Woke up this morning and discussed Euan’s “laid-back” pace with Robert, whilst Euan lay across from us, eyes closed, trying to remain impassive and inconspicuous. I figured either he was asleep and I could subliminally transmit my concerns or he was awake and there would be no need for the subtle approach; I wanted him to mentally prepare himself before I properly confronted him later (you can’t just spring controversial issues on people, unless you want to take the carpet from under their feet on purpose). Is this the start of the break-up? Euan’s even more passive aggressive than I am, so rising tensions are likely to be suppressed, probably resulting in Robert exploding and my general apathy (I’ll say I don’t care whether or not Euan wants to speed up he has to, or we’ll leave him in the dust).
We tried to go to the library, but it was closed. I’m pretty sure it’s not a Sunday. I have noticed, on this walk, that places seem to be closed on random days; Wednesdays, Thursdays or all the days (in the particularly deprived places, like Ousby). Instead I visited the empty launderette whilst Robert and Euan checked out the community centre, where they found free internet. After a number of spontaneous split decisions we booked a hostel in Mankinholes, left Euan in charge of moving laundry to the driers and bailed by bus to Skipton to search out maps.It was a very strange sensation riding a bus; my legs didn’t know what to do. I kept shifting from side to side, confused by the rapid pace the ground seemed to be moving past.
After getting lost in a department store we found a WH Smiths, which led to a search for outdoor stores with OS (Ordinance Survey) maps. After much deliberation we bought four, making us late for the bus. We decided to kill the next hour in charity shops (almost making us late for the next bus). We got to the bus station with minutes to spare, but I needed the toilet, and so decided to use the future loo installed there; it was fully automated, interactive, barked instructions at me and was curiously bigger on the inside. After emerging into what I thought was the year 2026 I orientated myself and sprinted to the bus.
We decided to check out some waterfalls (as advertised by some signs), after finding Euan on some benches opposite the bus stop; he’d been waiting patiently there ever since we’d left (like a faithful dog). Well, I assume he’d been waiting there, since it was about twenty feet away from the launderette. The waterfalls were anti-climatic, so we tossed and orange around until it broke over Robert’s face, and plotted our future route as we lounged in the sun.
Our evening was quiet. We got a chippy for dinner, mine was a fish supper for only £3.70 (best value in Britain). I finished “Fear and Loathing” and got hay fever. We had a good conversation with the man who volunteers at the hostel; he’d been a teacher in years gone by and his wealth of experience and advice earned my respect. He informed us that the hostel was, like many others in Britain, a hair’s breadth away from closing down. In fact it had been closed down, but the local council had paid to reopen it for the benefit of the few passing tourists. This made a small bit of sense to me; Earby, despite being full of friendly people, isn’t exactly a tourist hot-spot. There’s a heritage museum, dedicated to the local mining industry and, of course, the piddling waterfalls. The children’s “Play Centre,” just outside the community centre, is a visual symbol for the local deterioration; it consisted of three astro-turf columns of heights ranging from one to three feet and an eponymous sign crudely graffitied (a lonesome crisp packet rolled across the scene like some impoverished tumbleweed). It was all a bit depressing. We would come to discover that the hosteling network was evolving, and those hostels reluctant to let go of their traditions were dying out. Interestingly the one region safe from this cull was in the Pennines, still thriving with enthusiastic hikers desperate for the authentic hostel experience.