Gary’s Coast to Coast

 Day One: St Bees to Ennerdale

Dipping feet in the sea at St Bees

Having arrived at St Bees about 5pm yesterday in good time for an early night, Gary was up and at ’em this morning ready for the off. Having made the customary stop on the beach to dip his boots in the sea he headed off, All walkers will know it is the custom to wet your boots and collect a pebble from the beach to carry with you on the walk and throw it the sea in Robin Hoods Bay. Only then is your coast to coast walk done. Gary has decided to carry 5 pebbles, one for each member of our family – including the 2 babies we lost. Lachlan (our 5 year old son) and I will be waiting for him in Robin Hoods Bay.

Winning no prizes for the best dressed walker!!

The weather was by all accounts atrocious, heavy rain storms for most of the day made the going tough. At one point Gary had his head in the clouds, quite literally!

The route today was 15 miles to Ennerdale Bridge.

 
Coast 2 Coast Statue at Moor Row (Looking longingly to Robin Hoods Bay I think!)

A welcome stop at the Walkers Pop In Cafe for a quick brew (highly recommended). The owner reports not having seen many Coast 2 Coasters this year, she thinks that due to a mixture of the Olympics and awful weather. Gary did not pass many walkers himself today. The tea was just the ticket and put an extra spring in his step when he went off on his way again.

Arriving in Ennerdale Bridge at the end of Day One!! The smile says it all. one day down, thirteen to go.

Tonight the total Gary has raised for The Miscarriage Association is £1097!!! Fantastic. Thanks to all those who’ve donated 🙂

Gary and his Dad are camping tonight in the place where there’s no phone signal. If you can, please message Gary to support him.

Let’s see what Day 2’s 16 mile leg tomorrow brings….

Day Two

Waterfall next to Ennerdale water

Having stoked up the wood burner at last nights stop, Gary’s boots, hat and jacket were dried off all ready for the off at 08.30am

Todays route was from Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite, 15 miles in all.

I’m happy to report that conditions today were mainly warm and sunny. The day kicked off with a long flat walk along Ennerdale water having applied plenty of midge spray!

Gary having to follow the cairns along path.

Blacksail Hostel

Today’s brew stop was Blacksail Youth Hostel (see picture above). Gary sat in the open for a welcome cuppa, just him, his tea and 3 sheep.

A steep climb then followed up the path to Loft Beck. The path at times resembled a river due to the heavy rain. Gary’s walking poles proved essential at this point.

Looking west from Buttermere to Brandreth…stunning
Looking east from old slate mine tramway

Gary reached  Rosthwaite at 4pm making his average speed today 2 miles per hour. A close examination of his feet revealed the start of a blister, thank goodness for compeed! Shorter day tomorrow only 9.5 miles.
Today in a nutshell “Alot of Up”

Day 3

“The hardest day so far” Gary set off from Rosthwaite at 8.15am heading for Grasmere, 9 miles in total. Although this was the shortest day in terms of miles it certainly proved to be no walk in the park!

Looking up to Lining Crag

Steep climb out of Borrowdale up Greenup Gill and behind Eagle Crag picking his way over some bogs and then a near vertical rock climb to Lining Crag. Once at the top of Lining Crag more bogs were waiting. Fortunately for him Gary met up with two other coast to coasters, Liz and Roger from Surrey and they were able to cross the bogs together, helping each other out with navigation. Much back tracking and muddy boots later the path down to Grasmere was finally located!

Climbing up rocks to Lining Crag
Looking west from Buttermere to Brandreth

The best thing about reaching the top after a very steep climb, (apart from the views), was that it was all downhill from here to Grasmere!

At this point Gary stopped for a lunch break whilst Liz & Roger steamed on as they were heading for Patterdale – 17 miles in total, Madness!, (in Gary’s opinion). The path down to Grasmere was very boggy and at times disappeared. Gary headed on towards Grasmere picking his way across boulders and streams.

Looking west down towards Grasmere….

Today was really hot & sunny, plenty of slip, slap slop required. The terrain made it very tough going. Gary arrived at Grasmere at 2.30pm. Gary’s hoping it’s a bit flatter once out of the Lake District, which will be the day after tomorrow. Regular readers of the blog will know that Gary is a keen ukulele player and is a member of The N’Ukes, Leicesters Premier ukulele band. Gary’s fellow band members have promised him sponsorship, but only if he plays his ukulele at every stop. Gary likes nothing better than a tinkle on his ukulele so is happy to oblige!! The last two evenings have seen play “Big rock candy mountain” and “Dream a little dream of me” Tonight’s tune is “Hot Tamales”. Gary offers his sincere apologies to his fellow campers!

Gary’s quote of the day “Such a steep climb”. Shortest day tomorrow, Gary tells me he may even wear his shorts!

Day 4

After a comfortable nights rest at the “excellent” Shepherds Crook Bunkhouse, (highly recommended), Gary set off at 08.45am bound for Patterdale, a mere 8.5 miles. Today was hot, (very hot) and sunny all day long. This meant only one thing, time to give those knees an airing as promised yesterday. Shorts definitely proved to be the most suitable attire of the day.The walk started with a steady uphill slog up Tongue Gill from Grasmere.Half way up Gary was caught up by a fella from Newcastle also doing the Coast 2 Coast walk who told him the Lakes is the hardest bit, you have to climb a mountain everyday! Gary admitted he’d not really thought of it like that before. So Day 4 and mountain number 4 beckoned. The sun became very strong as Gary reached the top at 11am

Looking south west down Tongue Gill towards Grasmere

Gary had a short stop at Grisedale Tarn where he was passed by a very chatty group of Americans who were also walking the Coast to Coast with a guide. Gary made a conscious decision to keep to a steady pace today due to the heat.

Looking back up the valley towards Grisedale Tarn

The paths were much better than yesterday and the going felt a bit easier. On the way down the wind dropped which racked up the heat once more. A welcome stop for lunch half way down at Ruthwaite Lodge and enjoyed the view back up the valley, (see above).

Looking east towards Patterdale at Grisedale Tarn

Arrived in Patterdale and stopped for an ice cream. The ice cream proved a high point of the day as it was purchased from Patterdale Village Stores which is the shop where Wainright sold his first ever book. I can see Gary’s smile from here! A short walk across the valley followed to the start point for tomorrow.  Destination reached at 2.15pm. Gary’s gearing up for an early start tomorrow as he plans to cover 16 miles and has some serious uphill walking to do.

Huge thanks to Alan, Gary’s Dad who’s running support for Gary during the trip. There is no way that Gary would be able to undertake his walk without his Dad’s support. We’re both grateful to Alan for helping to make this happen x
Ukulele Tune of the Day “Here Comes The Sun”, what else?!

Day 5

. Gary made an early start today leaving Patterdale at 07.15am

Patterdale at dawn

Weather hot again today. It felt like walking in the Mediterranean at points even down to the periodic sound of crickets, reminiscent of Greece. No sight of a cold beer though and definitely no holiday, although he is developing quite a nice tan by all accounts!

Looking west – back to Patterdale

Gary described the going as “All up all morning”. Gary again crossed paths with fellow Coast 2 Coaster Stuart from Newcastle and were able to help each other out with directions. Gary commented that it’s a bit like the tortoise and the hare. Gary starts early and makes frequent stops whereas Stuart starts later and never stops!

The “up” continued till about noon. The weather meant the midges were out in force today making it impossible to stop & sit for a while for fear of being surrounded and eaten alive.

Gary’s silhouette as he walks towards Angle Tarn. Gives some idea of scale

The warm conditions meant that the 2 litre water bladder and 1.5 litre bottle Gary carried as predicted didn’t see him through the day. Gary met Alan at 2pm for a prearranged “refuelling stop” consisting of a further litre of water and a banana.

Angle Tarn

The highest point of the walk today was the appropriately named High Raise which is 802metres. That’s 2,631 feet in old money, (I know because I checked!). Incredible. I think I’m right in saying this is the highest point of the whole walk, (though probably not the high point!). The walk down was a long one. This was, if anything, more sapping as it consisted of lots of little ups & then downs. The valley also acts as a sun trap with no breeze at all.

Looking south west towards Hayeswater

The route Gary took off High Raise is not found in the guide books, (Gary came across the alternative route he followed on a the Walkers Forum). The traditional route comprises a very steep path down Kidsy Pike, which Stuart did take. Gary instead followed the ridge line along and headed down following a quad bike track to Low Raise, to Measent Beck and then on to Hayeswater. This proved much more “do-able”. Big thanks to Rich, (from The Walkers Forum).

Looking north east from Low Raise, follow the quad bike tracks

Gary arrived in Shap at 5.30pm having covered 17 miles, legs aching and feet hurting. The walk today is, according to the guide book, the most tiring day. Garywhole heartedly concurs with this statement. Tomorrow sees the longest day of the walk in term of miles. Gary will cover the 20 miles from Shap to Kirby Stephen. Happily it is a long flat walk with no big “ups”!
Today’s Ukuele tune the somewhat appropriate “These Boots Were Made for Walking”. And that is just what they will do…tomorrow. Please keep your texts and messages of support coming via the blog, email, Twitter or Facebook. Gary may not be able to reply but i can assure it’s your support that spurs him on.

Strap line for today: “Hot and High”

PLEASE KEEP THE DONATIONS COMING. If you haven’t made a donation and would like to, just click the large green DONATE ONLINE Click Here button to the right of the screen. This will take you straight to Gary’s Just Giving page. Many thanks x

Looking north east down Rampshill Dale from The Knott. Stunning.

Day 6

Gary started his sixth day at 08.15am with a spring in his step. Although he had 20 miles to cover today, (the furthest distance he will cover in a single day),  he was expecting the going to be much easier than yesterday. The conditions were also more favourable than yesterday. It was sunny but not as warm as yesterday. The route was fairly exposed over lots of moorland and open farm land. Thankfully there was a gentle freeze all day which was initially gratefully received by this walker!

Scandal Beck Bridge

In fact the walking did prove easier today. For the first 14 miles Gary walked with his fellow Coast 2 Coaster, Stuart from Newcastle, (see yesterdays blog entry),  who technically isn’t, Gary discovered, Stuart from Newcastle but rather Stuart from Corbridge, ( a mere technicality!)

Smardale Gill viaduct in the distance

We’ve received lots of positive comments about the photos on the blog. All the photos have been taken by Gary on his camera phone, and  he’s taken some real crackers! Today saw Gary cross the M6 motorway, which according to Wikipedia is the “longest motorway in the United Kingdom and one of the busiest”. It’s also referred to as the Backbone of Britain due to it’s central position, so it was a good psychological marker to get across.

Taken from the footbridge across the M6 looking north. Never seen it so quiet!

At some point today Gary passed Scar Side Farm which had a chalkboard sign outside the farm house stating, “Last stop for refreshments before Kirby Stephen”. Gary stopped for a welcome break and had a glass of lemonade and a piece of homemade cappuccino cake, (farmers size portions!). Nice. Gary enjoyed his stop sitting in a marquee in the garden whilst the farmers kids played on a trampoline.

Looking east…the Pennines are getting closer.

Wainwright states in his guide book that the benefit of walking Coast to Coast from west to east, (as Gary is), is that the prevailing wind is behind you all the way. It wasn’t today! It was in Gary’s face, (shall we just blame global warming?!). An unexpected obstacle today was a herd of cows heading for milking which greeted Gary about a mile out of Kirby Stephen. He gingerly picked his way through avoiding their rear ends at all costs! Gary likened it to a game of Frogger, it slowed his pace right down!!
Having started the day all jolly, jolly thinking,”This is good fun”, Gary literally hobbled into Kirby Stephen at 5.30pm.

This evening consisted of feet up & rest up, ready for the 14 mile walk tomorrow will bring. Gary & his Dad are back under canvas tonight.
Ukulele song for tonight “Everybody Hurts” by REM. ‘Nuff said.
Thanks to everyone for all your messages of support. Please keep them coming. They are all very gratefully received by Gary 🙂

Day 7, Half Way There!

Sunday 12th AugustGary left Kirby Stephen at 8am this morning up the steep road out of the town heading for the Nine Standards Rigg.

Franks Bridge heading out of Kirby Stephen

The Nine standards are found 3 miles east of the town. They are found 662 meters or if you prefer, 2712 feet above sea level. Gary was full of trepidation as when he set off there was lots of cloud and mist. He was mindful that the advice is that if you’re not able to see the tops of the standards at a certain point in the path then you should not go up but take an alternate route round instead.
By the time Gary had walked a couple of miles or so it had blown over so he headed on up.

The Nine standards overlooking Kirby Stephen

According to the Visit Cumbria website: ” The origin of the nine “stone men” or columnar cairns on the summit, is a mystery, and some of the cairns, which are about 10 feet tall, are now in a perilous state. According to Wainwright, whose Coast to Coast route crosses the fell, they are very ancient and are marked on 18th century maps. One theory is that they were constructed by the Roman army to look like troops from a distance”. You learn something new everyday! Today was incredibly windy blowing right into the face. Hard going. It began to ease a little on the downward track. Six miles walking through peat bog followed. Happily for Gary he again happened upon fellow Coast to Coaster Stuart, (see previous blog entries).

With Stuart stomping across 6 miles of bog

Although there hadn’t been any rain here for over a week, Gary still found himself in it over his ankle at one point. He saw another walker who was well and truly in it up to his shins so Gary thought he’d got off likely. He and Stuart were again able to help each other out. Progress was slow. Stuart also stuck his hand in his pocket and gave Gary a donation for his charity. Huge thanks to Stuart for all his support, financial and otherwise. Eventually they spied the welcome sight of Ravenseat Farm.

Ravenscar Farm, a very welcome site.

The farm provides another traditional stopping point on the coast to coast route. The farmers wife serves refreshments and cake. Gary recommends her cream tea! Here Gary met his Dad, Alan who continues to provided support in all its many forms. It was here that Gary heard a voice say “Are you the bloke that’s doing this for charity?” Gary promptly received 2 more donations! One made by John from Surrey a walking guide who is currently talking a party of walkers Coast to Coast and the other from another John from Australia, who’s one of the walkers with the party.  Fantastic stuff!, many thanks to both Johns.
The walk only crosses 2 counties, Cumbria and North Yorkshire. Today saw Gary cross the Pennines and on into North Yorkshire. A massive boost.

Half way! HOORAY!!

Up till now all the rivers Gary crossed had run west into the Irish sea. From now on all the rivers would run EAST to the North sea. I asked him how that felt, “Good it feel really good. I’m feeling really positive”.

Wain   force in Keld

Gary made it into Keld at 3pm. After a shower, change of clothes and short rest, Gary and Alan headed off to find a phone signal. Gary celebrated making it half way at The Black Bull in Naseby, which is located in the “middle of nowhere”. Time to enjoy a Steak & Ale pie washed down with a pint of Black Sheep, which was billed as “Great Yorkshire Beer”. Gary concurs!
Ukulele song of the day…Gary was unsure at that point having his mind firmly set on beer, pie and heading east……….

Day 8

Day 8 – the start of the home straight!. After a night under canvas and his now customary bowl of porridge,  Gary began walking slightly later this morning at 8.45am. Day 8 saw Gary follow the River Swale on route to Reeth 12 miles away.

Keld Park House Campsite
A misty Keld Valley at dawn

Today was a shorter day which provided a choice of route, high or low. Gary took the low option and stuck to the valley. When the sun came out it was beautiful. The River Swale that Gary’s following has been getting wider all day.

The paths were all good but the main difficulty today were the stiles which are very narrow gaps in the wall wide enough for a leg to squeeze through but not wide enough for a sheep to get thru. “A challenge for a man of my girth” said Gary.
The Yorkshire Dales are lovely. And in Gary’s opinion are nicer than The Lakes. The landscape is more rolling and rural, less mountainous and wild. Proper James Herriot country!

A long forgotten tractor

Gary made on brief stop today at Ghyll Foot tea room in Gunnerside, where they serve tea in pints. Yes, you read that correctly, pints! Gary decided he wasn’t quite that thirsty.
Gary had a good, steady 12 mile walk today arriving in Reeth at 2.15pm

A waterfall near Keld
Another waterfall near Keld!

Last nights ukulele tune “Happiness Pie”, in honour of the Steak & Ale pie Gary enjoyed at the pub last night!
Tonight’s watering hole was The Black Bull at Reeth where a pint of Old Peculiar was the tipple of the day. Gary received a donation from Ian the Bar Man there! Many thanks. This together with a second donation from our sons godmother, (in honour of Gary making it half way), sees the Total Donation so far stand at £1,222!!! HAPPY DAYS. Huge thanks to everyone of those who’ve donated. Your support means so much to us both x x
Special message from Lachlan to Daddy “Only 5 more sleeps Daddy. I love you x x x x x x”

Day 9

Started walking the 16 mile route from Reeth to Bromptom-on-Swale today at 7.45am. The weather was cloudy at first but very hot, then later sunny and humid = sweaty walking.

Much better signage in Yorkshire!

Lots of good level walking today with some steep ups but not too bad. Climbed the Nun’s Steps to Marrick village from old Marrick Priory. The 375 steps were built by the Nuns to ‘join up’ the village and Priory. Decided not to stop at Elaine’s Country Kitchen for a brew as it was too early and I wanted to crack on!

The Nuns steps

Much walking with clear paths across fields and farmland ensued with only one man vs cow incident. Man won by giving the beast a wide berth. Lots of actual Coast to Coast signs now.  Continued to follow the course of the River Swale as it gets wider and wider each time I see it. Passed through historic Richmond and out into the Vale of Mowbray finally stopping at Brompton on Swale.

Footbridge, (This one’s specially for you Charlotte!)

Blister count today is 2. Alan got more supplies of Compeeds as I’m getting through them fast. They are a complete godsend and really work. Trying to look after my feet so they look after me!

Narrow stiles, the gates are like Arkwright’s till!

Last night’s ukulele tune was from Toy Story “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”, especially for Lachlan x
Tonight I shall be strumming my instrument to “What a day for a daydream” as it was so hot and sunny and the walking was quite flat (ish). Plenty of time for daydreams today…
Finished walking today at 2.45pm. Plenty of time for feet up & a good rest. Lovely.
Tomorrow’s a long one, 19 miles.

Just in case you’re not sure!

Day 10

Nice early start today at 7.30am as there’s a long day ahead to cover the 19.5 miles from Brompton-on-Swale to Ingleby Cross.

One of many fields today

The weather had a bit of everything today: it was hot, humid, cloudy and rainy in that order. Today was a bit like Groundhog Day and went something like this:

Field
Cow
Stile
Field
Stile
Road
Stile
Field
Cow
Stile
Field
Wheat
Stile
Cow
Stile
Field
Sheep
Field
Stile
Muddy path
Field
Stile
Cow…

Still, it’s all miles done taking me ever closer to Robin Hoods Day. It’s hard to think about finishing. It still feels like a long way away. It’s hard to think of more than one day at a time in terms of the walking.
After eight and a half hours walking today my dogs are certainly barking!. Arrived in Ingleby cross at 4pm.

Catterick Bridge

I’ve been sleeping like a log, usually going to bed somewhere around 8.30pm and then getting up at 6am. I’ve a feeling that tonight will be no exception Not much else to tell. It was a long, flat day. Tomorrow will be shorter and hopefully more interesting.  Your messages of support really help, especially on days like today. The phone signal is much better now, so I’m able to get messages via Facebook, text, e-mail and Twitter much more regularly. Don’t always have time to respond but huge thanks to everyone.

Ukulele tune of the day, “King of the Road”
Gary’s walk was mentioned on Twitter today by The Miscarriage Association, who are obviously following his progress closely.

****Donation Update TOTAL TODAY = £1,257!!!****Wonderful Thank You

(Meanwhile back at the ranch…Was working in Market Harborough today and saw the sign below, couldn’t believe it!! Thought it would make G smile!)

Day 11, 16th August 2012

Started walking today at 8.30am, Day started well as I bumped into fellow walker Stuart as I set off from the Blue Bell Inn in Ingleby Cross. The day began by going up a steep track which took us to the top of the moor and onwards. This was just a taste of things to come as Stuart and I spent most of the day going steeply up hills and then down again!

Steep up through Arncliffe Woods this morning.
A stone in the path, purpose unknown. Just need to find stone B now!

The weather today was windy and humid – rain was expected, but none came. Bonus! For most of the day our walk followed the Cleveland Way which was well signposted. Walking along well laid out and well signposted paths  meant we were able to cover 12 miles fairly quickly.

The view from the top above Arncliffe Woods

The North York Moors are the best walking I’ve experienced so far. Lovely views across the Cleveland hills of lovely countryside.

Looking east across the Cleveland Hills to Kirby Bank

Finished walking at 2pm, arriving at Clay Bank Top. Knees were hurting due to all the walking downhill today, but plenty of time to rest before tomorrow. Walked 12 miles, pleased with the progress today. Have decided to extend the walk tomorrow as the plan originally had been to do 9 miles but I reckon I can push on a bit more and then shorten the route on Saturday.

Stuart and Gary 400 metres up on top of Kirby Bank. (That’s 1,312 feet in old money!)

Meanwhile Gary’s Dad, Alan went to find a launderette today to attend to his duties. He asked a lady in Stokesley where the nearest one was. She asked him where he was from. “Nottingham” he replied. “Well” she said  “Up here we have washing machines at home you know!!.” Brilliant. Happy to report laundrette eventually located some miles away and all smalls washed!

Ukulele song of the day “Day Tripper”

Day 12. A Day of Two Halves!

Started walking at 8am this morning. Decided to extend today to make tomorrow shorter. Walked up steep climb first thing up onto Clay Bank Top. Grey clouds were gathering as I walked east. The track was clear, level and wide and it was fast walking. Good job as at about 9.30 the clouds rolled in and stayed with me all morning.

Not sheep, not cows but Grouse today

The wind picked up and was blowing fast and the rain was horizontal. I walked fast to get to the Lion Inn, 9 miles away. I got soaked to the skin, even the inside of my boots were wet! The cloud was down and I could not navigate except to follow the path. I squelched into the Lion inn car park at 11.30 to find Dad in his car and we went inside to regroup.

We both agreed that it would be almost impossible to camp at the Lion Inn in those conditions so we agreed to find a B&B to stay in. We struggled for a while as it’s Friday,  but eventually found one. After changing clothes I set off again at 1.30pm to finish the last few miles which I did at 3.45pm, hence a day of two halves! 14 miles walked in total today.

A long trek across the moors today
The view down Great Fryup Dale
Fat Betty
According to the interweb “Fat Betty ( sometimes referred to as White Cross ) stands just north of, and is easily accessible from the road that leads from Blakey Rigg to Rosedale Abbey, at the junction of the Danby, Westerdale and Rosedale parishes. The head of the cross is an ancient wheelhead painted white, set into a large stone base. It could possibly be Norman and is only one of two known wheelheads on the North York Moors. It perhaps takes its name from a cistercian nun, Sister Elizabeth from the Priory at Rosedale  These nuns wore gowns of undyed wool and were     referred to as ‘ White Ladies’. Another tale is that a local farmer’s wife, Fat Betty, fell from their horse and cart on  a dark, foggy night. When he arrived home and noticed she was missing from the back of the cart he retraced his route across the moor  and all he could find was the large, squat stone”. I wonder?!

Gary highly recommends vaseline for chaffing! He also reports to have 2 little toes that are “the size of golf balls”, due to blisters. Apparently, Compeed stick is like vaseline for blisters, (Thanks Jackie!)

Gary’s hoping that the weather will be a bit better tomorrow –  for his 14.5 mile walk to Littlebeck.
Ukulele song of the day is appropriately enough, “Button Up Your Overcoat”

Day 13: Glaisdale Rigg to Littlebeck

Starting the walk on Glaisdale Rigg

It was 9am on Saturday 18th August when I started walking.  The weather was cloudy and temperate crisp as I started this penultimate leg of the walk from Glaisdale Rigg to Littlebeck.  Having done the extra few miles yesterday, it meant I only had 14.5 miles to do today, and only 12 on the last day.  the moors were empty apart from me and the grouse as I stomped down the road towards Glaisdale.  On the way down off the Rigg I spotted a lovely old tractor outside a farm near Glaisdale and just had to take a picture as Helen absolutely LOVES old tractors.

A lovely old tractor just outside Glaisdale (for Helen)

The walk through Glaisdale took me down some steep roads and footpaths which led to Beggars Bridge.  Wikipedia says that Beggar’s Bridge was built by Thomas Ferris in 1619. Ferris was a poor man who hoped to wed the daughter of a wealthy local squire. In order to win her hand, he planned to set sail from Whitby to make his fortune. On the night that he left, the Esk was swollen with rainfall and he was unable to make a last visit to his intended. He eventually returned from his travels a rich man and, after marrying the squire’s daughter, built Beggar’s Bridge so that no other lovers would be separated as they were.

Beggars Bridge, Glaisdale

Following this romantic river crossing, I entered East Arncliffe Wood and followed a very pretty stone slab path through the woodland.  The morning light dappled through the canopy as I enjoyed the shade afforded by this scenic and atmospheric woodland.

A beautiful walk through East Arncliffe Wood, near Glaisdale

It was in the wood that I met up with a trio of walkers from Manchester who were completing the Coast to Coast in 10 days!  They were walking all the way to Robin Hoods Bay today, and were keeping quite a quick pace.  I walked with them through Egton Bridge and halfway to Grosmont, at which point I had to slow my own pace down, and parted company with these generous and chatty people.  Getting my breath back, I strolled into Grosmont to find my Dad sitting on a bench watching the trains go by.  Hot and bothered I decided to have a stop and drink and join him.

Enjoying the trains at Grosmont
Magnificent!

The trains were great and  after a welcome break I began my slog up the big hill outside Grosmont.  Now I knew that this 1:3 gradient was going to be tough, but nothing prepared me for how long it was going to take me to get to the top.  It felt like it went on for ages!

My first view of the North Sea!  Woohoo!

However, when I did get to the top, I was granted my first proper view of the North Sea, my ultimate destination.

Yes, that’s 1 in 3 and it went on for absolutely ages just outside Grosmont!

I finally made it into Littlebeck at 2.45pm, having walked 14.5 miles.  I made good time and was ready for my last day.

The end of my walk today at Littlebeck

Ukulele song played tonight was Waterloo Sunset.

Day 14: Littlebeck to Robin Hoods Bay

The last day.  I’d been walking every day for two weeks.  So far I’d got two blisters (one on each little toe) and after about the first five miles each day my left knee ached and my left ankle was giving me jip!  But I was really excited about finishing my 200 mile odyssey today.  We started where I had finished yesterday, outside the Methodist Chapel in Littlebeck.  I was joined by my Mum, who attends a walking group in Cotgrave, and our friend Charlotte.  The weather was a mix of cloud and sunny spells, and some light showers were forecast in the afternoon (they never came).

Starting the day at Littlebeck with Mum and Charlotte
The path through Littlebeck woods was muddier than I had anticipated but Mum  and Charlotte soldiered on through, and insisted it was fine (however, the mud was nothing compared to the bogs and soggy peat hags on the way from Nine Standards to Ravenseat).  We eventually came across the Hermitage, a picture of which is below.  www.eskvalley.com says that “It is in fact a folly and was carved out of the rock about 1760 by an out of work seaman on the instructions of the local schoolmaster. 2 wishing chairs were placed on the top of the Hermitage, it is said that if you made a wish in one, you must then sit in the other one to make it come true.”

The Hermitage

We got to the Falling Foss waterfall and Midge Hall tearooms shortly afterwards, but we were so early that the tearoom was not open yet.  We decided to press on after a brief stop to admire the falls and the beck.  Just beyond the tearooms we crossed the river on stepping stones and carried on through the forest to the car park at the end of the forest.

Falling Foss Waterfall at Littlebeck

After leaving the beautiful woods near Littlebeck, we started to cross the moors on our way to Hawsker and the coast.  The sun was shining and the going was good, but soon the moorland became boggier and boggier.  There were patches of moorland where the three of us had to negotiate some fairly deep bogs which on occasion rivalled those found on the moorland near Ravenseat in the Yorkshire Dales.  I was surprised at how boggy this part of the walk was as the guide book did not mention it as an issue here, and we had only had one bout of rain the the last fortnight.  We all got wet feet and trousers but continued on our journey.

After one last session of back tracking, jumping and tiptoeing over some very wet ground, we found the track which would lead us up to Low and High Hawsker.  The road walking was both a refreshing change but also hard on the feet, and I was glad when we reached the tearooms at the caravan site where we all stopped for tea and a butty.

Feeling suitably refueled and refreshed, we wound our way through the static caravans and found the path along the cliffs which would take up to Robin Hoods Bay.  I experienced a mixture of feelings as we enjoyed the sea views.  I was excited and keen to see my family, having been away from them for two weeks, and I was also feeling wistful as for all of the trials and tribulations endured along the way, I had enjoyed the walk immensely and would miss getting up every day and walking an average of 14 miles!

Looking North from Bay Ness, north of Robin Hoods Bay

The walk along the cliffs lasted ages and the landscape conspired to keep the sight of Robin Hoods Bay from me right until the last minute.  When I first saw the picturesque jumble of houses and seaside cottages peeking around the headland I was ecstatic!  I instantly sped up, my pace increasing with my excitement as I marched past the first houses by the footpath.  The track became a path and the path became a road, and I had to watch my step going down that steep hill in case my over-excitement resulted in an accident!

My first view of Robin Hoods Bay

I finally made it down to the bay to be met by family and friends who had all come up to spend a day or two with us to celebrate my achievement.  It was an emotional moment as I saw my boy and my wife for the first time in two weeks, knowing what I had achieved and knowing how much money we had raised.

Dipping my boots in the North Sea

After photos and hellos, Helen, Lachlan and I walked down to the sea on our own, and tossed our pebbles into the North Sea.  I had bought five pebbles with me in my rucksack, all the way from St Bees beach.  One for me, one for Helen, one for Lachlan, and one for each of the babies we lost.

I signed the book in the Bay Hotel, got my certificate, and was enjoying a pint when Helen went outside onto the balcony with Lachlan and called me outside.  A rainbow had appeared over the sea, just opposite the bay.

A rainbow over Robin Hoods Bay

The ukulele song that night, and fitting end to this adventure was ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’.

Mick Fenwick

Mountain Leader, D of E Co-Ordinator, Deputy Headteacher

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