Coast To Coast Diary

> Day Sixteen

SATURDAY 24th OCTOBER 2009

A FITTING END!


Tom was back at Newcastle University now and had been for around five weeks. On this particular night, the night before the final section, PL was sleeping in Tom’s bed as he had a bad cold. It didn’t sound good from were I was lying, all that coughing and sneezing and tossing and turning, even I was having trouble dozing off. When the alarm went off at six he was up shoving tablets in his mouth and shoving Vic up his nose! He looked outside to see it was still raining as it had been most of the night. Ah well Maize he said, this is it, the final section today, maybe it won’t be raining up there. But I knew by the way he said it that it would be raining up there, he wasn’t fooling anyone, least of all me. I heard him telling Theresa on the Friday that it had been forecast heavy rain for Saturday but I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t call it off because he so much wanted to get it finished before the clocks went back as he had said at the beginning on St Bees Head.

On that first section we had walked the last hour in the dark on the road from Low Cock How Farm to the car park at Ennerdale Water and he wasn’t in a hurry to repeat that on the cliffs of Robin Hoods Bay. Coming back home in the car last week Smithy was saying to PL that he wanted PL to take his own car on the last section as Smithy wanted to have a drink sitting outside Wainwrights Bar and watch us walking down the hill while he sat there sipping a nice cool pint of lager. If the weather had been like it was last week then yes he could probably do that but if it was like it is now as we go out to our car, he won’t be sitting outside anywhere. It is dark, cold and wet as we climb in to the car and PL starts the engine and turns the heaters up. After a while we drive down to Nicky’s but the house is in darkness. Then we drive up to Smithy’s house and after another while Smithy comes out to join us. Alex asked about Nicky and PL said he sent him a text through the week but didn’t get a reply and also he told him that we went down to Nicky’s before going to Smithy’s and the house was all in darkness so we take it that Nicky’s coast to coast is finished. Ah well said Smithy, we’ll all be finished after today anyway, what you got planned next asked Smithy? PL said he had thought of something but would tell him later. Smithy laughed as PL swung the car off the roundabout and onto the M62 slip road.

We arrived at the big car park on the Grosmont road turning off the A169 Whitby road only to find it still locked as it was last week. But this time we could just park at the side of the road as there was not much traffic unlike last week when it was the annual war weekend and it was choc a bloc. After a quick sandwich and a look at the map we were off on our last section of our coast to coast walk starting at the sign post pointing towards Littlebeck going across Sleights Moor to the main A169.

As we approached the main road Smithy passed in the car on his way to May Bank car park (it’s a comfort to know that your sherpa is never far away ha ha!). Walking along the grass verge of A169 towards Whitby on this cold wet morning we must have looked a weird sight to all the people sitting inside their nice warm tin boxes that were speeding by and sometimes chucking the odd puddle in our direction. But we didn’t care, we were on our last section, we were on a mission, we were the two musketeers, one for all and sod the rest! We would soon be off this rat race of a road and on our way to Mr Robin Hoods Bay, yippee! We past a farm gate and PL checked the GPS to find we had a little way to go and a bit further up was the gate that we were to go through. We went through the gate on a path which then turns in to a stony track and eventually to a lane. This lane leads us steeply down to Littlebeck and a quick bend to the left then right and we come across our sign for Falling Foss.

Through a gate here then along a path through the woods which was very muddy today but it was a very nice walk and it eventually brought us up to The Hermitage. The Hermitage is a huge boulder which had been hollowed out for a Littlebeck schoolmaster, George Chubb whose initials are carved alongside the date and the title. There are seats inside and also on top for anyone wishing for a rest.

But after we took our picture we pressed on as we were suppose to be meeting Smithy at Falling Foss and PL says that he would probably be there by now but having said that, we were not far away from it either. Going along the path we came to a signpost that said car park straight ahead and Falling Foss was down to the right. We followed this and we could hear the waterfall as we were walking down towards it then all of a sudden we could see it through the trees. PL said later that either because of the weather or maybe something to do with the batteries in the camera all the pictures he took on this day were not good to say the least. He took a few of Falling Foss but this is the only one that he could use and it in no way reflects what we viewed. No sign of Smithy here so PL got his phone out and gave him a ring and sure enough the bold Smithy didn’t let us down as PL had correctly predicted, his phone was switched off!

Onwards then passing Midge Hall (which according to our book was looking for a buyer but when we passed, it was opened) going left and over a bridge across the stream coming up to a lane and a coast to coast sign at the other side was pointing into the woods. We followed this only to hit the stream again but this time no bridge or stones across. There were two points we could cross at but PL said no matter which one he was going to get wet and this was daft because back there on the lane there was a bridge across. So we retraced our steps and bumping into two women PL was telling the tale of the stream crossing saga and they said they had been further up the stream but no signs of crossing there so they agreed he was right to go back and cross at the bridge. As we approached the bridge Smithy was coming across it from the other side. Where have you been the two of them said at once? After the tales were told we walked back to the waterfall with Smithy and pointed him on a path that would lead him to The Hermitage, then going the other way it would lead him to his car park. We wanted the other car park about ¾ of a mile away so we set off saying to Smithy we would see him at High Hawsker.

Through the woods on a nice muddy path to the car park at the end then turning left on a road that took us past May Beck Farm and just after this we turned right on a signed path going across Sneaton Low Moor. It was becoming misty now as we headed towards the road. On reaching the road we turned right and if we would have stayed on this road it would have brought us out on the very busy and very dangerous A171.

The path we wanted was on the left hand side of the road. But there are two paths and they are very close together. Our friends Carolyn and Joanne that we met and walked with along section 10 (Whispering Grass) had missed the first path and taken the second path and ended up walking up the A171 to High Hawsker were we met them that day and they said it was terrifying. PL said if we found ourselves at the A171 we would just turn back and find the right path. We could see a signpost ahead through the mist so we crossed over and now we were at the left hand side of the road with the traffic coming behind us, not good but we were nearing the signpost.

As we got nearer PL said he thought he seen something move through the mist at the signpost. He said he thought it was a second post next to the signpost but he was sure it had moved. The mist must play tricks on his eyes because coming across Sneaton Low Moor he thought two people were coming towards us but were in fact little trees! (Of course I knew that!). Then he said he thought he saw a flash of white. Just as I looked up to see what he was going on about I saw a big white sheet of paper blow across the moor away from the road being hotly pursued by a human. This was fun as the human ran this way then that, as the paper went that way then this, he was all over the place (we could see it was a bloke now) as he chased (we can assume it was his map) it all over the place and was, in the end very lucky to get it at all. The map dropped suddenly from the sky from about ten feet above his head as he shot past it faster than an Olympic gold medallist wearing Speedo’s. His quick thinking was his good fortune as he spun round and stuck his hand out in the faint hope that he might get it before it took off into outer space again but get it he did, just managing to grab a corner as it flapped about wildly trying to escape again but to no avail as he reeled it in.

The mapchaser then went back to the signpost and got there as we arrived, ‘Alright’ PL said to him and he got scare number 2 in as many seconds as he jumped at the sound of the voice coming out of the mist not knowing anyone was there. After he regained his composure he said hello in return. He had a helmet on then as he bent down we could see that he was picking up his mountain bike which he had laid in the grass to obviously to look at his map. As he wheeled his trusty steed away I bet he was wondering if we had seen any of his strictly come dancing moves, yes buddy, we seen them all!

Onwards we went on our final moor crossing of Graystone Hills. This was very boggy but I was enjoying it very much running away from, and then back to PL showing my delight. This was a long stretch and after a while we came to a dip. In the dip it was really boggy that there was no way we could get across that without parts of us disappearing into it. I remember on the first section my little legs disappearing into the mud at Stanley Pond.

Then there were the bogs just after The Nine Standards, and here we are again. We walked to the left and kept on walking to try and find a half decent crossing with PL checking the GPS that we were not going to far out the way. We could see were peoples feet had gone in as they left marks where they crossed but we just kept walking and finally skirted the bog completely, hurrah! We found a path again and it leads us to a gate that was tied. There were no notices on this gate, it was just tied closed. So we tried a few other ways but the GPS didn’t like the other ways it wanted to go through that gate. So through that gate we went (well, PL went over it and I went under it and we were on a path that lead us up to another gate, but this time it had a notice on it saying no public access, or words to that effect. But we could see that there was a path running alongside the fence and consulting the GPS once more we were going the right way. We wondered why the gate was tied shut, had we gone wrong somewhere or was the coast to coast closed for the winter! We carried on along the path and it took us to a gate in the corner, then eventually on to a road.

At a right bend in the road we spotted some old familiar bovine faces and just had to go over and say our goodbyes and to wish them all the best, and tell them we had no hard feelings about being lobbed over a barbed wire wall and hoped they had no hard feelings about us tramping through their homes. Then it was uphill to the A171 and after a little while there was a break in the traffic so we scurried across to find Smithy not sitting on the bench, but sitting in the car. He said it stopped raining so he got out to light a fag then it started again so he got back in. We then went up and had a seat on the bench and Smithy took our picture. We said our goodbyes again for what was to be the last time on the coast to coast and we set off walking towards the cliffs and Smithy set off driving towards Robin Hoods Bay.

We went up the road then on a path that takes you onto the road into the caravan sites. After the second site the path runs down onto the cliffs and rejoins the Cleveland Way. And there is, The North Sea in front of us, a welcoming sight, but not because I want the coast to coast to end, it’s just that I want this section to end now. We turn right on the path and head in the direction of Robin Hoods Bay. The weather is foul now with the wind and the rain battering us just as it did on the first section on the cliffs at St Bees. Well this is a fitting end I must say, but how else should it end? It should end this way, it’s a perfect ending to a perfect walk that had everything. Weather wise for the distance that was covered, we really didn’t see that much rain. We got soaked on the first section, sure, then it rained a bit on the second section, and chapter five was even called mair rain. On that one we got drenched going from Grasmere to Patterdale. Then on the last 15 minutes on the Shap to Kirkby Stephen stretch it came down so hard we got well and truly soaked with nowhere to shelter so we just walked to the sherpa. The only one other time I remember was sitting in the car at Keld waiting for the heavy rain to go off and eventually it did and we ended up with sunshine on Reeth! Apart from all that lot the rest of the coast to coast was done in the dry, and in some cases really beautiful sunny days. But not today, not here on the cliffs at Robin Hoods Bay, here on the cliffs at Robin Hoods Bay, it was meant to end like this. We trudge along the path and in a good day maybe it is a fine walk, but not today, this is just mud mud mud. Up and down on the muddy path with PL slipping more than once. On this horrible day it surprised me to see so many people out walking with their dogs in this weather, are they mad! No normal sane person would bring their K9 loyal friend up on to these cliffs on a day like this.

After a couple miles of mud PL whips his camera out and takes a snap of Robin Hoods Bay as I guess we are nearing the end of the cliffs. We go through a gate and on to a path then onto the tarmac (thank God), as we walk down the road to our destination, The North Sea. There are more people with dogs around here than there were up on the cliffs but these shop hugging humans tend to be less active than their counterparts on the cliffs. More your Scottie Dog type old person or your Chav with his Bull Mastiff who would be much more suited to Brid. We reach The Bay Hotel and it is looking very much that Wainwrights Bar is closed, there is certainly no one sitting outside. It says on the door that the upstairs bar is open so Smithy must be up there. Just as we are about to go up we hear a familiar voice shouting, hoy. We turn around to see Smithy sitting in the shelter at the other side. He said he didn’t want to go in the bar upstairs as the idea was to sit outside with a pint and watch us walk down, maybe next time Smithy!

Alex takes a picture of me and Tony in all our wet glory standing outside Wainwrights Bar. Then he takes another one of us having a giggle on the bench underneath the coast to coast sign that says the end. But it is not the end because as was said, our destination is The North Sea and we haven’t reached that yet. So we set off and this time this really is it. We walk onto the sand and the sea is quite a bit out but I’m sure we can manage that.

I’ve still got plenty of energy left and feel as though I want to go on for ever. I wonder what’s at the other side of this water, well maybe not. As the two human’s stand there looking out to sea Alex says to Tony ‘You know, you didn’t really do it properly’ Tony has a puzzled look on his face and if dogs can have a puzzled look on their faces, then I have one on mine. Smithy says ‘You didn’t carry a pebble all the way across’. PL lost his pebble in between sections one and two were there was a month’s break and it didn’t look like they would continue but then picked back up again. Tony says ‘But we walked every step of the way, surely that’s our coast to coast?’ But Alex said no, the proper way is to carry a pebble across. So Tony said ‘And what do you propose we do about it now? Don’t you think it’s a bit late in the day to change anything?’ and Smithy says ‘You’ll just have to do it again next year’ and Maisie thought “YES PLEASE!