Orton to Kirby Stephen

As much as I love pub grub, I was desperately looking forward to our stroll into Kirby Stephen, one of the larger towns that we would encounter on route because it would enable us to have a choice of different dinner cuisine. Our walk to Kirby Stephen began at a good pace, until we encountered our first bull. Where I was deeply afraid of encountering the Black Adder, I was less fearful of bulls. My husband, on the other hand, regarded the bull with the same trepidation I would have regarded a snake. Firmly committed to supporting one another in our neuroses, we made the decision to do some road walking and avert the bull altogether.

Road walking is something that we are more accustomed to, having spent most of our time preparing for this walk by wandering the streets of Manhattan. Northern English roads, however, are not very pedestrian friendly and the drivers speed at a rate that makes even New Yorkers raise an eyebrow. Combined with the limited shoulder and visibility sometimes available, road walking proved to be one of the more difficult aspects of our hike. Keep in mind that we are not geometrical thinkers, so we were often second-guessing ourselves in regard to where to position ourselves on the road in relation to the whizzing cars that, for us, were driving on the opposite side. Without the proper ordinance map, we found ourselves a bit turned around. Luckily we met another gentleman, a former marathon runner, who had found himself in a similar predicament. He was relying upon a GPS and somehow between his technology and my husband’s old-school compass, we wandered into Kirby Stephen by about 3pm.

Unfortunately, the pharmacy, and many other businesses in the larger town of Kirby Stephen close at about noon on a Saturday.  As we contemplated how to spend our afternoon, the rain clouds from the previous days made their way to Kirby Stephen. We ran all the way to White Ghyll House, our Packhorse arranged B&B to seek shelter. The proprietors at the lovely White Gill House greeted us immediately and arranged a cup of tea and cake in their conservatory.

This is one of the features of British homes that I so admire. Unlike a US Florida room or Carolina room, the British conservatory is made of glass, rather than screens. The warmth radiated in the room is delightful. Initially we thought we might grab some Chinese take-away to eat in the conservatory, but the scent from the Indian restaurant was so alluring that we wound up at having a delicious masala instead.

Back at White Gill House we settled into our room for the evening and found ourselves with twin beds. On another type of trip, this might be a bit of a downer, but there’s something about a walking holiday that makes you want a bit of your own space in the evening and we were excited to have room to stretch out. The room was filled with chocolate treats and the bathroom offered a lovely selection of bubble baths. There may not have been a spa at Dale Lodge, but White Gill House definitely made up for it.

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About 30 Ways of Walking

Gina Liotta's writing has appeared in or is forthcoming in The New York Quarterly, Slate, The Paterson Literary Review, LIPS, and The Healing Muse, among others. She lives, writes and teaches in New York.
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