Monday, 10 July 2017

Day 14 - Grosmont to Robin Hood's Bay

Day 14 - Grosmont to Robin Hood's Bay

17 miles
Start: 8:30am
Finish: 3:45pm

This is it. The final day. 189 miles walked, 16 miles to go. 
Despite what all the books say (which is 192 miles), the actual distance of the Coast to Coast is somewhere around the 203 miles mark. The 192 miles are 'flat map miles' of the original walk.

Route: Grosmont, Little Beck, Falling Foss, Fylingdales Moor, Hawsker, Coast Path and Robin Hood's Bay.

The sun shone on our final day. 

After a steep road walk out of Grosmont, we headed across heather moorland and then down to Little Beck, with superb views across to Whitby Abbey and the North Sea. The woods of Little Beck are wonderful, with the Hermitage hidden away amongst the trees. Even more wonderful was the tea and scones at Falling Foss tea rooms (Midge Hall). After 2 weeks, we've become aficionados of tea and scones; these were the best of the trip! Forget your protein bars, carb gels and other marketing-hype rubbish, the best food for getting you up a steep hill is a scone covered in cream and jam!

Beyond Falling Foss, it was back across boggy moorland before we hit Hawsker and the coastal path. A wonderful hour's walk then took us into Robin Hood's Bay where we were met by friends and family for a glass of champagne as the North Sea waves lapped over our boots outside the Bay Hotel.


Thoughts & Musings from the trip...
  • It is tough. No, really it is a tough walk. Walking non stop for 205 miles over 14 days is hard work. Some of the days are over 20 miles, and some sections go over mountains. To get the most from this walk then do loads of training. 
  • Stay in B&Bs. I camped for most of the walk, which made it just that little bit harder each evening setting up my tent and then breaking it down in the morning. Not to mention the rain, midges... Walking this far really does require a little bit of luxury in the evenings, like carpet and a bed!
  • Book a table at a pub or restaurant each evening, as some of the pubs get busy
  • Don't rely on guidebooks to navigate. Most of the time the route is quite well signposted BUT the path is sketchy in places across the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales and is difficult to follow in mist. And it is often misty in the Lakes and Dales. 
  • Be prepared for 'winter weather' in summer. We met some ill-equipped walkers who got caught out in the Lake District. Waterproofs, gloves, walking boots, spare layers, first aid kit, survival bag etc are all essential bits of kit. As are maps and a compass PLUS the skills of how to use them.
  • Hire the services of a Baggage Transfer company (such as Coast to Coast Packhorse)
  • Most B&Bs and/or pubs will make a packed lunch for you, and almost all overnight stops have a village shop. You rarely pass pubs or cafes along the route, so take food and drink with you. The best cafes were: Black Sail Hut, Ravenseat Farm, Joiners Shop at Ingleby Cross, Lordstones Cafe and Midge Hall (Falling Foss).
  • It is a fantastic walk, made greater by its purpose of walking from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, BUT it is not all beautiful. There are monotonous sections, and also some sections that frankly no one in their right mind would walk for pleasure, such as many stretches on Day One and also along the shores of Haweswater (monotonous), much of the Westmorland Plateau (monotonous), and the section from Richmond to Danby Wiske (some of which was dreadful, mainly the new A1(M) interchange). Then came the highlights... Upper Ennerdale, Borrowdale, Kidsty Pike, Smardale, all of Swaledale, the Cleveland Hills and Robin Hood's Bay. But you can't appreciate the highs without the lows. 
  • It is a sociable walk, as you will bump into people on the trail from across the world. We met Australians, Americans, Canadians, Germans... That said, for most of the time you will be walking by yourself.
  • It is a great way to spend time with friends/family, as you are with them all day for 2 weeks with time to talk and think. 
  • Would I do it again? YES!

Day 13 - Lion Inn to Grosmont

Day 13 - Lion Inn (Blakey Ridge) to Grosmont

14 miles
Start: 9:30am
Finish: 4pm

Stayed and ate at the Station Tavern at Grosmont, right next to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway - the steam train whistles made me jump a couple of times in my room!

Route: Lion Inn, head of Rosedale, Fat Betty (moorland cross), Great Fryup Dale, Glaisdale Rigg, Arncliffe Woods, Egton Bridge and Grosmont.

An easy day, almost all of which was downhill! The route skirted around the head of Rosedale to the Anglo-Saxon wheelhead moorland cross of Fat Betty. There is a tradition of placing coins on the top of these moorland crosses, for hard-up travellers. Some bright spark decided to change this tradition at Fat Betty to leaving food, which means that there is a build up of rubbish and rotting food. So, I cleared all the rubbish and packets away and we left quite a generous amount of money on the cross. So hopefully walkers will be inspired to leave money instead of litter and mess. 

From Fat Betty, the route heads to Great Fryup Dale, with magnificent views along its length, and then a long downhill along Glaisdale Rigg, with our first sighting of the North Sea. After drinks at Glaisdale, we visited Beggar's Bridge then walked through the delightful Arncliffe Wood (along the paved trod that dates from the days of packhorses) to reach lovely Egton Bridge. After assessing the stepping stones, we decided to follow the road round to the Toll Road, which took us into Grosmont. The steam trains at Grosmont are always great to see.

Had a game of darts in the evening at the Station Tavern, playing on a Yorkshire Dartboard.

1 day to go...

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Day 12 - Osmotherley to Blakey Ridge

Day 12 - Osmotherley to Lion Inn (Blakey Ridge)

20 miles
Start: 8am
Finish: 6pm

Stayed and ate at the fantastic Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge, high up on the North York Moors; an oasis of warmth and hospitality amongst the vast heather moorlands.

Route: Osmotherley, Cod Beck Reservoir, Cleveland Hills, Lordstones Cafe, Wainstones, Round Hill and the Ironstone Railway.

A long and tiring day, especially in the sunshine and humid heat. The day started drizzly, but brightened up by the time we got to Lordstones Cafe for our morning coffee. Then it was a rollercoaster walk across the rising and falling Cleveland Hills escarpment, with the Wainstones a particular highlight. Then the final (fourth) climb of the day took us up onto Round Hill, the highest point on the North York Moors. Several miles of shooters tracks then the old Ironstone Railway (passing the famous Hand Stone and Face Stone) took us towards the Lion in, HOWEVER, with 40 minutes to go to the Lion Inn a huge thunderstorm caught up with us so (with safety in mind), we dropped down into the relative safety of Farndale, so we weren't the highest things on the North York Moors in an electrical storm! This meant a big climb back up to the Lion Inn once the storm had passed, but a passing minibus kindly ferried us up the steep hill from Church Houses.

Just 2 days to go...