|Robin Hood's Bay was our destination|
Pete and Lyn did this walk in September 2011 and thought it might interest our clients and readers if a description were to be included on the blog. So for the record, it took 14 days to complete the walk starting at St Bees on Monday 12th September and finishing at Robin Hood's Bay on Sunday 25th September. We did not take photographs of each day's walk because the weather was not always kind to us and photography was the last thing we wanted to do. When the weather was bad we simply got on with the walk and concentrated on keeping as dry as possible.
We arrived at the Seacote Hotel in St. Bees on Sunday 11th September after collecting our clients (8 Americans) at Penrith railway station and then travelling by hired coach to the hotel. After a briefing session we went down to the beach and collected pebbles as souvenirs ready for our epic journey and also dipped our toes in the Irish Sea for luck! The following morning we had an early breakfast at 8 am and set off to take photos at the starting stone at 9am.
|Hurrican Katia is turning the sea into raging white foam and I am hanging onto my cap|
|The white specs are foam blown from the waves at us|
End of day one
The next morning we set off to walk along the side of Ennerdale Water. The route takes the right hand side until at the end of the lake you cross over onto the left side and continue along the valley.
|Ennerdale Water in the morning sunlight|
|Pillar in sight|
|Black Sail Hut early summer with Pete and Bella on the right|
|Leaving Ennerdale behind and climbing Loft Beck|
|Scafell Hotel, Rosthwaite|
Next morning our route took us up Greenup Gill past Eagle Crag. We followed the path towards Lining Crag in very poor conditions indeed. The going was so wet that the footpaths were small streams and the stream crossings were very difficult to get over. More than once our clients were rescued as they tripped into the streams on the slippery rocks. I had never been up Greenup Gill in such challenging weather and the ascent beside Lining Crag called for a good deal of patience on our behalf to help our clients find the best footing. At one point we helped another party who were following us too.
|Eagle Crag photo taken on a better day than we had|
But we still had a difficult stream to cross at the bottom. This photo was taken 4 weeks previously when it was not in spate.
|Lyn crossing the stream on a good day!|
|Red Lion Hotel, Grasmere|
End of day three
The next day there was time to see some of the sights of Grasmere including William Wordsworth's residence, Dove Cottage and to go into the small museum on the site too. We also bought some famous Grasmere Gingerbread from Sarah Nelson's and then passed the church on the way back to the Red Lion.
|Grasmere, detail of the church door.|
|Looking back towards Grasmere as we head up to Grisedale Tarn|
|Dollywagon reflected in the calm waters of Grisedale Tarn|
|The view down Grisedale past the Brother's Parting Stone|
The stone marks the place at which William Wordsworth, in September 1800, last saw his brother John. Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley erected a stone in 1882 with this inscription
- Here did we stop; and here looked round
- While each into himself descends,
- For that last thought of parting Friends
- That is not to be found.
- Brother and friend, if verse of mine
- Have power to make thy virtues known,
- Here let a monumental Stone
- Stand–sacred as a Shrine
End of day four
We needed a good rest because the next day was going to be our toughest yet at about 19 miles long because we had to walk from Glenridding to Patterdale in order to pick up our route. As we set off the wind increased and the sky became grey with ominous cloud increasing as we climbed away from Ullswater up Boredale Hause towards Angle Tarn Pikes where the mist came down and enveloped our group. Pete whipped out his compass and map and doggedly tracked our progress over this difficult to navigate ground. By this time the rain was coming down too and a significant wind chill had developed so we halted whilst gloves were produced and clothing adjusted; and then we kept on moving to keep warm. We were heading for the highest part of the whole coast to coast trail at 2560 feet Kidsty Pike was going to be even colder. We did not stop to take any photos because the mist was so bad but the picture below shows the view on a good day.
|A view of Haweswater from the Kidsty Pike area|
Eventually we started our long descent and the group became split up with the lead group way ahead in the mist, I stayed in the middle making sure I kept an eye on the leaders and the stragglers and acted as their guide in my dayglo blue jacket. Careful planning beforehand ensured that Pete and I had everyone under control and we had chosen very easy ground for the descent so it went well and fast and we knocked an hour off the usual descent time. Lunch was had at the bottom of Measand Beck and much refreshed we sped along the side of Haweswater to arrive at Burnbanks in much pleasanter weather.
|Haweswater below Measand Beck|
We dallied briefly at Burnbanks before setting off through the woods on the penultimate part of our journey towards Shap Abbey. A twisting maze of fields and lanes and soggy, boggy ground led us eventually to the impressive remains of the tower.
|Shap Abbey in winter|
|The Greyhound a famous Westmorland hostelry dating back to 1680|
End of day five
An easier day beckoned as we set off leaving Lakeland behind us for the less rugged scenery which is limestone country. We crossed the M6 over a footbridge and made good progress in much better weather and also (according to Wainwright) this marked the end of one third of our distance as the crow flies! Our route took us through high moorland and limestone pavements with dry conditions under foot. The day's treat lay in store ahead in the form of the Orton Chocolate Factory Shop. This is a sublime experience and it happened to be our lunch stop. The cafe was so crowded. I decided to buy some goodies in the shop instead and stood outside in the dappled sunlight and eat my lunch in the open air.
|Tempting display at Orton|
It was good to be out of the rain and wind as we continued our journey east. We delighted in the change of scene because here were fields with lush grass and different breeds of sheep and easier walking with loads of stiles to go through and over. But best of all was our next stop off, Ravenstonedale, a real Westmorland welcome and retreat.
|Eventide at the Black Swan|
End of day six
After a delicious breakfast at the Black Swan where you could even order duck eggs, we gathered up our rucksacks and headed off towards Smardale Bridge and rejoined the route as we had made a slight detour to Ravenstonedale the night before. Near here we passed a field with several 'pillow mounds'. These are large rectangular raised mounds which are quite ancient and are a subject which Wainwright discusses in his 'A Coast to Coast Walk' page 68. We next passed by a couple of lime kilns one of which was in good order and I had a quick peek at it but no photos as we had to press on to Kirkby Stephen for lunch. This was to be an easy morning walk before a longer afternoon session. So at 'Megabites' we halted and ordered our baguettes before sitting in the shelter outside the parish church of St. Stephen for our meal. Then it was round the corner and off towards the village of Hartley before climbing steadily towards Hartley Fell and then up steeper ground in increasing mist and bad visibility until we came to our objective which was Nine Standards Rigg.
|A misty Nine Standards Rigg|
|The view of our route from Nine Standards|
We continued south until we came to a prominent pillar which marks the way down towards Ney Gill.
|The moorland road|
|Crossing the bridge at Ravenseat|
Here was a farm which did afternoon teas but sadly when we arrived on a late Sunday afternoon these were finished, but there were tables set out and the farm terriers were rushing up to say hello and we sat down and shared our few morsels with them. The farmer's son came down to say hello and informed us that the little white terrier was called 'Chalky' so I called her name and she immediately rolled on her back for her tummy to be rubbed. We left the farm envigorated and, with not far to go, a new spring in our step. Our route went down the side of Whitsundale beck past a wonderful deep ravine and on towards the road under Cotterby Scar and crossed the River Swale via a bridge to a junction on the B6270. This was where our transport was waiting to take us to The Tan Hill Inn.
End of day seven
Early morning at Tan Hill found us being entertained by two sheep who regularly came into the bar to eat their morning biscuits! They were very fat sheep and my efforts to photograph them on my mobile phone were useless because they kept moving about so much.
|Tan Hill Inn by Mike Gallucci|
|A typical Yorkshire Barn|
The owners have a reputation for making good cakes and they did not disappoint at all. I had the Lemon Drizzle Cake which was simply divine and others tried the Chocolate Fondant Cake and scones. All of us agreed that it was excellent. The village also has a wonderful shop selling hand knitted woollens and some of our party bought goodies to take back to the USA. We had made a special detour to go to Muker and we had to make our way back and cross the river before we were back on course but all agreed that the extra mile was well worth it.
We continued along the muddy banks of the river and past Gunnerside and crossed many fields containing sheep and cows in lovely sunshine, we squeezed through stiles and we ended up with a bit of a route march along a busy road until we dodged back to the river again. But eventually we came into the outskirts of Reeth and down a little lane which smelt of beer. Yes it was the lane between the two pubs one of which was our lodging for the night, The Black Bull Hotel.
|Black Bull Hotel by Tracy Testin|
End of day eight
We left Reeth in cool weather but no rain and set off along the flat road towards Marske on the way we eventually turned onto a smaller metalled road and then came to Marrick Priory an old Benedictine house founded in the 12th century but dissolved by Henry VIII and now just a ruin with only its tower to be seen. The place is now a thriving outdoor education centre but our attention was diverted by the following rural scene.
|Border Collie sheepdog on guard!|
|Photo by Tracy Testin|
|Photo by Mike Gallucci|
|Elaine's Tea Garden|
We left Nun Cote Nook Farm with our swag and continued our walk along more roads and fields with stiles until we came to the outskirts of Marske. We crossed a bridge across Marske Beck and walked towards an interesting 12th century church of St. Edmund which we stopped at for a peek inside and out.
|Marske Porch by Tracy Testin|
|Marske interior by Tracy Testin|
|First glimpse of Richmond|
|Arriving at The Kings Head Hotel, Richmond|
We had time to spare this day for a good look around Richmond itself and after we checked in that is exactly what we all did. Pete and I went off for a mooch about and found a good place for coffee. The chance to relax and saunter about was really appreciated by everyone after so many hard long days on the march. That evening we had a meal in a very modern setting however, because the table and chairs in our part of the dining room were all perspex and the table was set with glittering candles which reflected in the surface. We enjoyed our meal but I know that most were ready for an early night so although Pete and I offered to take them on a moonlight stroll around the castle walls; none of them wanted to leave the comforts of their hotel rooms!
End of day nine
|Front of The Kings Head, Richmond|
For once we had a leisurely start because we were visiting the castle before leaving and it did not open until 10am.
Pete stayed back to arrange the luggage transfer with the taxi and I took everyone to the castle, where they had a lovely sunny morning so the photographic conditions were very good. It was windy though so you couldn't sunbathe.
|The 11th century Norman keep|
|View of the rooftops of Richmond towards Culloden Tower|
|An archer's eye view from the defences of Richmond Castle, photo by Tracy Testin|
We left Richmond late at about 11am and set off towards the Vale of Mowbray, a flat area much dominated by farmer's fields.
|Photo by Mike Gallucci|
|Bolton on Swale wayside eatery! Photo by Mike Gallucci|
|Photo by Mike Gallucci|
We hadn't been there long before Pete had a close encounter with a Bishop!
|Photo by Tracy Testin|
|The White Swan, Danby Wiske|
End of day ten
We set off the next morning in brighter sunshine and with an easier day's hike as we were going across much flatter terrain whilst we traversed across The Vale of Mowbray. We crossed many fields and stiles and then we had to check everyone was keeping up because our next obstacle was the A19!
|Lyn looking for stragglers.|
Our destination was Ingleby Cross but we passed through Ingleby Arncliffe where there is an interesting water tower (Arts and Crafts style) with a good plaque commemorating the builder.
|Photo by Tracy Testin|
We walked on until we reached our lunch stop The Blue Bell public house where soup and sandwiches had been arranged and very good they were too.
|Outside the Blue Bell Inn|
|Ruins of the priory dating from 1398, photo by Tracy Testin|
|The Main Gate, photo by Tracy Testin|
|Afternoon sun on the Priory, photo by Tracy Testin|
|Queen Catherine Hotel, photo by Mike Gallucci|
End of day eleven
We were up early, usually 6.35 am when my mobile phone alarm abruptly squawked. Breakfast was early too and we all were ready for setting off at 8.30 as this was going to be our longest trek yet, over 20 miles. We had arranged a stop though and we had no rain, so although it was coldish and sometimes overcast that was a bonus; so too were the views.
|Roseberry Topping in the distance, photo by Mike Gallucci|
|The Cleveland Way, photo by Mike Gallucci|
|The path we took over the moors, photo by Mike Gallucci|
|Wainstones in view, photo by Tracy Testin|
|Grouse hunting at Bloworth, photo by Mike Gallucci|
|Former railway track, photo by Tracy Testin|
|Sunset as we reached the inn, photo by Mike Gallucci|
We didn't hang about outside but were shown straight to our rooms, for myself I rushed up to the bar and ordered a half of bitter shandy because I was so thirsty, I had nearly finished it when Pete with the last stragglers came into the bar.
|The cosy bar area at the Lion Inn, photo by Tracy Testin in the morning|
End of day twelve
|Morning at The Lion Inn Blakey, photo by Tracy Testin|
Our route across the moors was made more jolly by the wayside marker stones some of which had names.
Fat Betty is a very prominent site on Glaisdale Moor and most people take a photo of her before setting off again where we soon joined a small country road which meant faster progress and then we left it and branched off to cross Glaisdale Rigg.
|Inscribed with 'Whitby Road'|
|Out for a Saturday morning hack.|
Finally, we descended into Glaisdale itself and had a very cosy lunch under a tree with a tree seat and a bench nearby on a little village green on the way into Glaisdale. This small village lies on the River Esk and has a railway station and a small shop, which we visited and a pub called The Arncliffe Arms which is just above the railway station, the river and the famous Beggar's Bridge.
|River Esk, photo by Tracy Testin|
|Lyn & Carol on the Beggar's Bridge, photo by Tracy Testin|
|Another view of the Beggar's Bridge|
It's early 17th century and everyone stops and has a good look at it as its enchanting. There is also a story behind its building but I won't tell it to you now because you may be coming on the coast to coast one day and it would be a shame to spoil a good yarn. We went across a small wooden bridge and into Arncliffe Woods to continue our trek towards Egton Bridge and passed Egton Manor on the way.
|Egton Manor, photo by Tracy Testin|
And soon we were on the final stages of the road into Grosmont.
|Grosmont is down here somewhere!|
Now the thing about Grosmont if you have not been there, is that it is dominated by The North York Moors Steam Railway, and this is evident the moment you enter the town because the white level crossing gates are the centre of town and the locomotives are hissing steam at you and hooting and tooting too! So you cannot possibly ignore the trains or the fact that they were used in a Harry Potter Film with Goathland Station having been renamed HOGWORTS. But the atmosphere is so exciting too and we arrived at just before 4pm on a busy Saturday afternoon. There was even a wedding party just alighting from some carriages all wearing their posh gear and floral buttonholes. So we offered to take our party up the line to Goathland and then back again, a matter of ten minutes on the train each way. Well most wanted to come along but a couple had sore feet and declined.
|Lyn at Goathland|
|Back at Grosmont|
But we did have an enjoyable ride. Then we had plenty of time to settle into our various hotels before those of us staying in Grosmont took a taxi out to Egton for our excellent evening meal.
|Ye Horseshoe Inn, Egton, photo by Mike Gallucci|
End of day thirteen
We all met up at Grosmont station ready to sort out our lunch time snacks before setting off again on the last day. We had reasonable weather and being our last day it was not going to be more than about 15 miles. But it was an uphill walk out of Grosmont and it went on for quite a bit until we reached the open moors and then the ground flattened out. Not really the place for great photos either but we did see impressive views of Whitby at a distance with its abbey clearly defined against the skyline. We eventually reached Littlebeck where we couldn't look into the pretty little chapel because they were setting up the harvest festival display so we pressed on into the beautiful woods.
|Our path through the wood, photo by Tracy Testin|
|Stunning, photo by Tracy Testin|
|Falling Foss, photo by Tracy Testin|
Before passing this waterfall there is a curious rock shelter called The Hermitage which is carved out of the rock itself, it is a curiosity and was built by George Chubb who put his initials over the entrance in 1790. I did not bother with a photo as it looked a gloomy place. We pressed on through the woods and eventually found a lovely spot for lunch at Old May Beck where we sat down on the grass and took our time. Then we set off for our last plod across the moors before starting to descend down towards the coast, when we reached this sign we knew it was not far to go.
|Getting near the end, photo by Tracy Testin|
However, we were going to stop at Hawsker to have afternoon tea and tea cakes to keep up our strength for the last section. It meant that we no longer would see any more heather which was a pity because it had been our constant delight for many miles, so just for the record here is some of the best we saw.
|The heather clad moors, photo by Mike Gallucci|
After tea we left for the final section of all and headed down towards the Northcliffe caravan site where we passed by many a holiday home before coming to the edge of the cliffs overlooking the North Sea.
|The impressive view up on the cliffs, photo by Tracy Testin|
We still had a bit to go though as we needed to hike along the clifftop path towards the bay.
|Lovely evening sun on the final stage of our walk|
Don't ask me why but everyone seemed to split up into individual walkers, each deep in thought no doubt and really savouring the last half an hour as we made our way towards our goal. Then suddenly we saw our destination ahead in the evening shadowy light.
|First glimpse of the bay, photo by Mike Gallucci|
We stopped at the 'rocket post' and Pete and Lyn fielded many cameras as our group posed for their celebratory photo. It was hard to get everyone to look at the right camera at the right time!
|We did it! photo from Mike Gallucci, but who took it?|
After this we headed into town because it was getting late and the sun was low in the sky. We still had toes to dip in the water and pebbles to toss too but we wanted to check into our hotel and have a chance to unwind before we set off down to the beach.
|Arriving at The Grosvenor Hotel, photo by Mike Gallucci|
Would you believe that half an hour later it was dusk and the photography was very challenging. But we went to the beach anyway and some of us dipped our feet and threw our pebbles away. I decided to keep mine and take it back to Cumbria, I had carried it all the way but somehow I felt it belonged to Cumbria so should go back with me. I know tradition says throw the pebble into the North Sea.
Next we headed for The Bay Hotel for our celebratory meal together. We had a great meal and speeches and we gave out certificates to everyone too but all too soon we were heading up the hill out of the old bay because we wanted our beds. That's the trouble with walking 192 miles; it makes you sleepy.
|Twilight and time to eat, photo by Tracy Testin|
End of day fourteen and end of the hike but not quite the end of story because the next morning we had breakfast together and then waited for our coach to arrive to take us to York where we were all destined to go our separate ways. However, the coach trip from Robin Hood's Bay to York is delightful and we had some wonderful scenery on the way not least when we approached York. The city walls and the Minster were magnificent and so too was the railway station where we parted.....
But, here's the thing, you don't ever forget what you have achieved and who helped you on your way, because this is an experience that cannot be underestimated. It is very hard to do, make no mistake and it is impossible to describe how it feels to be part of it unless you actually are doing it. Afterwards, you wait for ages it seems for the photos to arrive from everyone, but when they do it's magic.
|Magic moors, photo by Mike Gallucci|