Category: Coast to coast walk

We woke up at our own pace today, there was no rush. All we had to do was be gone by 11 a.m., this was not a problem because we woke by ourselves at around 9. It was the heat which woke us up, the heat of the sun through the canvas of the tent. Every other day so far we had been up before the sun could get that high. We took our time this morning, it was a novelty for us to be able to lounge about and eat slowly, not worrying about getting to the next overnight stop. Jonny went off to charge his phone in the camp sites laundry room while I ate my sweets, which I had decided was going to be my breakfast.

After an extremely long time Jonny returned to find me packed  and lounging on the comfortable grass in the sun. WE then packed the tent and leisurely made our way to the bus stop. From the stop at Flyingthorpe we would then get the bus into Scarborough and from there, trains via London, back home.

We got onto the bus, which was absolutely packed, we deduced that because of all the hot weather we had been having, many of the people on board would have been impromptu holiday makers. By some very good fortune I happened to have the exact fare for the bus left in my wallet. The bus left Flyingthorpe and winded its way up the steep hill which we had walked down the night before. When we got to the top there was another bus which had broken down. Our bus pulled over to see if anything could be done. There was no space on board to put their passengers on board with us, so we carried on, leaving all the passengers on the top of a moor, in the searing heat, with no food and no water. It was at this point that I thought how lucky we were that Jonny’s phone takes so long to charge. The bus then flew back to Scarborough, there were a few hairy moments where I had hoped the driver would slow down a bit (he didn’t), but I suppose he needed to get back to help those stranded.

Arriving in Scarborough we collected our tickets from the station. Our train wasn’t going to leave for about five hours, so after a quick browse round town, we searched out a pub to keep us entertained.  We sat at  table with plugs near it, so Jonny could charge his phone some more. We had lunch, watched the TV, found some apps to play on our phones, read the menu, anything to pass the time until we could reasonably think it time to walk over to the station and wait for the train.

We got on the train, which left not soon after. Again, nothing to do, so back on the apps for entertainment. The highlight of the journey back was probably when the trolley came past with some food on it. I had a can of Strongbow and a Mars bar. A little while later the train went through our home town, Jonny pointed out his flat as the train careered past. We knew this was going to happen, but it still was a bit depressing to know we were about five minutes walk from home and yet the train wouldn’t stop until we were in London.  When the train got into London, we swapped to another train which got us home about two hours after we originally passed through our target destination. All that was left to do was to walk from the station back to our houses. We parted company after nearly a fortnight outside the doctors and went our separate ways.

That was our coast to coast journey.

We had decided that we had to make the most of the early morning breeze before the weather got hot as it had most of the other days. We therefore got up as early as possible, as soon as the light had made its way into the tent. We were up by around half past four. We had eaten breakfast and packed up soon after and just before 6 a.m. we left the Lion Inn and made our way up the lonely moorland pass, which at this time in the morning had hardly any traffic on it at all.

The road was quiet, even the birds hadn’t started making their usual racket yet. We followed the roads and paths along the top of the moors for some time, there are some roads which seam to go nowhere up in the moors, it was puzzling to think about why they were tarmac’d in the first place. A single track road branched off from the main, which we followed for several miles, going further and further from the Lion Inn and what had been our only check-in with the rest of the world for some time by now. It felt that we were just walking further and further from reality. It wasn’t until we made it over the top of another hill much further on, where a new valley presented itself to us, there at the far end of the valley was the village of Glaisedale.

Walking down the hillside and into the valley should have been the most simple of things, we could see our target. It was right there and the map said to just follow the footpath all the way down the hill. It was getting on by now, we had been going for about three hours, the heat hadn’t really picked up but we were ready for a rest. We said that we would stop in the village, so we just needed to get there. Could we manage that? Hell no! The path just seemed to stop at a wall. We looked around for where the path might go round or over, nothing. Every time we thought we had found the path, it would stop at the edge of a cliff. Blind luck and stumbling through fields eventually bought us into the village.

After stopping for a rest on the bench in the village we carried on, passing the railways station which serves the village. Passing the railway station we also had to negotiate the works which were taking place to shore up the railway bridge. We did not have to get too involved in these as we soon followed another path which lead into the cooling shade of some woodland. It was pleasant in the woods. The temperature had started to creep up and it was welcome relief in the shade from the trees, especially as the woods were steeply banked and there was lots of up hill sections. After a mile or so, the path came out of the woods and we followed a country road to, and then through, the village of Egton Bridge. Egton Bridge is a very quiet village, and on such a nice day it seemed wrong, us tramping through, making undue noise with our footsteps and conversation. I’m sure the locals are used to seeing walkers pass through though.

From this village there was one last footpath of about a mile which lead to Grosmont. This was a footpath which was as pretty as Egton Bridge. There were lovely views of the river, and of the railway, with sheep in the fields between. The sun was out and it was getting warm. It was a very pleasant walk and made a nice way of reaching our lunchtime stop.

At Grosemont we sat out the front of a pub and sheltered under a parasol. We ate our lunch and enjoyed an ice cold drink from the pub. As we sat, we watched as the road was closed off periodically to allow steam trains to pass through the village, crossing the main road in the middle of the village. This was the north Yorkshire steam railway, where they filmed a lot of Harry Potter, just to let you know.

After we had lunch, we made our way out of the village. We knew that the next section was going to be one huge uphill slog. Jonny went on ahead, as he did in these situations, and I engaged low gear and crawled my way up the hill. As we left the village the trees and buildings cleared and we began to see more and more of a view. By the time we were two-thirds of the way up we could see the sea on the left, and next to it Whitby. This was a moment I don’t think I’ll forget, the sea! We had turned our back on the sea ten days ago and now here it was again in front of us. It was now it began to click in my head just how far we had come.  We only had a few mile to go now and we were going to do it, I could feel it.

When we got to the top of the hill, we were back in familiar territory, the sea had moved out of sight and we were back on the moors. Another vast expanse of scrub and bracken on the top of a windswept hill, with one track snaking aimlessly through it, that we were following. The path met the main road between Whitby and Scarborough, which we crossed during a gap in the traffic. On the other side, my heart sank, there before us was another valley which we had to descend and then reascend. This valley was never ending, I’m surprised that we’re not still climbing back up the other side of it now! The path down was long and windy, the path back up the other side was no where near as long, but almost vertical. For those who have done the walk and do not remember this part of the walk, that is because you turned into a wood and took the easy way up the side of the valley, passing the hermitage and falling foss, Jonny and I had seen the time and realised that we had only a few hours of day light by then. This may be one of many deviations to the official route that we had taken, but it was the only one which deviated from the spirit of the route, we knew we had to do it to catch up with our shortcomings earlier in the walk, I didn’t really want to, but we had no choice.

At the top of the valley, we could almost feel the end. We knew that it was only about four miles from the end, and it was no that my feet decided to tap out. My socks had formed some sort of solid section, god knows how, and this was scraping the under side of my toes and causing a lot of discomfort, much more than my, now subsiding, blisters. We stopped twice in the late afternoon so that I could rearrange my footwear, but it was no good. I just had to lump it all the way to Robin Hoods Bay. For those interested in the route, we followed the road all the way from the top of the valley, all the way to Flyingthorpe, which was where we had planned to camp.

There isn’t much to say about the last part of the walk, it was down the side of a fairly busy road for the most part. The very last uphill section of the walk was to be on this road, which was narrow and busy and winding. We were constantly having to cross the road to keep an eye out for traffic with the blind bends the road produced. When we reached the summit, we knew we were very close to finishing now. There before us was the whole of the North Sea with no interruptions. This spurred me on to try to catch Jonny up, at least for a bit, before I had to slow down again because the decent towards the sea was killing my knee so much.

Jonny had waited for me at the junction in the road in Flyingthorpe. We walked the half a mile or so together and made our way to the camp site. We walked in to the reception where we were greeted with “let me guess, you’ve just done the walk?” I wonder how they could have ever guessed! It certainly won’t have anything to do with my limp and Jonny’s stance, which took the pressure off his shoulder, which was by now fit to burst. We pitched our tent quite slowly, knowing it would be the last time we would have to do it. By now it was about seven o’clock. We through our things into the tent and made our way down the path which linked the camp site directly to the sea front. This was literally the final few minutes of the walk and it was such a relief to do it without the weight on our backs. Such a relief!

When we reached the sea front, we were right next to the Wainwright’s bar in the town. Next to it was a ramp for the RLNI to use for launching boats. We slowly walked down the ramp until we were close enough for the sea to lap around our shoes. I was expecting some sort of beacon of light to shine down upon us through parted clouds, upon which we would understand the meaning of life (or something at least!). All that happened was that my shoes got a bit wet. All that remained was to throw the pebble, that we had picked up in St. Bees, into the sea. I had a marker pen with me, so I wrote on mine “J & L. Coast to Coast. 2012”, so you will know where that came from if you find a pebble like that on Robin Hoods Bay beach. I was thinking, during the walk, of some cleaver words to say at this point just before I threw the pebble. Words failed me in the end and I just said something like “Good Riddance”, like that one small pebble had been what was weighing me down the whole time, and causing all my trouble. I wish I had said something nicer now, because it doesn’t sum up my feelings about the walk at all, I guess I was tired and irritable.

After all of the necessaries finishing-the-walk procedures were done with, we had officially done it, it was over, so we went to the pub where we had a beer.

We woke early on the penultimate day of the walk. We had been discussing leaving a bit earlier and although we hadn’t made a firm arrangement to do so, something must have filtered through. We were both ready and we left well before eight O’Clock. It was going to be yet another long day, nearly as long as yesterdays walk, but the terrain was going to be much harder. From Ingleby Cross onwards we would be walking in the North Yorkshire Moors, the last section of the walk and, although not the most challenging when it comes to terrain, it is still a very hilly part of the world.

To compensate, we decided to make a detour which followed a different path up the first few hills of the day, we would be walking up the same hills, but taking a more gradual, if slightly longer, route to the summit. Also our old favourite, tarmac, would take a bigger portion of the route. After the early detour, we would follow the main route for the rest of the day. We found out quickly that staying on the main path was probably for the best.

We had been walking for about an hour and a half, our route split off from the road, and we started to make our way up the side of a hill. Using this path meant that we saved some time early on, making good progress. We now had to navigate along a path that was obviously never used. I am sure that if we had stuck with the main track that we would have had no trouble navigating along a path so well trodden, this path, however, wasn’t. I knew we couldn’t be too far away from our correct route because there was another path on the horizon. There were many people climbing this path. This was the main path which we should have been taking. The heat was starting to build up, and on the horizon you could see heat waves. All of bracken was dry to the tough, it clearly hadn’t rained hear for some time. The hill top was arid, and deserted, it could have been a setting for a desert film. We did follow our own path and made it to the other side of the hill soon enough, although it did take us longer than we had thought, we probably didn’t save any time by taking this route in the end.

The next major mile stone was clay top bank. This was a valley between two hills several miles away. To get to it we had to ascend and descend at least three more major hills. Each of which was right on the edge of the moors. When we got to the top of each hill there was an amazing panorama over the flat lands which we had walked across the day before. The weather that day was quite hazy, it meant that the views were restricted to a few miles, apparently on a good day the view would reach out past Middlesbrough (Jonny went to University there and liked to point out that that’s where it was).

Each hill was roughly the same height as the other and each had heathery moor land on it, with sheep grazing. Each one was also very different. One had a large plateau on the top of it which seemed to go on forever, another had a rock formation near to the top which had to be climbed over with no clear way of how to do so, the third had a very steep decent which took its toll on my knees quite badly. I stopped when my knees were hurting and let a group of walkers  pass who were going the other way. They made polite conversation and I told them where I was heading for, they in return told me about a short-cut which would take off several miles at the very end of the day, which I felt a little dubious  about, but I thanked them and went on my way.

When I got to the bottom of the hill, near to the road at clay top bank, Jonny and I stopped for lunch and a break. We had stopped a few times during the morning, but it wasn’t much more than a few minutes at the top of each hill. This was probably the only considerable break of the day. After the usual bag of sweets and a glug of water we carried on up clay top bank.

Making our way up clay top bank was the last major climb of the day, and at half past two I thought that was quite good going, not realising that once we had made it up onto the moorland there would be another slow climb that went on and on for what seamed like an age. The grasses and bracken on the tops of this moor were no different to the others; parched, dying and lifeless. Walking along with no real land marks to guide the way I had to make do with counting the footpaths that branched off of the main track that we were walking along. Where there was an intersection and a chance to put a poster on the footpath signs, the park rangers had also left notices about how it was very easy to start a wildfire in these parts of the moors. I was suddenly getting visions of the terrible forest fires that plague Australia and North America: not scary at all. I put thoughts of such nonsense to the back of my mind, after all, there was no smoke on the horizon.

Still on the same, what seamed like never ending, moor, our route started to take a deviation. It was probably the only land mark of any sort up on top of this hill. It was a dismantled railway line, which had been converted into a bridleway. I turned to tell Jonny that it was the last navigational decision to make today because our camping pot for the night was at the end of that railway line. Hang on? I had to wait for Jonny, something’s not right. I waited for him to catch up, he wasn’t looking good. He was clearly not enjoying this walk. Apparently his shoulders were giving him more than a bit of jip by now and all the pain killers in the world were not helping. There wasn’t much I could do for him. We stopped for a while so he could take the weight of his bag off for a while, but at the end of the day, we still had to get to the end. Jonny told me to carry on and he could catch me up, I had been telling him the same thing for nearly the entire trip by now, so I could hardly refuse him the same. I left him to his shoulders, looking behind every now and again, making sure that he was OK. What else could I do? I couldn’t think of anything else for him. At least we were on the home straight.

The railway track was about five miles long, it followed the contours around the side of the hills and the valley well and there was very little in the way of climbing to do. The path was also flat, and for the most part, clear of loose stones. I felt quite good about the walk, I was starting to get a little bit tired, but then again, walking for an entire day, with very few stops in the blistering heat of the sun will do that to you. I was a bit worried about Jonny though, he was falling further and further behind. I did slow down for a bit, and then Jonny began to pick up again, “The pain killers must be kicking in” I thought to myself. Then Jonny would drop back again. By the time we meandered around the railway and the end was in sight we could tell it was starting to get dark. The grouse and the Lapwings which had been making their distinctive calls all day had started to fade away by now and although the sun was still high in the sky, the heat had started to cool off. The last bend on the railway was a long one, it seamed to make the rim of a very large bowl which we had to walk the long way around. The pub, we could see was so close, but still so far. For Jonny I’m sure it was desperately unfair.

When the railway reached the back of the pub, there was a little path which went up the side of the property, to the road and made for the front door, where we would put our bags down for the evening. This was the path which our friendly walkers had told us about earlier in the morning, I did have to laugh a bit to myself as this was actully the marked route on the map anyway! Walking up the final path was for me, a relief, a slight incline gave my knees a bit of a chance to change pace and really helped me to finish the day feeling good. For Jonny, the opposite. The last thing he needed was to be walking up hill any more and although it wasn’t far, it was enough.

We went into the pub, set up a tab, got our camping arrangements sorted, and had a large glass of Cola each. I just needed some sugar I think. We then went outside and pitched out tents before going back in to get some dinner. When we got inside we sat and had a pint, while we were there  the man who had advised me about blisters, the one leading the older group, he came up and had a chat with us. I think he thought that we would have given up long ago, I’m guessing he thought I’d be the one to jack it in and Jonny wouldn’t want to carry on by himself. He seemed very impressed that we had got as far as we had, especially with our injuries , past and present. We told him that tomorrow was going to be our last day, and how we planned to make it all the way to the sea. He felt the urge to buy us a round, such was his amazement at this fact, I think both Jonny and myself felt a little bit proud of our achievements, having earned the respect of a walker, a seasoned pro, who does this route several times a year. After dinner we made for an early night, the final days walk was approaching fast.