Soo Peeps, today we learn that there can be blue skies and sunshine but the wind, when it blows from the north, can be vicious.
I’ve got an early start from York and have the delight of driving the full length of the Vale of York during the golden hour. This is when the sun is low and the light is gloriously soft but shadows are hard and black. It creates a three ‘d’ world composed of broad-leafed trees in full autumn colours enhanced by the yellow hue of the early morning light.
I’ve picked up both of my chums and now on my way to Chop Gate and the car park at the edge of the village. It’s served by an honesty box and we feed it if only for the luxury of the toilet block which is well used but clean and much appreciated.
After a quick change of boots and the addition of some warmer clothes we’re off at a pace through Chop Gate village and heading onto the moor through a muddy cut. There’s been a significant amount of rain last night and we’re soon slipping, sliding and squelching through mud that’s calf-deep if you lose concentration.
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There’s a physical irony as we walk in mud but the sun is making us sweat as the gradient and mud take their combined toll. At the top of the gully, the trees and bushes end and the moor begins and we experience the first false summit.
The exposed moor is being raked with a strong north wind, it’s gusty and cold but the sun is warm and we lean into it as we walk towards the next false summit. I count four before it flattens out to reveal a wonderful track stretching into the distance across such a beautiful, desolate, appropriately named, Cold Moor.
Wainstones is on our right and Roseberry in the distance, we reach the Cleveland Way and turn left towards Cringle Moor. There’s a serious ‘down’ followed by an even more serious ‘up’ and we have to stop several times. Dave offers me some Kendal Mint Cake which is, in reality, neat sugar with some mint in it; it does the trick and whilst we’re not jogging to the next summit, we’re certainly moving with a little more energy.
At the top of Cringle, the view is fabulous and the wind is blowing onto the moor so the feeling of insecurity that we’ve felt before isn’t present. There’s a viewpoint towards the Lordstones end and it’s well worth a stop, I do and shoot some video, it’s fabulous.
The walk down to Lordstones is taxing on the front of the legs but it’s also good exercise for out walk in a couple of weeks time at the bottom we meet George and Pete who’ve walked around Cringle to avoid compounding a back problem that’s been playing up.
We stop at Lordstones for an hour and we’re well looked after by cheerful and efficient staff serving well-stuffed bacon sandwiches and vegetarian stuff for non-meat eaters then we’re off again.
This stop is only half way around and the sustenance has given us new energy. The walk to the top of Bilsdale West Moor is done with a spring in the step and plenty of anecdotes that I shall not record here for fear of accusations of one track minds and male orientated thoughts when, in reality, our conversations tend to cover politics, misogyny, space travel, personal things! and huge numbers of other subjects but the funny ones that draw most attention usually involve rude stuff but it’s not ALL we discuss.
OK, I admit we did discuss the 4 times magnification on Dave’s glasses and their use for accenting the size of his willy but there was a lot of other more intellectual things covered, although, I have to say, they weren’t as funny.
We’re on Billsdale West Moor and making good progress when we notice several four by fours of considerable size populated by numerous people with flags. The gate we are approaching is chained and locked but the track is clear so we climb over it.
George and I make our way towards a man who is carrying a flag and is surrounded by obedient dogs who sit around his legs awaiting his bid.
George makes his way through the heather and I stand to one side with a view to discussing the situation with another man who’s in the heather to my side. George greets the man and tells him that we’re ramblers and could we go through. I have to confess that I am expecting a less than positive reply but no, he’s polite and friendly, “Ay, you’ll be fine, just stick to the track”, was his direction.
George says, “We just don’t want to spoil your day” and the man’s reply is equally pragmatic.
“Stick to the track”, he says, “We don’t want to spoil yours either”.
Then he adds. “I’ll radio ahead so they know you’ll be coming”
The rest of the track was met with various people with flags, all with a cheery wave and a wonderful local accent, “All right?” and our response, “Ay, enjoy your day”, all very amicable.
We turn left at Cock Howe, it’s a thingy that sticks out of the ground that’s surrounded by stones. The angle illustrates its name but I’ll not go into that! we’re going downhill now and it feels good but there’s more of the clingy mud.
The last two miles are down, seriously down. We do ‘down’ with a vengeance and mix it with more mud so we slide a bit. Towards Chop Gate, we drop into a gully and ‘enjoy’ the smells of farming life where bovines have left evidence of their existence for us to tread in and slide.
We arrive back at the car park six hours after our departure and we know we’ve been on a walk. This is a good’n. It’s not that long at 16 km but it has a fair amount of ‘up’ and some testing ‘down’. Under no circumstance do it in reverse, if you look at the contours and how close they are, you’ll understand.
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This is life after an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm open repair. Don’t be afraid of the operation, it set me free. Please be encouraged and inspired to do something similar…G..x
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