Our accommodations in Great Broughton were quite different than what we had grown accustomed to thus far. In place of the small, cozy B&B experience of Kirkby Stephens or St. Bees, we were met with a very familiar, seemingly corporate hotel with over twenty rooms, a banquet hall, and a restaurant. If it had had a swimming pool we would have been guaranteed the standard “Best Western” experience. It had the feel of countless wayside hotels and motels that I have stayed at throughout my life. All choose to focus on efficiency rather than a truly welcoming and comfortable experience. The Wainstones Hotel catered to its walking clientele with a special pamphlet full of welcoming cheer, boot drying arrangements, and information about breakfast, but it was not nearly as inviting as the places we’ve come through on the trail.
In the morning, we had to be ferried back to the trailhead with some of our fellow hikers. There, a group of five, we parted ways. Our hiking speeds naturally created separation and we were once again alone in the fog. Unlike yesterday, our visibility was far superior. As we walked effortlessly along the railroad bed, we peered down into heather lined valleys with pasture lands far below. This view wasn’t necessarily new to us, but the gradients of heather, bracken, and pasture created a wonderful separation of color and texture on the horizon. The sheep and grouse wandered aimlessly among the vista, giving us blank stares as we passed.
Like yesterday, it was windy, wet, and cold. We moved quickly knowing that hot coffee and a warm meal waited ahead of us. While some trails actively try to slow hikers down, this path had been designed for speed. Following the path of an old railroad, our trail was straight and gently sloping downhill. It was the perfect trail for the less-than-ideal weather we had to hike through. With only nine miles to go, our hike didn’t take long at all. Despite its brevity, our fingers had already begun to seize up with the chill. Before we knew it, we rounded a bend and our eyes fell upon the Lion Inn. Although many village pubs in the towns we’ve visited have had history, none have quite as much of it as the Lion Inn. Since its opening in the 16th century, the Lion Inn has sat atop an isolated ridge, miles from any would-be customers. Despite its lonely perch, it has thrived, and continues to be an icon of the North Yorkshire Moors to this day.
For us, the Lion Inn marked the end of our walk. Once we had settled down inside and removed our soggy outerwear, we understood why this inn had such staying power. The pub was charming and cozy. It resonated with a warmth that felt absent from so many of the pubs we had passed through thus far. Most of all, it felt inviting. Even though we entered with muddy boots and soaking clothes, the barman was unfazed by our appearance or our soggy state, replying cheerfully that we should sit anywhere we liked. After a cup of coffee (and a pint of the local ale for my Dad), we felt rejuvenated enough for lunch. We soon discovered that the Lion Inn provided more than just a comforting atmosphere, but excellent food as well! We lingered for almost two hours, eating, drinking, and enjoying the relief offered by the Lion Inn.
Our jouney, however, was not yet over for we were not actually staying at the Lion Inn. We had to arrange a pick up with our hosts, who lived about three or four miles away. After we had enjoyed the Lion Inn’s offerings, we drove off to the lovely Church House B&B, where we kicked off our boots and resumed our lazy Tuesday afternoon. Not a bad way to spend an dreary day in the North Yorkshire Moors!