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August 30, 2005 > Coast to coast

Coast to coast

Margaret Thornberry conquers England (Part 2)

Local resident Margaret Thornberry recently attended an Ogle family reunion in England and walked the famous Wainright "Coast to Coast" trail. This well-known trail extends from the small coastal town of St. Bees on the Irish Sea to Robin Hood's Bay on the North Sea, a total of 192 miles. This is the conclusion of Margaret's comments about her journey across northern England. Margaret lives in Fremont and is currently president of the Fremont Cultural Arts Council.

One the second day, a fellow traveler pulled off his sock to display a huge blister on the ball of his foot, but Margaret had no such problems since she had purchased soft wool used by ballet dancers in the toes of their shoes. "That was the smartest think I did on my trip since my boots were padded with the wool and my feet were comfortable." Margaret's "tour" (18 nights and 17 days) was designed to allow her to stop each evening at a bed and breakfast but she says that others who passed her group planned to complete the journey in five days. She heard about hikers with headlamps who completed the trek in four days! She observed, "The British are a little crazy." She kept pace with a New Zealand couple for a couple of days but they soon left her behind. "As soon as they were finished, they were going on to Scotland and do an additional walk. Their legs looked like tree roots."

Hiking the trail usually started at about 9:30 a.m. after a full English breakfast, "a story in itself." Bangers, the "best bacon in the entire world," eggs, toast, mushrooms, beans and broiled tomatoes were waiting every morning and Margaret was happy to report, so was coffee as well as tea. Many places used real, locally made cream; having "creamed tea" reached the top of her list when Margaret finished a day's journey at the town of Ingleby Cross. Rain was pouring down, the pub was closed and that night's bed and breakfast would not be ready for an hour. Margaret suggested to her fellow travelers that they show up at the bed and breakfast and "look pitiful." The hostess at the bed and breakfast greeted them warmly and told them to come in and rest while she fixed a creamed tea. Homemade scones appeared with homemade jam on top and a big dollop of thick cream; "I don't think I have ever tasted anything as good as that in my entire life!"

A proud moment for Margaret was near the end of her trek. She came upon a fit and very bright looking German fellow wandering around in a sheep fold with a book in his hand trying to find his way. "I was able to tell him which way to go." She suspects there are sheep folds full of foreigners wandering around asking "where am I?" The Annual Report of the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team lists incidents which help to support her theory. Margaret says that the things she worried about - uncontrolled dogs, cattle and unsavory people - did not include getting lost. "I felt very safe; England was one of the safest places I have ever been."

Prepared for inclement weather, Margaret's foul weather gear was put to the test near Richmond when heavy rain appeared. Her boots grew mold and the Columbia jacket succumbed to the English downpour. Improvisation saved the day when a garbage bag with slits for arms and head provided the necessary raingear. After completing the trip, Margaret reflects, "Something like this trip really makes you appreciate comfort."

Asked if she would repeat the "walk," the reply was an emphatic "yes." Margaret relates her experience in a town called Danby Wiske where she stayed in a bed and breakfast called the White Swan that has been there for 400 years. It was originally called the Grey Swan for the first 200 years. Settled in a room in the garret, Margaret came downstairs to dinner where she had a wonderful meal with fellow travelers. In the pub, locals and walkers joined for a friendly drink and the proprietress brought out a guest book walkers sign as they come through and related a story about a walker who had come to town the previous week. He asked to see his signature and comments from his initial trek four years earlier. Finding his signature, he looked at his comments and found written..."never again." He was on his fourth trip!

"The scenery is fantastic; the Lake District is world renown. Wordsworth's poetry was written in that area. The central area of high moors and dales inspired James Herriot to write All Creatures Great and Small. In the eastern portion - the Yorkshire area - many British books of our cultural heritage were written including children's books such as The Secret Garden. You see things that you put together with what you have read. It's a wonderful trip."

Even the return from Robin Hoods Bay to the train station in Scarborough was eventful. Since no trains run to the small town, Margaret waited for but missed the bus. The British ability to give directions had struck again placing her on the wrong side of the street. As she wondered what to do, a family she had met on the trail came down the street and asked if she would like to ride with them in a taxi they had rented to take them to Scarborough. The camaraderie and hospitality of the moment complemented the entire experience.

Margaret thinks the coast to coast hike was appealing because it was "a bit of a challenge." Her enthusiasm is contagious as she exclaims, "It has been an adventure; so much fun. It really has been a stretch for me."

 
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