Friday, 11 August 2017

Pickering Hike (Summer Camp 2017)

A condensed version of this report was originally published in issue 15 of 8th Mag.

After the arrival of the Hewinses on late Tuesday morning, the Rover quartet left camp for their day of hiking. The circular hike, planned by Liam, was supposed to be approximately 12 miles in distance and take up most of the day.

The Rover squad began in high spirits as they walked westerly towards Newbridge, through the quarry, along the road, and onto a footpath which led straight up to Cawthorn Roman Camp. Unfortunately, they mistook a worn track at the side of a field of wheat as the public footpath. The one they wanted was actually running parallel to them, just through a line of trees. The Rovers came up with a cunning plan of climbing over a fence and cutting through the trees to get themselves back on course - however it was far easier said than done.

Harry battered through nettles, thorns, and deer to lead the bunch through what turned out to be a small wood rather than a thin line of trees. With only minor grazes and stings, they were soon back on the right route.

On arrival at Cawthorn Roman Camp, Liam consulted the map and found a viewpoint where he suggested they have lunch. Finding this viewpoint proved difficult though. The paths at the Roman Camp were not traced on maps so Liam told the group to just bear right whenever they came to a crossroads. Those of you who are good at angles will know, if you take four right turnings, you end up exactly where you started. So, about 20 minutes after leaving the car park at the Roman Camp, the Rovers had accidentally returned to the car park at the Roman Camp, even more hungry the second time around.

It was at this point where the other Rovers insisted on checking a map and having lunch next to the actual Roman Camp remains (a two-minute walk from the car park).

For lunch, they devoured a whole apple pie and a can of squirty cream, amongst other things.

Newton upon Derwent would be their next stop however it was a long and boring three-mile walk along roads to get there. Liam walked slightly ahead so he was out of earshot of the death threats the other Rovers were mumbling at him by this point.

Exhausted a sweaty, the Rovers arrived one by one in Newton upon Derwent. All they wanted now was to enjoy a cool and refreshing Diet Coke in a local Public House. Sadly, the only establishment in the village did not open on a Tuesday so they instead sat outside and caught their breath there.

A gentleman in Newton approached the Rovers and struck up conversation with them about their route. Liam explained to the bloke that they were heading for Levisham. The geezer correctly guessed that the Rovers would be tempted to head straight down the valley; he warned against this as the path would be extremely steep, dangerously slippery, take them through a field of angry bulls, and there was no guarantee that they would be able to directly cross the beck at the bottom. The wise old man instead advised them to retrace their steps back up to the north end of Newton upon Derwent and follow the winding road that would eventually take them to the train line crossing at the bottom of the valley. He showed them on the map that it meant adding another half a mile onto their route but the descent down the valley would be far safer.

Once the Dumbledore of Derwent walked away, the Rovers said bollocks to him and set off down the steep but direct path. A decision they would come to regret...

The pathway was almost vertical in some parts causing James and Ben, especially, to skid and slide. At the bottom, Harry did manage to find a beck crossing he thought would be appropriate however it required balancing on a dubious looking branch. Liam went first. He placed one foot on the branch and kept the other foot firmly on the field, slowly putting pressure on the branch to see how much it could take. He spent five minutes in this dance with the branch before deciding to just risk it.

SNAP! The branch, unsurprisingly, was dead and Liam's leg went groin-deep into the water. The bed of the river was not even what stopped him from going in deeper, it was that his other leg snagged on the tree. That's what he gets for listening to Harry.

In hysterics at Liam’s wetness, the Rovers plodded along the side of the bull field towards the actual crossing, looking to see if there was anywhere else they could cut across to reduce their route. After going through swampy areas where the mud was coming over the sides of their boots, they eventually found a stronger tree to climb along and over the beck. Only problem here was, the other side of the beck was somebody's back garden; so, they hotfooted it towards the railway crossing.

The assent from Levisham station to the village of Levisham was far nicer than the descent from Newton upon Derwent. Although steep, the footpath was in good condition, and the views became increasingly breath-taking the more they climbed.

Once in Levisham, they stopped at The Horseshoe Inn for a Diet Coke or three. It was at this point where the Rovers were seriously considering ending their hike. They inquired with the bartender about local buses and numbers for taxi services. But eventually, they reluctantly decided that they might as well finish the route on foot. Liam promised them it would be a flat walk back to camp (spoiler alert: it wasn't). At exactly 17:25 they headed south out of Levisham and along the river back towards camp.

The last leg of the hike was familiar to Ben and Harry as it was along the same pathways they had trekked for their Senior overnight hike some five years prior.

In the end, the Rovers ended up walking 15.3 miles. And despite all the walking, they still had the energy to cram a large cod and chips into their gobs for tea. All in all, despite their feet looking like that Nazi whose face melted off in Raiders of the Lost Ark by the time they got back to camp, Ben declared it a "bloody good day and one of the best walks I’ve been on for a while."