An Encounter with a Ruthless Killer and a Lady in the Gents.

Post 38: 8 April 1991: Day 11 – Ingleby Cross to Great Broughton – 16 miles (to Clay Bank Top) 

Awoke with a stiff neck! Applied Radian B, which seemed to do the trick but made me very unpopular at breakfast.

After stocking up with various goodies at the Post Office we left the Blue Bell Inn at 9.15am, with a long day ahead. The Post Office had never done so much business at 9.00am on a Monday morning.

We soon passed Mount Grace Priory dating from 1398, this being the best preserved of nine Carthusian monasteries that were built in England. Each of the twenty-four monks had his own small, two-storey cell and rear walled garden. Serving hatches adjacent to the cell doors permitted meals to be passed anonymously to the occupants. The BBC2 television programme, A Coast to Coast Walk, shown in the late 1980’s, certainly helped to put this fine historical site on the map. The power of television should not be underestimated as, after Sir David Attenborough’s programme, Stoats in the Priory, was screened in April 1996, attendance figures at the priory increased from 35,000 per annum in 1996 to 42,500 in 1997, then, after a repeat showing of the programme, a further increase to 45,000 was predicted in 1998. This despite the fact that stoats have daggers for teeth, are ruthless killers, perform a demonstrative, frenzied dance to hypnotise their prey, and give off a foul odour to deter those that threaten them. There have been no reported attacks on Coast to Coast walkers but they frequently kill rabbits eight times their weight and terrify song-birds and moorhens.

Leaving the dangers of the stoat populated priory, the picturesque village of Osmotherley was reached, once noted for having one of the most ferocious youth hostel wardens ever, who reputably was ex-SAS. In more recent times the village has become infamous for its toilets, men coming out of them laughing uncontrollably. At first you think there must be something naughty going on and when one morning I walked in to find a female, my suspicions were confirmed.

‘Good morning,’ I said.

‘Good morning luv,’ she replied.

My mind raced as I wondered what to do next. ‘Is it alright if I go in there?’ I said, pointing at a cubicle, where at least I thought I would get some privacy.

‘That’s fine luv,’ I’ve nearly finished. Finished what I thought? Then I saw her wipe the floor with her mop. That was it, she was the cleaner. I sat down on the toilet pan and sighed with relief. As I sat there it suddenly dawned on me why everyone leaves laughing; the walls are covered by jokes on newspaper cuttings, put there by the cleaner. I flushed the toilet, then left with a wide grin on my face. Such are the joys of the countryside.

Despite Wendy having a muscle strain in her leg, probably caused by trying to get away too quickly from lurking stoats, excitement grew as we started to climb onto the North York Moors.

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