When – Friday 17 May 2013
Where – Glaisdale to Robin Hood’s Bay
Distance – 19 miles
Walking with – Annette, Dr Dave & Original Steve
Home for the night – Northcliff B&B
Weather – Dry. And in the morning it was even sunny. Bonus!
Fourteen days and 200 miles away from where we started, Annette, I, and a gaggle of great people we’ve met along the way finished the Coast to Coast walk today. Apparently around 7,000 people a year think it’s a good idea to walk across the north of England on a two week or so holiday. Around 30 of us finished it today, having spent the last two weeks bumping into each other in pubs or on the trail, swapping C2C gossip and tall tales (count yourself lucky I never told you the tale of Barry and what happened to his chaffing underpants) as we went. It’s been fabulous. Even the bits where I walked freezing cold and utterly sodden, in fog, for hours on end. Here’s how the last day went…
It was only fitting that Annette and I did our final walk of the trip in the very good company of Dr Dave & Original Steve, who we first met on Day 1, climbing up Dent Hill on our approach to the Lake District. With 19 miles left to cover we set out shortly before 9am with some sunshine and blue skies turning out to accompany us on our way.
A very pretty walk, much of it along the River Esk or through forest, took us through the picture postcard villages of Egton Bridge and Grosmont, where the Whitby to Pickering steam train was ‘snapped’ as we waited by the railway crossing. A steep but satisfying climb up a quiet road took us back up onto the moors again – and what a view from Sleights Moor. Stunning. Photos were taken and one of them is below. More moor (tee hee) walking took us down to Littlebeck, where we stopped for cake by a bench, and where Dr Dave got to use his Swiss Army knife for the first and only time on the walk to cut Annette’s cake. I’m pleased to report that the operation was a complete success.
We only gave ourselves about 30 minutes of walking between there and the lovely outdoor tea rooms at Falling Floss, where we felt compelled to stop again (and where we saw the Gang of 15, having originally said what we thought were our farewells to them a few days before). WHAT a 30 minute walk though – Little Beck Wood is enchanting, with waterfalls, a hermitage and, I swear, if you look hard enough, you’ll find pixies and fairies in those woods too.
After the woods came another climb and then we were up on Sneaton Low Moor, which we thought was a bit boggy: until we got to Graystone Hills, which is actually a moor. A very boggy moor. ‘Walk on water’ Original Steve seemed to get across unscathed (or so he KEPT telling us), and Dr Dave didn’t do too badly. Annette and I? We did less well, and apparently my exclamations as I repeatedly sunk into the bog were just a long line of expletives. Luckily no swear box was in sight, otherwise I’d have been bankrupt. Suffice to say, the last bit of my walk didn’t involve dry boots.
After 10 minutes of trying to figure out where the footpath was we headed down a farmland track and then by road to Low Hawsker and then High Hawsker… where we stopped for our third refuelling break of the day at a tea room by the holiday camp. Yup, the four of us were on our final victory lap of the C2C relay, giddy on the excitement of being so close to finishing, and we were ‘tea-stopping’ at every opportunity. Although that may be me interpreting that through a Ibuprofen haze – funny how they never seem to talk about left shin injuries with professional sportspeople. Bet they have some fancy name for it. Anyway, it was hurting a bit by that point, and Dr Dave prescribed more drugs as the answer to my woes.
Right after the caravan park was… (Cue drumroll) the North Sea – our final cliff top approach to Robin Hood’s Bay and Wainwright’s Bar at the Bay Hotel. After two weeks of walking it was a slightly surreal experience to be walking down into Bay (as the locals call it), to be greeted on arrival by many of our new walking friends we met along the way (a lot of whom were, of course, called Steve).
As we strolled down to the beach for the ceremonial dipping of our boots in the sea, Dr Dave and Annette suddenly made a run for it, beating Original Steve to the finish in the closing moments of our 200 mile walk. Very, very funny. We were lucky enough to get the moment – along with some shots on the beach, captured by photographer Steve, who really truly is a proper photographer.
More photos, then the Gang of 15 disappeared up the road to their bus and we went to the pub for a beer. And then another beer. Our long walk was over. The shin will heal but the memories will last a lifetime. Thank you to everyone who has spent the last two weeks walking the Coast to Coast. You are some of the kindest, best humoured, & most wonderfully eccentric people I’ve ever met, and I had an absolute ball.
Photos, from top to bottom: the view from Sleights Moor, our first cake break of the day, the first view of Robin Hood’s Bay, Dr Dave & Annette making a dash for the sea, (left to right) Original Steve, Dr Dave, me and Annette dipping our boots in the sea, True Bromance – Photographer Steve (left) & Australian Steve (right), The Gang of 15 heading off for a final time.