WALK PREPARATION - TRAVEL TO UK
195 miles over mountain and moor, field and stream, plus another 15 miles down the coast, that's where I'm going. All my accommodations and UK trains are booked and I'm leaving on a BA jet plane, ready for the two week challenge.
I'm taking two guide books, H. Stedman's Coast To Coast Path and Alfred Wainwright's A Coast To Coast Walk. Stedman is easy to use with good text and easy to follow maps but lacks map detail. Wainwright is the C2C bible with extremely detailed hand drawn maps and good background information. I also have the Footprint strip maps (love'em) and some selected get-a-maps from OS online. If all else fails, I have a compass.
Coast To Coast Map
Several days before leaving, I drove over to Point Reyes National Seashore on the California coast and walked two 14 mile days with a full pack (14 pounds) staying overnight at the hostel. The area is amazingly like walking in England, both coast walking and challenging ascents/descents in the coastal hills. This was my final conditioning for my trek across England and a critical workout for my new Lowa boots to pinpoint likely hot spots on my feet during long distance walks. On the second day, I found a couple on my toes that I will keep covered with plasters during the walk.
The Pacific coast at Point Reyes National Seashore
Previously, I have walked the C2C path in two sections, the western part St Bees (actually, Cleator) to Richmond in 2004 and the eastern part to Robin Hoods Bay in 2006. To walk the complete path from the Irish Sea to the North Sea in one go, through the Lake District, Swaledale and the Yorkshire Moors is something I've been wanting to do ever since 2006. Also I will have the opportunity to take optional paths off the traditional route like some of the high route alternatives if weather is obliging. You never know about the weather, anything can happen.
I will be commenting on my 2004 walk and especially, on my 2006 walk which was never written up. There will be discussion of a diversion to Rosedale in 2006 and two days from Staithes to Robin Hoods Bay. Particularly, I'll tell about my accident along the coast in 2006 which landed me in the emergency room at Scarborough hospital. All good stuff!
DAY OF ARRIVAL
My train connections to St Bees are tight, so I was glad to find out that the new Heathrow Terminal 5 used by British Airways has a short check through time. I arrived before 11 am, breezed through customs and was on the tube to London's Euston Station in 30 minutes, best I've ever done. My train left at 13:30 so I had an extra hour to buy an orange, pick up my "fast ticket" from the kiosk and £200 from the cash machine. It's Tuesday, 5th of May. My return flight is on May 20.
The train had a 40 minute stoppage (another train broke down) so I almost missed my first night at St. Bees, my starting point on the Irish Sea. I arrived at Carlisle with only 8 minutes to catch the last local of the day to St Bees, just enough time to grab a cappuccino from the platform coffee cart. As I roll down the coast, the weather is getting quite rainy with more to come. Doesn't look good for tomorrow, darn it.
Nice little room at Stonehouse Farm with shower. Carol asked what I would have done If I missed the train. I didn't have an answer. Over to the Queens Hotel for Haddock w/salad and a pint of Jennings Bitters. It's quiet but I talked with another American, Robert, who is camping on the C2C and has his tent set up in the side yard of Stonehouse.
DAY 1 ... ST BEES TO ENNERDALE BRIDGE ... 14 MILES
My itinerary; started the C2C May 6 in St Bees on the Irish Sea, finished 18 May in Robin Hoods Bay on the North Sea, 195 miles in 13 days. I'll be adding another 15 miles down the coast to Scarborough to catch the train to York. This morning I'm well rested and raring to go. After a very nice English breakfast with four eating mates, I was off by 8:45. Robert was gone by the time I finished breakfast and I didn't see him again. At the beach carpark, I saw a group of 8 leaving a van and hoisting their backpacks. I'll glimpse them every day until we reach RHB and the Bay Hotel where we hoisted some pints.
Statue of St. Bega
Overlooking Start of C2C
Up Onto St. Bees Head
From St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge was sloshy, muddy and rainy. Light clouds hovered along the clifftops as I pass a couple struggling up onto St. Bees Head, a rocky cliff with soaring seagulls, crashing waves below. At Fleswick Bay, I followed the ravine to the beach with high red rock cliffs. Wonderful pebbles here, I selected one to carry across England and throw into the North Sea, an old tradition. Passing the lighthouse, everyone else is behind me except for a fresh set of boot prints. Could it be Robert who had left by 8 am?
Birds Below St. Bees Head
Fleswick Bay Where Wonderful Pebbles Are Found
Cliffside Path Near The Lighthouse
Away from the coast, I pass under RR tracks and into bog/water heaven, primed from yesterdays rain. Map is vague here, can this really be the right way? The van group catch up and I follow across the water logged field. They have a good navigator. At Cleator, they stop for lunch and I pass them for good. I'm in familiar territory now. In 2004, I walked from Cleator to Richmond, about 2/3 of the C2C, skipping St. Bees by bussing to Cleator from Whitehaven just up the coast.
Climbing up Dent Hill I pass a couple putting on their waterproofs. It's getting very windy and rainy and they are having a hard time. My Marmot jacket is keeping me snug and dry. The cairn at the top of Dent has been built into a wind shelter since I was here last. It's so foggy I can hardly see the way. If clear, there would be a wonderful view. Down, down, down to Nannycatch, one of the most invitingly beautiful, isolated dales in England but its hard to tell on this rainy day. There is a stone circle around here, but I couldn't find it. Not much further to Ennerdale Bridge.
Nannycatch Beck - A Little Bit of Heaven
Cloggers B&B is a cozy and friendly place but bare bones, shared bath, no TV, no cookies with tea/coffee. Also no cell phone reception. Tom suggested the old oak tree across from Shepherds Arms was the best place to catch a signal, but I had no luck. My wife will just have to wait another day. Had a very good pint of Speckled Hen ale at the pub, but the food was as mediocre as it was 5 years ago. I had a beef stroganoff but should have tried the spinach Wensleydale tart just for fun.
Oh my god, I just found the room key from Stonehouse Farm. What to do? Luckily, Tom said he will give it to the postman who stops at St. Bees. It will get back by tomorrow. Whew, I hate it when this happens; last time was 12 years ago in Ireland.
Shepherds Arms in Ennerdale Bridge
DAY 2 .. ENNERDALE BRIDGE TO STONETHWAITE .. 14 MILES
I’ve started my foot care regimen, two plasters on each foot (toes) on possible problem spots along with double socks. My new Lowa boots feel great, plenty of room, but I have some Compeed for possible blisters. Medically, I am taking at least two ibupropen per day, morning and evening. Walking poles are taking stress off my knees, ankles and feet. I've found them essential to help this 71 year old body along.
For breakfast, a nice porriage, poached eggs and sausage. Two Manchester ladies are here also, husbands don't walk. It's a fairly nice day and I'm off by 8:45 again. I'm passing walkers on the lakeside path, beautiful scenery, tumultuous streams feeding the lake, large boulders and exuberant flora. Visions of Puck's kingdom in Mid-Summers Night Dream! I pass across the head of Ennerdale Water and follow a track above the River Liza leading to Black Sail hut. This is the most isolated youth hostel in England.
Ennerdale Water Looking East
Lakeside Path Looking West
River Liza near Black Sail
Black Sail Hut - Pure Isolation
Winds have picked up quite a bit. I was hoping to take the path up to Scarth Gap and Haystacks, those delightful crags, but met two fellows coming down off the top who dissuaded me. They said the wind was so strong it blew them over several times so I said no thanks. Instead, I spent a half hour at Black Sail drinking tea (as I did 5 years ago), then climbed up Loft Beck. It was steep, rocky and windy here as well but didn't blow me over..
Near the top, I found a Canon camera on the trail and soon came to three walkers sitting on rocks gazing at the magnificent view of Buttermere Water and surrounding mountains. Turns out the camera belonged to Peter. He wasn't even aware he had dropped it. It had photos from all the way back to Christmas so he was very thankful to have it back. We all walked together to Stonethwaite. They were staying at the Langstrath Hotel, a couple of doors from my B&B, Stonethwaite Farm. We agreed to have dinner together, Peter picking up my tab in appreciation.
Path Up Loft Beck
Buttermere Water Looking West
Walking over to the Langstrath, I was struck by what a beautiful isolated village this is with stone houses and narrow lanes. Meeting the threesome in the bar, I had a very nice Cock Mouth ale, then into the dining room for a wonderful sea bass with spinach and potatoes. Five years ago, I couldn't get dinner because the dining room was full but had a great artichoke soup in the bar. Tonight we had a table because my friends were staying here. They are all recently retired, Peter and Linda from a leasing business, Larry was a lawyer. Larry is struggling on the slopes, working hard to get into shape while Peter and Linda are quite fit. They all had lamb shank then started ordering wine, then another. I drank more than I should have. Bad influences, you know.
Stonethwaite Main Street In The Rain
DAY 3 ... STONETHWAITE TO GRASMERE ... 10 MILES
Overnight, wind and rain pounded my B&B but was calmer by morning. At breakfast, two more walkers said they were blown over twice on Haystacks. Glad I didn’t try it, but I was wondering how many walkers went up there. A light rain was falling so I put my Duckback cover on my pack. Going up to Greenup Edge I passed two older couples having a little problem fording the fast rushing streams. Then its a steeply ascending rocky path with water everywhere. Its raining steady with increasing winds as I top Greenup Edge, a high ridge with a sharp dropoff ringing the whole area.
Approaching Greenup Edge
I caught up with the couple I saw on Dent Hill two days ago. Low visibility, we missed the turn down the valley and continued onto Wynburn ridge. After realizing our error, we cut across the slopes against ferocious winds, splashing through the bogs to pick up the correct path. They stopped for lunch under a rock as I continued on. The path was now a stream with water converging on it, waterfalls everywhere, intermittant rain and sleet. Paths diverge at two iron fenceposts, the high route cut left up to Calf Crag and followed the ridge to Helm Crag, the other down Far Easdale valley. The two fellows from breakfast are here contemplating the high route and decide to go for it. I think of those high winds and decide to forgo it and go down the Far Easdale path, later regretting my decision. What a wuss I am!
Top of Far Easdale
View of Lower Far Easdale
Descending the valley, I must be crossing a hundred streams, but the weather slowly calms as I drop down into the lower valley. I dropped my pack at Thorney How hostel and walked into Grasmere, a bit of civilized heaven in the mountains. I bought a phone card at the P.O. for local and long distance calls and then used my cell phone to call wife Cathryn. I got a signal, it works! She was relieved to hear from me. I ran into Peter, Linda and Larry, will see them again at the White Lion in Patterdale tomorrow. Also saw the two ladies from Cloggers B&B. At the Co-Op, I got moussaka for tonight's dinner at the hostel, cookies, and an apple for lunch tomorrow. The van group is at the hostel, also a huge group of college kids from Brigham Young University (Utah) on an English literature and writing outing, having a great time. For me, dinner and early to bed. I'm feeling good. no pain, no worries.
Thorney How Hostel in Grasmere
Lovely View from my Bedroom Window
DAY 4 ... GRASMERE TO PATTERDALE ... 10 MILES
Thorney How served the best breakfast I have ever had in a hostel, as good as the better B&Bs. It was a buffet, yoghurt, cereal, fruit, croissants, eggs, bacon and sausage, all good quality stuff. I left again at 8:45. The day looks promising, but soon becomes windy and rainy again as I approach the looming mountains.
Leaving Grasmere - Grisdale Pass in the Distance
There is a choice of parallel paths to the pass and Grisdale Tarn. Five years ago, I took Little Tongue Gill on the left side of the stream so this time I chose Tongue Gill on the right side. It was a nice climb up to the pass and around the edge of the tarn, again as yesterday, passing waterfalls and streams across the path. I saw two walkers, one passing me going down, the other highlighted across the way. Looking back, I could see Grasmere down the valley and Helm Crag to the west.
After reaching the pass, the winds were extremely fierce as I took shelter behind a cairn. I see the Dollywagon Pike path snaking up another 1000 feet towards Helvellyn, beckoning to me even though shrouded in clouds. But it was not to be for me today. Again, the high winds dissuaded me from my objective, a traverse of Striding Edge, possibly the finest high ridge walk in England. This was a huge disappointment but that was not a place to be in these conditions. On my last walk through here there were no winds, but clouds completely socked in the ridges on both sides of the pass so I bypassed the high route then as well. As I left the security of the cairn shelter and started down the valley, I had to keep my walking poles braced in front of me to keep from being blown all the way to Patterdale as sleet beat down on my hood. My God, this is fun! As I reached lower elevations, all was calm again, even some blue sky poked through, but there was still sporadic rain.
Upper Tongue Gill - Approaching Grisdale Pass
Ruthwaite Lodge, Descending Grisdale Valley
Bridge over Grisdale Beck Near Patterdale
By 1:30, I entered in the White Lion Inn dripping water everywhere, but they are used to soaking wet walkers. I relax at a table with a Cumberland Ale and write in my journal. I stayed here five years ago and experienced a fabulous evening with the local hunting club. They had just come in from a hunt, the last before the ban on fox hunting went into effect, and were singing all night. I told the barman about it and he said he was on duty behind the bar that night and remembered it well. I asked what happened to the club; he said they still go out under the pretext of keeping the dogs exercised.
White Lion Inn In The Rain
At 3 pm, I walked the mile down to Greenbank Farm B&B, a traditional house with beam ceilings and coal fireplaces. Two walkers told me their companion was blown off the slope at Far Easdale, broke his ankle, tore a ligament, was rescued by helicopter and taken to Whitehaven Hospital. One of the rescuers was also blown off, broke her ankle and also had to be airlifted off. They are on a cell phone trying to arrange for his luggage and boot to be taken to the hospital.
Back to the White Lion for dinner, I sit with Barbara and Jill (the two ladies from Cloggers), a solo walker Mike from Cardiff, about my age, and Tessie from Canada. I'm drinking a special Wainwright Ale and order a Lamb Henry for dinner (my favorite pub meal). Peter's group come in with relatives who have driven in to cheer them on. They take a big table nearby and I meet sons, daughter and spouses and we all tease Peter about his lost camera. The pub is crowded on this Saturday night and we are all having a good time but I miss the hunting club songs. At 9 pm, as I walk back to the B&B, dusk is falling. When I reach Greenbank Farm, stars are out brightly and I'm ready for bed.
DAY 5 ... PATTERDALE TO SHAP ... 16 MILES
Patterdale in the Morning
Breakfast is nice, porridge and poached eggs w/sausage. I'm off by 8:30 but it's 15 min to the bridge where the C2C leaves Patterdale so its my usual depart time of 8:45. As I pass the youth hostel, I see Tessie, she is laying off a day and going to look for medicine for sore feet and legs. Weather is calmer, beautiful sky with white cumulus. Its a long steep climb into the hills as I pass several familiar walkers on the way to Angle Tarn.
Friends Above Angle Tarn
I catch up with Jill, Barbara and Mike at Angle Tarn and we walk together until Kidsty Pike which is where High Street, the old Roman road, comes up from the south and continues north. Here, the C2C path drops off the pike down to Haweswater. Two years ago, Barbara broke her leg on the steep decline off Kidsty Pike (had to be airlifted off) and is very concerned about having another accident. We stop for a drink and a bite, then I leave my fellow walkers and head north on High Street, a little used alternative to walking along Haweswater. In 2004, I took the steep traditional path off Kidsty Pike and along the shore of Haweswater, but today I'm looking forward to this high ridge option.
High Street - the Roman Road - Looking Southeast
Kidsty Pike - Looking East
High Street - Looking North
The Lake District to the West from High Raise
High Street is a glorious ridge walk with fantastic views to the west. This is what I had in mind when I decided on this route, I feel like I'm on top of the world all alone. I can scan the whole Lake District from here, the Helvellyn range and more. Dark rain clouds were passing both east and west of me and I see two rescue helicopters flying west into the mountains. More trouble? I cross High Raise and Red Cray to around the back of Wether Hill and High Kop before descending across Bampton Commons. I miss the path to Measand Beck, which empties into Haweswater, but discover my mistake and cut down the slopes to meet the C2C at Burnbanks at the head of Haweswater. I meet two walkers as I turn onto the C2C path, but they decide to go a longer way along a road.
View of Haweswater Looking South
Out of the Lake District And Into Fields & Farms
Suddenly, I am out of the Lake District crossing flat fields and farms and the ruins of Shap Abbey. I arrive at Brookfield House in Shap at 5:20 to huge pots of tea, platters of fresh, hot scones, muffins, and flapjacks. Enough! Enough! Thankfully, two other couples are there to help scarf up the goodies. What a great B&B and Margaret is a fantastic hostess, even does my washing. Mike is also staying here, arrived an hour after me. Jill and Barbara are staying at a pub down the road.
Mike and I walk over to the Greyhound for dinner. Peter's trio and his support family is there, four others from our B&B, and the van supported group (three have dropped out). I find that walkers are dropping like flies but I’m having a great time. Really I am! Oh, I had a Ceasar salad with chicken and an Ennerdale Copper Ale with a strange metallic taste, apparently trying to live up to its name.
DAY 6 ... SHAP TO KIRBY STEPHEN ... 21 MILES
I managed an early breakfast at 7:30 to get a jump on the day. Margaret fixes me porridge, omelet and sausage. Oh wow, and a sawtoothed cut melon with strawberries, pineapple and kiwi inside, grapes too. As she sends me off, says she feels like she has known me all her life. Bet she says that to all the old geezers. Didn't even want to charge for washing my clothes. What a lovely gal! She fondly remembered Lonewalker (host of the walkingplaces.co.uk website) from a week or so before, who stayed here on his C2C walk and fixed a problem with her computer. Like dropping flowers along the way!
Footbridge Over the A6 Motorway
My longest day, 21 miles to Kirby Stephens, but not difficult and it's nice weather. Many of my fellow walkers are stopping in Orton today, but I meet some new ones going the distance to Kirby Stephens. On my 2004 walk, the long 21 miles scared me so I took the bus to Orton saving 8 miles on the day. This time I have a better feel for my capabilities and more confidence in the route. While taking the shortcut over to the M6 footbridge, my maps fell out of my pocket as I lurched over a stone wall stile, so I had to backtrack to retrieve them. It was fun crossing the footbridge with all the traffic passing below. Not much interest on the path until near Orton when I crossed over a limestone plateau with wonderful weather worn shapes. Reminds me of Malham Cove on the Pennine Way. I could spend the day musing over these infinitely strange stone patterns. I love them.
More of the Limestone Plateau
Errant Glacial Boulder from Long Ago
Crossing farms above Orton, the distant Pennines to the east are a beautiful sight with clouds gracing the sky. I pass Sunbiggin Tarn and meet up with Bill and Katie from Devon. I saw them briefly at Burnbanks yesterday at the head of Haweswater. We walked a bit together, then they pushed ahead until I caught up at Smardale Bridge as they stopped for a snack. Walking together to Kirby Stephen, we met a 60 year old lady with two hip replacements, an American couple from Colorado and two walkers from the van group.
What a Life!!
Sunbiggin Tarn - A Bird Sanctuary
A Slow Walk Under A Fast Train
By 4:30, I arrived at Old Croft House and Chrys greets me like an old friend (I was here 5 yrs ago) with tea and hot buttered scones with jam. Yummm! She put me in my old room, I got cleaned up and went out shopping; two apples, peanuts and two spare camera batteries. Now for dinner. Of the three nearby pubs, one has food but no decent real ale, another has a good selection of real ales but no food, the third has food and Black Sheep. Yes, I’ll take it and sat with Bill and Katie for dinner; they were staying at nearby Fletcher House. A bland vegetable pasta dish tasted fine after a liberal dousing with tabasco.
Back at the B&B, I went into the lounge/dining room and met other guests having dinner. Colin is the host/chef and is a great cook; I should definitely eat here if I come again Three groups; the American couple, Roger and Susan, three English tourists and an English walking couple I met earlier as I was going out, Henry and Jane. Henry made a joke about something, saying I would have to be a NASA scientist to be able to understand it. I told him I used to be one (it's true). Everyone erupted with laughter, especially Henry and Jane. That brought on a lot more questions and conversation about our backgrounds. They have recently retired from education. It seems that almost everyone I meet has been retired for a year. Now they have time for long distance walks and loving it.
DAY 7... KIRBY STEPHEN TO MUKER ... 16 MILES
Breakfast at 8, me, Roger and Susan, Henry and Jane. Susan is fairly sociable, but Roger doesn't say much. I wonder if he is enjoying himself or that is simply his character. Off by 8:45. Chrys and Colin were very effusive about my being there again and saw me off with many well wishes.
Leaving Kirby Stephen on Frank's Bridge
I left town by way of Frank's Bridge where you have to pay a toll of £2 per person (just kidding), through the little village of Hartley and by lane up past the quarry. I see Katie and Bill on a nearby parallel path. How did they do that?. Today I'm climbing up to the group of cairns known as Nine Standards. The day is clear but very windy again, uncharacteristically now blowing out of the east so we are fighting it. After a long hard slog to the top of the moor with Bill and Katie, the wind here was so powerful all we wanted to do was take each others photos at the curious Nine Standards and get out of there. At least the weather is clear if cold; when I was here before it was so foggy I could hardly see the Standards. The Standards are nine huge circular, tapered piles of stone built many hundreds of years ago (some say nine hundred years). No one knows why they were built, but they stand proud overlooking everything. Nine Standards and the nearby trig point marks the boundary of east and westward water drainage of the Pennine range.
Nine Standards on the Skyline, Bogs Below
Gregg Bracing Against the Wind
Six of the Nine Standards
Looking Back at the Trig Point and Nine Standards
It was boggy climbing up, but now the real bogs begin, huge slices of mud across the path, banks of black goo, the earth oozing with black liquid. Bog trotting is an art, but sometimes creativity fails you and the boots suffer. Luckily there is plenty of water to slosh off the black stuff. Its a very indistinct path, marked by cairns. This is the May-Aug path; on my previous walk along here in Oct, I took the Aug-Dec path. Different paths for different weather conditions. Bill and Katie hurry ahead, walking fast. I am faster on uphills, but they are faster on flats and downhill.
This Is What I'm Talking About - DA BOGS
A walker catches up to me and we talk awhile. He is also retired, from Devon, checking the route to lead a group next year. His wife meets him at the end of each day. We come to Ravenseat Farm where I break for an apple, he goes on ahead. This is where we meet Whitsundale Beck, a gorgeous river and ravine with centuries old stone buildings on the ridges. I follow high above the beck until it runs into the River Swale near Keld.
Dramatic Whitsundale and the Beck Near Ravenseat Farm
Wain Wath Force on the Swale Near Keld
At Keld there seems to be a lot of remodeling of houses. Is this a renaissance of the old village? This is an important crossroads of the east-west C2C and the south-north Pennine Way and there always seem to be competition for overnights.
There is a choice of paths to Muker. I've been on the west side of the Swale when walking the Pennine Way, so I took the east side path crossing Swinner Gill where it emptys into the Swale. There is the end of a long tunnel through the mountain from the smelter to the eastern mines which I will see tomorrow. This stroll down the Swale is a beautiful end to a great day's walk. I met several locals strolling with their dogs, crossed the Swale on Rampsholme Bridge, then took a nice slabbed path across fields into Muker.
Looking Back at Keld
Looking Forward Southeast Down the Swale Toward Muker
Swinner Gill and Mining Equipment
Rampsholme Bridge Crossing the Swale
Swale Farm B&B, 300 years old, was remodeled last year, a first class place in the heart of Swaledale. John grew up here, left, but moved back 10 years ago when his parents decided to move. Its been a B&B since 1922. I have a very large room, big bed, ensuite. Joyce takes very good care of her guests, everything is immaculate. At the nearby Farmers Arms, I find Old Peculier ale on tap but its hard to choose because they have such a great lineup of real ales. For dinner, a disappointingly tough duck breast in plum sauce but the vegetables are good. I talked with an older French lady and her hot, young boyfriend from Holland. They have a holiday house down the road in Thwaite and travel to various places around the world. Strange to meet them here!
Farmers Arms in Muker
DAY 8 ... KELD TO REETH ...11 MILES
What a grand breakfast; butcher sausage, thick sliced bacon, perfect eggs, tomatoes and fresh mushrooms....good coffee too. Three homemade jams. Can't eat it all, but I try. They say "take some fruit for later", yes I will. In 2005, I took the river route from Thwaite to Reeth. This time, I'll take the high route from Keld to Reeth. I was going to walk back up to Keld but John insists on driving me up. I offer gas money but he says its all part of the service. He worked for the phone company for 30 years, retired at 50 and took over the family farm and the B&B. Mad cow disease came, he became frustrated and leased the land. Too much paperwork running the farm and he dislikes sheep anyway. He seems happy now. I wonder how many sheep farmers dislike sheep?
Keld seems to hold a certain mystique to walkers for three reasons; it is the halfway point on the C2C, it is where the Pennine Way crosses the C2C, and it is very isolated at the head of the Swale River Valley. It feels like a focal point, the keeper of a tradition.
A Morning Look at Keld
I leave Keld at 9:05 on the path I took yesterday afternoon, but instead of descending to the Swale I continue around the mountain, past Crackpot Hall (a large house in ruins) and on to the upper reaches of Swinner Gill. Extensive mining structures are here. The mining ruins are more interesting than I expected so I spend time exploring. As I leave, I make a wrong turn uphill but soon realize my mistake, turn back and meet a couple from the van group who made the same mistake. They consulted their map and quickly turned back as I followed. They don't talk much.
Crackpot Hall and the Swale River Valley
Swinner Gill Mining
Terribly muddy hillside along East Grain, then up higher around the mountain to Blakethwaite Smelt Mill at Gunnerside Gill.
As I watched from the mountain path, the van lady, eschewing the bridge, slipped and fell crossing Gunnerside Gill, spraining her ankle. It will be swollen, black and blue and painful the rest of the walk (she persevered). I met two older couples sunning themselves at the mill and indulging in a snack. They are from Littlebeck next to Intake Farm where I stayed in 2006.
I left the van couple recuperating and began a long trod across bleak mountaintops and mining spoil heaps, down to Level House Bridge then the beautiful ruins of Old Gang Smelt Mill along Hard Level Gill. I can sense the activity of a hundred years ago, workers converging here from the surrounding villages. At Surrender Bridge, while eating an apple, I met a walker who said he followed me off Nine Standards yesterday.
Blakethwaite Smelter at Gunnerside Gill
Walker Crossing Cringle Bottom
A last challenge for the day, crossing the ravine at Cringle Bottom, steep sides and a water ford. On top again, I see some sheep. A lamb comes bleating up to me, I bleat back, She twirls around bleating away. I bleat again, she runs in circles and bleats again. Am I caught in a mating game? This goes on and on until I'm bleated out and I move on. My walker friend behind me is taking photos at this curious display of affection.
I reach Reeth by 2 pm, dropped my pack at Walpardo B&B and hit the bakery for a divine piece of carrot cake. Then spend time at the tables outside the Kings Arms with Old Peculier, my journal writing and talking with a local walker from Richmond. He takes the bus to and from his walks with his free senior bus pass. Not bad, eh!
Tree in Bloom
Sunlit Leaves in Swaledale
350 Year Old Walpardo House
Back to the B&B for cleanup and a phone call home to Cathryn. I'm in a tight little attic room with a sloping ceiling. Its a 350 year old house under a preservation district, so the ceiling can't be lifted, but its cozy and nice. For dinner, I land at the Kings Arms again. This time, its Black Sheep Bitters and a vegetable lasagna w/salad. Its very quiet in the pubs tonight, not many people staying overnight, but there were lots of day visitors earlier. Just as I get up to go, a group of older but rowdy bikers come in. Its a good time to leave.
DAY 9 ... REETH TO BOLTON-ON-SWALE ... 17 MILES
Mediocre breakfast, nice hosts, off by 8:45 again. Cloudy weather, rain passed during the night. I take the path along the Swale instead of the road, pass by Marrick Priory (now an outdoor center), and climb up the Nun's Steps flanked by wild onion. The "steps" are flagstones beautifully worn by thousands of feet over hundreds of years. At Marrick I take the wrong path in an easterly direction instead of northeast, so I have to cut down through a field to Ellers farmhouse to meet the C2C again. This section seems to be cursed for me; I missed the path here in 2004 as well. From higher up, I think I saw Bill and Katie pass at Eller's. They spent the night at Keld, then Reeth, but I didn't see them yesterday.
Gate and Creek Crossing
Later, towards Richmond, I pass an American from Vermont going east to west so we didn't talk much but noted that we have the same Osprey Atmos 50 backpack. That evening at my B&B, I was looking at a 2004 Dalesman magazine and saw an article about Bill Bryson with his photo; they looked so much alike, beard and all. Could it have really been him?
I passed under Willance's Leap, a cliff that Robert Willance fell off on his horse and lost his leg in the early 17th century. The leg was buried in a coffin. Then six years later he died and was buried in the same coffin with his leg. This story was told to me by the walker from Richmond at the Kings Arms in Reeth.
River Swale and Richmond Castle
I arrived in Richmond at 1:15 and visited the trekking shop, bank, bakery and bookstore. Bought a chocolate muffin and a Lustbader novel, then continued onward. I don't mind not staying because I spent a day here five years ago at the end of my 2/3 C2C, visiting the castle and inhaling the pubs, even bought a book from the same bookstore. After leaving town, I tried the alternate route to Broughton on the old RR bed. It started out nice, but degenerated into a farm track and through a caravan park to a main road which led through Broughton to Catterick Bridge where I rejoined the C2C. This was not a rewarding alternative. I wouldn't do it again.
River Swale with Catterick Bridge
I am now in the Vale of Mowbray, a flat plain seperating Swaledale from the Cleveland Hills two days ahead. Easy walking, but nothing of interest. I reach Bolton by 4 pm and call 8 Forest Cottages for a pickup. Its about two miles out in the country, so I'll have dinner there. Dorothy serves me tea and scones, then I clean up and write in my journal. Dinner is at 7, soup, beef with vegetables and yorkshire pudding, wine, ice cream with apple/strawberry crumble. I'm stuffed! I read myself to sleep.
DAY 10 ... BOLTON-ON-SWALE TO INGLEBY CROSS ...16 MILES
Nice breakfast, but its a cloudy day, rain forecast. I find that Dorothy has only been here a few years. Her long time partner passed on three months ago; he raised goats, so she is having a hard time adjusting. Previously, they took care of Cam house (high up on the Pennine Way) for ten years which must have been quite a challenge. She drops me off at St. Mary's Church in Bolton so I can see the monument to Henry Jenkins who reputedly lived from 1500 to 1670. That's right, 170 years. There are court records. He was called to court when he was about 160 years old to testify on old land disputes. He was the only person old enough to remember the circumstances.
St. Mary's Church in Bolton
Henry Jenkins Memorial In The Churchyard
I set off across flat fields, then it starts raining and I put the Duck's Back on my pack. It's miserable, gray weather, a "pay your dues" day, traditionally the most boring day on the C2C, just plod on ahead. Not much to see even with good weather. At Danby Wiske, I see the White Swan Inn is closed and for sale. A nearby B&B seems to be benefiting from the closure.
Tip Toe Through the Mud and Slog Ahead
White Swan Inn in Danby Wiske
Guarding the Stile
Ahead, I can see the Cleveland Hills where I will be climbing tomorrow. Meanwhile, there is a lot of tarmac walking today. Just before Ingleby Arncliffe I come to the dreaded A19, a dual carriageway with unrelenting fast traffic and huge trucks whipping up the rain. I take a piss in the hedge before approaching so I won't pee in my pants while crossing. Whew, made it!
At Ingleby Cross, I check into the Blue Bell Inn, a small basic room but at least it has a TV so I can check the weather. Had a short talk with Cathryn on my cell phone before the minutes got used up. The van group is here drinking beer but are staying at a youth hostel. They have a unique system of two walking in one direction and three walking in the opposite direction. At end of day, the van sweeps them up and they stay at the nearest hostel. It seems like a lot of driving to me.
After cleaning up and drying out my clothes, I go for dinner in the pub. Its a lively Friday night. I see several groups of walkers and sit with Bill and Katie. They have walked all the way from Richmond today and are staying at nearby Estervale B&B. Also sat with Nate and Jill, a lively couple from London on their first long distance walk. They seemed to think I was the most interesting thing they had met on the trip and insisted on buying me a pint. I tried John Smith Magnet Ale, almost a stout, their top of the line and very hard to find. It was absolutely outstanding. Veggie soup, salad, and a leek quiche were all extremely good. I reluctantly passed on the hot sticky toffee pudding, but this was some of the best pub food on the C2C. The Blue Bell owner, David, does a superb job of running this old place.
DAY 11 ... INGLEBY CROSS TO GREAT BROUGHTON ... 14 MILES
David fixes a good breakfast for me and a large group. He is doing it all, never saw Audrey. The sun is out with a few clouds. There was rain last night and more may be on the way. Its a good climb past Park House up through Cleveland Forest to the junction of the Cleveland Way path from Osmotherly. I was last here in 2006, walking the Cleveland Way from Helmsley and continuing on the C2C to the coast. Photos from that walk will be shown along with photos from this walk starting with my overnight in Osmotherly. Friends I met on that walk, I call them the "Foursome", are walking the complete Cleveland Way; I first saw them in Helmsley and then saw them later on the 2006 walk.
Queen Catherine Hotel in Osmotherly, Oct 2006
Gregg With Fellow Walkers in the Queen Catherine, Oct 2006
After passing the microwave station, I break out of the trees onto Scarf Moor, a protected area overlooking the Vale of Mobray, wonderful views and fine walking. It starts raining and I put the Duck's Back on my pack. It was raining in 2006 also. Here, the C2C is coexistant with the Cleveland Way which, being a National Trail, is well maintained and way marked (the C2C is neither well maintained nor well marked since it's not a National Trail).
Mushrooms and Raindrops in Scarf Wood, Oct 2006
Scarth Moor Oct 2006
Scarth Moor May 2009
As I was admiring the bluebells of Cline Wood, I met Tim, a local amateur historian out walking with his dog Sable. As we passed through areas of shale, jet mines and ironstone mining he explained the history and economic significance of the local mining industry. Tim pointed out hidden quarries and told of the extensive 19th century railroad system carrying ironstone ore to smelters and jet to workshops. Jet comes from Monkey Puzzle trees of the dinosaur age and became the rage when Queen Victoria wore black jet jewelry to mourn the death of Prince Albert. Dinosaur fossils still wash up on the shore at Whitby and diving for jet in the seabed was quite a sport when jet was more popular..
Near Scugdale Beck, we catch up with Henry and Jane who had stayed at Park House and got a jump on me this morning. Tim left us at Huthwaite Green and us three made the steep ascent onto Live Moor (like Scarth Moor, a protected area). Then it was summit after summit until Lordstone's Cafe. Jane says we will top six summits today.
Live Moor Looking towards Carlton Moor, Oct 2006
As we started the descent from desolate Carlton Moor. Henry jokingly said "where is a cafe for lunch", not knowing about Lordstone's. I said "at the bottom of the hill". He laughed, thinking I was a great kidder. Then I said "last time I was here I had a pint of John Smith for only a pound", he laughed again thinking this was great fun. The cafe is built into the hillside and totally hidden from the path, so when I led them through the trees and around to the front entrance with its outdoor tables, he was dumbfounded. They had a packed lunch, so got a pot of tea at the cafe while I had soup with a roll.
At Lordstones, we saw most of today’s walkers, Bill and Katie, four Australians and the van supported group. In 2006, I met up here with my walker friends from Osmotherly and had my pint of John Smith.
Lordstone's Cafe, Oct 2006
Lordstone's Cafe With Henry and Jane
This is one of the best day’s walks, great weather, six peaks to climb, five moors to cross and the unusual group of huge boulders called the Wainstones. I continued walking with Henry and Jane and quickly passed the Australians at Cringle Moor. Up on Hasty Bank at the Wainstones, we could see Great Broughton to the north and Urra to the southwest where I stayed three years ago at Maltkiln House and where Bill and Katie are staying tonight. The Wainstones is one of my favorite places, but we don't tarry as I did in 2006, but stride out along the high cliff of Hasty Bank to Clay Bank Top.
Cold Moor from Cringle Moor, Oct 2006
Gregg and Henry on Cringle Moor
At Path Junction Looking to Hasty Bank/Wainstones, Oct 2006
Overlooking Great Broughton From The Wainstones
Wainstones, Oct 2006
Wainstones on Steroids, Oct 2006
Overlooking Urra With Carr Ridge/Urra Moor Beyond, Oct 2006
Descending to Clay Bank Top, we decided to walk the two road miles into Great Broughton and our B&Bs. Big mistake! It was a long two miles with traffic, poor verge, not fun. A poor ending to a beautiful day's walk. We could have called one of our B&Bs for a ride and should have. Henry and Jane are at Newlands House and I'm just up the road at Ingle Hill B&B. At the B&B, Margaret takes me into the sun room where the Australians were having scones and tea (they had called for a ride).
I meet H & J at the Jet Miners Inn for dinner, the four Australians were there also. I had a lamb shank w/salad and a Black Sheep ale. Henry insists on buying, saying it was an honor and pleasure to meet me. I could say the same about them. They will all be stopping at the Lion Inn tomorrow while I go on to Glaisdale, so I won't see them again. I should see Bill and Katie in Glaisdale at the Arncliffe Arms for dinner.
Back at Ingle Hill, I talked to Margaret for awhile. She is running the place by herself now since her husband died only one month ago at 88 years old. She seems about 10 years younger, a big job at her age. Can she keep the B&B going by herself? I hope to get an early start in the morning; her daughter Mandy will drive me back to the C2C at Clay Bank Top.
In 2006, when I stayed at Maltkiln House in Urra, my host Jerry showed me a path that led past jet mines up onto Urra Moor and linking up with the C2C on Carr Ridge. It was foggy and misty that morning, the kind of day where I expected to see a wolf running across the moors. I expect tomorrow morning will be a bit brighter.
Maltkiln House With Hosts Jerry and Wendy, Oct 2006
Overlooking Urra From Urra Moor, Oct 2006
Some local history courtesy of Jerry at the Maltkin House in 2006. Urra is in Bilsdale, named after William the Conqueror (Bill) who came through here on his way to York as a shortcut. His army,being so large, had to take a longer way. However, he caught a cold and had to stay until recovered, causing no little amount of worry to his army.
DAY 12 ... CLAY BANK TOP TO GLAISDALE ... 19 MILES
A grapefruit half, cereal, scrambled eggs and toast w/tomato, a very nice breakfast in the sun room. Mandy drives me back up to Clay Bank Top at 8:30. Weather is cloudy and breezy, but no rain. Its a long steep climb up onto the bleak but stunning Yorkshire moors, then a fairly level, slightly undulating walk across the moor. Stone stele are placed to show the way, relics of a past era that aren't needed today for the path is now wide and clear, even cyclist use it.. Up ahead, the disused Rosedale Ironstone Railway bed joins the C2C and the Cleveland Way turns north at Bloworth Crossing following the RR bed. I continue on the RR bed, crossing wide ravines with builtup earth, no bridges or viaducts, as it leads toward the Lion Inn.
Disused Rosedale Ironstone Railroad Bed Leading to Lion Inn, Oct 2006
A fast walker catches up with me. He is doing the 44 mile Lyke Wake Way (24 hours) in practice for a July 4 four day C2C competition. Up ahead, he takes off left across the wild moor on no discernable path. I have no idea what he is doing! Does he? Further along is the apparent path for the Lyke Wake Walk. Perhaps the poor fellow lost patience. I pass the Lion Inn at 11:30, nine miles in three hours, then follow the tarmac road north for 2 miles along the upper west side of Rosedale and around Rosedale Head past an old stone monument called Fat Betty. No one seems to know its purpose.
The Lion Inn
Rosedale Looking South, Oct 2006
ROSEDALE DIVERSION, OCT 2006
On my walk in 2006, I turned south at the Lion Inn to walk the Rosedale Loop, staying the night near the village of Rosedale at August Guest House. The Rosedale valley is a beautiful eliptically shaped depression with a walkable disused RR bed around the complete loop. Ruined ironstone calcination kilns line the east side of Rosedale up above the valley floor. The railway carried ironstone ore from the kilns and then to north counties. Calcifying the ironstone reduces it weight and makes its transport more economical. The operations ceased in 1926, leaving all to fall into magnificent ruins.
The next morning, I climbed up onto the eastern RR bed, passed the coal bin, calcifying kilns and worker housing, then north to near Rosedale Head. Here, my host at August House had shown me a path leading onto the moors through the heather and up to the Rosedale road where I met up with the C2C at the Millennium Stone. This morning walk was absolutely fantastic, looking down over the valley floor and across to the Lion Inn plus the challenges of a RR bed that had seen quite a few physical disruptions.
Crossing the Rosedale Valley Floor, Oct 2006
Ironstone Calcination Kilns and Friends, Oct 2006
Railroad Bed, Kilns and the Valley, Oct 2006
Ruined Brick Miners Housing In Rare Sun, Oct 2006
Looking Across the Valley East to West, Oct 2006
BACK TO MY 2009 WALK
I pass by the Millennium Stone, turn north on Great Fryup road and stop at Trough House, an 1801 stone hut overlooking Great Fryup Dale. Here I have lunch of an apple and a snickers bar. After walking around the head of Great Fryup, wonderful views, there is a bit of road walking on the ridge between valleys. I meet a fellow going to Glaisdale who is determined not to walk on tarmac so he is following some very peculiar paths which send him in circles. I leave him poring over his map. A dirt track takes me across Glaisdale Rigg into Glaisdale to Beggars Bridge B&B at the far lower end across from the train station. It takes me 30 minutes to walk from the top of the village to the bottom, arriving at 3:30. Today was an easy 19 mile walk.
Great Fryup Dale, Oct 2006
C2C Signpost Between Trough House and Glaisdale, Oct 2006
Not too surprisingly, the B&B is across from the famous 17th C. Beggars Bridge, but also used to be the train station house. Jeanne gives me a nice welcome and serves me coffee, toasted tea cakes and cookies in the conservatory (sun room). I have a nice, large ensuite room with a soft double bed, a superb place to rest. Jeanne will wash some clothes for my flight home.
Beggars Bridge in Glaisdale, May 2009
Beggars Bridge, Oct 2006
At 7 pm, I walk across the road in the rain to Arncliffe Arms for dinner and hope to meet Bill and Katie there. I order an organic ale from North Yorkshire Brewery, very tasty. This makes up for being out of Black Sheep last time I was here. For dinner, I have a warm goat cheese tart with red peppers, olives and tomato. Excellent! Great salad too. As I'm served, Bill and Katie come in looking like drowned rats. Its raining hard and they had to walk from the top of the village, actually Red House Farm where I stayed in 2006. I loved the place, but hated having to walk all the way to Arncliffe Arms for dinner and back in the dark, then back down in the morning. B & K felt the same way. My B&B is much better placed as I had anticipated.
Arncliffe Arms. Oct 2006
Dinner at Arncliffe Arms
DAY 13 ... GLAISDALE TO ROBIN HOODS BAY... 19 MILES
This is my last C2C day, another 19 mile day. Breakfast at 7:30, cereal, yoghurt, 2 poached eggs and very good sausage. Yorkshire honey (on toast) was excellent. I took an apple and a mandarin orange for lunch and started out at 8:30. A step across the road and I’m on the path to Robin Hoods Bay and the North Sea, up through the woods along the River Esk. In Grosmont, I take a photo of the steam trains and buy a Cadbury's to supplement lunch.
Slabbed Path Through East Arncliffe Wood
In 2006, I scheduled a short walk from Glaisdale to Littlebeck so I would have time to take the steam train from Grosmont to Goathland, only about a 20 minute ride through the Esk valley. I decided to walk out from the village to Mallyam Spout waterfall, but ran into a TV crew filming Heartbeat (a popular TV series), the heir to Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small. What a crush of cars and spectators. I never did get to the waterfall. Back to the village, had an ice cream (this is a tourist spot, you know), then a train ride back to Grosmont. At the Station Pub, I had a cuppachino and talked with a French tourist wearing a beret and scarf who looked and dressed amazingly like Francis Ford Coppola; I attended his 67th birthday party at his winery two years ago. I like that look, maybe I'll try it!
Steam Train at Grosmont, Oct 2006
Goathland Train Station, Oct 2006
Back to 2009..... as I leave Grosmont, the rain starts and I put on my Ducks Back. It was off and on rain the rest of the day. Out of Grosmont is the incredibly steep road famous for taxing the most hardy C2Cers. One mile of it, a catch-your-breath section, then another mile not so steep. I am now at the top of Sleights Moor and pass by groups of ancient standing stones.
A first view of Whitby and the coast opened up at the one mile point. A large car park is full of buses and trailers for the Heartbeat film crew (again), but I cut across the boggy heather to catch a track and lane leading steeply down into Littlebeck.
Standing Stone East of Grosmont, Oct 2006
In 2006, I took the side road up to Intake Farm B&B less than a mile south of Littlebeck. The entrance is totally unpretentious, definitely a working farm. Judith greeted me with tea and coffee cake in a kitchen as cluttered as the farmyard, but it works.
I have a large comfortable bedroom full of books and magazines, her college daughter's room. Downstairs is a wonderful sitting room with a roaring fireplace. There are five others staying here tonight, walkers but not on the C2C. Dinner was family style, chicken, sausage, ham, leeks, carrots, potatoes, cabbage and stuffing. Quite a meal! The five other guests had three bottles of wine which they shared with me. Then dessert, plum and apple crumbles with decaf coffee. Enough already!
Entrance to Intake Farm, Bed and Breakfast Sign at Left, Oct 2006
For such a small village, Littlebeck is full of interesting historic buildings. Here, the C2C enters the forested Nature Reserve on a trail following Little Beck to the Hermitage, a 1790 stone shelter, then to Falling Foss, an absolutely beautiful waterfall perhaps 200 feet high. This was a good place to eat my modest lunch. In Oct 2006, a red fox appeared in the path, surprised to see me, and scampered back up the hill. In a few minutes, three hunting dogs were furiously sniffing down the path and to both sides.
The Hermitage Dated 1790
Falling Foss Waterfall, Oct 2006
Bird of the Forest
After lunch, I said goodby to a beggar bird and carried on past May Beck Farm, on lanes and across moorland until I reached the dreaded muddy, boggy moorland of Graystone Hills. These bogs are as much fun as the bogs of Nine Standards fame. As Wainwright might say, "a delight for bog lovers".
Entering Another Boggy Moor, Oct 2006
More Bloody, Muddy Bogs
After this, its not far to the coast. I had previously taken the coastal path to RHB in 2006, so this time I took the faster cycle path on the old RR bed which runs just above the coast path. The walk today has surprisingly been long and difficult, much bog trotting and many steep inclines. I was rainy wet and tired and ready to dip my boot. The tradition is to carry a pebble from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, and also to dip your boots in the sea water on each coast. As I merge with the coast path at RHB, I see Bill and Katie coming up the coastal path, an amazing coincidence. It was 5 pm and I hadn’t seen them all day. We took photos, threw pebbles, dipped boots and agreed to have dinner together at the Bay Hotel where they are staying.
Robin Hoods Bay at a Distance (by B&K)
Gregg Overlooking Robin Hoods Bay
The Walkers Three at the Bay Hotel, Bill, Katie and Gregg
Gregg Throws A Pebble into The Sea (by B&K)
I check in at Upside Down Cottage, a quirky kind of place as the name indicates, but comfortable and near the bottom of the village. I relax with a hot chocolate, then go out to phone Cathryn with my PO phone card. We have a nice long talk, then I shower and go to meet B & K for dinner. Its 7 pm and the van group of walkers are just arriving at the Bay Hotel and look totally knackered. The lady that fell and hurt her ankle at Gunnerside Gill has made it the whole way. She says she is in great pain and her ankle is swollen black and blue. I don't know how she did it. Actually, I do know. But more on that in the next section where I tell about my accident in 2006 on the coast trail. That account will pick up the 2006 story as I arrive at the coast from Littlebeck and take a diversion north for two days instead of immediately walking south to RHB.
Bill and Katie and I have some pints and dinner together and reminisce about the walk. Tomorrow, they will catch an early bus to Whitby, then the train all the way to Devon. I will continue walking to Scarborough to take the train to York, then on to Heathrow the next day. Even though its Monday night, the restaurant/bar is full and noisy with talk and laughter and we all are having a good time. Finally, its time to call it a night, we exchange emails and hug our goodbyes. Nice people.
I hope to see them again someday.
COASTAL SIDE TRIP & ACCIDENT... OCT 2006
The sea, the coast, the coast trail, a beautiful sight. Wow, it really follows the coastline, up and down the ravines cutting into the sea. A large walking group is passing on the trail so I sit, rest, eat a trail bar and enjoy the view. The sky has been clear since I emerged from dark Little Beck forest. My plan is to walk to Whitby and stay at the hostel next to Whitby Abbey. Then tomorrow take a bus north to Staithes and walk back to Whitby. Next day, on to Robin Hoods Bay to complete the C2C, then the last day on to Scarborough. Hopefully, this will satisfy my desire for some good coastal walking.
C2C Meets The Coast Path
I eventually catch up with the group, about 15 walkers, and pass as they stop to regroup. I talk to one fellow and find out they are from Lancaster on a three day walk. Lo and behold, I then meet the foursome from several days ago in Osmotherly and the Cleveland Way. Of course, we are now on the Cleveland Way again and they are a couple of days from their finish. We had a great reunion, laughing at the coincidence of our meeting. Soon I see the Abbey ahead and then I am there, a very dramatic ruin. But where is the hostel? Oh yes, just below the Abbey visitor center. It doesn't open until 5 pm so I go down the famous 199 steps into Whitby town to look around.
Whitby Abbey, An Imposing Place
I went to the TIC for a map and bus schedule, then found the bus station for my jaunt to Staithes tomorrow. Thought I should have some proper food so I had fish and salad, bought an apple, then back up the steps to the hostel at 5 pm. Washed my dirty pants legs and socks etc so I will have enough clean clothes to last the trip and chatted with some older (my age) guests. An American, now living in Edinburgh, fled to Canada to avoid the Vietnam war and never regretted it. We went back into town together to find a pub for a pint of Black Sheep, boring pub, good company.
Next morning, I leave half my clothes at the hostel so I have a very light pack. Twenty minutes on the bus to Staithes. It's a steep walk from the road down to this very picturesque town climbing off the bay. I see a crab sandwich advertised, yumm, but the place isn't open yet. Maybe I'll find one in Runswick Bay just up down the coast. Nice climb up onto the cliff tops, but the weather is overcast so photos are less than ideal. At lunch time I descend steeply into Runswick Bay, but the only cafe is a very ordinary diner, not even any fish. So much for my crab sandwich.
Pub In Staithes, Now That's My Kind Of Place
Looking Back At Staithes
About the time I reached Whitby the rain started so I ducked into a restaurant for a pot of tea and a sandwich. Then up the 199 steps to the Abbey to visit the visitor center and bookstore. My wife Cathryn is studying medieval English history so requested me to look for books not widely available. With a helpful clerk, I found three books that seemed to qualify; St. Hilda, Medieval Women and a history of Bede which has information on St. Wilfred. All great stuff, yes?
Even though it's raining, I decide to go out to the famous Trencher's restaurant for dinner. I got the Fisherman's Casserole, an amazing amount of fish and shellfish, excellent. I stop at the pub next door for a pint of Theakstons XB. It was a very picturesque place with beer coasters hanging from the rafters, hundreds of them. At the hostel, I hang my jacket in the drying room. A group of fishermen have come in; it will be a full house tonight, at least in the men's dorm.
In the morning, I get the continental breakfast, cereal, two croissants, orange, pear, juice and coffee. Very satisfying! I don't think I could face another English fried breakfast. Goodby to the Edinburgh American and I go out to take photos of the Abbey. Weather is very windy, dark clouds blowing across; sun for photos can be fleeting. One of two women from the hostel walk by seemingly lost. I point the way to the coastal path. She will meet her friend in RHB. Photos taken, I also start on the path but remember that I forgot to photograph the great cross of Caedmon in front of the church with his famous poem. Ahh, Cathryn will never forgive me! Caedmon was an ordinary herdsman who supposedly learned to compose poetry one night in the course of a dream and became an inspirational religious poet and a quite zealous monk in Whitby.
Whitby Abbey, Last View
Storms Sweeping The Coast South Of Whitby
Muddy Coast Path
The weather is quite blustery. Actually, severe winds. A huge storm comes sweeping down from the north and I put the duckback cover on my pack. The storm is gone in 15-20 minutes, out to sea, leaving an extremely muddy path. The several walkers are having trouble negotiating the mud. Following anothers example, I begin following a parallel path on the other side of the wire fence where there is a grassy verge next to a farm field.
Eventually, the grassy path ends so I duck under the wire to get back to the regular, muddy path. Then it happens. The wire snags my pack cover which was loosened by the wind, my walking pole slips, I slip and my foot is twisted around back and under me as I land on it.. A strange noise and PAIN. After clearing my head, I manage to get up and hobble over to a place to rest and assess the situation. My right ankle seems to be a little wobbly, but intact. Maybe it is just a sprain. Thankfully, I can walk on it with walking poles supporting me. It's about 4 or 5 miles to RHB, I'll just go half speed. I have plenty of time. After a half hour, I rest on a bench, then pass the spot where C2C joins the coast, rest again enjoying the view, then finally I reach RHB.
I ask for a chemist shop so I can get an ankle wrap. No, there isn't one, but a Surgery is nearby. Its still early, Surgery is open and doctor is in. She wraps my ankle and calf. Its swollen and turning colors, hard to fit back into my boot. She thinks it should be x-rayed to see if the small ankle bone is broken and suggests I go to the hospital in either Whitby or Scarborough. They can't do x-rays here, but give me some painkillers so I can make it to the hospital without keeling over. I try to pay for the exam but she waves me off, no charge. Wow, is this what national health service is like? Impressive!
I gingerly walk down to the bay, take some photos and pop into Wainwright's Bar to sign the C2C book and have a pint. I need it. I'm still looking for a crab sandwich. The Victoria Hotel had them, but I got there a half hour after it closed for food (2 pm). I saw another restaurant that had them but its closed now also. Woe is me! I slip into a little bakery/sandwich shop and get a pasty and a chocolate covered trifle. Not bad, but not a substitute. I decide to walk the 3/4 mile along the cliff to Boggle Hole YHA where I am booked in. Just suck it up! Tomorrow I will take the bus to Scarborough, visit the hospital and stay the night at the hostel. Then if all goes well, I can keep to my schedule and fly home the next day. I'm not going to let a silly ankle keep me from my schedule. But I'll have to admit, I just barely made it to Boggle Hole.
Seashore At Robin Hoods Bay
Sign-In Bar At The Bay Hotel
RHB From Near Boggle Hole
At Boggle Hole, I'm the only one in a small two bunk room w/wash basin. Dinner is vegetable curry w/rice and apple crumble. They sell ale and wine so I get a bottle of Landlords, made in Keighley, Yorkshire. Excellent. Many families are here with lots of kids of all ages. After dinner, I call Cathryn and tell her about my fall; she is quite upset and I promise to call tomorrow after the hospital. I wash the mud off my pants and boots, take more painkillers and settle down to writing and reading.
Next morning, the hardest thing was putting my boots on over my swollen foot; I loosen the ties as much as possible.
Breakfast is mediocre but coffee is good. I pack carefully, taking my time. I have another cup of coffee in the common room, check out and call for a taxi to meet me in the carpark up the road. Nice lady driver, a native, loves it here, advises me to go directly to the A&E (accident and emergency) entrance for treatment. She drops me at the bus stop in RHB.
The bus drops me in front of the hospital and the walkway leads me to A&E. They take my info, a nurse examines me, then calls in a doctor who orders an x-ray. I wait, then they order two more x-rays. Wait again. The doctor come in with the x-rays and shows me where the small vertical bone in my ankle is fractured. There is only a slight displacement which is why I could walk on it. They don't operate in this case, but stabilize the fracture with a cast. We decide that in my case, a cast would not be good for a plane flight. I ask if there is something more secure than a bandage wrap that is portable and can be taken on and off. He goes off to consult with an orthopedist and says there may be something. Eventually, they find an orthopedic boot. Now the doctor, nurse and the orthopedist crowd around reading instructions to figure out how to install the boot, lots of straps and velcro. It works! Feels good. They give me some medicine and pain killers, hand me the x-rays to show my doctor in the USA, and say goodby. No charge. Amazing. They were really great. A lady explained to me that, for foreigners, accidents are treated at no charge but there is a charge if the treatment is outside of A&E. Fair enough.
The hospital called a taxi to take me to the hostel where I was prebooked. It was a nice friendly place, good location and even has an internet. I called Cathryn to give her the news, then called for a morning taxi to take me to the train station.
This is my accident story. It was a very traumatic event overall and its taken me three years before I've felt like writing about it on blogs or walking forums. My 2009 C2C walk was therapeutic in that respect.
DAY 14 ...ALONG THE COAST... 2009
Sunrise at Robin Hoods Bay (By B&K)
RHB TO Scarborough ... 15 Miles
On this last walk day, I followed the coast path to Scarborough to catch the train to York. It rained again but the coast was sparkling and beautiful. Seagulls are flying all over as well as insects like giant midges. One got bloody as I dug it out of my ear. Now I'm meeting more walkers, crossing ravine after ravine, way down and back up onto the cliffs. I met a walking group of 12 pensioners and, after they questioned me, told them I was 71 years old, had just finished the C2C yesterday in 13 days and couldn't stop walking. They all loved it and gave me a round of applause with cheers. It felt like when I was cycling in France 45 years ago, speeding downhill past a country store, and a group of men cheered me as I sped past.
Halfway To Scarborough
It was off and on rain for the rest of the walk. When there was no rain, a bit of sun seeped through illuminating the fields of rape on one side and turbulent sea waters on the other. I see the path that branches off to Helmsley, then reach Scarborough's promenade. Signs point to town center and the railroad station. It's 3pm.
Field Of Rape
I walked through Scarborough to the train station, hopped the train to York and took the bus to the large hostel in Waters End. Only top bunk beds were left in the dorm room, but after hearing my groan, a nice young lad promptly offered to exchange bunks. I was very grateful.
After a shower and a dinner of lasagne and veggies in the hostel dining room, I found a friendly pub down the street, The Old Gray Mare. It had Timothy Taylors Landlords and several other good ales as well as an interesting clientele. A fitting end to the walk. Tomorrow, its an early train to London and a BA flight home to California, quick and easy, easier than my trip home three years ago with a broken ankle and orthopedic boot.
I amazingly finished with no blisters due to my new Lowa boots which were remarkably comfortable and fitted perfectly. Of course I had the usual aches, sore muscles and sore feet, but I never had to use my Compeed. Other equipment which proved essential were my Komperdell Carbon Ultralight walking poles, Marmot jacket, REI Duckback pack cover and Smartwool socks with Wright inner layers. What a pleasure it is to have good equipment. Through all the rain and wind, I always kept dry; for all the descents, there was never a problem with knee or ankle joints. Since 2006, I have learned to attach the pack cover so that rain never breached the pack and there is no way it can blow loose, snag a wire and take me down (as in 2006); this was a very important lesson learned.
The day to day expenses were very reasonable considering I slept in a bed and had a roof over my head every night with a full meal in my belly. In fact, some of the B&Bs were extremely nice and some of the pub meals were outstanding. The B&Bs averaged £30 per night, the two hostels with breakfast averaged about £20 pounds per night. My daily pub expenses ran about £14 for food and drink. Travel expenses in the UK were £41 from Heathrow to St. Bees; £33 from Scarborough to Heathrow. Incidental expenses were very incidental.
One thing that has made a big impression on me is how difficult and, actually, dangerous the C2C can be especially under severe weather conditions. These conditions can occur at any time and one should always be prepared. They can tax a person physically and mentally and disorient anyone. Rains and winds can last for days and days, but the beautiful days are truly beautiful. Either way, the experience is unique and unforgettable.
The challenges I went through to finish each day, the unique experiences I had, the wonderful fellow walkers and B&B hosts I met made the walk unforgettable. The days were a good mix of stimulating company and walking alone with ample time for reflection and meditation. I only wish I could have traded that Striding Edge day for better weather.....and the Greenup Edge day....and the Haystacks day. But that is all part of the challenges and a great part of the memories. Now its time to find another adventure to look forward to and strive toward.
I'll leave you with a quote from my adventurous friend in Kunming, China, Jin Fei Bao, who has just finished climbing the tallest mountains on all seven continents.
"There is no mountain higher than the heart and there is no road longer than footsteps.....
Each adventure is a kind of heart practice and soul distillation.....
Might all people feel the challenges, pleasures and reflections that result from outdoor adventures".