When I arrived in Doncaster I felt like I had cheated; all those trains and not much biking. But I also felt this countering thing, an awareness that I could and would arrive at Stamford Bridge today. I’d get there. But the battlefield was still 5 hours away. But I could taste it. I had a plan about what I’d do when I got there. I tried to put that out of my mind and keep it on the road ahead.
The path from Doncaster to Stamford Bridge was what I expected, sort of industrial and less idyllic than what I had been through before. And Doncaster was a city that seemed a bit rough around the edges too. It wasn’t a bad place, but a place that seemed on the way to somewhere else.
When I was planning the trip, pouring over maps and trying to navigate in my mind, I thought that I should stop at Ricall. The small town is right on the River Ouse, and was the spot where the Norwegian Kind, Harald Hardratha had camped and parked his fleet of boats when he invaded. It was right on the path to Stamford Bridge.
Of course the geography has changed in 1000 years, but it still amazed me how King Harold didn’t run into the Norwegians someplace else given that Harold went through Tadcaster and York to get to Stamford Bridge.
I really did just turn the bike toward the river, thinking that at least I could see it and imagine Harald’s army there. Somehow, without even trying, I found myself at a historic marker. I walked through brambles, climbed over a fence, and stood marveling at the river. At the battlefield I drank a spirit drink and left part of my rosary. It was 1PM.