The Grand National and a Bath in the Dark.

Post 35: 6 April 1991: Day 9 – Grinton Lodge Youth Hostel to Bolton-on-Swale – 18 miles

We left Grinton Lodge at 9.30am, in fine weather, taking a short cut to Merrick Priory by crossing a ford. The only problem was that, on arrival at the ford, it was found to be in flood. Never go for short cuts, they always involve more mileage.

As a result of my mistake we had to follow the B6270 to Marske; the only consolation was to see a lamb born by the roadside. At Marske we found a seat (real luxury) on which to have lunch, at which point a crowd of elderly coast to coasters came along with video cameras. They were doing the walk in separate day sections, looking more like Japanese tourists rather than serious walkers.

Good progress was made to Richmond where, on passing a pub, Clint popped his head out and dragged us inside.

‘It’s the Grand National today,’ he said. ‘What’ll you have to drink?’

‘Guinness please, I thought it was at three o’clock and it’s only two now,’ I replied.

‘That’s right, make yourself comfortable.’

The big 50_6757
Escape from the rain for the Grand National

Hearing the rain outside there seemed little choice, but I remembered we still had over seven miles to walk and excessive drinking and walking don’t mix. Events like the Grand National make you feel part of nation, but since Sky television came along these ‘national events’ on terrestrial TV have become fewer and fewer. For example, what Englishman wants to watch Russia play Italy at football when England are playing a pre-World Cup match? Unfortunately, unless you can afford Sky you have no choice. Similarly, what Englishman wants to watch Scotland and Australia play rugby when England are playing the All Blacks? My childhood days were spent waiting for football on Match of the Day or live Sunday afternoon football, now Sky has the big matches and little is left for the rest of us.

At about 4.15pm, we left the pub fully rested, but a little worse for drink. The rain still poured down but we didn’t care. We slithered along the mud alongside the River Swale until at 7.15pm we arrived at our pre-booked bed and breakfast.

‘Thought you were never coming,’ the farmer said.

‘Yes, we were a little delayed watching the Grand National.’

‘The wife will show you to the accommodation.’

Clint and Wendy were shown to their en-suite accommodation in the farmhouse, whereas Archie, Dave and myself were shown to the stables. Water for washing was provided by a bucket, there were unheated outside toilets, shower and washrooms. I had booked the accommodation! I decided to wait for the other four to have their baths inside the farmhouse, then, just as I was getting in the bath for a long-awaited soak, the fuses blew and I was in pitch darkness. To make matters worse there was no hot water. A low point of Coast to Coast.

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