Richmond, a jewel of the North Riding of Yorkshire, chief town of Swaledale: and the first question I have to ask is why anyone would want to leave it for the grimy, backstabbing world of Downing Street? Yet this has happened. A sudden political hiccup and the journey had to be taken, though the individual in question, I gather, took the train or a car rather than the long thread of footpaths and lanes needed to do it properly.
It is not a short distance. It would require determination and not a little bit of time – about as long as a Norfolk Prime Minister’s tenure, I am told.
The first thing to overcome is having to leave Swaledale. It is a gorgeous part of Yorkshire, tucked along the River Swale from the hills to the Vale, with higgledy stone villages, tucked in a long, long dale alternating between narrow clefts between stony hillsides and broad green meadows. Stepping out of it up onto the wind-scoured moor can be a shock – driving steeply out of the dale once I came to Crackpot and was forced to turn back – though that may be because the road was closed: it should be done on foot.
With this in mind, the route proposed follows Swaledale down until it meets the Ure – in truth the famed ruggedness of Swaledale end soon below Richmond to give way to rich farmland, but that too is beautiful. The Swale Way (which we follow) does not give up on the river until its ultimate end in the Yorkshire Ouse, and concludes at Boroughbridge.
From Boroughbridge we take up an interestingly eccentric route called St Bernard’s Way, imagining a walk threading between the great mediaeval monasteries of Yorkshire and the Midlands, down through London to Dover, but for us, Westminster is the aim.
This route then from Richmond to Downing Street passes through ten counties, from Yorkshire, and finishing in Westminster in Middlesex.
- [To be completed]
- Explorer 207: Newport Pagnell and Northampton South
- Explorer 192: Buckingham and Milton Keynes
- Explorer 181: Chiltern Hills North
- Explorer 172: Chiltern Hills East
- Explorer 173: London North