On Tuesday morning we awoke to a crystal clear blue sky. The mist, drizzle and cold chill from the day before had vanished to be replaced with a very hot twenty-nine degrees, even at 8am in the morning.
After a big breakfast, we gathered at the foot of the monument in the town square and caught the 159 bus to Middleham, where we began our first walk towards to Aysgarth Falls. We enjoyed a fairly level walk through lower Wensleydale and the Valley of the River Ure, taking in Middleham Moor with views north to Wensley Village.
It wasn’t long into the walk when we realised that the sudden and surprising onset of the high temperature was slowing us down and causing some dramatic fluctuations in some of our group’s blood-glucose levels. This was easily rectified with some jelly babies, biscuits and sugary drinks and further finger-prick testing. Once Angela was happy that everyone was OK, we set off again.
Not only was the heat a surprise, but the intense rain fall of the previous weeks had given the ground such a good watering that we now found ourselves walking through fields of thick and heavy calf-high grass, which was very hard going on the leg muscles.
At the mid-way point a small village pub made for a welcome sight and we set down our backpacks and walking poles and ordered some iced drinks to enjoy with our packed lunches. At this point Angela decided to send a couple from our group back to Richmond on the bus because the heat was really affecting their blood-glucose and fluid levels, enough to be of concern.
The rest of us continued for about half an hour until we came to the ruins of Penhill Preceptory, an ancient chapel belonging to the Nights Templar, built in the year 1200. With four miles to go to Aysgarth Falls, our leader Elizabeth, Angela and I decided it was time to quit while we were ahead and abandon our efforts.
The sun was beating down, the humidity was high and the walk was becoming unpleasant. Everyone agreed and we headed back to the village and a farm coffee shop, where we had a lovely pot of tea and slice of cake while we waited for the bus back to Richmond.
On Wednesday the morning sun was even hotter. By 7am it was already intense, so it was decided that we should adapt the walk to make it a bit shorter and more suitable for our group. At 9 am our private hire bus arrived and whisked us off to the small village of Reeth where we began our walk.
The route took us along the local part of Wainwright’s Coast-to-Coast path, headed over classic Dales fields and meadows and though farmland and some wooded areas. Elizabeth led us high above the Swale where we stopped for lunch and took in the stunning views of green hills, blue sky and countryside for as far as we could see.
We continued all the way along the top and followed the gentle descent back down into Richmond, where we spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring the town and doing our best to stay in the shade.
Thursday was our scheduled day off from walking, and very glad we were too, as the sun was hotter still and the thought of rambling in it didn’t fill any of us with glee. Instead we headed to the historic city of York, where our group split up and headed off in different directions.
Collectively, we spent the day visiting York Minster and the surrounding parks and buildings, riding the big-wheel for a bird’s eye view of the city, filling up on knowledge at the many different museums and exploring the winding lanes of The Shambles, searching for gifts to take back home.
Happily exhausted and with tired legs and aching feet our coach took us back to Richmond where the hotel had a lovely meal waiting for us and a welcome glass of cold wine. After dinner we retired to the nook for coffee and finished the day off with a pub quiz, some prizes and lots of laughing.