From Potto to Richmond

A walk across the North of England – Day 5

An early start for a long day across wheat fields to Richmond. This is less visited country and many of the rights of way have been deliberately blocked, or neglected to the point where we’re forced to hack our way through nettles and brambles. Makes for slow going. And itchy legs.

There are many kinds of public rights of way in England – footpaths, canal towpaths, bridleways, miner’s paths to name a few – and many of these are hundreds of years old. In areas where the economy partially relies on tourism, the footpath network is a recognised part of the tourist industry and is well maintained and waymarked. Here, in the flat, fertile Vale of York, many landowners don’t have quite the same attitude towards walkers, and we found more than one footpath sign in a ditch. I guess that modern industrial farming has little use for the romance of pathways that have been trod for hundreds of years, and it is quite possible that some walkers trample crops… especially walkers who have lost their way because the signpost is lying back there in a ditch. It seemed to us that the number of blocked paths and missing waymarks seemed to be linked to the number of new Range Rovers in the driveways of the nearby farm houses.

We trample the barbed wire and remind ourselves that correlation is not causation.

We arrive at Richmond in the early evening having done around 42km: our first marathon and a new PB (Personal Best) of just over 13 hours. Although to be fair, marathon runners aren’t carrying spare clothes in a rucksack, don’t have to backtrack, push their way through brambles, hedges and nettles, or stop at every corner to check the map. Neither do they stop at the pub. Twice. And a tea room.

Wheat Field in the Vale of York
Wheat Field in the Vale of York, 2022, acrylic on cradled birch panel, 20 x 25 cm (8″ x 10″) Visit the gallery

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