Tuesday May 9 Baldersdale YH to Langdon Beck YH

This morning, I passed up the cooked breakfast for porridge, croissants, yoghurt and fruit. There was surprisingly good organic instant coffee.

A clear day, I started out by 8:45 with Oliver and Ruth. Its a nice, green scenic walk past pastures, valleys and trees. My shins are hurting again, so Oliver and I go into Middleton for supplies as Ruth continues on to Langdon Beck. I bought a phone card at the post office, then medicated patches for my shins at a pharmacy. Oliver found a cash machine and a grocery to stock up on food. He is cooking all his own meals. I found a bakery for carrot cake, one of my favorite indulgences. This is really a nice town, old buildings, interesting shops, all very clean. But we did have an unpleasant experience as we approached town and stopped to regroup on a grassy area next to a house. A cranky man leaned out the second story window and told us to get off his grass and move on. What, no camping allowed?

Oliver and I set off along the River Tees straight north, past lots of trees, rapids full of rocks, small falls, a beautiful walk. We stopped for lunch and passed the time with a couple of octogenarians reliving a walk decades earlier. Then we passed the mighty Low Force, turned away from the river briefly through a nature preserve, returned to the river bank and met High Force, that magnificent waterfall bursting between hugh rock cliffs and plunging 70 feet.

We finally crossed the Tees and could see Langdon Beck YH ahead. This hostel is an environmental showplace with solar hot water, wind power, composting, water recycling, organic gardening and more. Quite impressive!

No evening meal was available at the hostel tonight, so Ruth and I conspired to find someone with a car to take us to the Langdon Beck Hotel for dinner. We made friends with Brian, a retiree on a birding trip, and piled in his car for the two mile trip. In appreciation, I bought Brian a pint and had a Theakston for myself. We all ordered our meals at the bar. I ordered lamb curry with rice and a salad, but the bartender was a perfect blunderer. He had a terrible time getting our orders straight and a worse time with the bill and change. After we were seated, the cook came to our table to find out what we really wanted. I thought it must have been the bartender’s first day, but Ruth, a health care worker, said “I recognize that type, he is a classic drunk”

Back at the hostel, the warden was lamenting the closing of so many hostels in the next year, mostly in isolated locations like Baldersdale. The medicated patches have helped relieve my shin problem, so I gave one to Ruth who is still having trouble with her ankles. She has found direct paths to Garrigill from Langdon Beck which will be easier on her than trying to go by way of Dufton and Cross Fell, certainly a faster way to get to JOG. I think she has about a month to go.

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