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My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Day 25 - Darlington to Barnard Castle

ELast night Blackwell Grange Hotel was on the face of it quite luxurious, but it was full of Americans and Japanese on what appeared to be two different organised parties. I had a conversation with an ex US colonel who seemed to have been everywhere and done everything "...I love my country, but..." and "I served my country for 32 years, but..." the follow on from buts being criticism of Bush and various others and the strictures put on the military by presidents etc. He said he had met both Prince Charles and Margaret Thatcher. Everything he said came accross as an oft repeated monologue which didn't seem 'to relate to real conversation.

I had a sirloin steak which was tough.

Breakfast was a shambles. A huge dining room, self service for everything except beverages and toast. I had my breakfast on my table then had to wander off and find a waitress to get some tea by which time the breakfast was nearly cold - all a bit dreary considering the price I was paying.

Walking was easy to start with following The Teesdale Way, but developed into another nettle fest for some time, then I missed a sign and ended up in more trouble. I was accosted by a farmer, in a reasonably friendly manner. I knew where I was but he was convinced I was totally lost. I got back on track and slogged on. In between the easy and the hard bits I hit gold in Gainsford at The Laurels Cafe; I just spotted it down at the end of an alley about thirty yards off the main road. It was run by the lady proprietor and her assistant and they were very kind to me. I had a bacon and egg butty, two pots of tea and piece of Yorkshire Curd Tart. Everything was home made. This was a pleasant stop.

I eventually got to Barnard Castle about 4.30 and decided on hotel accommodation. There are quite a lot of hotels in BC but most of them cater for disco, karioke, or very large screen very loud football ( yes I know I have used "very" twice but it was intentional).

Eventually I have a basic room at The Golden Lilon which does not do evening meal, and I intend to eat at The Old Well where I would have preferred to stay but it was full.

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  1. Another hotel? You've gone soft. Hope tonight's accommodation proves better than last night's.

    Just as an aside - my Mum was born in Barnard Castle and lived there until she met and married my Dad. She has lots of stories about the 'hard times' there during the war.


  2. Bearing in mind yesterday's conversation on the subject, I think what you meant was 'a Big Screen showing football at excessive volume'...

  3. I think if hotels are regularly on the agenda you need a hotel guide. Alas, most would be a very heavy (avoirdupois) burden but you appear to be spending largish sums and not getting sufficient return on your investment. On the other hand les expériences mauvaises provide the basis for more interesting posts, though it may difficult to see it that way as they occur. I see it is suggested you are going soft. Have you considered using your sleeping bag on the bedroom floor as a half-step towards the Eric Newby philsophy of travel?

  4. I remember when we (Darlington CBC) bought this house from Lady Havelock-Allen (last surviving relative of the reliever of Lucknow) - always a poor buy and a bad hotel when that became its fate - overpriced and overhyped and underachieving - was amazed when I saw you had gone there and your experience was only too predictable - but, sadly, most of the inns in the area have gone the same way - pretentious so-called executive-style, catering for tasteless trolls. Vive les logis de France!
    Better luck as you go west! (anyway, so many inns and hotels - or are you toughening up for the trackless wastes of the Pennines in the fleshpots of the cities of the plain?

  5. All - my accomodation is dictated by walking 16 to 20 miles per day. When I arrive at the destination I have to take whatever is there. By choice I camp if there is a decent site. I do not have the luxury of being able to travel a bit further for the sake of discrimination. More pre planning would help - eg identfying Caravan Club CLs close to the route, but that ha not in my nature.

    Just to satiate my accusers of softness I may be doing a wild camp in The Lakes in the next couple of days. I don't think there are many camp sites coming up.

  6. After checking in with Dad last night I realised that arrival home is imminent - I have started 'The Tidy Up' especially as he is upgrading his accommodation - he will be expecting a certain standard!!

  7. yes, it seems as though pate maison, a steak (au point) and something like a pavlova then ripe stilton or rocquefort accompanied by a decent claret and glass of 25 yo malt is the absolute minimum - not forgetting the hungarian goosedown duvet and 200 point egyptian cotton sheets . . .
    no probs . . .