(24th March 2013 – 20 Miles)
After yesterday’s long miles, there would be no let up today … and unlike that endless crawl across the flat, there would be plenty of stiff climbs too. From a distance the Cleveland escarpment resembles a saw-blade and those sharp peaks and troughs mean six steep climbs between Ingleby and Blakey. It would be an exhausting day – but also one of the most exhilarating on the C2C.
Breakfast was later than I would have liked but eventually, at about 8.30, Pat and I got away and immediately started our first long climb of the day – up through Arncliffe Woods. After a mile, a finger-post welcomed us onto the Cleveland Way which the C2C would follow for most of the day.
I first walked the The Cleveland Way when I was 19 and though it wasn’t my first long distance footpath, it immediately became my favourite. It might still be.
It is a grand footpath and I think this stretch between Osmotherley and Kildale is as fine a day’s walk as you’ll find anywhere in England. But easy it ain’t.
The second climb of the day was a long one up to Live Moor (followed all the way by Blue Person and Yellow Person)
and the climb then continued to Carlton Moor. It had been bitingly cold and windy all morning, but as we neared the 1640ft summit the headwind became so strong that not only did we struggle to stay upright we even had difficulty breathing. I began to worry whether we could actually continue walking in these conditions.
At the summit trig point, we had to lean into the wind to avoid being bowled over but even so I was sent sprawling.
A little alarmed we bent once more into the wind and started the descent.
The third climb was up to Cringle End. The gusting easterlies and northerlies were a little less strong here
and we nabbed a few minutes rest on the Alec Falconer memorial seat. But frankly it was so cold and inhospitable, we didn’t hang about for long.
A swift glance back showed Carlton Moor in the distance
whilst ahead the escarpment led on toward Clay Bank.
At the foot of Cold Moor, I said farewell to Pat. He was meeting Sue a mile or so ahead at Clay Bank and spending the night at an off-route village. But from Clay Bank, I would have a further 9 miles to cover. Happy to avoid two of the day’s six hills, I used the path along the foot of the escarpment through Broughton Plantation. It’s called cheating.
The path through the forest was out of the wind and I was able to find a sheltered spot for lunch. And whilst I sat on a rock, munching, I contentedly watched Pat as he slogged up to the Wain Stones (outcrops of rock on top of Hasty Bank).
From Clay Bank, I had one more climb ahead of me – to the top of Urra Moor (1489ft). Despite the icy wind, the day had remained bright and so half way up,
I was able to sit awhile under blue skies and (admittedly watery) sunshine
before continuing the long, relentless climb.
I needed frequent stops to drink in that view (and pull in huge lungfuls of freezing Yorkshire air).
Then I would tuck in my chin and climb some more.
At last I was at the top of the last hill of the day and the penultimate big hill of the trip.
Ahead of me was about 8 miles of level (if Arctic) moorland.
There may have been no climbs but I had to battle into that wearisome headwind for the rest of the day: powerful, excoriating and painful, it scraped my face red-raw.
Occasionally there was enough sunshine to provide some fleeting company.
I did see two other people in that wilderness
but for long hours and miles there was only me.
Eventually, at Bloworth Crossing, I sadly bid farewell to the Cleveland Way (we would meet again near Robin Hood’s Bay)
and then sped up as I followed the line of an old railway (built to transport iron-ore from nearby Rosedale to Teeside and Durham) – it was getting late and I wanted to reach my bed before dark.
Towards the end of the afternoon, I glimpsed ‘The Lion Inn’ – my goal for the night. But it was still far, far away on the horizon and I wouldn’t reach it till almost 5 o’clock.
‘The Lion Inn‘ is a remarkably remote pub, set in a bleak landscape. It dates from 1533 though, from the outside, you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise
right up until you step through the door. Inside, the pub was aged, gloriously warm, warren-like, cozy and very, very busy. After that long, tough march across the moors, it was rather a shock to be thrust into a crowd of loud, raucous folk. Like arriving at ‘The Prancing Pony‘ after crossing the wilds, I should think. And it is one of only a couple of pubs I have stayed in that actually felt like an ‘Inn.’
After wallowing in a long, hot bath, I returned to the bar for excellent food and ale. But not for long – after completing almost a quarter of the C2C in two days, I was soon back upstairs and fast asleep. Tomorrow would be a far easier day but I was sadly aware that the end of my trip was drawing close.