(26th March 2013 – 16½ miles)
So here it was. My last day on the Coast to Coast. And it was snowing – as it had on seven of my twelve days.
Nothing dramatic nor troublesome: no drifts, no snowstorm – just a light, pretty dusting.
The curious incident of the mashed potato in the night-time aside, ‘The Horseshoe’ had been a good place to spend the night and despite my moaning about enough Full English breakfasts already, I easily managed to polish off another one.
The path left the village and passed Egton Manor and three busy donkeys,
as it followed an old toll road. (How annoying would that be? Turning up in your hearse at 10.01pm)?
The snow briefly became quite heavy
and I wondered whether the C2C was going to throw another, last blizzard at me.
But it was just a short-lived flurry and I have to say, I was a little disappointed. I’d become accustomed to walking in harsh, even extreme weather and a little addicted!
In Grosmont, the level-crossing for the North York Moors Railway closed as I approached and it was here that Pat caught up with me. We would finish the walk together.
I’m not particularly interested in steam trains but I watched entranced as the locomotive huffed and puffed and wreathed itself in steam. I had a strong urge to cry, “Daddy, my daddy!” But I don’t think I did.
And as it chugged away, I was sad that we weren’t able to have a little toot-toot up the valley aboard that marvellous machine.
Beyond Grosmont we faced the very last, big hill of the walk . And what a whopper. 700ft straight up from the town centre. So that was a joy.
The last day of our 200 mile walk across England was proving a little anti-climactic. The C2C had almost finished with us and seemed to be winding down. After Grosmont there was some more moorland walking, followed by Little Beck Wood
and at Falling Foss waterfall we had our only tea and cake stop in almost two weeks. The carrot cake served at the Falling Foss Tea Garden was enormous and the best I have ever tasted. I was humming with gratitude and delight as I washed it down with a big mug of Earl Grey. There most certainly were not enough tea and cake stops on this walk. A mistake I shall rectify in the future.
The moorland of Graystone Hills was sodden and the paths uncertain and difficult to follow. Frozen puddles and ponds weren’t strong enough to support my weight and it was only because of my blessed Meindl boots and Goretex gaiters that my feet stayed dry.
Although we had already caught a distant glimpse of the sea and Whitby, the coast seemed strangely elusive. But after a fine late lunch at the ‘Hare and Hounds’ in High Hawkser and a traipse though the foreign, uncertain world of a static caravan park
there it was: the North Sea. We had done it: we had walked from (not very) shiny sea to (not very) shiny sea. And as we rejoined the Cleveland Way for the last 3 miles to Robin Hood’s Bay, I was more sad than relieved that the walk was almost over.
Though the path was high above the waves, spume blew up onto the grass and froze.
Where the path dipped closer to the sea, there was a wide expanse of frozen spray and the result was alien and a little freaky. I’ve never seen anything like it.
The problem with rejoining the Cleveland Way is that it is such an inviting path: either northwards to Whitby and Saltburn or south to Scarborough and Filey. I felt cheated that I was only walking such a short bit of this magnificent coastal path and once again regretted I hadn’t booked an extra day’s walk to Scarborough.
After about an hours walk, and catching me by surprise almost, we saw Robin Hood’s Bay.
With big grins on our faces, Pat and I rolled down the steep road of the town to the spot where the path ends. There a flag-waving, chanting, foot-stomping and uproarious crowd (consisting of Sue) was waiting with a bottle of champagne – thanks, Sue. We had finished.
Next to the ‘The Bay Hotel’ on a slippy slipway, I hurled my pebble into the foamy water. It was high tide and waves rushed up to wet my boots – with which I completed both of the walk’s requirements initiated in St Bees. Sadly, Pat hadn’t picked up and carried a pebble nor had he wet his boots. It fell to me to announce that his walk didn’t actually count. He told me to get stuffed, which I thought rude.
We retired to ‘Wainwright’s Bar’ for a pint and self-congratulation. Satisfaction at completing the walk was immense; as was relief that the weather had allowed us to finish. But despite the hardship, the freezing wind, the snow and the ice I would have happily continued walking. I had hugely enjoyed the sights and challenges of the last twelve days – and I had particularly relished having the paths, fells, moors and mountains mostly to ourselves.
There is a book behind the bar which anyone who completes the Coast to Coast may sign. Pat and I were quite astonished that no-one had signed it since late 2012.
We were the very first of 2013.
The following morning after a wonderful breakfast of Eggs Benedict (not a Full English you’ll note) at the charming ‘Northcliff B&B‘ I walked down to catch my bus to Scarborough.
The bus was very late and when it finally arrived it was obvious that it was chronically ill. It wheezed all the way to Scarborough at a sedate walking speed – slower still going uphill. I missed my train by three minutes and had to pay £91.30 for a new ticket. So that was jolly.
My original plan to walk on to Scarborough from RHB would have been cheaper, probably faster and much more fun.