Our Coast to Coast walk started the previous day, May 18th 2010 in a way, when we arrived in Kirkby Stephen for an overnight stay in a B&B known as The Jolly Farmers. This “boarding house” (as it seemed with 15 guests in it!) was fine but not the best by far, compared to what we were to experience on the nine days walking that faced us. We had our evening meal at The Black Bull Hotel – not recommended, poor service and poor food for what we paid for it. I will write more about the pubs in Kirby Stephen at the end of Day 7 when we pass through on the walk. So on this visit to the town we felt we had a bad deal all round. Not such a good start to our walking holiday……
Day One: 19th May 2010 14.4m /3138 ft ascent
St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge
Wednesday May 19th dawned and this meant an early breakfast for us and the parking of my car up at the campsite used by “Coast to Coast Packhorse” for storage. Packhorse are a company who specialise in conveying walkers and their bags along Wainwright’s Coast to Coast (C2C) Walk. Parking worked out at £3 per day, however the cost of a single bus fare with Packhorse from Kirby Stephen to St.Bees was £24 each – a tad expensive if you ask me, and for the three of us travelling it may have been cheaper to hire a private hire taxi…you live and learn. Our plan was to tackle the 192 mile walk in two stages. St Bees to Reeth in nine days in May and then Reeth to Robin Hoods Bay in September over a period of seven days.
Left to Right: Phil (Writer), Judy (Phil’s wife), Margaret, Geoff at St Bees
We made it to St. Bees and at this point with the help of a photograph, I will introduce the team of four walkers and our own Sherpa, Martyn in his Landrover Freelander who walked a few short sections of the route, but more importantly for us, was happy to shift our luggage each day on to the next port of call.
As Martyn (our esteemed Sherpa who is married to Margaret) took this photo I am unable to show him here, however when we reach Orton on Day 6 of the blog he will be pictured – trapped in the village stocks!
The day was cool but pleasant for walking and after the ritual of walking out to the water line to paddle in the Irish Sea and collect a small stone to carry to Robin Hood’s Bay, we embarked on Wainwright’s (AW’s) 1973 Coast to Coast Walk. We left the shore at 1040am.
It was quite disconcerting to walk north for four miles when we needed to go east. I had programmed our first summit of Dent (which we were to climb later that day) into my GPS as a “Go To” , however Dent just got further away as we proceeded north towards St Bees Lighthouse. There was plenty to see on the undulating coastal path – birdlife and a plethora of wild flowers. Pictured right is Fleswick Cove. Parts of the coastline reminded me of the coastal path around the Isle of Man, which we couldn’t see today, owing to sea mist. After 4 miles we swung east near the quarry at Sandwith. It is unusual to see such an undertaking so close to the coast. We moved inland taking our lunch near Stanley Pond GR 985142 – the “pond” was non existant apart from being shown on the OS Map and was just a grassy reedbed so dry that sheep were grazing upon it. Our packed lunch was spent chatting to a Dutch walker – a “lone wolf” with a limp who had travelled over via the Hull Ferry and caught the train to St.Bees – admirable enthusiasm indeed, and our first of many encounters on this walk with people who were from overseas. His pace was slow as we had passed him a mile before we stopped for lunch, however he caught up and continued with us for a mile or so after our lunch stop, before dropping back. We crossed the A595 Whitehaven to Egremont road near the C2C sculpture (right) close to Moor Row. We were later thankful that we were not walking this route exactly two weeks hence to the day, when the gunman Derrick Bird used it on his murderous spree around Western Cumbria. The less said about that situation the better.
As we neared Cleator we came across this sign and felt that it would have been appreciated by AW had he seen it in his lifetime. For several miles we had admired the summit of Dent (one of Wainwright’s Outlying Fells) from afar and as we walked beyond Cleator climbing it became a reality. The summit was claimed at 3.15pm, exactly 11 miles into our first day’s route.
It wasn’t pleasant on the top, however the other three got their flasks out in the mist whilst I tried to make some ham radio contacts in earnest. I did make four contacts, which I was very pleased with using my the low power VHF equipment. We descended from the summit to find that the original C2C had been
routed around Uldale from what was shown in Wainwright’s 1973 guide. Rather than turning right at GR 045126 we took the now signposted route to the left via this rather tall ladder stile, pictured with Geoff standing on top of it. This route is detailed in the Cicerone Guide to the C2C and I suspect that the Forestry Commission re-routed the footpath some years ago to suit them. The steep path (on grass) then took us down to Nannycatch Gate, a beautiful valley indeed which is owned by The National Trust, who allow walkers to use it on the C2C as a Permissive Path along the valley, on their way to Ennerdale Bridge.
On the day we wanted to use the permissive path, there was a large amount of oncoming traffic. Indeed, 24 horses as the picture below shows – Judy and Margaret fighting their way through….wild horses couldn’t stop us:
We continued to follow Nannycatch Beck and soon spotted our trusty Sherpa Martyn stood on a hill above us near the Cattle Grid at Scarny Brow where we met the road. Martyn had parked in the village of Ennerdale Bridge and come up the hill to meet us. The path from the cattle grid down to the village fortunately is just above the road and at that time of day it is a lifesaver. This C Class road, which runs from Sellafield to Cockermouth is a rat run for the workers from the nuclear site. It is extremely busy and they drive very fast so extreme care is needed when you cross it and walk into Ennerdale Bridge. This happens for two periods of around an hour or so each day when the workers are going to and from their work. After 14.5 miles we reached our first day destination of Ennerdale Bridge, enjoying drinks in the pub before heading by car up to the village of Kirkland 1.5 miles north, where we stayed at Ennerdale View B&B with Paul and Jo Stanley.
From their conservatory we enjoyed our evening meal and this view, which was unsurpassed throughout our walk through Cumbria.
I will give each B&B an overall score in this Blog based on a straw poll from the five of us who stayed there. The rating is governed by the hospitality and welcome received, location, comfort of rooms, quality of food and value for money. The overall rating for Ennerdale View came out at 8 out of 10. Incidentally if you don’t have transport it’s easy. If you are booked ahead all you need do is telephone Paul from the pub in the village and he will come and pick you up from Ennerdale Bridge for no extra charge.
Accommodation Rating: 8
Day Two: 20th May 2010 14.25m / 2112 ft ascent
Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite
Robin Hood’s Chair
After a hearty breakfast we were back in Ennerdale Bridge (thanks to Martyn) to start our second day. I didn’t know this part of the Lake District, but the day and the weather certainly lived up to expectations. Destination was Stonethwaite via Ennerdale, skirting several of the Western Fells. Within a mile or so we were negotiating the 3.5 mile footpath alongside Ennerdale Water, where Margaret located Robin Hood’s Chair (right). We know not why this rock has this name. The path was rough in places which meant we had to use our hands. Some people call this “scrambling”, a term I am not that comfortable with I must confess. Across the lake were the Wainwright Fells of Great Borne and Starling Dodd, a target for another day. The walk continued with an untaxing and fairly uninteresting route-march on the four mile track through Ennerdale Forest up to the Black Sail Youth Hostel. Towering above us on our right was Pillar, the 8th highest of the 214 Wainwright Fells. Black Sail is certainly in the right place if fell walking is your interest and both Geoff and I would like to stay there some time in the future. The hostel is pictured with our party in front: Judy (XYL G4OBK), Phil (G4OBK), Margaret and Geoff. Martyn (our Sherpa) was some miles away touring Cumbria in his car, we were to meet up at the Honister Slate Mine Cafe in a few hours time.
At the Black Sail Hut
The atmosphere around Black Sail Hut was friendly with several groups of walkers coming and going whilst we had lunch. On the way up from Ennerdale Water we had met Ian from Wakefield, a loner who had recently taken up walking as a means of losing weight and becoming fitter. He joined us once again as we left the hostel to make our way into the mountains. We had been warned to be careful with navigation on this section of the C2C and to make sure that we left Black Sail on the higher level path and to turn left soon after to climb up Seavy Knott alongside Loft Beck. After following these instructions you could see how easy it would be to go wrong and continue to follow Tongue Beck south east and head up to Green Gable. Another mountain for another day!
So Loft Beck it was and quite a slog too. Geoff went on ahead whilst the three of us (followed by the puffing and blowing 18 stone Ian from Wakefield) followed in his wake. When we topped out at over 2000 feet we were on the flank of Grey Knotts (LDW-091) with a good view (albeit a slightly hazy one) over the ridge to Haystacks, High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike. Down below us we had Buttermere and Loweswater, and to the north the Slate Quarry below Fleetwith Pike LDW-116. So near yet so far…..but we had a mission – the C2C. A pile of stones indicated where the Drum House used to be – this goes back to when there was a tramway for hauling slate from the mines down to the processing sheds. Now no more, but the line of the tramway has been made into a straight path. As we dropped down the hill our Sherpa Martyn was waiting in the car park to join us for a beaker of tea in Honister Cafe.
Cafe at Honister Slate Mine (Ian on left drinking)
Geoff with Pippy the parrot
It was now almost 4.30pm and we had a couple of miles to go to reach our destination at Stonethwaite. This was the one night when we were unable to all stay in the same accommodation. Thanks to BBC TV and Julia Bradbury the C2C has become so popular that when we booked our B&B accommodation in November 2009 many places were either booked up for the following May, or were reluctant to allow bookings because of agreements with booking agents such as Packhorse and Sherpa. As a result on the night of Thursday 20th May Martyn, Margaret and Geoff stayed with Mrs Rachael Dunckley at Gillercombe B&B at Stonethwaite road end (no en-suite), and Phil and Judy stayed at the more expensive Langstrath Country Inn, Stonethwaite, where we all took our evening meal. Rachael has a Grey Parrot called Pippy, and here she is pictured on Geoff’s shoulder on Friday morning before we left.
Langstrath Country Inn
The previous night’s dinner and drinks at The Langstrath had been very good at the usual Lake District prices (which you expect in Borrowdale) and nicely cooked. My full English breakfast was also excellent. What took me by surprise was something I overheard at the table next to us, inhabited by three male walkers. One man asked if he could have porridge. The waitress said “I will find out”. A few minutes later the owner came in to tell the customer “Yes, you may have porridge but only if you do not have your cooked breakfast you cannot have both”. We have never come across this before and at £49.50 B&B per person per night it was downright outrageous. The man took the porridge and went without his bacon and egg….
That completes Day Two.
Gillercombe BB 6.5 Langstrath Country Inn 7
Day Three: 21st May 2010 9.5m / 2581 ft ascent
Rosthwaite to Grasmere
Friday morning dawned – and we all gathered at Gillercombe B&B at Stonethwaite Road End to walk to Rosthwaite in accordance with AW’s route, before changing direction completely to head up Greenup Gill, climbing to over 2000ft at Greenup Edge. From there we were to make our way over three Wainwrights before reaching Grasmere, the more challenging of the two routes offered by AW on this leg of his Coast to Coast.
Strolling through Rosthwaite
Looking back down Greenup Gill
A walk through Rosthwaite proved interesting and a pub and a National Trust car park were noted for future reference. It was 9.30am and the village was quiet, but it is served by a bus route from Keswick. The C2C followed Stonethwaite Beck and we enjoyed a steady climb in hot sunshine on a well worn path, mostly on rock with the occasional scramble in places. Eagle Crag loomed above us on our right and by midday we had topped out on Greenup Edge. At this point we saw our route laid out before us, a ridge walk across the three Wainwrights of Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag (known by some as the Lion and the Lamb). We enjoyed our packed lunches and were joined by a large group of well spoken middle aged men, who were also doing the C2C.
I took out my ham radio gear to make some contacts for Wainwrights On The Air and repeated this on the other two summits, making 16 contacts all told on VHF that day. The ridge falls gradually to Helm Crag and it was between Gibson and Helm that we encountered two young women eager to know how long it would take them to reach Calf Crag with a view to then return back to Grasmere via the lower path in Easedale. From our vantage point it was clear where they needed to go, and I reckoned (after seeing how much they were sweating – they were big lasses) on it taking them around 90 minutes to reach Calf Crag.
The views on both sides of the ridge were fantastic – across Dunmail Raise to the Helvellyn range and the othere way over Grasmere Common to Blea Rigg with the Langdale Pikes beyond. We had certainly picked the right week to walk across the Lake District. The last summit today was Helm Crag. As soon as we arrived Geoff threw his rucksack to me and promptly set about climbing the “Howitzer” as the lump of rock is called when viewed from certain positions. This was plainly pre-meditated and he was on top in around 30 seconds. I think it took me twice as long with a rucksack on my back which carried my radio aerial.
Wainwrights On The Air from “The Howitzer” rock of Helm Crag LDW-201
After Helm Crag we made our way down on the winding path – a replacement I believe to the more direct path which was closed due to erosion some years ago. The Easedale Road took us into Grasmere where we enjoyed some beverages with our Sherpa Martyn who had greeted us on foot half way up the Easedale Road.
The handiest pub was The Red Lion, a Best Western Hotel and we were joined for a drink by a couple who had just arrived from Northampton for their first time ever in the Lake District. The pub staff were friendly, and for Grasmere the drinks did not seem overly expensive. It was Friday and we needed to get to get to our accommodation which was some distance away in Patterdale, why Patterdale you may ask? Well, when I booked our accommodation for this trip in November 2009 no guest house in Grasmere or Ambleside was prepared to allow a five person party to stay for one night. They all insisted on two nights. As a result we opted to stay at the White Lion Inn at Patterdale for two nights instead. It meant a drive out from Grasmere but Martyn was happy to do this, God bless him. We took a ride into Ambleside and then turned off to climb The Struggle to join the Kirkstone Pass.
The White Lion was packed out with folk, including the outside seating area, so after a shower and rest (once we had enjoyed a pint of course) we sat down to a “traditional pub meal”. My advice at weekends is to make sure that you book a table and be prepared for about a one hour wait at busy times. The pub have a constant turnover of guests staying one night whilst doing the C2C so you can’t expect the personal service, pride and friendliness that you will experience at some of the smaller B&Bs along the route.
This brings us to the end of Day 3:
Overall accommodation rating for the White Lion for both nights: 6
Day 4: 22nd May 2010 9.22m / 3893 ft ascent
Grasmere to Patterdale
Martyn, our “Sherpa” drove the four of us back to Patterdale to restart the C2C at 10.00am on the Saturday from Grasmere. It was another good day, hot and sunny and we were carrying plenty of water. We walked along the A591 and chose the footpath up Little Tongue Gill, which according to Wainwright “gives a better view of Grasmere” than the first path which goes up to Grisedale Hause via Tongue Gill. It was slow going in the heat and it took us two hours to reach Hause Gap.
Fell Walking in Crocs
Judy and Margaret opted for the usual route down to Grisedale Tarn and then followed the valley to Patterdale. Geoff and I wanted to climb some summits so after saying our farewells to the girls we set about climbing Seat Sandal LDW-069 – a “new one” for Geoff. It took 16 minutes to reach the top from the Hause, which was pretty good going. Nine quick contacts were made and we set off back down with Fairfield LDW-013 in mind. As we were climbing a group of Geordie lads were making their way down. To my amazement one of them was wearing Crocs and making a joke of it….the things you see in the Lake District. The top of Fairfield was full of people, you could tell it was a Saturday. We ate our lunch there and continued with more contacts. 16 contacts were made, the best one for me being with Iain M3WJZ/P on the Wainwright of Slight Side LDW-057. Our route back to Patterdale took us down Cofa Pike, Deepdale Hause and then back up to St Sunday Crag LDW-010, one of my favourite fells.
Operating from Fairfield
Geoff eyes up Cofa Pike
We went on from there down to Birks LDW-125 via Gavel Pike, a new route for me and one which afforded a nice view down Deepdale Common below us. I had visited Birks before in 2009 with our Walking Group and we struggled to find the best route up there from Patterdale. It’s always easier coming down and we followed the ridge to Black Crag and a path led us down to the stile on Thornhow End.
Wainwright slept here – as seen on BBC Coast to Coast with Julia Bradbury
We arrived at the White Lion just after 5.00pm for a rewarding drink on what had been a most enjoyable day. Judy and Margaret had enjoyed themselves, having had a good look at Wainwright’s barn on the way down Grisedale and by visiting a tearoom in Glenridding with Martyn. Tomorrow, Day 5 was to be the hardest day of the lot – the trek over Kidsty Pike, and we planned to cover several more Wainwrights en-route that lay just off the path.
Accommodation Rating White Lion: 6
Day 5: 23rd May 2010 16.7m / 3988 ft ascent
Patterdale to Shap
We needed an early start and left the White Lion just after 9.00am on the hottest day experienced so far. Judy and I had walked the well worn route up to Boredale Hause several times before to climb Place Fell and Beda Fell, but today we were to continue to Angle Tarn and then climb up to the highest “official” point on the Coast to Coast walk at Kidsty Pike, overlooking Haweswater. Once again, this was an opportunity to bag several Wainwrights and we actually climbed two more than we had planned! More on that later…..
Angle Tarn from Angletarn Pikes
None of us had ever been to Angle Tarn before. What a beautiful location. We climbed to the top of Angletarn Pikes (LDW-143) arriving at 10.15am, where Judy remarked that Angle Tarn, with its islands looked like a minature Derwentwater.
On Angletarn Pikes
Only three contacts were made from here. We continued onward below Satura Crag, where you pass through two gateposts. Then the navigation went slightly awry. We were almost at the top of Rest Dodd (LDW-092) when we realised that we had left the “official” C2C route, so we continued and bagged Rest Dodd, before following the wall down to a saddle and climbing up to The Knott (LDW-066), a summit which we did intend to climb, being only 200m and a short ascent from the C2C path. That done we proceeded south towards High Street, stopping short at the Straits of Riggindale and turning north east to head over Rampsgill Head LDW-039, to arrive at Kidsty Pike LDW-046 at 12.40pm, a good time for lunch. This was the final radio activation for Wainwrights On The Air in the Lake District before we headed down to Haweswater and on to Shap. Over the five summits today 22 contacts were made including summit to summit contacts with Iain M3WJZ/P on Esk Pike and Bowfell and with Geoff G4WHA on Carrock Fell. As we made our way down to Haweswater in the searing heat of the day we realised that we were all running low on water. We had no mobile phone coverage but we were hopeful that Martyn, our willing Sherpa, would meet us near Haweswater with a supply. As it happened Martyn had gone to the Mardale Head Car Park by mistake and we missed him. It was ironic to be stood next to one of the largest reservoirs in the Lake District and be short of water, but after walking the four miles down the fell side track of Haweswater this is what happened!
Haweswater from near Speaking Crag
At the end of the lake we reached Burnbanks village – built for the workers when the reservoir was constructed. The village is a credit to the people that still live there in the bungalows and cottages remaining. The C2C then passes through Burnbanks Nature Reserve, which was solid with bluebells and a delightful spot. We were hoping we might meet Martyn at Naddle Bridge for water. We still had five miles walking left, sadly he did not appear. We left the National Park near Rosgill and proceeded towards Shap Abbey
Geoff, Margaret and Judy on Parish Crag Bridge near Shap
Shap Abbey came and went, I can’t say we were impressed, we just wanted to reach Shap and that we did at just after 6.00pm. Once we had mobile coverage we raised our Sherpa Martyn who was still patiently waiting for us at Haweswater! We were reunited when we fell into the Greyhound Hotel, which is well down the one mile long strip village.
Greyhound Hotel Shap – recommended
The meal, service and drinks at this hostelry were excellent and we all downed a few pints of water. Our Bed and Breakfast was Brookfield House at the south end of the village. Mrs Margaret Brunskill was ready to greet us when we arrived around 8.00pm and some went straight to bed after our hardest day yet. The guest house came out on top so far with the highest score all round. Margaret is dedicated to looking after Coast to Coasters and this she did. The packed lunches next day contained home made cakes and fresh fruit – overall score for Brookfield B&B Shap being 9.5 out of 10. Next day was to be an easy one, less than ten miles, to Barn House at Orton.
Accommodation Rating: Brookfield House Shap 9.5
Pub Rating: The Greyhound Hotel, Shap 10
Day 6: 24th May 2010 9.56m / 993ft ascent
Shap to Orton
We departed Brookfield House completely refreshed with an easy day ahead of us! The hospitality had been superb and we all slept well and were fully recovered from the previous day. We still had a sunny day but it wasn’t so hot and we had no summits of significance to climb today. We looked back to Cumbria once we crossed the M6 Motorway, and Kidsty Pike and the High Street range were easy to pick out.
The M6 Motorway near Shap – Cumbrian Fells beyond
We were now in limestone country and heading towards the North Pennines. The Hardendale Quarry workings spread across into Oddendale and we found roads that were shown just as footpaths on the map. We continued south to Potrigg and came across several interesting geological features – limestone pavements, erratic boulders and a stone circle. We had our lunch on Crosby Ravensworth Fell next to one of the larger erratic boulders. Once again we encountered other Coast to Coasters. Everyone was in good spirits – as they should be when enjoying a long distance walk as good as this one. We met Canadians, Americans, Dutch, Germans, Scandinavians, Australians and no doubt several more people of other nationalities that we didn’t discover.
Lime Kiln near to Orton Scar
Near Orton Scar we passed by a Lime Kiln in better condition than others I have seen. We were walking through dairy country north of Orton now and we had decided to walk on a little further by arranging with Martyn, our Sherpa, to meet us at a farmstead called Acres, north east of Raisbeck. The rendezvous took place just after 3.00pm and we were transported the few miles back to Barn House, Orton, where the lady of the house Mrs Lillian Smith was waiting to greet us with home made scones and a pot of tea in her conservatory.
Barn House was lovely and was recommended to us by our friends Sam and Wendy from Ryedale Walking Group, who stayed here previously when doing the C2C. After tea we strolled into Orton to visit Kennedy’s chocolate shop, they also sold ice cream which we enjoyed. Whilst strolling around the village we found a set of stocks, and Martyn volunteered to be photographed. The village has only one pub now, a Jennings House called The George Hotel. We returned here for our evening meal later and met up again with two Australian ladies, Mary and Lynn, whom we had been chatting to on the trail. It was a good night but the food was mediocre. Most of us had a reasonable meal but those who chose steak were disappointed with the quality. There was however, nowhere else to eat in the village, so beggars can’t be choosers! Once again we were in bed before 10.00pm and up early for breakfast which was served at 8.00am.
Accommodation Rating: Barn House, Orton: 9.5
Pub Rating: The George Hotel, Orton: 7
Day 7: 25th May 2010 10.4m / 1016ft ascent
Orton to Kirkby Stephen
We had a great breakfast at Barn House (hence their high score) before Martyn transported us back to Acres (GR 653082), and we were walking by 9.20am. The ground was very dry and the weather was much cooler so we had our jackets on and we soon reached Sunbiggin Tarn.
Near Sunbiggin Tarn
This was another easy day and we cruised along on relatively flat ground at around the 800ft level. The view to the Howgills was excellent, Baugh Fell, Yarlside and Calf being the prominent fells in view to the south. Well before lunch we dropped into Smardale, a place new to us all and one that we must revisit for further exploration with Ryedale Walking Group. Smardale Gill is a nature reserve. A dismantled railway line runs through here and the impressive award winning viaduct is still intact and well preserved.
This viaduct was built in 1860 and the railway closed in 1952, the year of my birth. In 1990 the viaduct was restored and now carries a footpath across the valley – a branch off the C2C. I’m definitely going back. Smardale Bridge came next and several small worked-out quarries all the way to Kirkby Stephen. This was going to be an early finish so we had to stop ourselves at 1.00pm on Smardale Fell (about 1050′) and eat our lunch out of the wind against a stone wall. A mixture of wide bridleways, footpaths and a very short section of country lane brought us to the outskirts of Kirkby Stephen by 2.00pm. We all agreed that this was one section when two days could have been joined into one. Shap to Kirkby Stephen. We all felt well and were ready to try a different pub to the Black Bull, which we used the previous week before starting the walk. Firstly we checked in at The Jolly Farmers Guest House on the way in to the town at GR 773083. We were pleased to be allowed to check in even though it was early, although when we got to our bedroom we found that there had been a leak in the bathroom and the carpet has been lifted. We could see the carpet drying in the back yard, however we were told that the leak had been fixed.
The pub we tried was The Kings Arms – directly across from The Black Bull. This was much better and was oddly quieter, trade wise than The Black Bull the previous week. We were very pleased to give them our custom and all five of us enjoyed the meals and drinks. The service was also excellent.
The Kings Arms Hotel, Kirkby Stephen
When we returned to the Jolly Farmers our damp bathroom carpet had been re-laid. The previous week when we stayed, Margaret had made up a flask of tea in the room and ventured down to the kitchen to ask for a drop of fresh milk. The landlady reluctantly provided some milk, but also admonished Margaret saying that this practice was not acceptable as the tea making facilities were only for use in the room. So this time to comply with the house rules, we both took our flasks down to breakfast and asked them to be filled with tea. When we collected them we noticed a sticker saying £1 (each) had been placed on them. We paid up but felt it worth warning people about what goes on here! In addition we were told that cheques were not acceptable for payment and then received directions as to where the nearest cash machine was….. Hence the low score for this guest house.
Accommodation Rating: Jolly Farmers (£35 per person) 5
Pub Rating: The Kings Arms 9
Day 8: 26th May 2010 11.9m / 2075ft ascent
Kirkby Stephen to Keld
We departed The Jolly Farmers at Kirkby Stephen after paying £1 each for our flasks to be filled by Carol, the landlady and were crossing Frank’s Bridge over the River Eden at 9.30am. I had the radio equipment with me today to activate a Summit On The Air because ahead of us was Nine Standards Rigg, a well known North Pennine sprawling hill of stature at 2172 feet high. First we had to climb up above Hartley Quarries which are still being worked. A tarmac road continued up to the 1200 feet level. The weather was fine but today we were to get our first soaking later. Not bad after eight days on the trail!
We reached Nine Standards Rigg just after 11.00am – just in time for a coffee break. Seen from afar they just look like piles of stones. Close up they are works of art. Wainwright said the Nine Standards were ancient as they were marked on 18th century maps. One theory is that they were constructed by the Romans. On the summit and out of view of Kirkby Stephen is the trig point which marks the watershed between east and west. From this point on towards Robin Hoods Bay all streams and rivers run to the east and the North Sea. The radio operation was successful with nine contacts on VHF as far away as Morecambe, Spennymoor and Nelson.
Summits on the Air on Nine Standards Rigg NP-018
Shortly after crossing the watershed it started to rain – the first we had seen since leaving St Bees! We quickly got our coats on. It was lunchtime but too wet to contemplate stopping to eat the packed lunches we had purchased from Carol at the Jolly Farmers. As we dropped down off Birkdale Common though we were surprised to find a black hut at the 1600 feet level, fitted out with a table and benches and left unlocked. This made an ideal canteen for us to enjoy our lunch in the dry, and we were grateful to the landowner for leaving it open. It was clean and we left it as we had found it. For our meal we were joined by some friends we had met previously on the trail and in the pub at Orton. It was Mary and Lynn. Two ladies from Melbourne, Australia. We became good friends, more on that story later.
Judy-Margaret-Lynn-Phil-Geoff (Mary took the photo)
The black hut is at grid reference NY840028 (shown as Shooting Box) on the 1:25000 map. A few miles on and we met up with Martyn when we skirted the B road which runs through Swaledale west of Keld. He had been to our B&B at Keld, Butt House, to drop our bags off and was assured that the fire would be lit before we arrived. Butt House was a well known stop off for Alfred Wainwright and was previously run by Doreen Whitehead who was known as “The Queen of the Coast to Coast” but has now retired. Doreen produced the first accommodation guide to the C2C in 1986. This guide it still available, price £5. I’m inclined to think that with the Internet, Packhorse, Sherpa Van and the amount of information in Blogs like this one it is no longer necessary to purchase this book. Doreen was interviewed by the BBC when they filmed the Coast to Coast walk with Julia Bradbury.
Butt House at Keld
A short walk down the B6270 from Park Bridge brought us to Keld, Butt House just being down from the road junction by the phone box. Sure enough there was smoke issuing from the chimney and our hosts Trish and Linda relieved us of our wet clothing and footwear. We were there by 3.00pm and spent a couple of hours relaxing by the fireside in the comfortable lounge.
We had our evening meal at Butt House (£15 each for 3 courses). The cost of accommodation was more expensive than other places at £38 each sharing, or £45 for single occupancy. Linda and her husband Tony also own the former Youth Hostel on the B6270, a short distance from Butt House. This is now called Keld Lodge. We went there for a drink after the meal. The bar was comfortable and we were made welcome by Tony.
Accommodation rating (including food) for Butt House: 7
Day 9: 26th May 2010 11.3m / 1937ft ascent
Keld to Reeth (High level route)
Our gear had dried out and Thursday dawned a clear sunny day. We had decided to take the high level route that runs below Rogan’s Seat, rather than the valley route alongside the River Swale. The high level route is not the prettiest, but if you are interested in one of the old industries of the Dales it is an essential one. The track takes you through the Swinner Gill, Lownathwaite, Gunnerside Gill and Old Gang lead mining areas. I had previously ventured this way on my own in August 2008 when I cycled up to the top of Rogan’s Seat from near Gunnerside on the tracks provided by the Gunnerside Estate for shooting parties. That trip was a ham radio activation for Summits On The Air and so there was little time then to explore the lead mining areas and hushes.
Whichever route you take, every walker on the C2C leaves Keld via the bridleway that passes the waterfall known as Kisdon Force. To the south above us was the summit of Kisdon.
Swaledale from Crackpot Hall
The view down Swaledale as we left the bridleway to climb up to Crackpot Hall, must be one of the finest in the Dales. Kisdon at 1636 ft and 1 km to the south is on my “to do” list and I hope to find time to climb it in 2010. We soon started to find the remnants of the industrial history of the Dale with abandoned machinery, buildings and piles of spoil. The track followed the west side of Swinner Gill to bring us to the old lead mines before we continued east along East Grain. At NY 926012 we reached the shooters track which turns left and heads up to the top of Rogan’s Seat just over a mile away – too far a detour to make from our pre-planned route for me to activate for Summits On The Air. This was the highest point of the day and we were at around the 1900 ft level. The path down into Gunnerside Gill was actually below where it was shown on the map. The scene surveyed was rather like the surface of the moon, a mass of waste, spoil and derelict buildings.
We stopped for a break before climbing out of the Gill through the Bunton Hush up on to Melbecks Moor. The path was difficult to discern amongst the piles of waste and dead ground.
Amongst the waste on the Bunton Hush we found this machine. The maker’s name had been cast into the ironwork and could still be read as “Thomas Foster Kibbler Stone Breaker Leeds England”.
Once we had climbed up the Bunton Hush the sky looked like it might rain so we ate our packed lunches which we had purchased from Butt House. These were the poorest lunches we had had from any of the guest houses we had stayed at. The best packed lunch had come from Mrs Brunskill at Brookfield House, Shap. The rain kept off for us and we continued on towards The Old Gang Smelting Mill. The chimney and some of the buildings have been restored here by the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Judy, Geoff and Margaret at The Old Gang Smelting Mill
From the smelting mill at Old Gang we had almost five miles left before we got to Reeth, the “capital” of Swaledale. Our route took us over Cringley Bottom and above Healaugh before we reached Skelgate Lane and dropped down into Reeth. Martyn had taken the opportunity to walk towards us having parked his vehicle in the village and we met him en-route. It wasn’t possible for us all to travel in his Freelander and carry our luggage at the same time. You may recall that I had parked my car at the Packhorse Car Park in Kirkby Stephen. What I hadn’t mentioned on my previous days blog was that on the easy day when we got into Kirkby Stephen I had moved my car down to Reeth, and Martyn has driven me back. Parking is available in Reeth village square by paying a modest fee in the honesty box.
Margaret – Judy – Phil – Geoff on our way down to Reeth
We were in Reeth by 3.00pm and enjoyed the ice creams. I think we deserved them after walking 108.4 miles (according to my GPS).
We drove back home to Pickering but as usual we were starving, so we stopped off in Thirsk to enjoy fish and chips at The White Horse Cafe. So that was it, we were finished for the time being and intend continuing with Part Two in September from Reeth to Robin Hood’s Bay over six days.
Day 10: 18th September 2010 14.7m / 1721ft ascent
Reeth to Catterick Bridge
It was almost four months since we left St. Bees and Phil, Judy, Margaret and Geoff finally continued on our way from Reeth towards Robin Hood’s Bay. We had planned to continue in early September, however a family bereavement put paid to that and our plans were scuppered. We had intended to complete the latter part of the route over six days together, however other commitments amongst the four of us meant this would not be possible, so we settled on completing the final six days walking in two blocks of three days each over two long weekends. Getting to the start and back from the finish of each day’s walk would be taken care of by Martyn who was again providing us with transport. With the family bereavement the accommodation booked in early September had to be cancelled and almost a fresh start made. I dug into my Farmstay brochure and on their website and found a few likely B&B farms close to the route on the Reeth to Ingelby Cross section of the walk. We settled on St Giles Farm near Catterick Bridge which was perfect and bang on the C2C! The farmer owners Jane and Simon Thornhill are lovely people – Jane walked the C2C herself in 15 days in 2009, so they know what walkers appreciate when it comes to somewhere to stay.
St Giles Farm near Catterick Bridge
We decided on the Saturday to meet at St Giles Farm and then drive to Reeth (where we finished in May) and continue through Marrick, Marske and Richmond continuing on to the farm. This was fifteen miles.
Judy & Margaret striding out near Marrick
Whilst planning this three day section I had a crisis of conscience – should we stick with AW’s original 1972 C2C route which tended to use roads to ease the passage across the Vale of Mowbray or should we look at the alternatives? I reached for Geoff’s Cicerone Guide to the C2C by Terry Marsh and decided to stick with the routing in that, by copying the route on to my Ordnance Survey Explorer maps. There were several significant differences when cross referenced against AW’s original route.
We followed the path of the Swale along and then above it all the way to St Giles Farm. Between Reeth and Marrick on a farm, we noticed several large residential caravans had been somehow manoeuvred into desirable quiet rural locations in the corners of fields, alright for some! None of us had been to Marrick before but it was a lovely village. The promise of a tearoom beyond Marrick at Nun Cote Farm had been fly posted at several places leading up to it. When we got there the sign said CLOSED so we continued on to Ellers Beck footbridge and enjoyed our packed lunches in the sunshine on the banks of the Beck. We went the wrong way near Hardstiles Top and finished up on the wrong side of a stone wall next to a road. I think we were concentrating too much on the obelisk of Hutton’s Monument above us to the east. This link is worth viewing but please come back to my blog! My error only put us out by a few hundred metres. We found the stile up the field and walked down the hill on the road into Marske, a sizeable village devoid of any pub or shop. Pictured are the writer, Geoff, Judy and Margaret near to Marske.
A short road section followed and then we headed off right, climbing up towards the limestone face of Applegarth Scar, leaving the Yorkshire Dales National Park for good at Salmon Gill. Geoff had mentioned that in the 1990s he had spent several winter holidays in a small cottage above Richmond but couldn’t recall exactly where this was – until we actually walked past it. Of course he had to take a photograph of it, but as it was rather plain looking I didn’t! We soon saw Richmond below us (millennium plaque pictured) and were looking forward to finding somewhere to enjoy a cup of tea and a cake. Most walkers on the C2C tend to stay overnight in Richmond where accommodation from my experience is expensive and much sought after. We had chosen to bypass the town and head for Catterick Bridge. The Cicerone Guide route took us down to Richmond Bridge, which was downstream of the main crossing point at Station Bridge and then suggested we continue to follow the road turning left at Holly Hill. Since leaving Reeth we had noticed that the Coast to Coast fingerposts along the way had become quite prolific, and here was another one at Richmond Bridge advising us to walk alongside the Swale. This was good news as the path led us through some common land and out onto the A6136 near The Station. This award winning old railway terminus makes a great rest stop. There are many things to interest the visitor but the cafe/restaurant was what pleased us the most as we tucked into the lovely Bakewell Tart and pots of Suki leaf tea. By sheer coincidence Martyn our driver (Margaret’s husband) was there as well, so we took a 40 minute rest break and chilled….
West End Stores – closed on Saturday afternoons
We still had 90 minutes walking left though on the well maintained gated footpaths in the direction of Catterick – maintained courtesy of the MoD who use the area around Richmond for exercises. After passing the sewage works south of the town (no smells) we entered Iron Banks Wood – the Swale was down below us with an almost vertical drop from the unfenced path of around 100 feet. The picturesque village of Old Colburn and its Hall comes next, in contrast to the new village of Colburn which has obviously been built for the army personnel based at Catterick – the largest British Army Garrison in the world. A mile from Old Colburn via field paths St Giles Farm was finally reached.
This had been a great walk in good weather with generous rest stops. We had left Reeth at 10.20am and arrived near Catterick Bridge at 5.30pm. We asked Jane from the farm for a suggestion as to where we could have a good pub meal. She suggested The Arden Arms at Atley Hill above Scorton. Martyn drove us up there and we had an excellent dinner.
Tomorrow was Sunday and we looked forward to the 19 mile section following the Cicerone Guide route across the Vale of Mowbray to Ingleby Cross and the dreaded A19 crossing.
Accommodation Rating St Giles Farm: 9
Day 11: 19th September 2010 18.7m / 533ft ascent
Catterick Bridge to Ingleby Arncliffe
(The Vale of Mowbray – Via Cicerone Guide route)
The River Swale upstream of Catterick Bridge
If you have watched the BBC Coast to Coast series of programmes you will have heard of the Vale of Mowbray. This is the flat land which lies between the Yorkshire Dales and the Cleveland Hills and the North York Moors National Park. Most Coasters walk across it in one day, as we did. There are points of interest and a choice of rights of way as well, which I believe were not passable in the 1970s when AW created this walk. Geoff lent me his Cicerone Guide to the Coast to Coast by Terry Marsh. After some study I opted to follow Terry’s recommended route which reduced the road walking by taking us on field paths and tracks to the south of Wainwright’s suggested route. This lengthened our passage across the Vale by a mile or two but we felt this was worthwhile to get us off the roads.
We pass underneath the A1 road
We departed St Giles Farm at 9.20am, our base for this three day section of the route. We followed the Swale to Catterick Bridge and used the muddy underpass to walk beneath the A1. The path brings you out adjacent to the racecourse and on to the A6136, which is in fact the old A1. We cross the Swale via Catterick Bridge, a crossing point going back to Roman times when Cataractonium, a Roman town, was located here. We set off on the northern bank of the river, being passed by seven very fast male walkers in their 40s who continued to make ground on us once they had passed. They weren’t Coasters and I suspect they did not intend to walk 19 miles at that pace. A concrete track brought us to Bolton-on-Swale and we met the fast walkers who had just arrived at the junction by the church – they had obviously taken a wrong turning! Anyway, they needed a rest and a drink – I noticed they were sweating profusely. We continued at a steady pace, never to see them again. Definitely a case of Tortoise and Hare. At GR 268978 we joined the B6271 to pass Kiplin Hall, a stately home which is open to the public and probably worth returning to for a day out. The estate is walled in very solidly along the roadside for almost a mile. This must have been quite a job creation scheme in its day. The footpaths were clear for the most part and this would have been a pleasant route when dry underfoot, however, in late September in wet conditions newly ploughed fields are difficult to walk through. Our boots at times must have weighed around 10 lbs with the accumulation of clay around them. Thankfully there were only three fields that were like that!
Ruined cottages at Stanhowe GR 295977
Our next target was Danby Wiske a place which Wainwright said was less attractive than its name. He said the inn was only good for a bag of crisps and beer How things are changing in 2010. The White Swan was recently closed for several months and had just reopened. The place is family run and has been refurbished in the bar area with more to come. When we called on what was turning into a damp, wet and miserable day, the fire was lit and sandwiches, pies and salads were available. We sat outside as we had brought our own food thinking that the inn would be closed, however the owners Gill and Steve were happy to serve us with a large pot of tea for five (£7.50) and chat about their venture. Accommodation is now available at a reasonable price and they have plans to extend. Evening dinners will be available next year, at present Coasters staying there send out for takeaways from Northallerton, which is four miles away.
Geoff-Margaret-Judy-Phil at the White Swan in Danby Wiske
We left the pub just after 2.00pm and crossed the main east coast railway line via a road bridge near Lazenby Hall. The Cicerone route suggested using roads to get to Oaktree Hill but we took the good footpath through the wood at 352986 – an excellent choice and shorter. After a short stretch alongside the A167 we made off eastwards along field paths and tracks through several farms. Another railway line was reached – this time it was a gated “Stop Look and Listen” type of crossing. It was Sunday and there were no trains around. Not as scary as the crossing we have used near to Lindisfarne on the St. Cuthbert’s Way which is situated on an 130 MPH stretch of line. On that line you have to ring the signalman to get clearance to cross, but not here on this branch line which runs from Middlesbrough and Stockton through to York. Shortly after the railway it turned 4.00pm and we had done five miles from The White Swan – it was time for a rest and a drink, with over 15 miles under our belt in the day The fifteen minute break rejuvenated us and we continued on, spotting two young deer crossing our path near to Sydal Lodge. We arrived at the A19 crossing at 5.20pm. The traffic was heavy, but being a Sunday it was mostly cars and few lorries. Judy, Geoff and Margaret legged it across to the central reservation and I snapped this photo, following them at the next break in the traffic.
The A19 crossing point with Martyn waiting to take us off for our dinner
The Three Tuns
Across the junction, short of the village of Ingelby Arncliffe, was Martyn – our trusty Sherpa. We were ready for something to eat and found a great pub in Osmotherley called the Three Tuns which was still serving Sunday dinners with all the trimmings at 5.45pm. We were the last in for food. The pub looks small from the outside but was like the Tardis once we were through the door. Fabulous roast beef and lamb dinners with deserts for £13. We were very satisfied – 10/10 was the score. Trendy decor – its been updated for sure, and the service was brilliant too. We returned for our last night at St Giles Farm Catterick Bridge by which time it was dark. Tomorrow we were to walk on familiar ground – the Cleveland Hills, which coming from Pickering, we know intimately. We all felt that it had been a long day, it wasn’t the hills – there hadn’t been any, it was the clay we were carrying on our boots for a good part of the distance. Still, we had reduced the public road mileage down to less than six miles out of nineteen – I think AW would have been proud of us!
Day 12: 20th September 2010 12m 2996ft ascent
Ingleby Arncliffe to Clay Bank
Our final day on this 3 day bash at the Coast to Coast from Reeth to Clay Bank. Our transport arrangements meant a late start – my car had to be positioned at Clay Bank where we were to end our day.
We left the A19 near Ingleby Arncliffe at 1055am with the Cleveland Hills straight in front of us. Three out of the four of us had walked most of this section before. Margaret had completed the 40 mile Lyke Wake Walk in June this year, and Judy and I did the Cleveland Way in 2007. There is another main road to cross here, the A172, this is much easier than the A19 which we crossed the previous day. At Ingleby Cross Water Tower (pictured right) we entered our third and final national park – the North York Moors. We then started to climb, past Arncliffe Hall and into Arncliffe Wood which has recently been decimated by contractors working for the Forestry Commission. We missed the path up Tire Bank completely and half way to Park House decided to turn back – we should have continued – read on. A waymarker low to the ground was spotted amongst the scrub and cuttings left by the forestry work and we made our way up the path on Tire Bank. The contractors had put a new road in over the top of where the path used to go. This was earth and ungraded and it soon turned to mud, making progress difficult until we reached the switchback junction with the Cleveland Way at 454986. Just before this we came across a Coast to Coast Waymarker pointing downhill and turning left….soit looks as though the C2C has been rerouted towards Park House using the graded forestry track via 452988. You win some, you lose some.
We made our way up the escarpment on the Cleveland Way to the top of Beacon Hill, and looked back to the Yorkshire Dales. Most of the height gained was then lost before we entered Clain Wood. At 479006 there are some seats and a fabulous viewpoint so we had our coffee break, rather late though – it was 12.45pm. Our plan was to have lunch at The Lord Stones Cafe when we came off Carlton Bank but that was a two hour walk from our coffee stop.
The week previous had been windy and we came across this oak tree branch (picture right) blocking the path. I subsequently reported it to the National Park Authority who are generally very good at removing obstructions to footpaths. I wish the same could be said of North Yorkshire County Council – one of the worst in the country for resolving problems on public rights of way according to the Ramblers. I know from personal experience this is correct.
We were soon atop Carlton Moor, the sheds of the Gliding Club there looking in a sorry state compared to years previously. I am unsure if the club is still in existence, but the old buildings remain.
At 2.45pm we rolled into the Lord Stones Cafe at 524030. Hot and cold food is available but the proprietor is never that cheerful. Still, he provides a service, albeit grudgingly. Maybe we caught him on a bad day. We now had the final leg across to Clay Bank where Martyn was waiting to meet us and where my car had been parked all day in the free car park. Judy and Margaret opted for the easier alternative by skirting Cringle Moor and following the well used path below Kirby Bank, saving a least 500 feet of ascent. For Geoff it was his first time over the Wain Stones, not to be missed, and for me it was activating amateur radio for the Summits On The Air Award from Cringle Moor – the second highest point on the North York Moors at 1424ft above sea level. Seven contacts on VHF were completed in 20 minutes, mostly with stations in the Newcastle area. Enjoying ham radio in the outdoors is a superb combination of two great hobbies.
Geoff at the Wain Stones
There are three considerable ascents and descents on the stretch from Lord Stones to Clay Bank. The final climb up to the top of Hasty Bank passes through the Wain Stones. I’ve walked all over the Cleveland Hills and I still think that the view from the top of Hasty Bank across to Roseberry Topping and Captain Cook’s Monument is the best in the whole area. As we reached this spot we were surprised to meet our trusty Sherpa Martyn, who had donned his boots and had climbed the 500 feet up to the top of the Bank from the car park to meet us – impressive. Our day finished at 5.20pm on the car park and we made our way back to Kirkbymoorside for fish and chips in true Wainwright style, before returning home. The dates were set for the final three days needed to complete the Coast to Coast, in three weeks time, when we would return to Clay Bank.
Day 13: 9th October 2010 11.9m 1313ft ascent
Clay Bank to Danby High Moor
Operating for SOTA on Round Hill TW-001
The four of us resumed the C2C at 9.30am on October 9th on a fine but misty day. It took around 45 minutes to ascend Carr Ridge to reach the highest point of the North York Moors at Round Hill. This is a “Marilyn” summit at 1490 ft and so qualifies for Summits On The Air. I operated on VHF for around 20 minutes and made 12 contacts as far away as Derbyshire, Lancashire and Northumberland from this high point. We stayed with the Cleveland Way up to Bloworth Crossing. Today’s route was very straightforward on well establish footpaths, tracks and country roads. At Bloworth the Cleveland Way goes north towards Guisborough and we continued on the old trackbed of the Rosedale Railway to The Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge, a popular watering hole. We were making excellent progress averaging 3 mph on the level track, but took time out to enjoy our lunch above Farndale whilst enjoying magnificent views as the the mist had now lifted.
The Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge
We reached The Lion Inn by 1.15pm and decided to call in for tea and cake. Although The Lion serves hearty pub food, and despite being right on the C2C route, they don’t do cake. Also the tea and coffee they served us was the worst we had on the whole C2C. Long-life milk in plastic capsules and tea bags from a catering pack are quite unpleasant and we would not have tea there again! It didn’t put us off returning there the next day however for our evening meal and when you read the Day 14 blog you will find out why. After leaving The Lion there is no option but to take a road walk for one mile but the verge is wide on the unfenced road which carries a significant amount of traffic from Ryedale up to Teesside. Before Rosedale Head is reached a path cuts off the corner before you rejoin the Rosedale road for another mile.
Geoff, Judy, Phil & Margaret with Fat Betty
Downe Arms at Castleton
Where this path rejoins the Rosedale Road lies “Fat Betty” one of the best known crosses of the North York Moors. Here we left a coin – other walkers had left several wrapped boiled sweets. It is a tradition to leave something on the stone for others to take away. We had arranged a rendezvous with Martyn at GR 700019 on Danby High Moor, which was reached just before 3.00pm. We all felt that it had been an easy walk and could have continued on to Glaisdale however, we had booked two nights accommodation five miles to the north at The Downe Arms in Castleton. Although the accommodation was of a good standard the pub was noisy after 10.00pm and the food was well below par. Judy, Margaret and Geoff all ordered sirloin steaks and Margaret was the first to notice that the meat was “off”. With two days walking left to Robin Hood’s Bay this was bad news. The steaks were sent back and new steaks were brought out but for Judy this was too late, more on this later. Needless to say the next night’s meal was taken elsewhere!
Once again in contrast to when we set out in the Lake District in May it was apparent now that autumn was upon us. Another misty start to the day prevented us from experiencing the excellent views down into Fryupdale from the moorland footpath crossing Glaisdale Moor which we were on. The route today was extremely varied consisting off moorland paths, byways, country lanes, woodland and field paths alongside North Yorkshire’s finest salmon river, the Esk. We also passed through the villages of Glaisdale, Egton Bridge and Grosmont.
Geoff on the platform at Glaisdale Railway Station
After a short road section we followed the Glaisdale Rigg byway down into the village. This unsurfaced track is passable to 4X4 vehicles and is over two miles long. The track ends in the sizeable strip village of Glaisdale itself. Glaisdale even has a railway station (with toilets) and this is where we had our packed lunch. We left the village to enter East Arncliff Wood and once again we were following a long distance path. This time it was the 35 mile Esk Valley Walk which starts at Esklets near to Blakey Ridge and runs to Whitby. A country lane brought us to Egton Bridge where we crossed the Esk to turn right along the Egton Manor former toll road where it once cost one shilling for a tractor or car to pass through or only sixpence if you were driving a hearse!
North York Moors Railway
We were soon in Grosmont – a magnet for tourists on account of the North York Moors Railway which has a terminus and railway maintenance shed here. We met up with our trusty Sherpa Martyn here and fortified ourselves with tea and cake at a tearoom on the right before the railway station. We needed it for sure before tackling the 1 in 3 incline on the public road up to our finish point of Sleights Moor. The advantage of having a driver meant that we were able to finish each day’s walk exactly where we wanted to, so as to spread the load evenly on these final days when the C2C route is never far from a public road.
We returned to The Downe Arms at Castleton and by this time Judy was not feeling well. Her stomach was upset and we put it down to the bad steak which she’d been served the previous day at the pub. That evening we returned to The Lion Inn at Blakey for our meal, but in Judy’s case she couldn’t eat. The next day our final walk to Robin Hood’s Bay was postponed. We were however glad that Geoff and Margaret were able to continue on and complete the 190 mile route. Fortunately for us we only live fifteen miles from the drop off point at Sleights Moor. Martyn took us back home to Pickering and we returned the following week to follow in Geoff and Margaret’s footsteps.
Day 15: 11th/21st October 2010 13.5m / 1644ft ascent
Sleights Moor to Robin Hoods Bay
Standing Stones on Sleights Moor
It was ten days after Margaret and Geoff finished their walk and deposited their stones into the North Sea that we were able to complete our Coast to Coast.
The day was fine as we crossed the A169 where we had a fine view of Whitby. We were accompanied by our terrier Treacle on this final day. There were two Coast to Coasters ahead of us and they were the only others we saw all day. With the Packhorse service finishing on 30th September the number of walkers were now depleted. The Sherpa Van baggage and transport service had also finished on 11th October. It was left to the diehards who could arrange transport to continue.
We were fortunate in that Margaret offered to drop us off and meet us in Robin Hood’s Bay at the end of the day. We had come across some peculiar place names on our trek across England and now we found ourselves in Ugglebarnby Parish as we made out way down a green lane into Littlebeck.
Margaret at Falling Foss
We left the lane in the village once May Beck was crossed and entered woodland which was to take us to Falling Foss waterfall and the nearby Tea Garden. Before this we passed a man-made cave carved out of solid rock and marked on the OS map as the Hermitage (pictured right). This folly was carved out in 1760 by an out of work seaman on the instructions of the local schoolmaster. The woods here formed a pleasure park at one time and harbour the remains of an open air concrete swimming pool and a small boating lake. It seems a local man conceived this idea before the second world war and it never really worked out. We never found the pool or lake but it is believed they remain full of silt, frogs and newts.
One popular natural attraction though which the C2C passes (providing you take the upper more eastern path through the woods) is Falling Foss waterfall where Margaret is pictured (right). We visited the nearby Tea Garden here and we highly recommend it. The opening times fit in well will people doing the Coast to Coast. They open on April 1st and close on October 31st. The prices are very reasonable and the tea and home made cakes are excellent (unlike the offering we had at The Lion Inn at Blakey on Day 13). We climbed up from May Beck on to Sneaton Low Moor. Just before we reached the busy B1416 Ruswarp road the moor became quite boggy. A short walk alongside the B1416 brought us to the path which runs over the Graystone Hills. We needed to detour on the moor at 919050 by a few hundred metres when we came across the boggiest section we had encountered on the whole C2C. We just followed the tracks of everyone else who had done the same. A nice spot to have lunch was at 919059 in a sheltered field corner by a gate. When I conferred later with Geoff who had completed the route the previous week I found out that he and Margaret also had lunch in the same location!
Judy reaches Bay Ness near RHB
We were soon passing through the neat village of High Hawsker, a credit to its residents. We then crossed the former Scarborough Whitby railway line, now well used as a bridleway, before passing through a caravan site to join the Cleveland Way again on the cliffs above Maw Wyke Hole. We remembered the five mile walk north from St. Bees before we turned inland. Wainwright did it again – but this time we headed south for over three miles to Robin Hood’s Bay. The Coast to Coast needs some coastal walking and AW made sure we got a taste of it at both ends. As we entered Robin Hood’s Bay we spotted Margaret’s Land Rover in the car park and ventured down hill to our intended destination – the North Sea. We found Margaret near the quayside. The tide was in, right up the slipway, and we ended up with wet feet and legs when a large wave came in unexpectedly and gave us a soaking, much to the amusement of passers by .
It was time for tea before we made our way home. We found the Bakery Cafe which was located in a snicket half way up the hill. The cafe was like something out of the TV series Heartbeat, but it was busy and the cakes and tea were superb.
We ventured back to the quayside to collect our certificate and pay for the engraved wooden plaque which is on back order from Cromwells of Robin Hoods Bay a small cottage industry run by Keith and his partner. Keith took time out to chat to us about how the business had come about and we found this very interesting.
Walkers on the Wainwright Society website have queried for some time how long is the Coast to Coast Walk? There is no correct answer to this question as AW gave alternatives to the route when he conceived it. All I can say is that we measured our route using GPS. The route we took over Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag was used as a preference to Easdale. The addition of Seat Sandal, Fairfield, St Sunday Crag and Birks was used as a preference to Grisedale to get to Patterdale. The ascent of Angletarn Pikes, The Knott, Rest Dodd and Rampsgill Head were also added as slight detours from the main track. The decision to use the slightly longer route suggested by Terry Marsh in the Cicerone Coast to Coast book across the Vale of Mowbray reduced the amount of road work but increased the mileage slightly. In my opinion the distance lies between 186 and 194 miles depending on which way you go.
I produced this C2C Route Card after the walk as a spreadsheet. The distances and ascents are based on actual GPS readings downloaded to Memory Map. Our Coast to Coast walk was actually 190.13 miles long and we climbed 31229 feet.
I hope you have enjoyed following our endeavours on this blog.
Hand finished plaque by Cromwell’s of Robin Hoods Bay