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A day off the trail

It was raining as I got up this morning. This tipped the scales firmly in favour of a day off. But in fact, by the time I’d caught the bus to Barnard Castle, the sky was beginning to clear and I enjoyed a day in the pretty little town as a tourist.

First stop was the castle. Brilliant ruin and virtually empty of other people. Richard III owned the castle for a time and installed a window with a superb view of the Tees. I thoroughly enjoyed wandering around the site.

Then it was on to the Bowes museum. John and Josephine Bowes built it for the local population in 1860 as a home for the collection of art and decorative porcelain they had decided to bequeath to the town. It is an amazing building, looking like the French chateau it is modelled on (Josephine was a French actress who married the rich but illegitimate John). The collection inside is equally amazing – though Mum’s blue and white collection put theirs to shame.

Finally I caught the bus to Middleton. It’s a lovely village and I’m staying in a guest house by the side of the beck that runs through it. Tomorrow I’ll begin the last day of walking – and cross the Pennines from Durham to Cumbria. I am going to get a lift up the trail a few miles as I can’t face the whole 21 miles. Fifteen will be quite enough!

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