(26th March 2013 – 16½ miles)
So here it was. My last day on the Coast to Coast. And, for the last time, 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 managed to polish off another one. Just for old time’s sake.
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 became quite heavy
and I wondered whether, just for fun, the C2C was going to throw another, last blizzard at me.
But it was a short-lived flurry and I have to say, I was a little disappointed as it petered out. I’d become accustomed to walking in harsh, even extreme weather and a little addicted. Snowdrifts, blizzards, strong winds and ice had really spiced up my experience of walking Wainwright’s path.
In Grosmont, the level-crossing for the North York Moors Railway closed as I approached and, as I leaned on a railing, Pat caught up with me. If we hadn’t walked every step of the last twelve days together we would certainly finish the walk together.
I’m not particularly interested in steam trains but I watched entranced as the beautiful 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 slowly away, I was disappointed that we didn’t have time for a little toot-toot up the valley aboard that marvellous machine.
Beyond Grosmont, we climbed the very last – the very, very last of so very many – big hill of the walk. And what a whopper. 700ft straight up from the town centre.
The last day of our 200-mile walk across England wasn’t a crashing crescendo climax. The grey overcast sky didn’t help but it did seem that the C2C had almost finished with us, that it was winding down to a full stop.
Soon after the climb out of Grosmont, we entered 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 speechless with gratitude and delight as I washed it down with a big mug of Earl Grey. Why hadn’t we stopped more often for tea and cake? Anyone? Why? Foolishness is why.
The moorland of Graystone Hills was sodden and the paths vague and difficult to follow. Icy sleet made peering forward difficult too. 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 cruelly elusive. But after a fine, late lunch at the ‘Hare and Hounds‘ in High Hawkser and a traipse through the strange, uncertain world of a static caravan park
there it was: the North Sea. We had done it, we’d bloody well done it. We’d walked from (not very) shiny sea to (not very) shiny sea. But as we rejoined the Cleveland Way for the last 3 miles to Robin Hood’s Bay, my reaction was a sense of triumph mixed with regret that my holiday was almost over.
Though the path ran high above the waves, spume from the strong easterly had blown up onto the grass and froze.
Where the path dipped closer to the sea, we cautiously entered a wide alien world of frozen spume and spray. The result was stunning if freaky. I’ve never seen anything like it.
The Cleveland Way 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 from RHB.
After about an hours walk along the coast, and catching me by surprise almost, we finally saw Robin Hood’s Bay.
With big grins on our faces, if not holding hands, 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) waited with a bottle of champagne and smiles – thanks, Sue.
We had finished.
Next to the ‘The Bay Hotel’ on a slippy slipway, I fished out the small pebble I’d picked up from St Bees beach eleven days before and hurled it out into the foamy water. The high tide swept in and washed my boots – and with wetted boots from both the Irish and North Seas, I completed the walk’s two rituals initiated in St Bees. Unfortunately, tragically even, Pat hadn’t picked up and carried a pebble nor had he splashed his boots at the start. It fell to me to announce – formally – that his walk didn’t actually count. He told me to get stuffed, which I thought rude.
We retired to ‘Wainwright’s Bar’ in the hotel for a pint and self-congratulation. Our satisfaction at completing the walk was well earned I think; as was the relief that, whatever the weather had thrown at us, we had been allowed to finish. But despite the hardship, exhaustion, the freezing wind, the snow and sleet; the daily face-off with a cooked breakfast, the weak coffee that so many B&B’s excel in, the lack of cake and the real fear of a closed sign in a pub window, I would have very happily continued walking. Hell, I wanted to continue walking.
I had hugely enjoyed the sights and trials of the last twelve days – and particularly relished having the remote paths, fells, moors and mountains almost entirely to ourselves.
Behind the bar is a book which anyone who completes the Coast to Coast may sign. Pat and I were astonished that no-one had signed it since late 2012.
We were the very first of 2013 to walk Wainwright’s Coast to Coast path. And of that, I’m proud.
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 into the town 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, as my pre-booked one was no longer valid. How I chuckled.
My original plan to walk on to Scarborough from RHB would have been cheaper, probably faster and far more fun.
If having read my experience of walking Wainwright’s wondrous path you think you’d like to do it yourself, I’ve written a post with tips and advice – HERE.
I’ve also condensed the whole 12 days of my trip into one post on my other blog, ‘The Anxious Gardener‘.
13 thoughts on “Coast to Coast: Day 12 – Egton Bridge to Robin Hood’s Bay”
David, what a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable read. I discovered your blog while looking for personal journals of Coast to Coast adventures to share with a friend before we set off on my 20th anniversary crossing last September (He hadn’t walked a long distance path before). Your photographs bring back good memories for me and also confirm I am no photographer when comparing with your efforts. Finally, I am mightily impressed with your resilience and stamina when facing such terrible weather conditions and chuckled many times at your humour. Great work. I’ll be working my way through your other walks and dream of my third C2C at some point in the future – so long as my wife retains her current level of understanding 😉 Good luck on your future endeavours….. Mike
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Hi Mike, thanks for this. I have so many great memories of the walk and I’m even beginning to think that I’ll redo the C2C – whilst I still can. Thing is, there are so many other superb walks to do. In September I walked the Dales High Way and that too is a great walk. There’s too many is the problem and I’ve made it harder by eyeing some of the Scottish ones. Now what? All the best and thanks again, D
I’ve just read the complete blog and thoroughly enjoyed it, great work. I’ve done bits of this walk over many years and am now far too old, creaking and unfit, to even contemplate it… Like you, one of my favourite bits is the Cleveland Way – the Lordstones Cafe is now up and running again after a few years of being renovated, well worth dropping in for a steak, along Carlton Bank (just before the climb up to the Falconer seat). I didn’t realise the C to C took in Falling Foss and have to agree with you about the tea garden there, it is fabulous (I remember when it was nothing but a ruin.) The Lion Inn at Blakey is also a great Inn, but don’t get a bedroom above the bar and toilets – all you hear are the hand driers blasting hot air all evening. A walk up to Blakey Ridge was my only ‘out of summer ‘experience late in October one year. The wraparound sunglasses I optimistically packed and the bank robber style scarf wrapped around my face, kept me from having shard like rain/hail hit me full on in the face. Still – looking like the invisible woman, a very kind driver asked if I wanted a lift to the Inn just as the sky turned jet black and I gratefully hopped in.. Not that I would ever let on to my daughter that I gladly accept lifts from strangers. After thawing out in one of the hottest steamiest baths I have ever had at the Lion Inn, I went for a couple of Baileys, it is such a friendly pub, everyone talks to everybody…. Another great walk is the Black Sail route, if you get the chance to stay at the YHA there – do, although I think they’ve added a few mod cons since I last stayed. I have to agree every time I’ve walked it – I’ve needed a compass. Too late now to read your other blogs – but have really enjoyed reading them.. thank you
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Hello Marie, I’m so glad you liked my account. This seems an historical document now, 4 years plus on but I still have terrific memories of the walk. The Cleveland Way is smashing. I last walked it in 2011 and it’s calling to me again now. I stopped at Lordstones on that occasion and know what a lifesaver it can be. Though I don’t think they offered steak back then!
I’m not sure where my room at The Lion was in relation to the loos and bar but actually, I was so tired after that walk I doubt anything would have kept me awake. Brilliant pub though and I want to stay there when I next walk the Cleveland Way (though it is a long diversion). I do like the picture of you dressed as the invisible woman (and a driver brave enough to offer you a lift).
As for Black Sail, I should love to overnight there but it’s closed over the winter when I normally go to the Lakes. I stayed in a cottage in Ennerdale Bridge a couple of years ago, and on Christmas Day we walked up to the Youth Hostel. The upper valley was empty of people and we had all that grandeur to ourselves (before rushing back to cook a late lunch). Certainly worked up an appetite.
Thanks for taking the time to comment and share your experiences. (And I’m sure you looked more like Audrey Hepburn than the invisible woman). When I make it to The Lion, and you’re in the area. the Baileys are on me. Dave
Congratulations David. A fantastic achievement and a brilliant read. It certainly is very inspiring to see someone brave enough to do the walk in snow! Loved the photos too.
Reading your blog has made me even more excited about doing the C2C again in June 2014, having previously completed it in June 2012. Last time I walked it I had quite a lot of rain, with the main exceptions being the first and last days. This time I have put in an order for sunny days!
I have been debating whether to take a SLR or compact digital. Having seen your great photos, and looked back at my last lot that I took, have decided on both – just in case.
Again, congratulations on your success. Best wishes for all of your future adventures.
Thank you Paul. It is always nice to hear from other Coast to Coasters and please don’t worry, I’ve confirmed your order for June fine weather. If it is of any interest I do carry quite a heavy camera (Nikon D7000) and a big telephoto. So a compact is an attractive proposition but taking photos is a big part of my walks so I wouldn’t be without my DSLR. (I do take some shots with my phone too – though not on the C2C). Thanks again and I hope your C2C goes well. And best wishes for all your future adventures too! Dave
Here I am, sitting at my desk in my home on Long Island, finishing the first cup of tea of the day, and already I feel as if I’ve earned a glass of champagne and a nice nap by a blazing fire for having completed and arduous and soulful 12-day cross-country ramble…and it’s only 8:17am. What on earth am I going to do for the rest of the day?
Wonderful, riveting, gleeful, and luscious: I loved all twelve chapters. Thank you — you are a smart and artful storyteller. (And now I have to get my husband to read this…he’s been talking about doing the Wainwright walk for years. I wonder if this will change his mind, or convince him to hurry up and DO IT.)
Hello Vivian, thank you so much for your comment. I’ve just been walking across Northern England again (hence my delay in replying) and I got your comment on the only bad weather day I experienced and it really cheered me up. I do hope my account won’t put off your husband – my experience was quite unusual (for March) and if anything enhanced the whole walk. I loved it – well, mostly. Thanks again and I hope he/you DO IT, Dave
“A little toot toot”?!! Ah well, you clearly experienced some brain damage somwhere along the way, a combination of altitude, snow and too many full english breakfasts, perchance… Shame that the end was a little anticlimatic, but huge kudos to you, for doing the walk at all, and particularly for doing it in such “interesting” weather. I hope you have invested in a snorkle and mask for whatever walk you plan to tackle this year, I think you might need it!
Hi Janet, ‘toot toot’ probably comes from reading too much ‘Wind in the Willows’ – and a yearning to be Mr Toad. I am beginning to imagine two weeks of splashing across England and I think I might need something other than a snorkle and mask. Lend me your boat would you? Dave
You are welcome tothe boat but given the number of holes in it best invest in full diving gear as well as your trusty gortex gaiters, not sure they would be much help!
Woo hoo! Good for you! What a lovely last day — the snow really brings out the warmth in all those russet-brown hedges and woods. I hope Pat took the news well about his walk not counting…
Horses in the States have hooves rather than wheels, and they all come with 4. Just a little cultural trivia for you.
I hope you’re getting psyched about your next walk!
Pat took absolutely no notice of me whatsoever, Stacy. Quite rightly. And I’m getting worried rather than psyched about my next walk. It is in less than four weeks and we’re still having a deluge. I think my run of ‘walks-when-it-didn’t-rain’ is coming to an end. Dave