Sunday, 29 May 2016
Durham to Thirsk - the goal for Stage 4. Relaxing in a kitchen equipped with an Aga - bliss - meant a leisurely start to the day. Our plan to leave at crack of dawn was radically revised and after helpings of pancakes, toast and coffee we set off nearer midday than dawn. Was all lost? Far from it. Progress was excellent - and we had boldly ( supported by the Ordinance Survey map) revised our route - or rather, Julian did the hard work - many, many thanks. The result was a journey through green fields on an almostt traffic free road. Green is a recurrent descriptor , and indeed we are seeing "England's green and pleasant land" in all its early summer splendour. But the feel of the countryside is very different - to Southerners this is still the north. The architecture is subtly different and the stone a warm red rather than the granite grey of the borders. We have travelled through little "villages", past affluent- looking farmsteads, fields still with herds of sheep - but increasingly cattle - and horses. We have enjoyed the hospitality of the Grange Arms in Hornby - a pub since the 18th century, where though too late for their menu, we were regaled with an enormous plate of pate and fresh bread. Fuel for the next stage. Riding past signposts the names are fascinating Thornton - les -Beans. Is this a corruption of Bains ( look it up someone!). And snapshots of history. Have you learnt about The Battle of the Standard - 1138 - when an army of Scots led by David 1 came south in support of the Empress Matilda and was defeated by an English force just outside Northallerton; an important battle but not one allowed by Michael Gove - it apparently established Scotland as a Nation! But I am quoting Wikepedia...! Anyway, here we are in Thirsk or rather outside Thirsk an attractive, busy town ( as is Northallerton - though we rode through rather fast) in the White a Horse Hotel. Time for bed. Tomorrow a long day - 60. Miles to Doncaster but we have hopes of the Sustrans Cycle Route.