Saturday, 3 January 2009
Monday, 10 November 2008
Wednesday 17 September 2008
(Walking Distance: 18.5 miles)
Dad’s Army had left early after a buffet breakfast. I didn’t see them again. I, however, enjoyed the best breakfast of the walk: a Whitby kipper.
Peter, whom I’d met in the pub last night, was going to have a leisurely day. After walking from St Bees he was content to finish 15 or 16 miles from Robin Hood’s Bay to take a ride on a stream train operated along the North York Moors Railway, before catching another, conventional, train home.
It must have been raining overnight, the path through Arncliffe Wood was sodden and muddy underfoot; the morning was cool and misty. The woods, as always, were beautiful.
I met a couple of American ladies walking along the old toll road beyond Egton Bridge. They were having a slow walk to Littlebeck and they too were contemplating a ride on the steam railway. They’d thoroughly enjoyed the trail after getting over the shock of the Lake District: they’d found the mountains tough and intimidating.
I’d been surprised how many walkers, foreign and domestic, had apparently done insufficient research and underestimated the demands of the C2C, particularly those of the first few days (I wonder what happened to the Israeli lads…).
When I got to Grosmont I felt I should make some minor concession to the railway mania: I had tea and a scone in the railway café. The 'Sherwood Forrester' was steaming up as I supped my brew. Peter clamber aboard; the ladies dithered over buying tickets and missed the proverbial bus.
The walk up the lane from Grosmont onto Sleights Moor is one last shock to the system: 1:3 in parts and more than a mile long. I was happy to note that I only needed a couple of short “photo stops” before cresting the ridge: much better than my last attempt.
I paused for a break besides the stream at Littlebeck and considered my options. The walk along May Beck is scenic and rewarding. It is one I’ve done several times, not least on my last C2C trip. The path, however, is muddy and veers wildly from the obvious, direct route to the coast. An alternative route to the B1416 and Graystone Hills is available along a single track lane. This option saves 1.5 miles and a lot of mud paddling and bog trotting.
Sad to say, I took the lane.
I met Devon Brian as he emerged on to the road from Sneaton Low Moor. I walked with him across the last moor of the walk, Greystone Hills. The final acres of heather and bog are just as wet and cloying as any met thus far, and the route finding more difficult than most. The Honeymooners breezed past as we came off the moor, the exertions of the trip having taken no discernible toll…
We stopped for a final break on the bench at High Hawsker. Brian walked on ahead after donating much of his packed lunch: he has an eating disorder which, fortunately for me, restricts his diet. I was about to follow when the Aussies and the Manchester Ladies crossed the road.
And so we walked together to the cliff. It was fitting that I should finish the walk with the best of the companions met along the way.
One final surprise: Jo’s husband appeared from the direction of Robin Hood’s Bay fully equipped with champagne and glasses. The Nantwich couple caught up just in time to polish off the dregs.
The last mile of the walk and the subsequent celebration was, as is always the case at the end of a long walk, something of an anti-climax. Still, the half hour session outside the Bay Hotel was entertaining: the Whitby Duo and the Honeymooners were already there. Most were staying overnight.
I said my awkward goodbyes, walked back up the hill and met my lift for home. It had been a good walk.
I walked alone all day, meeting occasional walkers including a couple of solo hikers heading west to St Bees.
Friday, 7 November 2008
I’d glimpsed some sort of large raptor on the col beneath the Wainstones. My first thoughts were that it might have been a Red Kite, although I’ve not read of them being in this area: it was more probably a buzzard.
Thursday, 9 October 2008
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
(Walking Distance: 15 miles)
Breakfast was scheduled for 08:30hrs. I was in the dinning room ten minutes early to get a head start. The meal was fine but unexceptional. No other walkers were staying.
I was scheduled to walk to St Giles Farm, near Catterick Bridge today. The extra miles, added to the otherwise short day to Richmond, would reduce the near marathon crossing of the Vale of Mowbray the following day to a much more manageable 19 miles.
It had been raining steadily since yesterday tea time; it was still raining at 09:15hrs when I left the pub kitted out in full wet weather gear. Keen to keep dry feet I stayed on tarmac as far as Marrick Priory. I spotted Gavin and Kathy, braver or more reckless than me, on the riverside path: we didn’t meet up again.
A couple of women walkers, Jo and Sarah from Manchester, caught me up at Marrick after the steep climb up the Nun’s Steps. I was dumping my waterproofs in response to the improving day. The Manchester Ladies were aiming for an eleven day crossing, having walked from Kirkby Stephen to Reeth the previous day (and having walked between Borrowdale and Patterdale in one hop ). Like everyone else but me they were heading for Richmond and a lazy afternoon. We walked together for much of the way to the Applegarth farms.
The two American couples were in Marske emerging into daylight from the innards of the church: they were hunting for a tea room promised in their guide (I could have triggered a scone obsession yesterday). They seemed to be enjoying the walk although the elder male was suffering with a strained, painful knee. It was the last time I saw them: they were taking two days to cross from Richmond to Ingleby Cross.
The Geezers were in an enclosure not too far from the path climbing walls and gates to regain the route. They were meeting up with family in Richmond for a couple of rest days. Richmond is another of those places where schedules diverge and familiar faces disappear.
I was in Richmond by 13:15hrs: it was bustling. The little town felt almost metropolitan after the seclusion of the past nine days. I needed nothing so was happy to walk on through.
The path through the woods - next to the Swale, beyond the malodorous sewage works - is as wet and muddy as any on the entire route. The way hovers in entertaining fashion high above the river, before leaving the trees on a high buff on the approach to an abandoned farmstead. I paused for a break, sitting on one of several large masonry blocks marking the otherwise scant remains of Hagg Farm.
It was a tranquil spot - until three youths turned up on scrambler bikes. Round in circles they went, mounting the foundations of the ruin, doing occasional wheelies and causing general mayhem. I went into grumpy old man mode, muttering and grumbling under my breath and spreading my possessions to limit their range. I savoured the moment when the engine of one of the bikes grounded on concrete with a satisfying crunch.
I was just a little humbled when, without irony, one of the lads apologised for disturbing my peace before they all rode off and serenity returned.
Just before St Giles Farm I chatted to a couple walking to St Bees: I warned them about the dusty, parched paths ahead - apparently it had been dry on the North York Moors too...
I got to the farm for 15:30hrs and was welcomed with tea, a chat and cake, before being shown to my large, comfy room. A couple of blokes arrived later, followed by two couples walking with dogs. All had set out from Reeth that morning.
Supper was a satisfying, enjoyable affair. The two blokes were Mersey River Pilots walking the route in two and three day chunks as shift patterns and domestic considerations allowed: they made good and interesting company. The dog walkers went to the pub.
After messing up a Sudoko I was asleep by eleven.
St. Giles Farm
St Giles shares the “best B&B award” with a couple of other stops. It offers excellent accommodation, terrific food and has welcoming, interesting hosts. It is ideally situated to break the two stages between Reeth and Ingleby Cross into more equal bits.
The Buck was fine, if somewhat pricey – the most expensive of the trip. The room was comfortable but tired.