North Yorkshire, July
It's getting dark and I'm hungry. Really hungry--and cranky and muddy and I'm pretty sure that my absolutely favorite-of-all time irreplaceable shiny Italian red leather sandals are history. This forest is impenetrable and Tom has admitted that we are, as he puts it, "path free" which is his unique way of avoiding having to say those inflammatory three little words: We Are Lost. I know we're lost, he knows we're lost, but Tom is more likely to focus on the what next and I am thoroughly engrossed in the what now.
When someone asks me if I'd like a stroll to the pub for dinner, and when that pub is the Plough Inn in Fadmoor, North Yorkshire which combines ambiance,tiny rural village pub location, and lovely food which might include a creamy Wensleydale pasta and will definitely offer something fragrantly lamb and rosemary; my shoes (as in this case the now sadly wilted red leather Italian sandals) are on and I am out the door.
Tom has thoughtfully extended that invitation this evening as we have been pleasurably walking part of the Cleveland Way for a large part of the day, arriving back at our self catered cottage to discover that the cupboards are bare and our supper choices are limited to oatmeal and a bottle of Old Peculiar.
The pub is a good distance by road and I don't pay much attention to Tom's suggestion to take a short cut--always a cautionary sign.That was hours ago, well at least one hour-- and the sun was still high on this North Yorkshire summer evening when we followed the little red line on Tom's TIC map to the local leg of The Inn Way, off the hard packed earth road, into the deep deep woods.
What could be more delightful than following a walk called The Inn Way? The map shows it as a six day 89 mile circular walk Helmsely to Helmsley connected by--inns. Our little jog of it would take us to our little inn, The Plough and Tom does not notice--or somehow chooses not to let me know he's noticed-- that this section includes the highest point of the entire walk, which I sincerely hope is behind us-- Sleightholmdale (cottage) to Fadmoor (pub).
The path we've been following seems to have been either an old path used possibly once or twice a century, a newer one that was a poor idea, or Not The Inn Way At All and has pretty much petered out by the time we've slid nearly vertically up a muddy embankment, crossed over another forest road to nowhere, and we've had to make the kind of decision that involves direction and setting sun and whether Fadmoor is to the west, the north west or just plan north.
I like to wet the tip of my finger and hold it in the air to test direction which Tom says is ridiculous because (he was a multi-badged boy scout) that is how you test for wind direction not for direction direction, but it works mysteriously well for my personal radar and as Tom has had a serious credibility dip what with the getting lost and all--we go my way which does self righteously lead us out of the forest over and through a many -hectared barbed wire sheep field--and then another one and three more just like it, so that by the time we stumble around a huge farm and through the sort of muddy and animal- rich ground detritus huge farms tend to collect and onto the Fadmoor road and into the Plough Inn, we are instantly stopped at the door and asked if we have reservations.
Reservations? At the pub? Ummm...no, could we just eat at the bar? What no bar dining without--a reservation? Could we just get a drink and (I beg) possibly some crisps? We are shuffled to a corner of the bar where none of the spiffy diners (where do these people come from?) have to see our poor, bedraggled selves.Slinking out when we are done, we walk very, very slowly all the way back down the village road out to the main road, and the long hard packed earth road, down the steep hill, to the stable that is our food- free self catering cottage. I drink the beer. Tom quietly makes mush.