2nd Rest Stop at Stonetrail Trekking Centre

Stats for leg 2: 93.08 miles; accumulated miles, 179.17; average mileage per day, 15.51 miles

19th – 22nd May, going nowhere, Stonetrail Trekking Centre, Street, Ravenstonedale, Cumbria.

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New shoes for Tommy.  The farrier, Danny Furnhead, has done a fantastic job fitting some heavy-duty shoes with studs.  I promised to let him know how many miles we get out of this new set.  I’m able to keep the knackered set as a souvenir which I give to my neighbours and friends, Bob and Diana (plus some used maps) to take home for me, when we meet up later in the day and spend a jolly evening together at the Kings Head in Ravenstonedale, where they have managed to book a room.  A lovely pub.   Delicious food and a delight to see some familiar faces and catch up with news.  One of the highlights of my week, for sure.  They kindly drop me back to the Trekking Centre with a ‘doggy bag’ of pudding and some packets of biscuits from the tea-tray in their room!

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I show the farrier the boots that a friend of Alison’s has kindly offered us in case he casts a shoe on the way.  My initial response was that they are very heavy, even one of them alone would add some considerable weight to our load.  Danny also pointed out horses have a tendency to overreach when wearing boots.   So another important decision not to take boots which I may well live to regret.

Now it’s time for Tommy to chill.  From where I’m staying, I can observe him in the field.  Something I would love to be able to do at home…..in an ideal world.  It’s lovely to see him relaxing, getting down and having a good roll which he loves to do, or lying down and resting.  Then he thinks he’s missing out on something going on in the barn and gets up, calling, shaking his head and prancing around like a colt, or he gets down to the serious business of eating some grass, etc, etc.  Just doing what horses do.

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What will remain in my memory about this latest leg is the unrelenting elemental forces of nature.  The ferocious winds and the hail storms, in particular.  Dark skies and being cold and wet a lot of the time.  The steepness of the fells and the gruelling climbs for two softies from Cornwall.  The pictures just don’t give any flavour of the grit and determination required to conquer them.  Tommy eating soil which I have now been able to google and know it is nothing to worry about and all perfectly normal.  I must learn to trust his instincts more.  And above all else, without exception, I will remember the wonderful, helpful, kind and accommodating people.  I feel humbled and truly blessed to have been the recipient of so much generosity, of spirit as well as hospitality, shelter, great food and interesting company.

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The Curlews and Lapwings.  And the swifts who fly around the yard that are nesting here in the roof above me.

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However, there is one thing that doesn’t seem to be going to plan.  I am failing in my mission to raise money for the RDA, and I’m not sure what I need to do to remedy that.  Diana says I should leave it to fate and I agree with her but it’s not a very proactive approach.

The Angel in my Pocket.

I use this time at Stonetrail to check tack and catch up with logistics.  Phoning ahead to confirm my onward hosts are expecting us.  I am beginning to dread this exercise as there are inevitable problems to iron out, simply because I haven’t had more time to double check every confirmation before we left Cornwall.  It’s the nature of the challenge I face.  I’m not infallible, my resources stretched, so there are inevitable hitches that need to be ironed out along the way.  I have begun to see this exercise as part of the essence of pilgrimage.  Part of the challenge of solo expedition planning!  There’s no one else to bounce off ideas with as in so many cases, two heads are often better than one for sorting out difficulties.  Sometimes when things seem insurmountable, something or someone comes along to help me out, like the locked gate (see ride 11).  I often feel my fate is in the lap of the Gods, and the tiny angel I keep in my pocket!

How to Prevent Saddle Bags From Chaffing (with limited resources)

Take two sets of saddle bags and one used saddle cloth (mine kindly donated by Anastasia), some bailer twine and a pair of scissors.

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Fold saddle cloth into 3 sections, and cut along the edges, providing 2 large pieces and one narrower strip.

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Fit the pieces to the underside of the bags any way you can (I have used binder twine and 2 elastic bands donated by Alison)

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Pray, and hope for the best.

I’ve given Tommy a bit of a spruce up…..too cold to give him a proper bath, and begun to pack up my bags in preparation for our departure tomorrow.  Once again grateful to Alison for making us feel welcome.  If you want some brilliant trekking in stunning scenery, this is the place to come.  Tomorrow we set off along the top section of the Pennine Bridleway.  It will take us all the way down to Hartington, south of the Peak District.  About 200 miles of ancient packhorse routes, old drovers roads and newly created bridle paths, mostly running sort of parallel with the Pennine Way.  I have been particularly looking forward to this section of our journey.

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