside. A pot of tea and a homemade currant scone (with jam and butter) was good value at £2...

Alan Nolan continues his account of a tasty walk with his mates from one side of England to the other.

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Just before reaching Osmotherley on the Saturday afternoon, we had entered the third National Park of our journey, the North York Moors National Park, through which we would now walk to the end of our odyssey in three days time. Sunday's trek would take us to the Lion Inn at Blakey, although Wainwright split this into two sections of about twelve miles to Clay Bank Top, followed by a further nine and a quarter miles to Blakey. Our journey that day would be about twenty-one and a half miles, coinciding with the Cleveland Way for much of the day.

Andy was nowhere to be seen when we got up but, when we went down for breakfast, we found him watching television again and it was fortunate for us that there was no TV in the dormitory or, no doubt, we would have had a disturbed night. He was watching one of those Sunday morning political programmes and Tony Blair was on screen surrounded by a group of new Labour MPs.

'Just look at the puffed up nancy boy with his gang of aconites,' he blustered.

'Aconites are a type of plant,' Paul pointed out, in his customary quiet way. 'I think the word you're looking for is acolytes.'

'Well, look at them all sucking up to him. Bunch of bloody psychopaths.'

'I think you mean sycophants,' Paul corrected.

'I know what I mean.'

Having driven all the way up from Derbyshire, Andy was not going to miss out on walking altogether, so he walked with us for the first three quarters of an hour or so, before leaving us to follow a circular route back to the youth hostel and his car. The weather was good and the morning's walk over the Cleveland hills was just wonderful. These hills may not be particularly high but provide great walking with good views on a clear day such as we enjoyed that Sunday. The highest point on the first section of the day's walk is the summit of Carlton Moor at 1,338 feet and there are great views of the agricultural plain to the north and to industrial Teesside. After Carlton Moor, there is a descent to a depression in the hills, known as Carlton Bank Top. This proved to be a busy area on this pleasant Sunday morning as there is a minor road through the depression which allows car trippers access, and the area is popular-with kite fliers and hang gliders. It is also a popular spot for cyclists.

However, one of the main attractions and the main attraction for us was the presence of the Lord Stones Cafe, which is built into the hillside. A pot of tea and a homemade currant scone (with jam and butter) was good value at £2. Paul and I had established a lead over Tom and Joe, but they arrived just as we were leaving the Lord Stones and we would not see them again until they reached our destination later that day.

The only problem with a depression is that you have to gain height again and we were faced with a short, stiff climb to Cringle End where there is a wonderful view point. From Cringle End the path led on to the summit of Cringle Moor at 1,427 feet.

Along this stretch, we passed two young men and a young woman who were on the Coast to Coast but travelling east to west and camping, so they had the customary heavy packs although, strangely, we never met anyone with a pack the size of Don's. I wonder why? They also had a little dog who was carrying his own equipment in panniers strapped to both sides of his body, and he seemed very pleased with himself. My first thought was that I could have brought Robbie, Bryn and Maddie, our three border collies who could have eased my own load considerably if I attached panniers to all three of them. But when I thought about it a bit more carefully, I decided that it was not such a good idea as Suzanne would have insisted that I take enough dog food for twelve days, water, bedding, leads, poo bags, dog first aid kits, food bowls, treats and no end of other doggy things. The thought of my own burden being eased was quickly erased as I realised I would need to employ at least two Sherpas to share the load.


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