As always as I get to the last day of any long distant walk it is bitter sweet. I miss the family so I am always itching to get home. On the other hand the solitude of walking restores who I am as a person. Leaving Littlebeck and the farm where we stayed we walk into the beautiful forest . Today is the first time we have actually set out in the rain. It’s wonderful, I believe a fitting last day. The weather has been so kind over the last 21 days.
As I walk along with the pit a pat of the rain on my coat, the thump, thump of the boots, the kilometres are getting closer and closer to Robin Hoods Bay. Nearer and nearer I get to the the North Sea and there it is, in front of me as I look across the purple heather covered moor across the fields down to the abbey in Whitby. I turn right at the cliff and beautiful sunshine appears as I look beyond to Robyn Hoods Bay. The gulls are calling and I’m nearly there.
Memories are coming back now of the night spent at the Black Sail, one that I will never forget. The climb up the haystacks, thinking what the heck! All the climbs were well worth the huff and puff up to the top for the spectacular views. I will never forget hopping across the peat bog on the blue route out of Kirby Stephens. The Heather on the Moor, breathtaking . The animals cows, sheep, grouse and the ones I didn’t see like the red squirrel all added a laugh to my day. But with any walk it’s the like minded people you meet on the walks, the conversations in the Pubs or by the side of the road as you eat your packed lunch made with love. Walking in England certainly is alive and well. It’s hard to avoid someone walking around with a map hanging around their neck. It was also wonderful to meet people like Ritchie and Jane from Badger Adventures who are are not only running great walks but teaching people to care for the environment . My pet hate is that of women who think they can leave tissues behind any bush along any trail. Two plastic bags girls one for new toilet paper and one for used. Empty when you get to your destination, otherwise bring a small trowel. Wonderful to meet a team of young people at the end in Robin Hoods Bay www.crosstheuk.com who are very enthusiastic about walking and encouraging people to get out there and walk.
I have loved this walk, I encourage those that would like to do the C2C, don’t rush it, take your time and love every moment that it gives you. I took with me Henry Stedman guide to Coast to Coast and found it a wonderful easy reference to follow.
Now the only thing to decide is whats the next one!
The view on waking this morning was of mist and the thought of road walking for the first couple of kilometres was not an exciting prospect but off we go, coats, beanie and gloves and into the cold we go. Our first little stop was a visit to Fat Betty, tradition goes that you take a snack and leave a snack for the next walker. Honestly I think it is just a place to rid yourself of the muesli bars that you having been carrying for 2 weeks that you never will eat.
The wind was still howling around us but thankfully the mist had lifted. The scenery again today was of narrow tracks and beautiful Heather.
The Grouse and the sheep were also out in abundance.
Tonight we are staying in a farm hostel and they don’t serve evening meals, so the plan was to have a late lunch and snacks for tea. As the farm is a little way out of town the owner will do pick ups up from a pub called Arncliffe Arms Glaisdale and drop us back the following morning. At this point on the day just kept getting better and better. We stop at the pub for lunch and it was just like the television show Faulty Towers. As walkers came in and out, locals all a mix mash of people it was a comedy in motion. Time to head to the farm and after a call and 15 mins later this small red farm Range Rover comes to a holt. Hi and a wave , we get in. The lady says to me ” side saddle or put your leg over ” the gears are in the middle. No seat belts and with a crunch of the gears we’re off. At the farm we meet a young girl from Spain who is over here to learn English. The owner says she is going to have an afternoon sleep as her husband is away and she has been bailing the hay by herself. No worries we’ll catch up on the Olympics having seen none. Later, a knock on the door it’s the neighbour. The Bulls in the wrong paddock. The Spainsh girl calls the owner they both go running down to the paddock and try and herd her cows to entice the bull back into its rightful paddock. The bull having none of this. After some time it gives up and returns to where it belongs, tail between its legs and looking a bit sad and sorry. ( Sorry no photos of this event.) Wondering what to do with ourselves tonight the owner comes to us and asks if we would like to go to a concert in the local church. Hmm why not! As we are leaving the driveway cows are wandering about and one of them is carrying in its mouth a bucket with food. Help yourself applies here apparently. Down to the very old village church and who should be playing but a brass band of five men from India. As we walk in I hear the owner saying to the spainish girl ,” you will get to see a typical English village church tonight” Not quite sure how typical it is for a band from India playing in a tiny Yorkshire village church is though. Two hours later we are all clapping having a great time, not knowing what we are clapping or singing about in general. But all good fun.
All over and guess what? The band is coming back for Dinner. Back in the car we go, Indian Band in tow a few more songs while eating and we are in bed counting sheep after a very interesting day of contrast. What a day Heather, Grouse, Sheep, Manuel, gear grating farm truck, randy bull, cow with a bucket, Indian brass band and yes a hedgehog crossing a cattle grate. Who said walking was boring.
Another day of walking through the magnificent Heather on the North Yorksire Moor is installed for us today. Leaving the Buck Inn at Chop Gate there was a short steep climb to start with. It was a very easy walking stage along the ridge of the Cleveland Hills following an old mining railway line.
The wind is up today and taking out it’s vengeance on us.
The Grouse are also out and about today. First I could hear them with their quite distinct call and then watching carefully through the Heather out they come crossing over the path. One time it was one, next a couple then seven walk across the path, a couple of them having a bit of sibling rivalry, sparing each other. They are a very attractive bird and it is wonderful to read that there is no shooting in this area, unlike other areas we have walked through.
As I turn and look backwards I can see the hills that were climbed yesterday. With the wind whipping up I wasn’t the only one to have a bad hair day.
With the walking day being only a short one kilometre wise we soon have the Lion Inn in our sights, just as the rain and mist softly make an appearance. We can smell the open fire as we climb the last little hill to the entrance of the Pub. As the door opens the warmth and friendliness welcomes you with open arms. People sitting eating, others at the bar having a beer and conversations. Owners with their well behaved dogs sitting around tables. None of the dogs take any notice of each other.
The low overhanging beams adding such character to the intricate maze of rooms. I find myself sitting up at the bar trying out a few testers of beers before deciding on Yorksire Lager. The coziness and atmosphere certainly a highlight of this pub, in fact pub life seems to be a huge part of village life here on the C2C. We have found walkers, locals and travellers all mixing in together, conversations getting louder and louder as the night goes on.
The pubs on the C2C are a wonderful place for Coasters to share their day, their aches and pains, blister stories etc, with fellow walkers.
After a few days of flat terrain, walking through fields as they are getting harvested it was finally nice to be back on the trail with hills in sight. Today the beautiful Heather of the North Yorkshire Moor will appear. It sure did make an appearance in all its glory. After a short sharp hill from our accomodation our first heather appears in Scarth Wood Moor.
Today we are following the Cleveland Way markers. Another walk in Britian that we will either walk parallel with or cross over on our journey on the C2C. The first few hours were spent walking through a beautiful old oak forest. Glorious branches reaching out above us enticing us further into the forest.
As we reach another steep climb we find ourselves on top of Carlton Moor, in front of us an amazing purple landscape. Kilometre after kilometre of brilliant purple Heather stretches out as far as the eye could see.
After talking to a local who was out walking, we realise how lucky we are to have been walking at this time as she says the Heather is at its peak. We stop on the top of Carlton Moor and lay on the grass looking at a beautiful view of the green and yellow patchwork fields below us, the fluffy white clouds against the brilliant blue sky and further to the horizon our first glimpse of the North Sea where we will visit in a few days time.
Shoes back on after our lunch stop and to our surprise a few more sharp climbs are waiting for us. One of the most spectacular climbs was towards Wain stones. A very rocky outcrop one of Wainwrights favourite spots. The Heather just doesn’t stop. Up and around the steep slopes it covers the moors like a purple blanket.
Scrambling over rocks and bracken we get to the other side and are pleased to see our track, a very steep descent down into Clay Bank Top where a driver will pick us up for our stay at the Buck Inn in Chop Gate. A lot of pubs, hotel and B & B if they are off the trail will offer a pick up service from the trail and then in the morning will drop you back at the same place. After dinner and a few drinks with the locals it was a terrific end to a very stunning day.
Walking into the town of Richmond after a long stretch of trail a relaxed feeling came over me in the knowledge tomorrow is a rest day. Non walking day, empty backpack and do washing , clean clothes yahoo!. Of course ask any walker what they do on their rest day an nearly always they will say “went for a walk around the town”. Well same for me. Richmond is a lovely old town, after buying a few necessities I’d noticed a sign on this tiny door at Millgate House saying open garden. Praised highly by Monty Don and Alan Tichmarsh I opened the door and walked down the laneway and what a beautiful garden it was.
A rest day is also a time to reflect on your walk so far , laugh about the exciting parts, think about how you took a different path (no such thing as getting lost) , why you’re backpack is so heavy. Next time lighter. Some of the fun times were getting up and over or through the stiles in the fences.
The next few days will be lovely and flat. It’s harvest time in the fields, unfortunately a bit of road walking but lots of sheep and cows to have a chat to along the way. With a spring in the step and rejuvenated after the rest day it’s off for the last 60 miles.
The last couple of days have not been to difficult, we are getting used to manoeuvring around rocks, mud and water. Unfortunately one day getting lost in the rain put a damper on the day but after a friendly welcome at our next B & B, shower and food, all is good with the world again. Little did we know what an exciting day was in stalled for us leaving Kirby Stevens for Keld. After a chat to a fell runner at breakfast, he said you have the perfect day to go over Hartley Fell on the blue route. This would ensure a great view of the 9 standards rigg and terrific views. Sounds good. There are actually three routes to Keld (I might mention never trust a fell runner, they are crazy people, hurtling themselves up and down hills at breakneck speed.) The green route has a bit of road walking so we didn’t consider this. We could also make a descission later up the trail if the mist came down in a hurry either red or blue routes. The weather started off fine until three quarters up the path and down the mist and wind came. Quickly into our wet gear and beanies we continued up. Out of the shadows behind us came an escorted group heading to the top as well. By the time we all reached the top visibility was very poor.
There were a few quick photos taken and the guide asked me which route were we taking down and I said ” the red to now avoid the peat bog.” She also was considering this but after a quick chat she said she was going to take the blue route as she new that very well and would we like to join the group. Looking into the mist I considered it for half a second and said “we’re with you”. Like gorillas in the mist two more men , father and son who had been following us appeared. All eleven of us set off in single file across the Hartley Fell heads down braced against the wind and not wanting to loose sight of each other.
Soon the bog appeared or what we thought was bog, I called it baby bog. The real peat bog soon appeared. I was following one of the group making sure I was standing in her footsteps. If she went down at least I would be warned. Every now and then you would hear yuk! Oh! As someone went down into the black, sludgy mud. The peat bog is not flat ground, it is large mounds coming out in front of you with enticing green patches lulling you into a false sense of security. Look at me I’m high ground , you can stand on me. Little do you know that just under the mound of lovely green is one big sludgy mess. We were nearly all running across the top of the bog, you couldn’t stand still as you would sink. The walking poles going down just as think they will support you. After a few map and compass checks by the guide we were through the bog and starting to see the 100 metre pole markings as the mist started lifting. We all had smiles across our faces and were totally exhilarated by the whole event.
All of a sudden the mist now was gone and the landscape opened up the whole valley and the Yorksire Moors. A big thanks to the guide Jane from Badger Adventures for a day I won’t forget in a hurry.
After lunch we realised the day wasn’t finished with us yet! Walking along the valley we discover a small landslide and so we had to walk straight up and around to avoid that. The path was extremely muddy, but we were past caring about keeping our boots clean and walked straight through it.
One good highlight of the day though was meeting Amanda Owen the Yorkshire Shepherdess. ( a book on her life is out now) On her remote Yorkshire farm with husband and eight children, dogs,chickens,cows and sheep they live a very remote life. But, the good thing is she offers scones, jam and cream with tea to walkers going through her farm. What a sweet treat to have while having a rest and recounting the last thrilling few hours before walking the last five or so kilometres into Keld.
Truly one of the best walking days I have ever experienced.
Sitting in the breakfast room of a 300 year old house now a B&B, fellow travellers were ordering poached eggs. One traveller insisted she have her eggs scrambled. The owner, a spritely older woman has been operating the B&B for 49 years, and now does it all herself. Lovely fruits, cereals, jams and yogurts all spread out looking very inviting. As we were all finishing breakfast the owner comes around to collect the plates, we thank her and as she goes to collect the other plates, the lady with the scrambled eggs hands back her plate of untouched eggs and says “I’ve eaten to much of everything else”. The dismissive way in which she gave her plate back made me ponder the question today, What makes a good traveller? When did we come to needing phone service 24/7. What happen to “How are you? not “Do you have wifi?” Are we all so preoccupied that we can’t give a smile and Good Morning. Does it hurt to say thank you and thank you for drying my boots . My bed was dreadful. There is a crack in my bathroom wall of the 600 year old house I’m staying in. When did all this happen, that our expectations when travelling gives us the right to be sour, mean and disagreeable. What ever happen to looking at the fluffy white cloud in the sky and feeling happy that you are able to travel to wonderful locations. Is it certain Nationalities that are like this or is it just individuals. I have always found when doing long walks that it is a very caring, helpful and appreciative community. Not everyone I have meet on these last walks are like this, I fear the goal post may have shifted. Maybe it’s the B & B crowd. Every day I set out with my aching muscles, I look for the wonderful things in the day, the buttercup in the crack in the wall, the bunch of sweet peas that will give me pleasure, the 2,500 ft hill to climb so I can say I did it! The beautiful sunset as I sit and contemplate. Come on walkers let’s spread the joy of the great outdoors!.
A few wonderful photos for you to enjoy of my fabulous day.
Today we were on a mission to see the concentric stone circles in Oddendale, tick✔️. The other mission was to find Robin Hoods Grave. Looked and looked but couldn’t find it amongst all the heather. When we got to our B & B with wifi we find out Robin Hood is buried in several places in England. Greeted warmly by our hostess at the B & B when we arrived, a fellow traveller also arrives. She asks him “are you loving the walk, having fun”. His answer ” I haven’t had this much fun since my last migraine”. Grrrrrrr!!!!!
Get me back to the Hostel Life!
A guilt free day of indulgence today. A rest day. After a wonderful sleep on a soft fluffy bed with my room still perfumed from my sweet peas I went down for a wonderful lazy breakfast. Several coffees later I’m off, heading to Shap, a very short day today of around 10 kilometres.
Mainly across fields with public access today, following a river on the right. I love local directions “just keep the river on the right then turn at the gate”. Several gates later I’m still following the river.
Getting from one field to another is usually a bit of fun. The stiles are either made of wood or stone. Some narrower than others.
One of the famous things about Shap is the Shap Abbey. Founded in 1199 by the St Norbert order. Unfortunately a bit of plundering by Henry viii, then locals to build houses and fences using the stone now leaves it in ruins. As I walk around it today, there is some work happening to stop it going further into decline.
The cultural part of day over and done with now for the indulgence . Through a few more paddocks arriving in Shap at lunchtime, the smell of the award winning Shap Chippy is irresistible, a piece of cod, chips and pickled onion go down a treat. Nearby tables of people were very interested in where we were from and our walk.
Next it was onto Abbey Coffee Shop for walnut cake and coffee.
Enough now, off to our accommodation for the best indulgence of the trip, a Bath and a Hairdryer, I can’t believe it. The guilt did show up later when I indulged in a chocolate for dinner. Oh well! I have been doing some serious climbing lately.
Waking apprehensively to the news of the weather I was plesantly surprised to hear it was going to be a good day. For today is a big climb day with no options but to go over the top of the 2,500 feet Kidsty Pike . After a hearty farmhouse breakfast we were soon back on the path again heading up of course.
Walking up ticking off Angle Tarn Pike, Buck Crag, Satura Crag, The Knott as we go.
Finally looking out for a cairn to guide me up to Kidsty Pike
The wind decided it would be a good idea to show up all the way from Ireland nearly blowing me off my feet. It was whipping across the mountain with a mighty force. With poles tightly held and stabbed into the ground at every step I was trying to keep myself upright. It took all my energy to stay on my feet.
Finally reaching the summit and with the wind it was a bit to scary to look over the edge trying to find the way down. I knelt on the ground with my guide book under my knee to stop it blowing away.
With compass out and map the descent began. With a false sense of security walking down the lovely grassy path the descent began. The wind still whipping around but not as strong, ahead I could see the stones and craggy rocks waiting to greet me.
Poles weren’t the answer, it was more slide down on my bottom and grabbing the rock edges for support slowly down I go. Still unsure if the track was the right one and then around a corner at last, the Haweswater Reservoir came into sight, yahoo we are on the right track.
Making our way around the reservoir following a beautiful old rock wall, trees blowing in the breeze gently lifting their branches as we walked past, saying to themselves “I know you’re tired you don’t have to bend down I’ll lift my branches for you”. But the trail wasn’t finished with us yet! Mud, bog and rocks joined us all the way along the waters edge. Hmmm will today every end?
Finally finished with the trail and now on a lovely narrow country road heading to Bampton Grange the end is near. The cows settling down for the night in the fields with the odd ” moo”, wild raspberries hanging over the rock walls ripe for the picking, yum.
Walking past an old chapel and on a table leaning next to it a local lady is selling potted plants and posies of flowers on the honour system. I put my one pound in the bag, I buy a bunch of sweet peas for my room for the night, the perfume is beautiful. Someone else will be able to enjoy them in the room in the coming days.
Lots of other walkers are staying here at the Crown and Mitre tonight, all recounting their stories of today’s walk, some have fallen and won’t be walking tomorrow, some are telling stories of getting lost, some have lost their maps and will have to buy new ones, all are only doing small distances tomorrow and others like me after a glass of red and great meal are ready for bed.