Day 6 – Orton to Kirkby Stephen, 21.5km, 6.5hrs

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” ~Augustine of Hippo

My face got sunburned today. In England.  Can you believe it?  Once again we were blessed with great weather.  It was a chilly 5 degrees centigrade when we started out but the sun soon made its first of many appearances today.  It had rained last night which is good for the farmers and mud fairies although it does slow us down a bit as we have to pick carefully our way through bogs and mud.

The route today was mostly rolling hills through green pasture land.  We often shared our paths with sheep, cows, horses, flocks of birds and at least one raging bull.  The story of the bull came to us via a local man who was just out to do a “short” three hour circular walk.  We saw him coming towards us from a distance but as he approached, he stopped us to warn us of a bull.  As has often happened on this walk, someone helping with directions often makes me more confused than I was before they started.  This man explained that we should continue several hundred meters forward where you will see a gate (there are clearly two gates there but I am getting ahead of myself). He continued by asking if we see the stone wall leading away from the gate (right between the two gates, I remind myself).  We needed to be on the right side of the wall, he told us.  In the next sentence he mentioned keeping the wall on our right.  We couldn’t stop him for clarification because he was in a groove.  Next he told us the field we were supposed to walk through (with the wall maybe on our right or we on its right) contains a large bull that has scared many other walkers.  He therefore suggested that we climb over the gate that we shouldn’t be going through and walk with the wall on the wrong side (which is the RIGHT side?).  Before we could ask any questions, he bid us good luck and started walking away.  I actually think it was easier in Spain when we couldn’t understand directions enough to get us lost.  I still don’t know if we went the “bull” or “no bull” route but we survived. 

On another section of the route, we had just passed a split in the path so I pulled out the iPhone with the GPS app to see which one was the correct trail to follow.  Ten meters down the path, I told a Melanie to stop walking as we were on the wrong path.  Looking closer and zooming out on the GPS,  I realised that the two paths ran pretty much parallel to each other, about 10 to 30m apart and converged again about 700m down the way.  I told her that we could stay on the “wrong” path but she was having none of it.  I insisted, saying that the two routes were “as parallel as P’s and Q’s”.  What did I just say? First, I am no geometry whiz kid but if one path splits from another, they are not parallel paths.  Second, if two paths converge in 700m, they are not parallel paths.  Finally, there is absolutely nothing parallel about P’s and Q’s in the first place.  I don’t care though.  I like my new, made-up expression and I am sticking with it.  Feel free to repeat it but if you use it in a major novel or screenplay, please give me proper attribution. 

On yet another section of the path today, we were walking along a stone wall fence, in what we thought was an empty field. Just as we reached a gap in the wall that we hadn’t previously noticed, about 20 ponies ran through it and then in front of us to the gate that we were about to reach.  They stood at the gate and waited for us to open it.  They had carefully planned this mass escape and we had been chosen to aid and abet the escapees.  There were so many ponies massed at the gate that we hesitated walking through but some of the ponies just kept looking back and forth between us and the gate.  Carefully we made our way through the ponies, trying not to startle them, then we simply climbed over the wall stile next to the gate.  Those poor ponies looked so dejected as they slowly turned away and headed back to their field.  If only they could master a wall stile.

Finally, I have to mention our room in the lovely old (1833) mansion at the Fletcher House in Kirby Stephens.  More precisely, I need to mention the bathroom.  I can tell by the use of drywall material for the wall between the two rooms and the fact that there is a proper common bathroom just next to our room, that our en-suite room used to be just a bigger bedroom before the great partition.  The bathroom had been wedged into our bedroom in recent years.  What we are left with though is a rather long, thin bathroom that is nearly unusable.  Image, if you will, that it is about 4m long but very narrow, to keep the bedroom of a respectable size.  The door leads to the centre of the length, across the room from the sink. On your right as you “enter” the door, is the toilet and on your left is the shower.  The placement of the sink is most appropriate because when you bend down to spit the toothpaste foam from you mouth, your butt is perfectly placed to escape through the door, assuming it is opened. The placement of the toilet, down the bathroom hallway to your right, is more of a challenge.  Before using the toilet, for the men, you have to decide whether you are peeing or pooping because there is no space to change your mind and turn around.  You will need to walk to the toilet as normal to pee but if you have more to do, you’ll need to enter the bathroom backwards.  The shower is pretty straight forward.  You just have to wash the front of your body, then step out into the bedroom and re-enter the shower backwards to wash your back.

That’s all for today.  We have another big climb to do tomorrow and I have to get to sleep before I start talking gibberish again.

Peace y’all.

Inside the joint Roman Catholic / Anglican parish church that put the “Kirk” in Kirkby

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