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Sunday, 15 June 2008

Market Weighton To Beverley

9.05 am sees the Boffin and I aboard the X47 bus headed for Market Weighton to check out the bike route that runs from there to Beverley. The bike track is along the former route of a local railway line, but we're checking it out by foot. We've hiked with the local Rambler's Group since we joined, but, while they are very nice people, they do ramble, in every sense of the word, drifting along paths in the most genteel fashion, and stopping, so it seems, every fifteen minutes or so, for "rest breaks". The first such break we had came with the announcement by the expedition leader

"Ahem, Ladies and Gentlemen. May I have your attention. Perhaps this may be an appropriate time for the ladies to take a small, erm, rest",

(this sentence delivered in 1940's English, straight from a war-time propoganda film where 'house' is pronounced 'hice'). The men of the hike then plunged onwards into an interesting-looking willow plantation, that formed a miniature forest amid a plain of flat rapeseed fields. A narrow tunnel formed by the willows on either side, darkened rapidly along its twisting length. The tunnel looked mysterious. It was this that the 'men', and only the men, had entered.

I looked at the Boffin, and our hiking companion, Annabel, and our consensus, without a word being spoken, was that whatever the men were doing was too interesting to miss, so our small caucus plunged on also, into the tunnel. It was only the muted cries of dismay, the hastily zipped trouser, and the sight of hundreds of retired pharmacists quickly emerging from the willow stands on either side of us that we realized what the leader's polite sentence actually meant. Having lived in Canada for so long, we should have recognised euphemism when we heard it.
A herd of retired Pharmacists, plus some ladies.

Today's adventure was just self and Boffin, so was completely euphemism free. The map gives an idea of the route, which was straight as an arrow over the gentle rolls of the Yorkshire Wolds. It was also virtually empty, but this was no surprise, as over time we've developed a strategy for identifying walks in close-to-urban areas that are relatively peaceful. The strategy dependsClear Path to Beverley

largely on completely avoiding the recommendations of local tourist advice centres and steering well clear of anywhere identified on a map with a large 'P'. 'P' means Parking Lot, and Parking Lot, at least in the UK, means ice-cream van, and ice cream van, again uniquely in the UK, means lots of people. Ice Cream Vans are as British as Buckingham Palace - an eternal cultural symbol. They are, to those Colonials who may not know, a van, painted in garish colours equipped with a serving hatch and several refrigerators. Our avoidance strategy works regardless of the weather, as the British love their ice-cream as much as Canadians love coffee. In fact the British will drive to a local 'beauty spot', fill the car park full of cars and sit in their cars eating ice-cream, no matter the weather. And it's no use asking "What if there's no Ice Cream Van on-site?" because there will be. Statue of another claimant to the title 'Britain's tallest man' . Market Weighton.Ice-Cream Free Zone.

So free of Ice-Cream, uncontrolled (and apparently uncontrollable) children, teenage girls in high-heels and over-excited, badly trained dogs, we land in Market Weighton, get slightly lost finding the start of our path, and set out on the twelve mile yomp back towards Beverley. Doubts about our fitness soon evaporate as we manage to maintain several conversations along the route. It is a well known fact that talking ceaselessly while hiking twelve miles at a very good pace is a reputable measure of fitness, so we're both pleased that we manage to cover several subjects during our excursion, gossiping about most (ok, I admit it, ALL) of our friends, reaching agreement on the necessity for radical reform of the global economy, discussing plans for our forthcoming trip to Liverpool and whether it would be feasible to accomplish this without telling my family, debating the merits of several recent movies we've seen, and crucially, my explanation to Nel of why every time we leave a grocery store, the joke "Well, that's shallot, then" is a timeless classic.
Lunch here. Excitingly, the small mound that runs just to the left of the road are 'tumuli' or ancient burial sites. Nel was very excited by the sight of these.

We reach Beverley in three hours(not including lunch), averaging about 4.0mph, a very good pace under the conditions, walk past the ice-cream vans littering the High Street and get a train home. There is absolutely no point to hiking, but it has been a great day.

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