Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Day 19 -- Great Broughton to Blakey (Lion Inn), 9 miles

Today is one of those melancholy days that every long-distance walker experiences. With the end of the walk approaching (or for me, the end of the second leg of my walk), the excitement of finishing is tempered by the separation from new friends. For days, we have been sharing trails, drinks, meals, stories and experiences, inevitably developing friendships. The conclusion of the walk marks the time when we bid adieu to our new friends, most of whom we expect never to see again. 

Today at breakfast, I bade farewell to Leo and Lynn, as they set off on the first of two 20-mile days that will bring them to the finish at Robin Hood’s Bay on Wednesday. After lunch today at the Lion Inn, Andrew, Dave, Geoff and I said our good-byes to Charlotte, who is suspending her walk to be resumed in August.

I also said good-bye to Harry, who is accelerating his walk and will finish before I do. I haven’t written much about Harry, one of the most delightful gentlemen you could hope to meet. He and I walked together for quite some time many days ago. That evening at the pub, I didn’t recognize him, and re-introduced myself. Several mornings later, I did the same thing at breakfast. Yesterday evening I did the same thing as I joined him for a beer. We had dinner together, and I must say he is a wonderful conversationalist. This morning as we waited for the shuttle to carry us to Clay Bank Top to resume the walk, I reintroduced myself to a stranger who turned out to be Harry.

One might think that senility is creeping into my aged brain, and that may be so, but I say that my inability to recognize Harry is his fault, not mine. You see, Harry sports a neatly trimmed grey beard, common among the over-60 crowd, that conceals his face and makes him look like every other over-60 bearded man who lives in my home-town retirement community known as Sun River. But the main reason is that Harry is an impeccable dresser. He always appears in a different shirt on the trail. Sometimes he wears a baseball cap, sometimes a tennis cap, sometimes no cap, with or without sunglasses. Hikers are always recognized by their attire, and if you change clothes you can’t be recognized. He’s quite possibly a movie star who is attempting to retain some anonymity.

If so, his cover is blown. Today, our walk started with a steep, lengthy climb to attain the top of the moor. Harry and I started together, but he’s a much stronger hiker than I, and he soon got far ahead. When I finally reached the crest of the hill, Harry and Charlotte were there talking with Dave and Jeff. With the exception of Charlotte, I was quite sure I hadn’t previously included any of their pictures in my blog. Not one to miss an opportunity, I grabbed the picture, which only temporarily reduced the melancholy as Harry and Charlotte soon set off at a pace I once may have maintained, but not any longer.

Charlotte (with Adventure Ted), Harry (rear), Dave and Geoff

Steep Ascent

Moorland marker