This was the day. Do or Die. If we didn’t make it to our target, Ingleby Cross, today, then we really had blown it. We had read in the spare time we had the night before, in the guide book, that the entire days walk was completely flat, in fact there were no contour lines on any of the maps, not out of omission, but simply because all day the ground was between such a small range of heights, that it never crossed a contour. For this reason it is suggested that people do a few extra miles who need to catch up, also it is suggested because Wainwright himself doesn’t like flat areas, not finding their beauty in the same way that he does the hills and mountains of the Lake District.

Anyway, by now you are probably getting used to the same start: hot day, left at half eight, made our way down a road until we could find a footpath. Same thing, different day. The weather, although still as sunny, was not as hot as it had been yesterday. We made good use of the cool breeze when it came and powered through the first few miles. Infact the first three miles were passed in less than an hour. This put us in a good frame of mind and we continued well for some time.

I must say that I disagree with Wainwright. Just because the natural scenery isn’t a thousand feet tall and covered in pointy boulders that can kill and maim, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. On a day like it was, it was lovely to walk through the fields with no distractions of scrambling over rocks, or clinging for dear life to an outcropping. Just to walk through the fields, listen to the birds, and the babbling rivers and brooks. Seeing the swifts fly past and the lambs skipping about; and not from a thousand feet up. right there in front of you. Butterflies dance past, bees scurry around in flower beds. You can see it all and it is just as nice, just as interesting and just as fun to walk through. I’m not saying that I don’t like the Lake’s; I do. Their breathtaking, wild, mysterious, and awe inspiring panoramas from the top of a high point literally take your breath away at times, I just don’t get why there wasn’t the room in Wainwright’s book to comment on the nice and pleasant parts of England, not just the aggressive.

We walked until lunchtime, along some lovely country roads and through fields which were all very nice. Until one got back at Jonny, as he was climbing over a style, his bag got caught on a fence post and jarred his shoulder. Now he had two bad shoulders. This was the start of things to come with Jonny, although I did not notice it at first. When we arrived at our lunchtime halt, Danby Wiske, and its village green pub; the white swan. We had a large drink in here because the sun was starting to get to us a bit now. Along with that we had some lunch. Sitting on the green out in the sun were several different characters which we had already met along the route. A father and daughter duo, we had met in Reeth, a troupe of cyclists, a man who was walking solo, and a couple of different groups of slightly less young groups, one of which had given me the blister packs the day before.

We carried on after about forty minutes. We could have stayed there all day, when not walking the weather is most agreeable, and sitting in the sun with a glass of ice cold cola was heavenly. I did feel a bit jealous of the father-daughter pair, who were staying in the pub that night. Nothing else to do but sit in the sun. Most of the others who were sitting on the green had all left by the time we decided to go. It was just gone two o’clock. Really there is not much to say about the next few miles; more sun, more fields, more heat. We passed through field after field of sheep and tractors and the like.

A bit later we passed trough one gate which was slightly disturbing, we knew it was coming, it was in the guide but still to find a gate adorned with skulls, rats and owls, even on the brightest and sunniest of days was slightly grim. I wondered what this place had to do with death, not one hundred yards further on I got my answer, this was where we had to cross a railway, no bridges, no tunnels, no footpaths. Just a gate on either side of the tracks, and this wasn’t some pokey little branch line either, this had plenty of traffic going up and down. What had this place to do with death? I asked myself, I had my answer. Of course I haven’t uploaded this blog via a seance so you realise both Jonny and myself managed to cross the tracks unscathed. When we got to the other side, Jonny commented on how weird it was to have a footpath crossing the railway in such a manner. We’re all taught at school that the railways are dangerous places and that we should stay clear, here we’re told to cross, with nothing to stop you tripping on the tracks, no warning lights and no aids. Just a sight saying “Stop, look and listen”. More of this feeling was to follow.

The path, we could see on the map, meandered up and down, for miles. From the railway to Ingleby Cross should only have been a few miles as the crow flies, but were were walking for many miles more than that. We were starting to grow a little weary, I was certainly. I knew that when we reached a large overhead power cable we were only a few miles away. When we did finally pass the cable, I secretly celebrated the landmark with a dextro tablet. This probably was all that kept me going until the next hurdle.

The next hurdle was the A19. A very busy dual carriageway, the main way in and out of Middlesbrough, and we had to cross it… at evening rush hour. It was around half past five. We had to pick our moment carefully and go for it, otherwise we would be waiting for a big gap in the traffic until it had gotten dark. Again, you must have realised that we’re not dead. We got across unscathed, well, mostly unscathed. Running across the road I jarred my knee, which was aggravating. From this side of the A19, we had only one small hill and about 15 minutes of walking to do. Here I’d like to be dramatic and say it felt like hours and it was torture, but it seamed to take about 15 minutes, and although I was bushed it hadn’t been any more difficult than any other day.

We arrived at the Blue Bell pub, where there were people sitting outside enjoying there beer. They recognised a fellow walker, and the usual encouraging well done’s were made before we went inside. We booked a table for dinner (it was steak night) and had a quick drink, before we went back to pitch out tent. Tent pitched we enjoyed a beer and a steak the likes of which I haven’t had for a long time (seriously, I had forgotten steak could be that good). During dinner we talked to the two gentlemen who were drinking their pints when we arrived, one of them had come all the way from Australia to do the Coast-to-Coast walk. He was saying how it is one the best things he had ever done. I think I have to agree with him. Like he said, “better than pissing away your money at a bar in Bali”. After they left we were joined by the man we had seen earlier that day at the White Swan, we talked with him for a while about walking in the Lake District, and fishing in Milton Keynes before we settled our bar bill and turned in for the night.