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Holidaymakers at Conway, August 1958

Organised outdoor activity in the UK- The Holiday Fellowship

To provide for the healthy enjoyment of leisure

To encourage the love of the open air

To promote social and international friendship

and

To organize holiday making and other activities with these objects

T.A. Leonard, a Congregational Church minister from Colne, Lancashire

T.A. Leonard, a Congregational Church minister from Colne, Lancashire

The creation of The Holiday Fellowship is down to one man, and one man alone. Social reformer Thomas Arthur Leonard (1864-1948) was the driving force behind many organisations that sought to give people in towns and cities a taste of outdoors life. He believed that such experience was good for the soul, for health, and ultimately the community by bringing people together in shared outdoor circumstance.

Leonard had formed a rambling club in 1891 and 32 members of the Dockray Square Congregational Church in Colne, a Lancashire Mill Town,  joined him on a four night rambling holiday in Ambleside. Such was the success of this early venture that they became an eagerly looked forward to annual event. The Congregational Minister looked to further ways to get greater numbers in to the countryside. This led to the foundation of the Co-operative Holidays Association (CHA) in 1897. The CHA sought to provide- “recreative and educational holidays“. Laudable that the association was, by 1912, Leonard was at loggerheads with the CHA General Committee who, he felt, sought to appeal more to the middle class than working class. Additionally, he felt that a more international outlook was required. He announced his leaving the CHA to set up the Holiday Fellowship.  

Holiday Fellowship pin badge used by those staying at Newlands

Holiday Fellowship pin badge used by those staying at the Newlands Holiday Fellowship centre- a former graphite mill in the Lake District

Pin badge for the Holiday Fellowship

Enamelled pin badge for the Holiday Fellowship- worn with pride and fond memory, 1950s

A former pencil mill in the English Lake District, known as Newlands, had been leased from 1905, and was later bought, for £1,270 by the Holiday Fellowship. Purchased by three local businessmen in 1989, outdoor activities are still provided, by another commercial venture from the same location today. This centre saw thousands of holiday makers pass through and provided a base for group walks up in to the surrounding hills. Such was the experience that many holidaymakers would set up walking groups on their return home.

Miss Iris Hole paid £1, 9s, 6d for a weeks board and lodging at Derwent, in the English Lake District, in 1937

In December 1937 Miss Iris Hole paid £1, 9s, 6d for her holiday with the Holiday Fellowship. This was approximately equivalent to the daily wage of a skilled workman and bought her a week’s board and lodging at Derwent, in the English Lake District

From their earliest incarnations, both the Co-operative Holidays Association and the Holiday Fellowship encouraged the interaction of sexes, within limits. Accommodations remained separate but sexes met socially for dining, singing, discourse and outdoor activities. This was regarded by many as scandalous and was not the norm. Many other organisations, such as Scouting, Boys Brigade, Girls Brigade, church groups and worker’s societies discouraged such mixing. Early holiday camps were careful to remain single sex or took great steps to prevent promiscuous activity, largely to avoid external criticism and local outrage. Social norms were only now being broken down by the Holiday Fellowship and just a handful of other organisations. Following demand, in 1920 the Holiday Fellowship began Over the Hills, priced at 4d per copy, the magazine was published two or three times a year and lasted until 1982.

Newlands Centre in Keswick, English Lake District. Maud, writing from here to her friend Della in 1932 records:

Postcard showing Newlands Centre in Keswick, English Lake District. Maud, writing from here to her friend Della in 1932 records: “having a good time, weather not too good, have been doing a lot of climbing”

1927 advert of The Holiday Fellowship

1927 advert of The Holiday Fellowship

Flowers on the table and communal dining for those staying at the Holiday Fellowship Newlands Centre

Flowers on the table and communal dining for those staying at the Holiday Fellowship Newlands Centre

Programme for those staying at the Holiday Fellowship centre at Penzance, Cornwall, 1958

Programme for those staying at the Holiday Fellowship centre at Penzance, Cornwall, 1958

“and hear glad laughter and sweet speech

and friendly voices’ cadence reach

the ear in soft, caressing waves, and meet free men that are not slaves

of city toil and city hire,

but know Earth’s call and nature’s fire”

poetry extract from holiday centre programme

While Leonard favoured more spartan accommodation in remote areas, he was often at odds on this with his colleagues on the Holiday Fellowship committee, who largely preferred more comfortable facilities. Each holiday centre had a programme detailing the local arrangements and organised excursions. The Holiday Fellowship were well aware of the lives that many of their clients were escaping, albeit momentarily, and extolled the benefits of fresh air, camaraderie and worthy excursions for activities such as bathing, boating, rock climbing and walking. Holidaymakers were advised to bring simple first-aid, rucksack and nailed footwear ‘for safety’. Visitors were also encouraged to bring music if they could sing or play.

Programme of walking excursions at the Freshwater Bay centre on the Isle of Wight in 1957

Programme of short walking excursions at the Freshwater Bay centre on the Isle of Wight in 1957

'Holiday Songs' produced by the Holiday Fellowship. This is a revised edition of their first songbook- 'Songs by the Way'. Published June 1935

‘Holiday Songs’ published by the Holiday Fellowship in June 1935. This is a revised edition of their first songbook- ‘Songs by the Way’.

In common with the Co-operative Holidays Association (not surprisingly, as it was also created by Leonard) group song was a large feature of life with the Holiday Fellowship. So much so that, right from its foundation, small songbooks were both published and purchased in large numbers. Songs included: Jerusalem, John Peel, Oh dear! what can the matter be?, Early one morning, Dixie Land, Clementine and On Ilkley Moor baht ‘at.

“don’t start a sing-song with a new tune; have two or three well-known songs first, just to open the pipes… If a lack of interest is shown, stimulate the company by introducing a competitive spirit, men against women, or half the room against the other half “

Flying in the face of outward prejudice, the Holiday Fellowship encouraged house-parties to form into groups of new friends- regardless of class, creed or colour.

Enamelled pin badge. The rucksack emphasises the organisation's walking ethos

Enamelled pin badge. The rucksack emphasised the organisation’s walking ethos

1960's Holiday Fellowship button badge

Cheaply made Holiday Fellowship button badge with the HF logo introduced in 1961

Published in June 1935, the song book illustrated above is a revised edition of the second produced by the Holiday Fellowship and contains 78 songs or part songs including rounds. Certain songs had fallen ‘out of favour’ hence the revised edition.

Walking arm in arm through towns and country, singing loudly, much to the occasional annoyance of locals, groups of Holiday Fellowship walkers enjoyed access to beautiful parts of the countryside that dour magazines and newspapers only hinted at. Badges and patches proclaimed their allegiance to not only their new-found comrades but an outdoor life that they often embraced long after their week away.

Appearing quite spartan and reminiscent of an internment camp, the accommodation sheds of the Holiday Fellowship camp at Conway were, nonetheless, a welcome respite for many, 1922

Appearing quite spartan and reminiscent of an internment camp, the accommodation sheds of the Holiday Fellowship camp at Conwy were, nonetheless, a welcome respite from the workplace for many. Photographed in the early 1920s

Alongside Newlands, the Holiday Fellowship also had another centre when it started up. Their headquarters was situated at Bryn Coarach near Conway, in North Wales. Leonard was General Secretary of the Holiday Fellowship until 1925 when headquarters relocated to London,

Surrounded by mountains, the associated holiday camp at Conway provided a wonderful opportunity to escape to the hills in the company of like minded souls. Many of these ramblers were enjoying a paid holiday as only a recently granted privilege.

“The centres are chosen with an eye to local interest and surrounding beauty, whether by mountain, lake or sea and, as well as the beauty and quiet of the natural scene and the attractions of local arts and crafts and local history and customs, there will be a genial welcome from the local inhabitants- all factors conducive to an atmosphere of relaxation, tolerance and friendliness among members of the house-party enjoying an H.F. holiday”

The Holiday Fellowship also catered for those seeking more strenuous activity than that offered by a simple coach tour

The Holiday Fellowship also catered for those seeking more strenuous activity than that offered by a simple coach tour

Leonard’s influence with many walking and outdoor organisations is largely unrecognised today. He doesn’t even appear on the Wikipedia page for Colne, the birthplace of his radical social reform. When the YHA was formally founded in 1930, Leonard became one of it’s four vice-presidents. He was also a founding member of the Friends of the Lake District in 1934. The Grey Court Fellowship, with Leonard as president, was founded in 1935 to provide holidays for the unemployed and disadvantaged workers and their families from north-east Lancashire. He was president of the Merseyside Ramblers’ Association, first chairman of the National Council of Rambler’s Federations and first president of the Rambler’s Association. Leonard was awarded the OBE in 1937 for his work in outdoor activity, no doubt this also took account of much unsung work, such as his founding of the Family Holidays Association set up after the Second World War to make former training camps available as holiday homes.

Leonard remained the Holiday Fellowship’s International Secretary until 1930. On his retirement in 1932, the Holiday Fellowship gave him a house in Patterdale, eastern Lake District.  He became their President in 1938. Ever one to look at opportunity, Leonard lent Goldrill House to the YHA as one of its first hostels. He died in 1948, the organisations he had founded continued.

The 1962 brochure from the Holiday Fellowship advertised a wide range of European Centres where holidaymakers could stay, alongside walking and climbing tours, coach and specialist interest holidays

The 1962 brochure from the Holiday Fellowship advertised a wide range of European Centres where holidaymakers could stay, alongside walking and climbing tours, coach and specialist interest holidays

The Holiday Fellowship always had the aim of promoting social and international friendship and their number of UK based guest houses quickly expanded beyond their initial two at Conwy and Newlands, by the 1960s they owned 32 Centres in the UK and dozens more based in hotels or pensions in twelve countries across Europe.

Button badges from the 1990s/2000s

Holiday Fellowship button badges produced from 1973 to late 1980s

In common with many other organisations (other than the YHA which remains an anomaly), the Holiday Fellowship underwent a rebranding exercise in 1982 and is now called HF Holidays. It remains one of the largest providers of outdoor holidays in the UK. Proudly stating that they remain the UK’s only co-operative holiday provider, HF Holidays continues the outward ethos propagated by Leonard and arranges international holidays, encouraging comradeship across borders.

1962 advert for canoe camping holiday in the former country of Yugoslavia

1962 advert for canoe camping holiday in the former country of Yugoslavia

Three Points of the Compass has never holidayed with HF Holidays, it is not particularly ‘my thing’. I much prefer independent travel, or to at least make my own arrangements when ‘on the ground’. However, since its inception, this organisation has facilitated over five million people in getting outdoors, experiencing new found comradeship and international travel that they may never had enjoyed otherwise. It is to their credit that the company continues today, albeit as a commercial model in direct competition to the many hundreds of rival providers that have followed, quite literally, in their footsteps.

2019 brochure from HF Holidays advertising walking and activity holidays

2019 brochure from HF Holidays advertising walking and activity holidays

There is a timeline of many of the other most important or influential UK outdoor organisations over on my main website. I will occasionally write on a few more of these over the coming months.

Holiday Fellowship holidaymakers at the St. Edmunds School, Hindhead, Surrey

Holiday Fellowship holidaymakers at the St. Edmunds School, Hindhead, Surrey. Probably photographed between the wars

Simple to use, the little wheel is trundled along a line on a map, clicking every quarter mile

Map measurer of the month- the Velos ‘Clicker’, model 1460

Velos 'Clicker' map measurer

Velos ‘Clicker’ map measurer

“All 3 styles count the miles

on Mainroads, Coastlines and Byroads”

This is an oddity. Very little like it has been produced by any other manufacturer. It is as though the person who devised it had never come across a map measurer in his life and, with a clean sheet, came up with something new that, well, just kinda works.

Velos Clicker, model 1460, with protective chrome cap covering the measuring wheel

Velos Clicker, model 1460, with protective chrome cap covering the measuring wheel

British Industries Fair advertisement for manufacturers of 'Velos' Products, 1947

British Industries Fair advertisement for manufacturers of ‘Velos’ Products, 1947

Frank Pitchford and Co. were established in the early twentieth century. By the 1930s the company was called Rees, Pitchford and Co. Based at 72-74 Victoria Street, London, SW1, they registered the brand name Velos on 14 March 1946.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The prominent ‘V’ appeared on a wide range of products made by the company. General Velos office supplies included glass inkwells, erasers, rulers, pencil sharpeners, staples and staplers, hole punches and date stamps. Their bakelite range included desk tidys and inkwells, ashtrays and stamp wetters, and the Velos Clicker map measurer.

The distinctive Velos 'V' brand appeared on a wide range of office products from the company

The distinctive Velos ‘V’ brand appeared on a wide range of office products from the company

Simple to use, the little wheel is trundled along a line on a map, clicking every quarter mile

Simple to use, the little wheel is trundled along a line on a map, clicking every quarter mile

The side of the Velos Clicker, shown above, shows the English patent number- 422611. This was issued in 1935 and the drawing that accompanied the patent application shows well how the little wheel, when pulled along a line, would click as it rotated. The little wheel measures exactly one inch in diameter and clicks four times with each complete rotation. With a one inch to the mile map, this means that every quarter mile will be indicated with a click.

First versions of Model 1460 simply had a cambered wheel slid on to a pin mounted in the end of the handle. This could occasionally sashay rather than studiously follow a contour and the introduction of a small spring to the pin went a long way to calming its motion.

Contemporary drawing that came with the instructions on how to use the Velos Clicker

Contemporary drawing that came with the instructions on how to use the Velos Clicker

There was no risk that a user wouldn’t know how to use the instrument. Instructions were included on the box, information sheet and the side of most Clickers. Though there is a variant where the instructions were left off for some reason.

Four variants of the bakelite Velos Clicker. The development of the small wheel is apparent, as it the later inclusion of a small spring to keep the wheel steady and not swing out of position when moved along a line on a map.

Four variants of the Bakelite Velos Clicker, model 1460. The development of the small wheel is apparent, as it the later inclusion of a small spring to keep the wheel steady and not swing out of position when moved along a line on a map.

The Velos Clicker shown here also incorporated a ‘paper cutter and envelope opener’ at the other end. Rees, Pitchford and Co. actually produced at least four variants of the Clicker. The cheapest at sixpence was Model 1458 and combined the Clicker with a propelling pencil, a simple cap covered each end. For ninepence, you could purchase Model 1459. This was similar but had heavier caps, eraser, pocket clip and was chrome plated. The classic model however was Model 1460. Costing one shilling, this Clicker has a bakelite handle with letter opener at one end and Clicker at the other end. Complete with new style wheel and spring and protected by a chrome plate cap when not in use, large numbers were sold. Another robust model later appeared. Model 1461 again combining the Clicker with a propelling pencil. Models 1458, 1459 and 1461 are rarely encountered today.

Velos Clicker- Model 1460. Black bakelite handle

Velos Clicker- Model 1460. Black bakelite handle

Instruction leaflet for the Velos Clicker

Instruction leaflet for the Velos Clicker

Velos Clicker- Model 1460. Brown bakelite handle

Velos Clicker- Model 1460. Brown bakelite handle

So what happened to the Velos brand? Sadly it is rarely seen today. In 2004 the trademark was assigned to ACCO brands as just one of many that periodically appear on a myriad of office supplies. You can still come across examples of the Velos Clicker today on auction sites. One of those shown here was recently acquired for me by a work colleague as he rummaged through an auto-jumble in deepest Norfolk. Knowing my interest in such oddities he paid the grand total of three quid for it. Not that it is much use on modern metric maps though.

The Velos Clicker, ideal for measuring distance on older Ordnance Survey maps

The Velos Clicker, ideal for measuring distance on older Ordnance Survey maps

If you want to see a little more of one of these delightful little measurers, one of my favourite YouTubers- Wood & Graphic, takes an affectionate look at the Velos Clicker here.

 

Tabular Hills Walk- 50 miles from Scarborough to Helmsley

The Tabular Hills Walk: Days 8 to 10, Scarborough to Helmsley

The Sea Cut diverts the headwaters of the River Derwent toward the sea and it makes a pretty start to the Tabular Hills walk on Day One

The Sea Cut diverts the headwaters of the River Derwent toward the sea and it makes a pretty start to the Tabular Hills walk on Day One

Day 8- Scarborough to Levisham Moor

Today was Day One on the 50 mile Tabular Hills walk from Scalby Mills, near Scarborough, to Helmsley. However it was actually my eighth day on trail, the previous week having been spent completing the Cleveland Way. My intention was to spend three days on the walk, thereby completing a large circle around the North York Moors over ten days.

Three Points of the Compass pitched at the Scalby Mills Camping and Caravanning site prior his Tabular Hills walk

Three Points of the Compass pitched at the Scalby Mills Camping and Caravanning site prior his Tabular Hills walk

It had rained for an hour overnight but I slept well and rose around seven just as the rain set in again. I was excited to be off on another trail and though this was only my second night at the Scalby Mills camp site, I felt I had settled in too much and it was time to move on. I forced down a breakfast of cereal and real milk purchased from the site shop the previous day and enjoyed  couple of pints of tea. Then decided to polish off a couple of chocolate brioche and a pint and a half of milk while I waited for the rain to stop. Once it had I quickly struck camp and heaved an inordinately heavy pack on to my back. Unsure of what the water situation was going to be today, I was packing along three litres of water. The Sea Cut, looking more like a canal, was pleasant walking away from the coastal campsite. There were lots of migrant birds in the trees including Pied Flycatcher, pretty sure I saw Yellow Browed Warbler too.

A competitor in Trackrod rally 2019 accelerates past The Everley

A competitor in Trackrod rally 2019 accelerates past The Everley

Leaving the Cut I joined Mowthorpe Road where I was accompanied by dozens of competitors in Trackrod rally 2019 as they loudly accelerated up the hill on a road section of their competition. It struck me as slightly dodgy putting such enthusiastic drivers on the same road as everyday drivers including farm tractors and quad bikes. I stopped in at the genteel Everley, not only for a pot of tea and bacon sandwich but as much for respite from the race cars hurtling past me.

Once I was able to get away from the road and out into the countryside, my trail rose toward Wykeham Forest where it followed various quiet tracks through the trees. Unfortunately it wasn’t long before I was walking into Dalby Forest and the distant sound of revving motors had turned into the unmistakable sound of a car rally taking place. I wondered if I was going to be able to proceed as their were various signs up and marshals at some junctions. But despite the sight of numerous cars having drifted around corners in the soft trackways, today’s racing seemed to be occurring elsewhere and, though slightly nervous of coming across a car, or twenty, racing down the track toward me, I was able to keep going until exiting the forest on to Grime Moor.

After exiting Dalby Forest the trail approaches the sweeping bend of Hazelhead Moor before suddenyl turning off left. The rounded Blakey Topping is on the right and the ugly RAF Fylingdales in the centre can be seen from miles around

After exiting Dalby Forest the trail approaches the sweeping bend of Hazelhead Moor before suddenyl turning off left. The squat ugly RAF Fylingdales early warning station can be seen from miles around

I neared the Hole of Horcum, which is only a large depression in the terrain, albeit a depression with a wealth of local legend attached. The usual account being giants ripping clods of earth and throwing them around. Commencing my walk across Levisham Moor I stopped to chat to a large group of friends that had just finished a walk across the moor. Conversation moved to our view of Snod Hill where the odd RAF Fylingdales station is sited. The tetrahedron structure is an eyesore for miles around, it is a radar base that forms part of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System. I well remember the three 130 foot diameter geodesic domes that preceded the current station, they were dismantled between 1989 and 1992. We all agreed that, regardless of politics, the golfballs had been more attractive.

The sight, sound and smell of passing steam locomotives on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway continued into the early evening

The sight, sound and smell of passing steam locomotives on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway continued into the early evening

After an 18.5 mile day, tonight’s halt was a wild camp on Levisham Moor and I was well aware that the area is frequently visited in the evening by farmers checking their grazing sheep. So I had to be careful where I tucked myself away. My pitch wasn’t ideal but it did provide a view over the Pickering Beck valley. Grazing sheep and highland cattle regarded this interloper with disdain. The tent was up by six thirty which gave me a bit of time for a simple tent wash, change into insulation layers and cook a meal before dark fell. It was a lovely evening but I was aware that a change was forecast. It was going to get very wet before dawn came.

Wild camp on Levisham Moor

Wild camp on Levisham Moor

Day 9- Levisham Moor to Hutton-le-Hole

My second day on the Tabular Hills was going to be a wet one

My second day on the Tabular Hills was going to be a wet one

I didn’t sleep fantastically well, kept awake first by rutting deer in the forest slopes below, then by the howling wind and driving rain. But I snatched some hours of sleep before rising early for a mug of tea before packing and getting away. I actually enjoyed the wet trudge through the remaining part of the moor in the early morning. Sheep started upon seeing me approach them on the path and ran away a short distance before turning to watch me pass with baleful rheumy eyes. It was a very very damp morning.

At Levisham I dripped my way into the village pub. The chappie in charge swiftly made a bee-line to me. “can I help sir?”, “yes, can I have a pot of tea please?”, “oh no sir, but if you would like to wait in the lounge we begin afternoon tea at midday”. It was eight thirty, I looked around at the tables mostly occupied by people drinking tea, coffee and consuming breakfast and got the message- Piss Off.

Dodgy bridge takes the hiker into a dodgy farmyard

Dodgy bridge takes the hiker into a dodgy farmyard

Today was one of those days where you just have to put your head down and take it. It rained for just about the whole day until brightening up just slightly toward the end. I had 17.5 miles to complete and the views were mostly non-existent, there was little of interest passed. One example of how wrong the day was occurred when I reached a small run down farm. The waymarked trail crossed strands of barbed wire via a rocking loose stile, then crossed a stream via a sloping tipping narrow metal bridge, more barbed wire before depositing me in a cow shit strewn farmyard, I was circled by snarling dogs, with no idea on how I could correctly exit.

About the only thing that was positive during the day was my lunchtime halt. I stopped at the New Inn in Cropton. This is the brewery tap for the micro brewery situated there and I enjoyed roast beef sandwich, bowl of soup and a pint of their ale. There is even a campsite here, but my destination was further on and I couldn’t stop for longer than it took me to dry out a little before the next deluge.

The New Inn at Cropton steadily filled with dog walkers and hikers. Excelent food and drink with welcoming staff, what more can you ask for

The New Inn at Cropton steadily filled with dog walkers and hikers. Excellent food and drink with welcoming staff, what more can you ask for?

Tonight’s halt was at another farm, though this was the other side of the coin from that encountered earlier. Hutton-le-Hole Caravan Park wasn’t cheap but it was immaculate. I was the only camper and arrived to an unmanned reception. A note on the desk welcomed me and directed me to the best drained field. Having pitched, showered and feeling human again, I eventually met up with Annabel to pay and buy a few provisions for tonight’s meal. All comfort food- it was hotdogs, beans and mash followed by lots of dark chocolate accompanied by mugs of hot tea. The sun even showed its face. Final day on trail tomorrow.

After a wet day on trail, the sun eventually showed up at Hutton-le-Hole to finish off my second day on the Tabular Hills walk

After a wet day on trail, the sun eventually showed up at Hutton-le-Hole to finish off my second day on the Tabular Hills walk

Day 10- Hutton-le-Hole to Helmsley

Berries in profusion on this autumn walk

Berries in profusion on this autumn walk

I slept well and rose early. Tea for breakfast and ate bars on trail in the first hour. Annabel had showed me a way across their fields at the back of the campsite which returned me to trail far quicker than the way I had come in yesterday. Beautiful walking across bracken strewn hills, the sun was shining and the land had a glow about it. I felt good and was looking forward to a drier day of walking.

Despite starting with dry feet, my trail shoes were quickly sodden after yesterdays heavy rain but such is the nature of the soil around here that it drains quickly and there was little standing water.

The Tabular Hills walk is pretty well sign posted throughout its fifty miles

The Tabular Hills walk is pretty well sign posted throughout its fifty miles

The Tabular Hills walk is a Regional Trail, an initiative of the North York Moors National Park Authority, it is a bit bitty. While the Cleveland Way follows a natural series of geological features, the Tabular Hills is more a way of joining up the two ends of the National Trail. I enjoyed parts of it but felt there wasn’t enough to make this walk a destination in itself.

Great walking through the table like (tabular) hills out of Hutton-le-Hole

Great walking through the flat, table like (tabular) hills out of Hutton-le-Hole

Beyond the bare hill tops and wet valley bottoms, I slowly moved in to more agricultural areas interspersed with occasional woodlands and scrubby fields. Today was also a series of similar attractive little villages. Belted Galloways were unconcerned enough to not bother even getting up as I passed them. It was a good last day on trail but pretty short at only 14.2 miles.

Quiet little farms and scrubby little fields of livestock are walked through on the final day on trail

Quiet little farms and scrubby little fields of livestock are walked through on the final day on trail

Before I knew it I was on the final stretch, a steadily descending track drops through Ash Dale down toward Helmsley. This little valley has steep wooded slopes on each side and was such easy going that I contemplated jogging the last few miles. Instead I decided to take my time, no need to finish earlier than I would otherwise.

Ash Dale plantation descend for over two miles until ending on the outskirts of Helmsley

Ash Dale plantation descends for over two miles until ending on the outskirts of Helmsley

Helmsley YHA handstamp impression from my trail journal

Helmsley Youth Hostel handstamp impression from my trail journal

I arrived back in Helmsley early afternoon so with plenty of time to spare before returning to the Youth Hostel where this little adventure began ten days earlier, I went to explore Helmsley Castle. Needless to say, I also visited the Brewery for another pint of Striding the Ridge before going to the hostel. I had booked a private room for this final night to allow for a pack explosion. Clean and back into ‘town clothes’, I walked back in to town to The Feathers, facing the market square, for my celebratory steak and bottle of Shiraz.

With only slight diversion and extra miles, my seven days on the Cleveland Way totalled 113.56 miles. I walked 50.2 miles on the Tabular Hills walk, so 163.76 miles in total over my ten day hike. Despite my general lack of hill fitness and some awful, if seasonal, weather, it had been a grand autumn hike

Built around 1200, Helmsley Castle was visited on the final day on trail. It had a chequered history but Three Points of the Compass was especially taken with the fact that the central courtyard was a tennis court for the local gentry for a number of years

Built around 1200, Helmsley Castle was visited on the final day on trail. It has a chequered history but Three Points of the Compass was especially taken with the fact that the central courtyard was a tennis court for the local gentry for a number of years

The Cleveland Way: Days 4 to 7, Margrove Park to Filey

Staithes is reached on the first day of the coastal section of the Cleveland Way

Staithes is reached on the first day of the coastal section of the Cleveland Way

Day 4- Margrove Park to Runswick Bay

My pitch at Margrove camping and caravan site had been ‘OK’ but the rain continued throughout the night. Dry, warm and snug inside my tent, I didn’t sleep well for some reason. I also struggled to enjoy my breakfast but that is nothing new for me. I am still on the search for something I enjoy ‘out of the starting gate’ when on trail. I get bored very quickly with porridge or granola and often feel a bit queasy. Yet recognise the need for slow burning carbs first thing. What seems to work best for me is to skip food first thing and eat bars within the first couple of hours while hiking. My pint of tea was, as always, very much appreciated. Today’s section was a good deal shorter, just 16.8 miles to cover so I tried to doze a little longer and was away fairly late at a little before ten.

Impressive 19th century Saltburn Viaduct is walked under on the approach to Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Impressive 19th century Saltburn Viaduct is walked under on the approach to Saltburn-by-the-Sea

My body felt good today and I was able to maintain good positivity and enthusiasm. Such an outlook is vital on trail. Not only would I be reaching the coast today but I also knew it would be raining hard for much of the time. I followed gentle farmland and woodland tracks, then beside the Skelton Beck it wasn’t too long before I reached the outskirts of Saltburn-by-the-Sea. Having walked under the brick railway viaduct, built 1872, I paused to discuss it with a couple of locals, one an amateur historian who was both proud and knowledgeable about the early mining history of the area. The historic discovery of Iron Stone in the nearby hills bought work, prosperity and the railways to the area. The stone is evident in the ground as you walk.

Excellent haddock and chips are to be had in Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Excellent haddock and chips are to be had in Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Victorian Saltburn looked pleasant enough but the heavens opened. I doubt it could have rained any harder if it tried. Making my way down to the coast I sought lunchtime refuge in the first (and only) chippy I passed. I walked in dripping and unpeeled my sodden pack and outer clothes. Tucked away at the end of the cafe the staff pointedly ignored the growing pool of water beneath my table as it drained off me and continued to bring me pots of tea while I tucked my meal away and waited for the deluge to cease outside.

Beyond my lunchtime halt I had no need to pause any longer and was soon walking up on to the cliffs for the next part of my trail. The Cleveland Way really is a walk of two halves. The first part loops up and round the edge of the North York Moors, following the Cleveland Hills. Then, leaving the moorlands, the coast is reached at Saltburn and the trail completely alters. I was now going to follow the coast southeast to Filey. The coastline rises and dips along its length, edges are crumbling and dodgy in places. Winds can threaten to throw you over the edge and muddy slippery tracks add to the fun. I was looking forward to it.

Now garbed in hard shell and rain skirt, I climbed the cliffs and left Saltburn-by-the-Sea behind me

Now garbed in hard shell and rain skirt, I climbed the cliffs and left Saltburn-by-the-Sea behind me

The trail wanders up and down the cliffs. Some sections bring you right down to sea level before climbing back up

The trail wanders up and down the cliffs. Some sections bring you right down to sea level before climbing back up. The clouds were heavy with rain and the wind picked up, bringing passing inconsistent squalls

Beside the trade in minerals and ore, the villages along the coast have maintained a small yet important fishing industry. Though much reduced today, a pride in this heritage persists

Beside the trade in minerals and ore, the villages along the coast have maintained a small yet important fishing industry. Though much reduced today, a pride in this heritage persists

Erosion of the cliffs is constant. Some sections of path have had to be re-routed where the original path has disappeared over the edge

Erosion of the cliffs is constant. Some sections of path have had to be re-routed where the original path has disappeared over the edge

I reached Staithes in the afternoon. This is such a pretty place with steep streets, winding narrow alleys and clusters of old buildings. Unbelievably picturesque, it must draw photographers and artists in their droves. Again, I had no need to halt beyond taking a few photos, so passed through and continued the trail. But this would have been a lovely place to stop the night.

Crossing the Staithes Beck in to town on my first day on the coastal path

Crossing the Staithes Beck in to town on my first day on the coastal path

As it was, I only had three or four miles to that nights halt at Runswick Bay but had to get a bit of a shift on as daylight was fading. When I reached it, the outskirts of the little town felt odd, a bit run down, as many parts of the coast are. Once I had finally found the hidden driveway entrance to my campsite I walked in to the huge site. I arrived late and reception was closed but I had already paid and was pre-booked in, a note on the window instructed me to pitch just about anywhere on the almost empty site. There were no other hikers, no tents of any description and just a few camper vans. I got the impression as the evening drew on and through the night that many people were coming in late, hooking up to electric supply, using the facilities and vacating without paying, before the site managers arrived in the morning.

I pitched close by the shower block with shelter from the wind. I was the only one there with no other campers within at least two hundred metres yet two late arrivals decided to park close by, with consequent slamming of doors, music and chatter for a few hours. Having made good use of the clean shower block, I changed into ‘town garb’ and walked down to the Runswick Bay Hotel to enjoy a couple of fairly indifferent pints of Cumberland Ale and an equally average and overpriced trio of sausages, mash and peas, complete with uncooked onion in gravy. Nonetheless, I was hungry and it was all appreciated. Back to the tent for ten for a good nights kip. No rain forecast tonight.

Pitch at Runswick Bay

Pitch at Runswick Bay

Day 5- Runswick Bay to Robin Hoods Bay

Beermat from the Helmsley Brewing Co. celebrates the fiftieth birthday of the Cleveland Way in 2019

Beermat from the Helmsley Brewing Co. celebrates the fiftieth birthday of the Cleveland Way in 2019

Having slept well, the campsite being silent for much of the night, I rose at six as I wanted to get away fairly promptly. Perhaps because I had started pretty fast in the beginning part of the trail and I was lacking ‘hill fitness’ I was feeling a little weary on the climbs. I also hadn’t been sleeping well consistently which can have a gradual debilitating effect. I knew I had a bit of ascent to complete today despite only being a 15.9 mile section and wanted to give myself plenty of time to take it steady and continue enjoying my trail. The Cleveland Way was shaping up to be a superb walk. You could look on it as a mini Pennine Way as there are some similarities. It would make excellent training for that great trail, completed by Three Points of the Compass in 2018.

Day 5. Leaving Runswick Bay behind

Day 5. Leaving Runswick Bay behind

I skipped breakfast with the expectation of finding some later in the morning. Down into the quiet streets of Runswick. It has endured tragedy in the past. The entire village slipped into the sea in 1664 and the new red roofed houses were rebuilt further back. The tide was out so I was able to walk along the sands, past the boat club to the second ravine where I climbed back to the top of the cliffs.This section of coast endured considerable mining for Alum and the scars of the former industry are frequently visible particularly at Kettleness where the extensive alum workings, derelict railway and tunnels can be seen. Greatly enjoying my walk along here I followed the old cinder trackbed into Sandsend where I at last had a brekkie of sausage and bacon roll with pot of tea at the Tides cafe.

19 foot tall Whalebone Arch framed my arrival at Whitby

19 foot tall Whalebone Arch on West Cliff framed my arrival at Whitby

Beyond Sandsend it was less than a couple of hours to Whitby and despite my late breakfast I had a particular place in mind for lunch. I have visited Whitby a few times over the years and one restaurant is a favourite of mine, with good reason as the traditional Magpie Cafe enjoys a reputation that extends far beyond the town boundaries. I arrived at midday and remarkably there was no queue as yet. I tentatively approached the desk and enquired as to a table for one. Very conscious that I was mud daubed, didn’t smell too good, was unshaven and not the clientele they probably desired. The staff never batted an eyelid. Showed me to a prime window table that I declined, preferring to tuck myself and my pack away in a corner, hopefully unobtrusive to the lunchtime crowd out for enjoyment not tribulation.

The fantastic Magpie Cafe- an unmissable lunchtime halt

The fantastic Magpie Cafe- an unmissable lunchtime halt

The YHA maintain a public cafe near Whitby Abbey. Bram Stoker's Dracula features on their handstamp

The YHA maintain a public cafe near Whitby Abbey. Bram Stoker’s Dracula features on their handstamp

Lunch was Whitby Scampi, mixed salad plus pints of beer and water. Really enjoyed this and exited to find expectant diners queuing down the steps and along the street. The seaside town was heaving with visitors and its continued fishing industry is very apparent, though obviously diminished from its previous heyday. There is a strong literary tradition here and when I visited in the past it was hosting the bi-annual Whitby Goth weekend which is both odd and fascinating.

I crossed the River Esk via the swingbridge and climbed East Cliff via the 199 steps to the prominent ruins of Whitby Abbey. This was the third Abbey I had explored on the Cleveland Way and it enjoys a very good explanatory museum where I spent probably more time than I could afford. But, I’m on holiday….

The Cleveland Way brushes right past Whiby Abbey and Three Points of the Compass took time off from trail to explore

The Cleveland Way brushes right past Whitby Abbey and Three Points of the Compass took time off from trail to explore. A monastery was founded at Streanæshealh (the original name for Whitby)  in AD 657

The afternoon miles came slowly but the good coastal walking still led me to an arrival at Hook House farm campsite just a little after five. I was invited by Gill into her farmhouse for a cup of tea but politely declined as I wanted time to set camp, shower and enjoy the view of gathering dusk over Robin Hoods Bay below. There was thick rolling mist but this gradually cleared and while standing eating tonight’s lentil curry, I watched a Barn Owl quartering the field beside me. The sky was filled with stars, a satellite passed overhead, various town lights far below were lit then gradually extinguished. It was a lovely night.

Farm pitch gave a view over Robin Hoods Bay

Farm pitch gave a great view over Robin Hoods Bay when the mist cleared

Day 6- Robin Hoods Bay to Scarborough

I slept pretty well until the wind built and heavy rain passed through, this cleared by dawn however and I rose at six-forty five. For some reason my phone had lost almost all battery charge overnight so I put my Anker powerbank on for a couple of hours charge before leaving as I was unsure what opportunity for this would present itself over the next few days. As it was, once I had packed and was ready to clamber out and strike tent, the rain started hammering it down. With just 13.7 miles to complete today I thought what the heck, put the stove on and enjoyed a further two pints of tea eating spoonfuls of peanut butter while I waited for it to pass.

With a low tide, it is easy walking out of Robin Hoods Bay at the foot of the cliffs

At low tide, it is easy walking out of Robin Hoods Bay at the foot of the cliffs

Rain halted at nine thirty and I packed and left the site. Needless to say it started up again immediately and that was the pattern of things for the remainder of the day. Reaching the lowest part of the road before the sea, I checked with a couple of fishermen working at loading their small craft. Actually, one was doing all the work while his mate sat in the boat doing nothing but direct activities. Assured that I had a couple of hours walking and wouldn’t get stranded at the foot of the cliffs with a rising tide, I was able to keep low and walk to Stoupe Beck where I then had to climb the cliffs to carry on. A fit young lad that had been digging for lugworm strode past me up the steps, wearing wellingtons and carrying a bucket and spade, he was travelling at a rate of knots that I can only dream about. I asked if the bait was for him or for sale- “too much like hard work for sale”.

Visiting the disused Coastguard Lookout station near the World War II Ravenscar Radar Station

Visiting the disused Coastguard Lookout station near the World War II Ravenscar Radar Station

There are a number of climbs along this section (needless to say), and a stiff climb inland past abandoned alum works and Ravenscar brick works. I left the trail briefly here for a couple of hundred metres to visit the Ravenscar tearoom for lunch- Two pots of tea, bacon sandwich followed by quiche and beans. All very good and I exited to bright sun. Though that never lasted and heavy rain squalls passed for most of the afternoon. Little toads crossed my path frequently. I paused beside a wire fence briefly and rested my poles against it. A previously unseen hare shot out from beneath them and crossed the field.

Easy walking in parts but the grassy slopes like ice after the heavy rain

Easy walking in parts but the grassy slopes are like ice after the heavy rain

This was an autumn walk and fungi were much in evidence

This was an autumn walk and fungi were much in evidence

Most of the paths were pretty slippery after the heavy rain, none more so than the big descent and rise at the Hayburn Wkye hollow. It would have been very easy to come a cropper here and I slowed right down in order to remain upright. I took the very short side trail to see the little waterfall that drops to the beach here but it is hardly worth the additional effort. I wasn’t actually going as far as the town of Scarborough today. Instead I turned off inland shortly before it to go to the smart Camping & Caravanning site at Scalby Mills. I received the usual friendly welcome these sites are known for and was told there was a problem with my previous online booking and payment. I was then refunded much of my payment and given a special ‘backpackers’ rate that is not shown online. Ray showed me to a pitch but when I enquired if there was anywhere more sheltered, he then took me to a lovely quiet little pitch away from all disturbance and well sheltered, I also got exclusive use of a family bathroom block nearby. Result!

Tent up, gear sorted, showered and clean. Did some laundry and hung it to dry over the radiators in the bathroom. I had a short day tomorrow to the trail end and it was time for a decent meal. The Stonehouse Carvery is quite close to the site and a side gate from the campsite led straight to the rear of the pub. I enjoyed the basic carvery priced at £6.99 and returned twice for extra veg. I also managed to bag the only table that had a nearby plug socket so charged my phone and powerbank while eating. A couple of pints of Black Sheep and a bottle of Shiraz saw me mellow and re-hydrated. Back to the tent for a good nights kip.

Pitched at Scalby Mills Camping & Caravanning site

Pitched at Scalby Mills Camping & Caravanning site

Day 7- Scarborough to Filey

Breakfast on the final day on the Cleveland Way

Breakfast on the final day on the Cleveland Way

I slept well and this was my final day on the Cleveland Way. With just 11.9 miles to do, I made a leisurely start. Breakfast of tinned beans and corned beef (purchased from the site shop) along with lashings of tea with real milk. I was returning to this site after today’s hike so was travelling light. The pack and tent and almost all gear remained at Scalby Mills and I simply carried my Z Packs chest pouch packed with Patagonia windshirt, mapbook, Cicerone guidebook, journal and pen, phone and camera, full water bottle and some money. I was away from site for nine thirty and through the outskirts of Scarborough to the promenade. Though very run down in parts, Scarborough retains a lot of character and I enjoyed my unencumbered walk amongst the crowds. Beach huts were newly and brightly painted. Despite the crowds, the mini-golf looked tired and the promenade mini-railway unused.

Busy fishing harbour at Scarborough

Busy fishing harbour at Scarborough

Three Points of the Compass had a treat in store today. A fan of working Victorian engineering and funicular railways in particular. Scarborough is well served, though not to the extent that it once was. With a town at the top of the cliffs, a way had to be found to encourage visitors to the bottom and steep cliff railways, or funicular, were built. There used to be five and two remain working today. My first was the Central Tramway, opened in 1880 and operating from 1 August 1881. I paid my £2 and enjoyed a return trip up and down. The operators seemed a little bemused by my almost immediate return to the bottom.

Art deco decoration in 1932 the replacement cars on the Central Tramway

Art deco decoration in the 1932 replacement cars on the Central Tramway

South Cliff Lift funicular railway ticket

South Cliff Lift funicular railway ticket

Funicular railway at Scarborough

Descending on the UK’s oldest funicular railway at Scarborough

Just a short way on from here is the St Nicholas Cliff Lift operating from 1929, both cars are now permanently parked at the top and form part of the cafe there. Again, just a short way further on is the first funicular built in Scarborough, opened in 1875. This was also the first funicular built in the UK. This is the South Cliff Lift and I paid my £1.60 return journey and went up, pottered around for a few photos and back down to the base. Though older, this is a tattier affair than the Central. I doubt there is much money to be made here and little to pay out on expensive restoration. Still, a bit of thrill for me.

At the end of the promenade it was a walk back up to the cliff tops and onward. Good walking, lots of day trippers, some rain showers, both light and heavy, the wind quite strong and threatening to push me off the cliff edge. Though I was only carrying a windshirt which eventually wetted out, I was warm beneath this. I dropped down to Cayton Bay for lunch. Two mugs of tea and a massive cheeseburger were £8.60. The weather really kicked in for the afternoon all the way to the stone sculpture at Filey Brigg. A couple of people paused from battling the elements during their brief walk from their car to take my ‘triumphant’ photo. The rain briefly cleared off and I then walked out to the end, the tide was in so thankfully I didn’t have to brave Brigg End.

The end

The end

That may have been the end of the Cleveland Way but I still had to get back to Scarborough. The stone sculpture not only marks the end of the Cleveland Way but also the beginning of the Yorkshire Wolds Way. So I followed the acorn markers for this path down into Filey where I caught a bus back to Scarborough. Yet again, it was bucketing down outside. Changing buses outside the railway station for another that took me back to my campsite. Once back at the site, another welcome shower and into insulation layers as the temperature had dropped. Back down to the Stonehouse for another carvery and bottle of Shiraz. Not only was I celebrating my successful completion of the Cleveland Way, but I was stacking up calories before hiking out again the following day. My aim was to follow the 50 mile Tabular Hills walk back to my start point at Helmsley.

The Cleveland Way- fifty years old in 2019

The Cleveland Way: Days 1 to 3, Helmsley to Margrove Park

View from the western edge of the North York Moors across the plains to the Pennines

View from the western edge of the North York Moors across the plains to the Pennines

The journey from Kings Cross to York had been uneventful. I had just a few minutes before boarding the packed Trans Pennine Express to Scarborough. After inquiring at the nearby Info Centre, I was directed the 100m to the correct bus shelter and hadn’t long to wait, alongside my aged and heavily laden fellow passengers, for the No.128 to Helmsley Market Square. It was still mid afternoon when I arrived at the pretty town but market stallholders were already packing up. Straight into the Co-op for a packet of curry powder for the week, then a wander down through the town to try and find the Helmsley Brewing Company. I was determined to find a suitable pint for my send off, for the next day would see me setting off across the North York Moors on the 110 mile Cleveland Way.

pulling my pint of the excellent 4% ‘Striding the Ridge’ ale at the Helmsley Brewing Company, closely followed by pints of their best-selling 4.2% Howardian Gold and 5.5% H!PA IP

Pulling my pint of the excellent 4% ‘Striding the Ridge’ ale at the Helmsley Brewing Company, closely followed by pints of their best-selling 4.2% Howardian Gold and 5.5% H!PA IP

The Grade II listed monument to the second Baron Feversham in Helmsley market square

The Grade II* listed monument to the second Baron Feversham in Helmsley market square, c1867

I arrived at Helmsley Youth Hostel before it opened at five, two long distance cyclists were already outside, lounging on the grass. When-o-when will the YHA begin opening their hostels earlier. They are trailing in the wake of dozens of independent hostels by continuing this outdated practice.

Inside, warden Katherene was already frazzled, short-staffed, and I decided it wasn’t the time to winge about being kept outside in the cold but dry and sunny courtyard for just fifteen minutes. I shared a single sex dorm room with just two other occupants- a young lad and an older hiker who turned up later that evening. Having showered and carried out a last check of gear, including filling water bottles in readiness, a short walk back into town to look for a chippie. The first I passed was open but had no trade, the second, nearer the town square was heaving. I decided this was the evening rush and went back down to the brewery for another pint of excellent Striding the Ridge. I regarded this almost as a duty as this is the ‘official beer of the Cleveland Way’ and a donation is made to the trail with every pint sold. The chippy was a little quieter when I returned so I was able to sit at the foot of the imposing memorial to the Second Baron Feversham in the darkening market square and enjoy haddock, chips and mushy peas, watching the bats circling around the floodlit stone picking off the odd moth.

Helmsley Youth Hostel

Helmsley Youth Hostel

Day 1- Helmsley to Osmotherley

Leaving Helmsley it is easy walking on gentle paths through rural landscape with the moors still ahead

Leaving Helmsley it is easy walking on gentle paths through rural landscape with the moors still ahead

I was abed by ten and slept well before rising at six thirty. I had ordered a cooked breakfast so that I could set off well-fortified but this was barely adequate fare. Made up for by my snaffling a breakfast banana and some mini cheeses for later. I still didn’t manage to set off until eight thirty. Walking back through town, the Saturday morning was sunny and sleepy with few people, mostly the odd dog walker. Two of whom were kind enough to pause and take my obligatory ‘start of trail’ photo. Out of town and immediately on to good grassy paths, a few gentle ups and downs.

Every now and then there were reminders that the Cleveland Way was celebrating its fiftieth birthday in 2019

Every now and then there were reminders that the Cleveland Way was celebrating its fiftieth birthday in 2019

This was a cool late autumn walk and I was only wearing shorts and a polo shirt yet I was already sweating with my load on the modest climbs. Hundreds of pheasants whirred away from me, the ‘chit, chit, chit’ of nuthatches rung out and squirrels scolded me. Life was good and happy to be there I determined to get as much from the trail as I could. This included the diversion from the line on the map and the short walk up the valley to visit medieval Rievaulx Abbey. I am baffled by the trail walkers that do not bother to make this visit. This is one of the prettiest ever of ruined Abbeys and it is in an idyllic setting.

I arrived before it opened at ten but simply spent a few minutes hydrating outside waiting for it to open. The ticket desk minded my pack while I quickly wandered the site. Having sated my cultural self, at least for now, it was then time to sate my inner self with a swift pot of tea in the cafe. Topped up water bottles and back on trail for eleven.

Museum of the moon installed within the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey

The seven metre wide Museum of the moon installed within the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey

Feeling strong I was keeping up a good pace on the easy paths and lanes, passing a couple of day walkers on trail and a large and noisy group. Ever curious, I poked my nose over the wriggly tin entrance to an isolated barn near Cold Kirby and frightened the life out of a few dozen pigs inside, their squeals followed me down the track. A couple of rats startled in turn by the pigs squeezed their way out of the barn and led my way for a few hundred metres down trail before turning round and running back between my feet.

James Herriot proclaimed that standing on Sutton Bank offered the 'Finest View in England'

James Herriot proclaimed that standing on Sutton Bank offered the ‘Finest View in England’

I arrived at the busy North York Moors National Park Centre at Sutton Bank in time for a late lunch. This is a popular spot and has w/c and cafe alongside an information centre and inevitable shop. Backtracking not far from here trail walkers can enjoy rubbish views of just part of the head of the Kilburn White Horse cut in 1857 and measuring 96m by 69m. From Sutton Bank it was a great walk round the escarpment. The reputed “finest view in England” is not, but is certainly a fine vista. From here it was up onto the lonely moors, now beginning to get a flavour of the North York Moors proper.

Despite my narrower Osprey Exos proving uncomfortable with the heavier load being carried, the Cleveland Way paths are invariably good and easily traversed

Despite my narrower Osprey Exos proving uncomfortable with the heavier load being carried, the Cleveland Way paths are invariably good and easily traversed

Worryingly, the stony paths were beginning to bother my feet through my Altra’s, also my Osprey pack’s hipbelt was beginning to rub. The first problem I dealt with by removing my orthotics, risky  but necessary, the latter bothered me throughout the trail. Uncomfortable but not debilitating. I hadn’t got round to replacing my Gossamer Gear Mariposa at that point and the narrower hipbelt on my Osprey Exos can be uncomfortable on my wide hips. Especially when carrying heavier loads and on this first day I still had six days of food on my back.

View from the escarpment

View from the escarpment as my first day on trail draws on

I had been halting a few times, at the Abbey, Sutton Bank and a few breathers en route, so I obviously hadn’t been making speedy progress but when I reached the high and lonely High Barn, I was still shocked to see a sign reading ‘9 miles to Osmotherley’, it was time to get a move on. The trail was lovely though, the sun sank in the sky and I had to tilt my Tilley hat brim to reduce the sideways glare. A stiff cold breeze turned up to accompany me as I approached Osmotherly. I was not too pleased with a final series of steeper ups and downs and I was now running out of steam. I walked down to the large Cote Ghyll Mill hostel as dark began to fall having completed just under 23 miles on my first day.

YHA Cote Ghyll

YHA Cote Ghyll

YHA handstamp from my trail journal

YHA handstamp from my trail journal

The owners of the neighbouring award wining campsite snapped up the large old mill when the YHA sold it about five and a half years ago, they then carried on running it as a YHA. There were two other beds booked in my single sex dorm room but no-one else had turned up. Excellent and appreciated shower then down to the kitchen for re-hydrating and salt replenishment with hot OXO and a pint of water, followed by a lentil curry with Idahoan mash. While that was cooking I went on the hunt for a couple of bottles of beer from the mill reception. These were excellent ‘Three Brothers Thai’ IPA which went well with my curry.

Day 2- Osmotherley to Lord Stones

Felt good in the morning. No aches, feet good. A good nights kip had worked its magic. Today was a very short day of less than ten miles as I wanted time to visit Grace Priory. Not open until ten and situated just beyond Osmotherley I therefore had a late start at nine-thirty. Few hikers on the Cleveland Way bother to visit Grace Priory and I can somewhat understand why as it is a hell of a drop down off the height gained with the prospect of toiling back up hill afterward. But still, I was out to see what I could so made the steady drop down the contours, all very close together on the map. Mount Grace Priory is a lovely Carthusian monastry with interesting two storey monks cells, each with its own little garden that the monks could tend without going outside and disturbing their solitary existence.

Founded in 1398, Mount Grace Priory is the best preserved of the nine medieval Carthusian charter houses in England

Founded in 1398, Mount Grace Priory is the best preserved of the nine medieval Carthusian charter houses in England

I was again asked by those minding the till and shop if I would like them to look after my pack while I visited but I declined this time as I had a plan in mind. The map showed tracks beyond the Priory that led back up the hill. The staff I met never told me how to access these, nor was I taken outside and had the way pointed out to me as it is through private woodland and that would be wrong. So having wandered and explored the ruins, church and cells, I never ducked through the gardens and trees, not did I walk back up the hill on private tracks to where the Coast to Coast Path joins the Cleveland Way.

The Coast to Coast joins the Cleveland Way for a few miles of its length and the number of walkers seen increases as a result. Care must be taken to not wander from the correct path

The Coast to Coast joins the Cleveland Way for a few miles of its length and the number of walkers seen increases as a result. Care must be taken to not wander from the correct path

The sky clouded and it became quite warm and muggy. On climbs I began to find some of the ‘sting in the tail’ that the Cleveland Way occasionally exhibits, especially that up to Round Hill where I was more than ready for my lunchtime halt of tuna and tortillas. Here, on my second day, I met a couple preparing for their forthcoming Great Glen Way walk, this was their fourth day on trail since leaving Helmsley. There is no ‘right’ way to tackle a path but that was probably taking it easy to extremes.

At last- on to the Moors

At last- on to the Moors, flagged paths through the heather

Approaching Lord Stones Country Park the still air was thick with flying ants, ladybirds and flies

Approaching Lord Stones Country Park the still air was thick with flying ants, ladybirds and flies

Fortunately not biting, swarming insects were annoying nonetheless

Fortunately not biting, swarming insects were annoying nonetheless

Not only was it muggy but where the air was most still, thousands of small flies, beetles and ants were swarming. When I reached one trig point I found it covered with insects and many settled themselves around and over me as I walked. The afternoons walking was short and it wasn’t long before I reached Lord Stones Country Park where I had booked a pitch for my tent. The shop there closes at four but I arrived early enough to purchase a couple of bottles of IPA for later.  Not only that, despite carrying sufficient food, I also bought a couple of locally made meat pies and a tin of beans for later- never turn down the opportunity for ‘real’ food.

I was the only one booked in so had the pick of the pitches. Light rain started and heavier was promised for later. Darkness fell and I made my way back down to the site restaurant that was about to close. Here I purchased a couple of pints to drink outside, sheltered from the now heavy rain under a huge parasol. placed there for daytime diners. Returning to the tent, I heated up my evening meal to enjoy with one of the bottles of beer. On returning to my tent afterwards having washed my Evernew pan I was surprised to find a latecomer had pitched up across the small field from me. I hailed the occupant and the two of us stood in the heavy rain chatting about all things trails. Chas and Molly, his little dog, were on the last section of their Coast to Cost walk, expecting to reach Robin Hood’s Bay the following day. All right for food, he bemoaned the lack of a nearby pub as he was craving a drink. I was pleased to donate my last bottle of beer ‘to the cause’. Returning to the tent I watched a film on my phone, chatted to home and turned in early. The rain continued outside.

Chas and little Molly were section hiking the Coast to Coast path

Chas and little Molly were section hiking the Coast to Coast path

Day 3- Lord Stones to Margrove Park

I rose at daylight but had a leisurely breakfast, again finding time for a natter with my neighbour who left before me on their final day. I was packed and away for eight-thirty. The rain had stopped but mist swirled around the dips and hollows. The trail was really pretty along this stretch with enjoyable climbs. A Merlin swept past, later, a good deal louder, an RAF jet also streaked down a valley.

Day two and grand walking in the North York Moors

Day three and grand walking in the North York Moors

I passed Wain Stones, pausing briefly to recall my last time here. Some five years earlier, my wife, daughter and I had visited here on a day walk while holidaying locally. I saw a sign for the Cleveland Way on that day and looking around at the beautiful surroundings, vowed that I would walk the trail someday. Here, on the trail’s fiftieth birthday I was finally doing it.

Three Points of the Compass when last visiting the Wain Stones in 2014

Three Points of the Compass when last visiting the Wain Stones in 2014

Red Grouse on the Cleveland Way, 2019

Red Grouse on the Cleveland Way, 2019

Red Grouse were frequently seen, most noisily flapped away on my approach, scolding me as they left. On sandy tracks I could frequently get quite close before they noticed me. When they did, they leapt in the air in desperate fright before going just far enough that they could land on a bit of higher ground, and, bending low, creep through the heather while keeping an eye on me. One bird however wasn’t having any of it. It was his bit of land and he wanted me away from there. He never flew. Instead, he stood his ground as I approached. Raised his tail and made a number of charges toward me. I gently fended him away with my trekking pole but  he continued to escort me away from his patch. A brave fellow, I left him to it.

The sweeping horseshoe trail followed for much of the day

The sweeping horseshoe high level trail followed for much of the day

The 18th century Guide Stone was a welcome aid to those traversing the moorlands in the mist

The 18th century Guide Stone was a welcome aid to those traversing the moorlands in the mist

Today’s walk is a grand sweeping horseshoe round the plains below. Roseberry Topping looms ahead but steadily draws nearer. I really enjoyed this days walking. The path rises and dips, but is mostly pretty easy going. The mist swirled away to elsewhere and views were grand. Barely a soul on trail. I was feeling pretty good today and pleased that a bit of the easy gait that I developed on my long walk in 2018 was still with me and I even, despite my weight gain since finishing that walk, happily jogged on a couple of easier downward stretches. Near Jenny Bradley’s Cross I left the trail briefly to visit the 18th century Guide Stone. There is a hollow on the top of this, protected by a small stone. By tradition money could be deposited here for walkers in need. I left a handful of coins with those already present.

The weather was kind to me this day but conditions can be brutal. On January 1941 a Hudson aircraft from 224 Squdron and on patrol crashed near here. The four crew, though injured, all survived the crash. In the depths of a hard winter, they all died from exposure before discovery two days later.

There is seldom the need to wildcamp on the Cleveland Way but there are some great sites where it would be possible

There is seldom the need to wildcamp on the Cleveland Way but there are some great sites where it would be possible

The 15m high Captain Cook monument on Easby Moor was reached late afternoon. Below lies Marton, a suburb of Middlesborough, where the man was born in 1728

The 15m high Captain Cook monument on Easby Moor was reached late afternoon. Below lies Marton, a suburb of Middlesborough, where the great navigator was born in 1728

I reached Roseberry Topping around six in the evening and still had another five miles to complete the days hike. I was going to be finishing in the dark. As I began the steady descent from the hills I passed an idyllic wild camp spot with shelter and a fantastic view over the plains. But it was a dry site, I had only a little water left so carried on. Tonight’s halt was a caravan site and by the time I arrived the reception was locked up and unoccupied. I wandered around a little but could find nowhere that might resemble a tent pitch. Fortunately I came across one of the site workers and Keith offered to show me where I could halt. It was a tiny patch of grass hidden away between some caravans only a few yards from the dated but perfectly adequate and spotless toilet block. He took my fiver and drove off leaving me to quickly put up my Z Packs Duplex, followed by a great hot shower and evening meal of lentil curry washed down with OXO.

Evening meal

Preparing my evening meal. I was experimenting with a new cook system on this walk and it performed faultlessly

Mrs Three Points of the Compass had presented me with a bar of good quality dark chocolate before I left and that rounded up my evening. There was no signal so I couldn’t even call her to thank her. Raining hard again while I watched a film on the phone, I was asleep by 11.30. Today had seen another 22.9 miles knocked off. Tomorrow, I would reach the coast.

Margrove Park Caravan Site, my third nights halt

Margrove Park Caravan Site, my third nights halt

Pumps in the Hoop and Grapes- City of London walk

The Shepherd Neame City of London Walk

Back in September I visited the Faversham Hop Festival with Mrs Three Points of the Compass and a couple of friends. I had also arranged a tour of the Shepherd Neame brewery for the four of us. While at the centre of town brewery I picked up a couple of small folded maps. These were for a walk round the City of London taking in eight of the Shepherd Neame pubs, a pub crawl in other words. Later, I mentioned this to a couple of colleagues at work, interest was shown, and, as many city pubs are closed at the weekend, we booked days off work and on a cold but bright early winter morning, we met in London. Only some three and a half miles in length, this is probably the shortest walk I have ever written about but it was a walk nonetheless- The Shepherd Neame City of London Walk.

The Samuel Pepys. Housed in a nineteenth century former tea warehouse hard against the River Thames

The Samuel Pepys. Housed in a nineteenth century former tea warehouse hard against the River Thames. The Pepys family coat of arms is shown on the pub sign

Having made my annual pilgrimage to the Victorinox New Bond Street store in the morning, I made my way to the River Thames arriving about a half hour before the Samuel Pepys opened. Despite my having sent clear instructions earlier in the week, Barry still managed to forget these and had arrived even earlier.

Barry went off to find something to eat, Chris and I had already breakfasted en route. All of us were independently aware of the need to line the stomach with a days drinking ahead of us.

You would think this pub, hidden away down a narrow lane could never be a success. While Stew Lane used to provide access to nearby dubious pleasures (‘Stew’ being a medieval term for brothel) it is probably decades since such trade was regularly plied around here. The 1970s conversion from defunct warehouse to a now tied public house now attracts hundreds of nearby businesses as a place for meetings, drinks and meals. Many tables were already booked as we led the arrivals in when the pub opened bang on midday.

Out first choice of cask beers in the Samuel Pepys

Our first choice of cask beers in the Samuel Pepys

Balcony of the Samuel Pepys gave views of the Shard, Globe Theatre and Tate Modern, housed in the former Battersea Power Station

Balcony of the Samuel Pepys gave views of the Shard, Globe Theatre and Tate Modern, the latter housed in the former Battersea Power Station

The standard ale on the Shepherd Neame portfolio is Master Brew, an easy drinking session ale but I was determined to see what variety of drinks I could experience on our walk.

In March 2019, Shepherd Neame introduced their Cask Club beers- these are monthly cask ales that celebrate modern styles alongside international collaboration in brewing. The November 2019 offering was Howling Wolf. This 4.5% beer is brewed with Finnish brewer Mallaskoski. Brew Master Jyri Ojaluoma left Seinäjoki in northern Finland to visit Faversham over two days to work on the result. It has bags of taste and a deep smokey finish, just right for a winter ale. Scandinavian Viking Red malt helps deliver the dark colour alongside American, German and English Mittelfruh and Summit hops. I was pleased to catch this ale as it is a style I prefer over the cask club beer to be offered the following month- Rudolph’s Reward, a 4.5% a ‘Festive Light Ale’. It made for a great start to my day. We told our server Sophie of our endeavour and she excitedly wished us well.

The sun was shining brightly so the three of us went out on to the balcony, especially appreciated by Barry, the only vaper in our party, but all of us enjoyed wide views of the Thames.

Monument. This Portland stone Doric column was built between 1671 and 1677 and is the tallest single stone column in the World

Monument. This Portland stone Doric column was built between 1671 and 1677 and is the tallest single stone column in the World

Showing great restraint and limiting ourselves to just the one pint each, there were another seven pubs to go, we left and began the longest single haul of the day to our next destination. We followed the Thames Path at times, past wharves and Cannon Street railway station before moving slightly inland away from the Thames toward Monument. We considered climbing to the top of this 202 foot tall Doric column monument to the Great Fire of London but Chris and I were already more interested in what was nearby.

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It is as important to eat as drink on a pub crawl

At the foot of Monument there was a huddle of street trader stands, all serving hot food to tourists and lunching workers. Mindful that we were sinking a few drinks today, Chris and I stopped for ‘Bratties’. We walked on while eating, foolishly entrusting navigation to Barry. Crossing the north end of London Bridge and having walked in the wrong direction for quarter of a mile before I finished eating, I checked the map and realised we were way off track, we sacked Barry from all future navigational responsibility and resorted to Google Maps to find the shortest route to our next pub.

Having successfully dodged a few kamikaze van drivers while crossing the road to take a photo, we made it to the East India Arms. This pub was so full that upon entering the door it was impossible to get to the bar, so back outside and round to the side door where there was a tad more room just inside. Here I enjoyed a pint of Whitstable Bay. This is a refreshing 3.9% Pale Ale made with Challenger and Styrian Goldings hops, just what I needed after our diversion. The pub was rammed with vertical drinking and we didn’t stop long.

East India Arms- packed with vertical lunchers by the time we reached it

East India Arms- packed with vertical lunchers by the time we reached it

Nearing our next destination and passing through one of the oldest inhabited areas in London, we skirted a venerable old brick built lady, I would have liked to visit the Fenchurch Street railway station. Famous for many reasons, it was also the site of the first murder, in 1864, on the British railways. I had already walked through King’s Cross station earlier when I arrived in London so this made Fenchurch my second UK Monopoly board station of the day. It wouldn’t have been difficult to visit the remaining two- Liverpool Street and Marylebone, but that wasn’t the focus of the day. There are some 14 railway termini in London, though that figure is up for dispute. I find it interesting that all four stations on the Monopoly board served the London and North Eastern Railway. How did the railway moguls manage that trick with John Waddington Ltd., the licensed manufacturer of the game in the United Kingdom? On another slightly boozier note, somehow I doubt that I will ever be attempting the Monopoly pub crawl, visiting 26 locations that appear on the UK board.

Fenchurch Street railway station

Fenchurch Street railway station

However it had been too long without a drink, this was supposed to be a pub crawl after all. So contenting myself with a view of the fine exterior to Fenchurch Street station we moved on to our third pub. The streets were busy with lunching workers, traffic and building contractors.

Well known to Harry Potter fans, we passed through Leadenhall Market. This ornate building dates from 1881 though a market has been trading here since the 14th century

Well known to Harry Potter fans, we passed through Leadenhall Market. This ornate building dates from 1881 though a market has been trading here since the 14th century

Pausing only briefly en route to admire the Sir Horace Jones designed Leadenhall Market, our next official halt was the handsome Jamaica Winehouse . Despite a bit of overspill of drinkers on to the path outside, there was still room in one of the divided rooms for the three of us to stand. This halt is a London institution, known as the ‘Jam Pot’. It is one of London’s most famous pubs and can be dated back to 1885, and even before when a coffee shop was opened on the site. The pub is Grade II listed and the inside, complete with glass ceilings, is noted on CAMRA‘s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. However the three of us agreed that it looked as though it had been overly restored and much character removed. I did pop down to the additional bar downstairs which looked fantastic but had no time for a drink there as I was enjoying my pint of Bear Island Pale Ale upstairs at ground level. Sacrilege that it was, I had left draught beers briefly to enjoy this 4.8% tap beer. Another international mix of hops, it is made with US Cascade and Amarillo hops, combined with UK Boadicea hops. Lots of bitterness and loads of aroma, needless to say it was too cold, as I find most tap beers.

The Jamaica Wine House dates from 1885 and is built for a wine merchant on the site of a coffee house

The Jamaica Wine House dates from 1885 and was built for a wine merchant on the site of a coffee house

The Cock and Woolpack. Close to the Bank of England and Royal Exchange, the current pub dates from the 1880s but previous drinking establishments were serving beer here a hundred years before

The Cock and Woolpack. Close to the Bank of England and Royal Exchange, the current pub dates from the 1880s but previous drinking establishments were serving beer here a hundred years before

From here it was just a short walk to our fourth pub. If you were not looking for it, it is unlikely that you would ever find the Cock & Woolpack as it is tucked away from the crowds in a quiet street. This would be a back street boozer almost anywhere else, here it was busy with well dressed and well heeled drinkers. We still managed to find a table and became aware that most people were watching the news on the large TV screen above us. The City is often aloud with the sound of emergency vehicle sirens but an increase in the number of helicopters overhead and various texts and phone messages had already alerted us to the manic actions of a crazed individual earlier. Only metres from where we had crossed London Bridge, innocents had been attacked and stabbed, two later died of their wounds, the culprit shot dead by police. Typically, other than extreme interest, most people away from the centre of action continued with their lives almost as normal. Terrorism only succeeds when people are terrorised.

The 29 November attack on London Bridge unfolded on screens in the pubs we visited

The 29 November attack on London Bridge unfolded on screens in the pubs we visited

My fourth pint was well known to me. I have been drinking Spitfire since it was first brewed in 1990 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Sadly it is now a poor imitation of the excellent beer that it once was and, good though the 4.2% cask beer is, every time I drink it I mourn the loss of the superb original from the 90’s. Today’s offering is brewed with three UK hop varieties- Target, First Gold and East Kent Goldings. Despite being Shepherd Neame’s biggest selling cask ale and having won numerous awards in the past, this was my least favourite beer of the day being metallic, thin and simply average.

The Old Dr. Butler's Head dates from 1610. Victorian workers knew it as the Old English Divan, the Edwardians called it the German Restaurant

The Old Dr. Butler’s Head dates from 1610. Victorian workers knew it as the Old English Divan, the Edwardians called it the German Restaurant

So, time for our fifth pub and fifth pint. We were holding up well and enjoying the day. Now expecting the crushed and busy pubs to quieten down as people returned to work after their liquid lunches. Another walk through modern city streets, then a turn off into Mason’s Avenue and it was like stepping back in time. Opposite wooden ribbed buildings, we found another Grade II listed building- The Old Dr. Butler’s Head. This oddly named pub is named after the court physician to James I. He was responsible for an odd medicinal ale popular in the 17th century. Known as ‘Dr Butler’s purging ale’, I was hoping nothing on sale inside had the same effects.

Instead, I found another old favourite of mine though not one I drink very often. Bishop’s Finger was the first strong ale to be brewed in Faversham after rationing of malt was eased after World War II. An apt beer for a hiker, it takes its name from the finger (shaped) posts that pointed pilgrims toward Canterbury. Enjoying EU Protected Geographical Indication, its charter states it can only be brewed by the head brewer on a friday. This is a lovely complex 5% beer made with Admiral, East Kent Goldings and First Gold hops. This was the best beer of the day, a proved classic that has stood the test of time.

Nope, the pubs were not thinning out at all, still just as packed with people as earlier. So many punters that there was also the usual spill out on to the street for a number of drinkers.

Still going strong, we managed to find a table at The Old Dr. Butler's Head

Still going strong, we again managed to find a table at The Old Dr. Butler’s Head

We paused in Postman’s Park, named after the many postmen who would rest there between shifts, on the way to view the Watts Memorial. Looking at such historic testimony to brave selfless people, it was only later that I heard of similar bravery on London Bridge earlier in the day.

Some US readers may actually be familiar with this location as it featured in the 2004 film Closer, starring Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen.

A brief halt in Postman's Park

A brief halt in Postman’s Park

Exiting the park from the far end we took a shortcut through Barts, well at least that is how I know it. Here since 1123 and more properly titled St Bartholomew’s Hospital, it is the oldest hospital in the country on its original site. Through the courtyard, through the arched rear entrance, passing an odd wall postbox with two posting apertures, each angled at 45 degrees (the apertures, not our drinking party). We came out opposite the Smithfield Rotunda Garden. A pleasant area, it wasn’t always so. Smithfield Meat Market is sited close by. Live slaughter of animals used to occur here, the roads apparently ran with blood, the author Charles Dickens was one of many who campaigned for its eventual cessation. It is now a wholesaler in cut meat.

Only two weeks later I was walking through the market to be blocked by a hoard of vegetarian campaigners. No problem with that, anyone can protest against anything they want. An agitated young lady insisted I walk around them. I queried if they had more rights than I to be on the public path and continued through the centre of their stationary protest line. Much to their annoyance.

The Bishops Finger, opposite the large Smithfield Meat Market

The Bishops Finger, opposite the large Smithfield Meat Market

The Bishops Finger was the first London pub acquired by Shepherd Neame, some fifty years ago and the brewer renamed it after their famed beer in 1981. I have drunk in this pub, better known to locals as the Nun’s Delight, dozens of times. It used to be a favourite lunchtime stop when I worked in the vicinity some twenty years ago. That was back in the day when liquid lunches were both more common and socially acceptable. Returning to work stinking of beer tends to be frowned upon these days. Unless you work in some large and wealthy financial institution, judging from what I saw this day.

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Pints being pulled in the Bishop’s Finger

Despite visiting pubs all owned by one brewer, I had manged to have a different pint in each one without having to fall back on the stock Master Brew ale found in all of them. Again, I was able to find another different beer on tap. This was Spitfire Gold, a 4.1% beer made with aromatic Challenger, Centennial and Saaz hops. I enjoyed this fruity golden ale and yet again, despite being a pretty full pub, the three of us found a table to sit at to enjoy our respective choices. The day was drawing on, light was fading and we knew we couldn’t linger too long if we were to miss the expected hectic evening rush of thirsty workers later that day. We left as night fell.

The three of us had already decided to vary our route slightly from that suggested on the ‘official’ map so our next halt was the Hoop & Grapes. This was the only pub amongst the eight in which I found copies of the Shepherd Neame City of London Walk available for punters. Slightly peckish, I indulged in some of the excellent Pork Scratchings here, which are thoroughly recommended. However I could not find a draught beer not yet sampled so settled for a bottled beer instead. Though too cold, this was Shepherd Neame’s excellent India Pale Ale, as it warmed in the glass, the complex flavours, fantastic bitterness and aroma developed. A great beer and one to consider keeping at home as I am a fan of the IPA style. This brewer’s IPA is only found in draught form between March and May, perhaps I need to repeat this trail then…

Hoop and Grapes, standing between modern buildings, it dates from 1721

Hoop and Grapes, standing between modern buildings, it dates from 1721

Named after a character in Charles Dicken's David Coperfield, 'the Betsey' is the only one of the eight pubs that sits outside the City of London, actually nestling in Clerkenwell

Named after a character in Charles Dicken’s David Copperfield, ‘the Betsey’ is the only one of the eight pubs that sits outside the City of London, actually nestling in Clerkenwell

Walking back up Farringdon Road we called in to the Wetherspoons Sir John Oldcastle, simply because we were getting thirsty, however strangely for a ‘Spoons, there was a really poor choice of beers and we backed out without partaking. Finally, to our last pub of the tour. This was the Betsey Trotwood. I have walked past this pub hundreds of times but had never actually stopped in.

Having kept it in reserve all day, I decided to at last have a pint of Master Brew, only to be informed by the Landlord that it had just run out. Guy kept a good range of bottled beers though so I was able to keep to something different and enjoyed a bottle of Shepherd Neame Strong Pale Ale. At 5.5%, this golden hued ale had both body and flavour, again, only once it had warmed up a bit. It is also the only single hopped variety I enjoyed all day, utilising only East Kent Goldings hops. I am not sure I am going to get too caught up with the advertising blurb however:

“Strong Pale Ale is a brilliantly bright brew that legend has it was inspired by the vision of the bright early morning sun sending its golden shafts of light through the brewhouse window and onto the oak mash tun, inspiring the brewing team to brew a beer that echoed these hues”

Final pints of the walk were enjoyed in the Betsey Trotwood

Final pints of the walk were enjoyed in the Betsey Trotwood

I picked up a couple of bottles here to take home to enjoy over the weekend. These were the 5.2% Double Stout and 1698, a classic 6.5% bottle conditioned Kentish Strong Stout. While the Stout had managed to pick up a Bronze award in the Dark Beer category at the 2019 International Brewers Awards, the latter had just been awarded a Gold Award in the 6.0%-7.4% Ales category at the annual British Bottlers’ Institute Awards.

In addition to my bottle of Strong Pale Ale, I picked up two good beers to enjoy at home that weekend- a Double Stout and 1698

In addition to my bottle of Strong Pale Ale, I picked up two good beers to enjoy at home that weekend- a Shepherd Neame Double Stout and 1698

And that was the end of our City of London Walk. It had been thoroughly enjoyable- in good company, a lot of laughs and some fine ales. Each of the pubs was interesting and we also passed some fantastically historic sights on our wander through the city. We chatted at length and reluctant to finish immediately, yet just a little full of beer, Barry decided to get a final round in so we each enjoyed a large glass of Shiraz instead.

A glass of Shiraz to finish off with...

Barry raises a glass to the days enjoyment.

It was time to toddle off home. I finished drinking, said my goodbyes and walked the final twenty minutes to St. Pancras railway station to catch my train back to Kent.

What do I think of the walk? It is grand, I recommend it. Just don’t attempt it at a weekend as only the Hoop and Grapes is one of the few City pubs open at the weekend.

However the map itself is another matter. Open the PDF and have a look. Certainly pretty to look at, however it is rubbish to follow. Use it as a guide and to add a little flavour for the walk, nothing more. Open up Google maps or similar and rely on that instead.

Cheers…

Victorinox shop display

My annual pilgrimage to Victorinox

Victorinox's Flagship London store

Victorinox’s Flagship London store

The iconic red handled Swiss Army Knife makes a suitable display the height of three floors

The iconic red handled Swiss Army Knife makes a suitable display the height of three floors

Each year, Three Points of the Compass makes a pilgrimage to Victorinox’s Flagship store in New Bond Street, London. This was the first flagship store that Victorinox opened in Europe. While it displays and sells watches, travel gear and fragrances, mostly on show as soon as you walk in the front door, it is the lower floor that attracts me. This is where over 400 models of Victorinox knives and some 650 household and chef knives are displayed.

As you descend the stairs, you are immediately presented with the repair table where customers can drop off their battered and damaged possession to be expertly repaired by the on-site craftsman.

Kitchen and household ware do not necessarily draw me, it is the central cased knife displays and wall mounted models that draw me to them.

Repair work was underway

Repair work was underway

Some of the 400 or so pocket knives that are on display

Some of the 400 or so pocket knives that are on display

I always have a small shopping list pre-prepared. To wander into such a shop without such discipline invites disaster. In London for a small planned walk later with a couple of friends from work (more on that in a future blog) I had an hour to spare in the morning to indulge in drooling over various knife models and variants that will never make their way in to my meagre collection. I am afraid not being in possession of deeper pockets has its disadvantages (or advantages as Mrs Three Points of the Compass might feel).

Victorinox released a number of models with walnut scales in August 2019, the Classic SD was one I was on the look out for

Victorinox released a number of models with walnut scales in August 2019, the diminutive Classic SD Wood (0.6221.63)  was one I was on the look out for. Being a natural product, every knife is slightly different

While Three Points of the Compass does have representatives from the various lengths of knife that Victorinox has and does produce, it is mostly the smaller knives, especially the 58mm range, that has attracted me over the years. There were a handful of 2019 releases that I had in mind for this visit.

Each year, Victorinox releases a small range of their knives with special alox scales, 2019 offer was 'Champagne'

Each year, Victorinox releases a small range of their knives with special alox scales, 2019’s offer was ‘Champagne’

Swiss Card and 58mm ranges

Swiss Card and 58mm ranges

As a subscriber to the Victorinox newsletter, I had been sent the offer of a free Victorinox chopping board. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I picked up mine from the downstairs till, the helpful lady who proffered this to me, also followed in my wake as I made my way round the store selecting my small number of purchases. She spread the walnut scaled knives across the counter so that I could select the one that was ‘just right’. I won’t relay here how much my choices cost but an applied discount made a welcome reduction.

A couple of my purchases will feature in some 2020 blogs where I take a closer look at some particular tool sets in the handy smaller knives that Victorinox offer the backpacker. But more on those next year.

My small haul from my 2019 visit to the New Bond Street store

My small haul from my 2019 visit to the New Bond Street store

 

Its not knives you know...

It’s not all knives you know…