On Thursday, we awoke to a somewhat awkward communal breakfast at our B&B. We huddled at one end of the table, while a rather nosy and talkative Coast to Coaster kept attempting to fill the silence from the far end of the table. Soon after, two more couples filled in the extra seats and the conversation oscillated between hushed whispers to forced attempts at all-inclusive topics. We ate quickly.
This day, and the days, were all relatively straight forward in terms of mileage and terrain. As we continued to follow the Swale River, our path plodded over pastures before rising into more wooded realms. Forests are something that we have not experienced much of yet, but this day was full of them. From the woods outside of Marrick Abbey to the forest leading into Richmond, we had our fair share of time underneath old, vibrant forests. A welcome change to the ever present pasture. As we left our last forest behind, we dropped into Richmond, the biggest city on the Coast to Coast.
With over 8,000 people, you might ask why Wainwright routed the Coast to Coast through Richmond, when he generally tries so hard to avoid population centers. I was not sure what to expect to be honest, but I can say this: when you step away from the path and head into town, it is clear why Wainwright made the decision he did. From the outskirts, you see the Norman keep rising above the city, a stark reminder of conquest and medieval power. Entering the town, you pass by the Georgian theatre, a relic of the 18th century that still shows plays. Walk further still and you find yourself in a cobblestone market square surrounded by bakeries, tea houses, pubs, and a myriad of other little stores, all in the shadow of the keep. Not a bad spot for a rest day…
After our brief exploration, we headed straight for our B&B, which turned out to be an odd fusion of 1970s decor and Elvis/Beatlemania. Shag carpeting, skylights, paintings of naked women, Rock’n Roll hits playing from the living room, and, of course, a hot tub. It wasn’t what we expected, and was definitely a far cry from our hyper traditional B&B in Reeth, but it felt perfect. Our post-arrival routines kicked in and we were soon showered and ready for the night.
We kicked things off with a fantastic Indian meal just down the street. I ran into a bit of a sticky situation with a cream-based curry sauce, but they worked their magic and cooked up a delicious meal to spite me. After that, we decided to give the Georgian Theatre a try. The local amateur theatre group was putting on a 1920s era version of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. They did pretty well and some of them had real talent, but the 18th century theatre seats were definitely not built for people the size of me and my father. We were cramped, uncomfortable, and eventually escaped at intermission. It was worth a shot, but not worth a sore neck after a long day of hiking. Knowing that tomorrow would be full of adventure, we headed straight to bed.