Swainby to Osmotherley – New Years Eve 2015
We meet at the office on Friday night over a couple of glasses of golden water. George has a plan to walk from Swainby to Osmotherley via the Cleveland Way. It’s the most challenging hill climb that I’ve done since my op so there’s an added edge to the adventure.
We’ve a good turn out as we assemble outside All Saints and wait for the X80, our old farts passes poised for inspection.
The weather has been seriously inclement but today is dry save for the wind driving heavy clouds across the sky. There is a healthy number of travellers on the bus all wrapped up against the wind but not the cold. Yes, there is a lively wind blowing but it’s surprising how warm it is. I’m carrying a haversack with waterproof leggings and a medium weight coat that can be unwrapped quickly should the weather change and there’s every possibility of that today.
We arrive in Swainby and gather up our final adventurer in the form of Peter who lives in this delightful little village. Now quorate, we head south-east past the church and out of the village meeting a number of locals as we walk. All, without exception, give a nod, smile or a cheerful hello, such a nice village. As the road turns right we carry straight on through a gate and cross the Cleveland Way which disappears left towards Stokesley and right towards Osmotherley. Ozzy is our destination but we’re taking the route that includes what the locals refer to as Cardiac Hill. This is a well marked bridal way that has one stand out feature, it goes ‘up’, and when we think we’re ‘up’, it goes up some more. We set our sight on a curve that looks like the summit but on reaching it there’s some more ‘up’ to contend with. This really is the most aptly named hill in Yorkshire.
Cuz George (he’s not really my cousin but with three Georges in the group it makes sense to use his relationship with Hayden as a handle to differentiate. The other George, Mr. Renwick will be The Governor from now just for clarity!) Cuz George is walking with me and explains the rudiments of walking up hill with his experience in H.M. Forces, take shorter steps on steep inclines, it’s easier on the joints and less taxing. I adopt an artificially short step and find he’s right, we do learn such a lot on these outings.
There are numerous groups (or whatever the collective noun is for more than one horse rider, numerous ‘neighs’ perhaps) of horses complete with pleasant riders who nod and greet us with cheery waves and a smile.
We stop at the cattle grid and make a few photographs looking along Scugdale Beck towards the wonderfully named Snotterdale. As an aside, I’d love to know how this delightful area got its name, was it a sneezing shepherd or perhaps a sheep with a cold, answers in the comments below please? As George (The Governor) and Bri make their way towards the cattle grid I get a couple of nice photographs of them with Whorl Hill in the background. The sky has cleared now and there is quite an expanse of blue with just the occasional cumulus scurrying towards the Tees. They’re being driven by a brisk and, by now, bitingly cold wind, such a contrast from the warm breeze at the bus stop earlier; it’s time to break out the coat.
There is a track immediately after the grid but it’s running with water and looks quite boggy so The Gov. makes a suggestion that we take a very slightly longer route that keeps us on the well-maintained tracks that are surprisingly clear of the clay and soft mud that is prevalent off-piste.
A couple of hundred metres and we’re turning right and almost coming back on ourselves which turns us into the vicious gusts and makes our eyes water. This is about the only time that I’m glad to be wearing glasses. Cuz George has donned a balaclava thingy and looks like a terrorist. I quip that the banks are shut and we know who he is anyway but it’s lost in another gust that bends the one single sapling standing lonely in the bracken and encourages us to zip up our coats all the way to the neck to keep out the cold.
The track is relatively straight and acts as a delimiter between woods on our right and a dry stone wall that is in the final stages of disrepair but does create some excellent opportunities for landscape photos using it as foreground interest.
Chris, our athletic (nearly) septuagenarian, is off like a rocket, he’s making great strides and outpaces us to gain a 200 metre lead before he realises he’s talking to himself so he slows down!
We all have our own way of maintaining the balance between stamina and pace. Bri adopts a low gear approach to hills and a brisk pace on the flat followed by a more cautious approach to downhill work. Chris is the athlete and the rest of us somewhere in the middle. This ensures that no-one is ever exposed to individual risk and The Gov. even created some flat walks to enable my own rehabilitation following my op. The dynamics of the group also ensures that conversations happen between different individuals throughout the walk. In short, the whole thing is brilliantly inclusive.
We turn left and cross the grouse moor, Pamperdale Ridge is in the distance and we walk down along Red Way and assemble on the bridge at Sheepwash for more photos. Someone quips that we should all take up new careers as models for outdoor gear, please contact me for rates!
It’s easy going now as we walk adjacent to Cod Beck Reservoir and sit on the wall of the dam for lunch. It’s an absolutely beautiful day and there are many families taking advantage of this wonderful area.
Fed and watered now we head towards Osmotherley taking in the view down Cote Gyhll and enter this beautiful village via North End. The Queen Catherine is the planned destination for coffee or beer and on other occasions has also been the hostelry of choice for a full meal whilst waiting for the bus. I can recommend the corned beef pie which is the size of a small breeze block and jaw drippingly full of flavour. If I were vegetarian I’d have the day off for a piece of that pie.
We make our way to the bus stop our passes in hand for the Abbots bus driver to inspect. This service is excellent, they’re usually punctual, the driver is always cheerful and on the odd occasion when I’ve asked, they’ve set me down near the road that I live rather than at the official bus stop which would have meant a route march home. Thank you Abbots.
Today we all go on to the Town Hall stop in Northallerton for a quick meeting with the new full-time member of the team who retired today. He’s been a part-timer for a while but will be joining us rather more often in 2016. Welcome Dave.
Swainby to Osmotherley can be walked in a number of different wways Our route today is 9km (about 5.5 miles) and with the exception of the first one and a half kilometres (1 mile) is easy. We took two and half hours but we stop to take in the views and make photographs. Enjoy the pictures. G…x