Day 6: Bampton Grange to Orton

Another 8 am breakfast and Crown and Mitre delivered with yet another top notch meal.  Same as the other places (cold breakfast plus beans, mushrooms, tomatoes) but it just tasted extra fresh and delicious.  

I also spoke for a while with Jane, the owner and got an answer to a question that has been on my mind since we came to England: How are we supposed to tip in England.  Unlike the US where tips are expected and there is always a line on the credit card for tips, in England that is seen as tacky.  Even to put out a tip jar is seen as uncouth and a waiter would never expect or ask if you want to tip.  Rather, if you want to tip, then you must say at the end of the meal, before you pay, to add a percentage to the check.  It is up to you how much to tip, but standard is 5% if you are satisfied, 10% if you are extremely pleased.  More than that is often seen as being flashy and over the top, like you are flaunting your money.  But a 'thank you' is often fine - just common courtesy and sign of gratitude.  So question answered and now I know how to best handle tipping for the rest of our time here!

I know exactly when we left, because the church bells across the street struck nine as we left our lodging.  The footpath started behind the church.  Bampton Grange is several miles off the actual C2C path so we followed footpaths and country roads for a few miles to get back on track.  Today was supposed to be easier than the past 5, but it still was strenuous since we had those past days' hikes in our bodies.  No more mountains though!  Yet we still managed to ascend and descend about 1,200 feet.

We got back on track when we got to Shap Abbey, the last abbey to be founded in England (in 1199).  It was also the last to be dissolved by Henry VIII, in 1540.  The abbey is in ruins today, partially from Henry's henchmen who plundered it but also from locals who have taken stone to be used for local buildings.  It was still incredible to walk among the ruins and imagine what happened there.  Of course Lara and Olivia had to do the requisite handstand shots. 

We then continued on to Shap and stopped at a coffee shop/bakery for some chips (french fries), Cokes for the kids, and some vegetable sandwiches to carry for later.  A couple came up to Lara and me and said they had seen us at the abbey and wanted us to know how great our kids were.  He put a 5 pound note on our table and said he wanted us to buy them some dessert from him because he was so impressed at how well behaved they were.  What parent wouldn't want to hear that!

From Shap, we knew we had a little over 8 miles to our destination.  Most of the remaining journey was through pastures, but mainly well away from civilization.  We played some games, sang some songs (mostly rounds) and in general had a great afternoon.  It was a little jarring when we crossed over a 4 lane highway.  I actually took a picture of the kids on the footbridge that went over it as it was an oddity compared to the tranquil natural settings we have been accustomed to for the past 6 days.  We stopped at about 1:30 or 2 pm to eat our sandwiches and to get a little rest for our tired legs and backs.

When we were a couple of miles from our destination, Jonah was clearly spent.  Physically and emotionally, he had hit a wall.  Fortunately, no one seems to hit that wall on the same day.  Olivia was doing fine and was very helpful in motivating Jonah.  Lara spent time with him naming all of the US states - that seemed to be a nice diversion.  Olivia sang some songs with him.  And then I recounted the story of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to him and let him fill in details when I missed a piece.  While these all helped, it was the seduction of the chocolate factory that awaited in Orton, where we would be lodging, that gave the biggest motivation.  We knew it would be closing at 5 pm pand needed to get to town before then!

We made it to Orton just before 4 pm.  As luck would have it, the chocolate factory is right next door to our lodging for the night, The George Hotel.  We stopped in to the factory to make sure that there would be vegan options, and were grateful to find that there are plenty of non-dairy items to choose from.  So we checked in, went to our room, and took showers.  We're in one big room with a queen bed and three twins.  It's the most spacious room we've had so far.  Really nice.  Jonah noted that the fireplace looks just like the walls and fireplaces from the Ministry of Magic - with greenish black tiles and arches.  We then made our way back to pick up some chocolate and raise some spirits.  That seemed to do the trick!  We all felt much better.

At 6 we went down for dinner.  The food was fine - we have been spoiled by some amazing chefs the past few days so our palates are getting picky!  ;-)     Jonah had a pizza, Olivia some spaghetti, and Lara and I had chili and a veggie burger (we usually split two entrees and share).

After dinner, we saw our Australian friends Charlie and Sue and chatted with them for a little while.  We also met another pair of ladies, Jacqueline and Pauline from the Netherlands - they are doing the C2C too!  Then we went to look around town and saw the church, whose tower we saw for a few miles as we were coming toward Orton.  We found a playground too.  Believe it or not, the kids needed to work off some energy.  No idea how they have that kind of energy after all of the hiking we are doing, but they did.  They ran around, chasing each other for a while and playing on the playground, got thoroughly sweaty, and then got tired enough to come back to our room.  Since Orton is a bit off the course, I checked in with the bartender and found out the easiest way to get back on the C2C - we're only about 1/2 mile off, but I've learned that it is best to ask for directions from locals when we are off the course.  Having one X and one Y chromosome, I don't innately have the 'asking directions' gene so have had to learn the hard way to do so!  We are now in bed, reading and writing journals as we wind down the day.

Distance hiked: 12.92 mile
Total time hiking:  5 hrs.  35min.
Avg. miles per hour: 2.3 miles per hour
Total Ascent: 1,250 ft.
Total Descent:  1,187 ft.

Lara's Observation of the Day:  While I miss the scenery of the mountains, I could still feel them in my legs today!  It was refreshing to see some landmarks, like Shap Abbey.

Olivia's Observation of the Day: Although we are not in the Lake District, and there aren't mountains to climb, we still got to see some beautiful rolling meadows along the path.

Jonah's Observation of the Day: It was a tough day for me, but was worth it because I got some chocolate at the end of the day - my favorite was the 'violet chocolate'.