Keld to Reeth

Why yes, this is a picture of my feet covered in cow manure. The nadir of the trip was the hungover stroll to Reeth which covered a seemingly endless path of public rights away across the fields of some belligerent farmers. For my US readers, much of the Coast to Coast walk is connected through public rights of way. These public foot paths often traverse private farmland, which by law, the farmer must maintain. Most of the farms cut by public rights of way seemed ambivalent to those walking and their paths were neatly maintained, though no one went out of their way to clearly demarcate the pathway. On the road to Reeth, the farmers made their aversion to the walkers quite clear with strategically placed manure piles, dilapidated stiles lined with barbed wire, and row upon row of overgrown stinging netter. What should have been the flattest part of our journey was one of the most difficult paths to traverse. I often thought that the Coast to Coast was becoming more of an obstacle course perversely designed by a reality show producer. The last part of our walk was four miles through mud and manure so slick and slippery, it was hard to stay upright. Remember the midges from my previous post? Well I learned about midges today as they crawled in my ears and died in blood spattered patterns when I slapped them off my forehead. Midges suck. Today was not a great day for making friends. Some charming Canadian couples who were so kind and patient with one another as they negotiated a particularly slippery path of manure and barbed wire, decided to pause mid-climb, to inquire how we were and where we were from and how many days we were taking to walk. I promise you that were you to meet me in person, I can be quite charming. I do hope that if you were to meet me, I am not about to fall waist deep into manure, with only a string of barbed wire to help me back to my feet. As mentioned in my Versatile Blogger post, I have a rather foul mouth. So my first words to the charming Canadians was Mother F%$#ing C%$@ S@#$%er as I made a splash in the muck. I did apologize but as Northwestern Canadians, they share a gene with the uncomfortably polite Oregonians I knew oh so well from my time in Eugene, who are never bothered by anything. I did the very mature thing and kept walking, not answering a single question and hoping to not run into them again. We were set to end our day at a B&B that is noted on Trip Advisor to be gorgeous but very strange because the proprietors have floor to floor cream colored carpeting that they insist on keeping immaculate and walkers must strip down, regardless of the weather, on the unsheltered front porch before entering the home. The last trudge up the hill in Reeth, I kept staring down at my besotted feet, wondering how and if we would be allowed inside.

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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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