Friday, 27 August 2010
Camaradarie grows from the outset on Wainwright's Coast to Coast Walk, as does the friendly banter and laughter which arises from shared events and experiences. That was my enjoyable overall experience and I think it will have been for the thousands before me and will be for those yet to follow. So for those reasons, I would recommend this walk. But of course there are many other things that contribute - the scenery, the challenge, and so on. And there is space sufficient for solitude for lengthy periods.
If I have a regret then it is that I didn't carry a pebble. There is a tradition of carrying a stone, taken from the shore of the Irish Sea at St Bees, which can be flung into the North Sea upon arrival at Robin Hood's Bay. I didn't quite see the point (I can be a right face ache at times). But on reflection I wish I had, although undoubtedly for the wrong reason. It occured to me that should a new civilisation, similar to ours, evolve millions of years from now, after an apocalypse say, then it would give me some satisfaction to expire with the thought that those interested in such matters in a far distant future might for ever wonder how stones from one side of the country got to the other side. No one would ever conclude that people just "did it" in the way that others might have just "done it" when constructing the mysterious Nine Standards Rigg.
So, for enjoyment and mischief, I'll be doing the walk again, and carrying a brick of course.
Friday, 20 August 2010
Leaving the B&B in Grosmont, the owner said considerately, "Take your time up that hill." Thirty minutes later I realised just how considerate he had been. It was a breathtaking start to the day, but a climb, I noted with satisfaction, that would have taken me twice as long had it been on the first day of the walk rather than the last.
The plan had been to consider camping at Priory Farm overnight despite it's appalling reviews. But Bryn, aware of my concerns, had secretly booked a B&B. Revealing the secret at camp breakfast that morning was a great and welcome surprise.
It felt as if we had completed The Coast to Coast when we reached the cliff top above the North Sea. But really it ended with celebrations in The Wainwright's Bar, by the shore in Robin Hood's Bay.
To especially: the lovely family of five from London who, impressively camped every night; Anthony a really nice guy who, remarkably, completed the walk after most complicated heart surgery; Markus & Andrea, a very special couple from Germany; Jane & Mark, who led the flock over Kidsty Pike; Bryn, who put up with my teasing; and the many others for contributing to my (almost total) enjoyment of The Coast to Coast Walk - Thank you!
That's it for now but I'll post a final piece next week, when my kit is washed and packed ready, hopefully for another walk as good as this one.
Thursday, 19 August 2010
Our tents and nerves were severely tested last night. I'm accustomed to the Terra Nova Laser Competition tent flapping about somewhat in the wind but it was gusting almost gale force ovenight and accompanied by driving rain.
I'm zipped in three times: sleeping bag, inner and outer tent, so the prospect of trying to get out should the tent come down kept me awake.
The tent is truly excellent though. I should have known that of course, but last night's experience has left me completely reassured of that fact. I use the pole hood, Bryn doesn't. Both tents were still totally secure in the morning, waking to a bright fresh morning, having dropped off eventually.
Bryn made the coffee. I made the porridge. The pub opens the door at 07:30 for campers to use the facilities and we were off soon after, others waiting for breakfast from 08:30.
Yet another fine walk; roads and tracks, high up over spacious moorland, giving way eventually to famland and settlements.
Another great walk. You should try it.
Image: View from Glaisdale Moor.
Wednesday, 18 August 2010
A major part of today's walk is one I have walked many times before because it follows The Cleveland Way for most of its course. In fine weather it's a fantastic walk. I could fill this blog describing it and still not do it justice. It's a tough rollercoaster journey though and for the Coast to Coaster heading for Blakey Ridge, it's a long one of twenty miles. It took us ten hours.
The only thing of note at Blakey Ridge is the pub - The Lion Inn. Regrettably though, it's a sad note; it isn't a pub that I would recomnend to anyone. The beer was first class but the service is indifferent, the building scruffy and the food disgusting. Sorry, but it had to be said.
Coast to Coasters can camp on the field adjacent to the pub, which is what we did, And that is where we chose to eat having cooked our own dinner.
In all though, a great day.
Image 1: Dinner at Blakey Ridge.
Image 2: Roseberry Topping - the pimple on the horizon (not sure if image quality allows, but the North Sea is visible on the horizon).
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
We were up early this morning, other campers rising soon after. I like the atmosphere; nods and grins to each other, across the field, as we quietly go about the business of packing up. Bryn and I enjoy coffee for breakfast followed by porridge and fruit. Our porridge is a 40 gram pre-packed mix each of Ready Brek with a teaspoon of sugar and a tablespoon of Coffee Mate. Combined with hot water to a consistency fit to eat it out of a mug with a spoon, it's a decent, convenient meal.
We have had more level and easy walking today, across farmland (arable and livestock), and along lovely enclosed country lanes (see image), as well as quiet country roads.
One highlight of our day was joining The Cleveland Way - a National Trail that Bryn and I have walked before. Daughter came with us once too, so special memories are revisited as we walk that section. Today we used it in the opposite direction though as a link to reach Osmotherly, just off the route of The Coast to Coast, where we tucked into fish and chips, washed down with Black Sheep Bitter.
We stay in the village tonight at a luxury b&b (Vane House) where we have been able to dry our tents and have hot showers. We're hoping for a good sleep tonight before heading toward Blakey Ridge in the morning. Our simple plan is to camp wild on the moors or in the field behind The Lion Inn.
Monday, 16 August 2010
The whole community had turned out to greet us and the band was playing when we arrived at Danby Wiske. It was a party atmosphere on a hot summer's day, around the green next to the pub. Truly.
Well, all true except for the bit about greeting us. The inabitants of the very small hamlet were celebrating the new landlord and lady's first anniversary at The White Swan, rather than our arrival. Nevertheless, we received a very friendly, well oiled welcome.
There's a well maintained camping field at the back of the pub with a decent, modern toilet and shower (50 pence pieces), outdoor hot water washing sink and clothes line, nicely mown level lawn where tent pegs can be easily driven into the ground. It's quiet too, if you are as lucky as we were with considerate Coast to Coasters either side of us.
There is little food on offer in the pub. However, you can order a takeaway (Chinese, Indian or pizza, to be delivered) and the landlady, who will offer you the menus and the use of their phone, will lay a table for you. Breakfast is available to order too.
Oh - the walk! An easy, enjoyable14 miles along well beaten paths and quiet country roads. Just what I needed with minimal navigation, leaving more time to chat with Bryn.
Sunday, 15 August 2010
Any regular reader of this blog will be aware that I rarely describe routes in detail. I leave that to the experts who publish guide books. Despite the obvious benefits, I am not carrying one having judged each of the many too heavy an item for my pack.
I have read two regarding the Coast to Coast - Paul Hannon's and Alex Steadman's, and browsed through others. However, I do not recall any that mention, nay more, highlight - a growing feature of this walk that sets it apart from any other national type trail that I have completed - the social side; meeting and sharing the experience with others along the way. It's quite incredible and adds temendously to enjoyment of the journey, and I should like to add, whatever the weather.
Today's walk was in glorious weather. Probably the easiest section of the C2C at 11 miles in a leisurely four hours, passing the time of day with Coast to Coasters along the way and at the end of it in Richmond.
And one of my sons, Bryn, arrived safely this evening to walk with me over the next five days and join the party in The Wainwright's Bar in Robin Hood's Bay next week.
Saturday, 14 August 2010
I was chuffed to have my porridge, fruit and coffee during a dry spell and to have got away just before the rain started again, day dreaming about bacon butties.
After easy walking alongside or above the River Swale, the dream came true at Gunnerside where there is the most fantastic restaurant that welcomes bedraggled walkers. Full marks and five gold stars to the Ghyllfoot Penny Farthing Restaurant for their Yorkshire Tea, Bacon Sandwich and service. I could live there.
Reeth was almost as welcoming. The weather still decidedly not so though. Therefore, reminding myself that I am in holiday, and not wimping out, I chose a B&B (lots of vacancies) rather than the campsite, but as a token, and because it was miserable out, dined in, having Drytech's Cod and Potato Casserole (Torskegryte). Absolutely delicious! I could live on it. Well bacon butties too, mugs of steaming tea and ...
Richmond tomorrow. A very special day. Son Bryn joins me for the five day walk to Robin Hood's Bay. Good on yer Bryn.
Image: River Swale
The guide books describe three routes over Hartley Fell, and on-site notices request walkers to avoid particular paths depending upon the season to allow the surface to recover - it's a boggy place. I chose my own route, partly, following a wall south to emerge onto the road near the county boundary, my feet dry and boots fairly clean.
Upon entering North Yorkshire, I received rapturous applause in the form of great rolls of thunder. I had seen the wall of rain heading toward me, and those nearby, blasting away at grouse on the first day of the shooting season, may have wondered why my sudden sprint until, if still watching, they observed me get the boundary photo I was intent on before the heavens opened.
Coast to Coast gossip has it that the shooters pay £37,000 for the privilege. Judging by all the quality cars in a full layby, the parties that I saw would be able to afford it.
I'd been pleased to see signs along the approach to Keld encouraging walkers to spend the night at Keld Bunkhouse, which is also a campsite. This was a camping night for me so I was drawn there, arriving at 3 o'clock. No food or drink till 6 o'clock, no sense that the lady I spoke to wanted my custom, and worries that the overcrowded site so close to the beck might be noisy and midge infested, I continued to Park Farm, in Keld proper where there is a campsite (Rudkins) and Tea Room.
I spent the night on a quiet pitch. Keld Lodge, the coverted YHA, was a short stroll away away where there was good Coast to Coaster company, food and beer.
There were only five other tents on the site (The farm has two sites - one, mine, is next to decent public conveniences and was midge free - not many level pitches though. The other busier site is adjacent to the Tea Room, closer to the showers/toilets and beck/midges). My neighbours were a backpacking couple - the first that I have met that are, like me, carrying everything. All others are using one of the using the luggage carrying sevices.
Image: View from the "higher" Rudkins Campsite.
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
Today's was a lovely amble in near perfect walking conditions. Along quiet country roads, following well-beaten tracks over lush meadows where sheep and cattle graze, across open moor and grassland where horses roam, encountering few human passers-by along the twelve to thirteen mile route.
I love the limestone country with its weathered craggy outcrops and sun-bleached dry stone walls.
There was no sight of any other Coast to Coaster en route but I bumped into the young German Coast to Coasters, Markus & Andrea, in Kirby Stephen and we had a beer together.
All's well in my world.
Image: Smardale Viaduct - from Smardale Fell.
A relaxed start today for a walk that was short and easy when compared with yesterday's; over sixteen miles then, about eight today.
The route was across rolling farmland and open moors where the heather will be in full bloom soon. It's probably waiting for the sun as we Coast to Coasters are.
Priorites are changing - the route, food and shelter are what the days are about. What day and which - fourth? fifth? - it doesn't come readily. But time enough to get to know a few other Coast to Coasters as our paths cross, walking together occasionally, passing or being overtaken.
In the pub at Orton this evening, I had dinner with Anthony from London. I'd first met him at Angle Tarn on Day whatever. We sat next to Markus & Andrea from Germany who I walked most of today with. Jane & Mark from London, who led the way over Kidsty Pike, joined us. A happy, slightly scruffy crew swopping news of other Coast to Coasters ahead or behind us. I was in good company, washing down steak pie with Jennings Cumberland Ale. All saddened though by the cautionary sight through the pub window of a two chaps getting into their lift home - the scuttlebut being that one had injured his knee.
Tuesday, 10 August 2010
You can see Kidsty Pike in the distance on a clear day from The Greyhound at Shap. As I sipped a pint of orange squash and a half pint of Cumberland Ale I was pleased to be looking at that hill, of which the summit is the highest point on The Coast to Coast, from where I was sat rather than the other way round.
I had left Patterdsale at 08:45 and it had taken me three hours to reach the summit, slowed by driving rain and swirling cloud. Visibility was down to fifty yards or less so no chance that spirits might be lifted by the views and not the conditions in which to linger occasionally; it was a day to press on to keep warm. It took an hour to drop down to Haweswater, where I joined other Coast to Coasters, huddled against a wall in the wood, for my Corned Beef & Pickle sandwich, and mug of hot chocolate which I boiled up on the spot and which I shared with Jane & Mark - Coast to Coasters from London with whom I had walked over the Pike with.
In all, it took nine hours to reach The Greyhound, including the twenty minutes or so it takes to walk the length of Shap. Its a tough walk.
Monday, 9 August 2010
It made a great change to set off in fine weather this morning, and for a walk where there are alternative routes along the way. The first choice was at Great Tongue where I turned north east . Both paths reconnect just short of Grizedale Tarn. Another decision needs to be made at the tarn's northern end. I chose NE again, climbing over St Sunday Crag into the clouds emerging along Birks to fantastic views over Ulswater.
Grasmere to Patterdale is about eight miles. It's a journey that would have been a struggle for me on Day 1. Today though, my recovery rate is significantly improved and going "upstairs" for an hour or two is much easier too. Amazing.
I'm hoping that the magic will continue as it is a long day tomorrow; sixteen and a half miles or so to Shap where I leave The Lake District but will be tempted to turn back. There's great walking here as well as good beer (Patterdale Choice Bitter today) and friendly walkers with whom to pass the time of day with.
Image: Ulswater, from Birks.
Sunday, 8 August 2010
The Stonethwaite Campsite is basic; cold water only, and toilets that satisfy the planning authority's requirements for the building's outside appearance rather than the needs of those that use the facilities inside it. The lady at the farm suggested I find a pitch at the near end. "There are noisy people the other end." she said, as she took my fiver. It was fairly quiet except for the sound of gushing becks, and rain which forced an early night for all.
It was a long haul up Stonethwaite Fell. Higher up, the bridleway is hard to pick out but cairns mark the way which I thought a blessing until I twigged that I was still going up when I should have been heading down; I'd followed the cairns of another, higher, trail to Brown Rigg Moss. No colour coding up here.
Regaining the bridleway, the surface of it down to Grasmere is precarious until it levels off.
When planning this walk my intention had been to B&B in Grasmere but failing to find one available my Plan B was to wild camp at Grizedale Tarn. Arriving in Grasmere after a fairly tough eight miles, I was surprised and pleased to note the "Vacancies" signs and so was able to revert to Plan A.
A bed tonight, a shower, a room with kit strung up to dry and food and drink in abundance. And WIFI!There has been no Virgin Media network coverage since leaving St Bees. None here either. Vodaphone, O2 and Orange rule in Grasmere.
Image: Looking back down the Fell to Stonethwaite.
Saturday, 7 August 2010
The first eight miles or so of today's walk was on the level, alongside Ennerdale Water then due east on a forest track to Black Sail Hut where they have a brew kit to make yourself a hot drink. From there it's a hard climb before the drop to Honistor Pass and further down to Borrowdale. A total of about sixteen and a half miles.
I'm well and truly in the Lake District now.
The highlight of the day though wasn't the scenery or an event, it was a person - Diana. She runs The Fox & Hounds at Ennerdale Bridge. As well as being the perfect host, she tends the bar, cooks the food and delivers it to the table. And she looks after everyone. Thanks Diana from me and the other Coast to Coasters at The F&H on Thursday night and Friday morning.
Image is view down to Honister Hause.
It was an RAF Tornado that woke me this morning, or so I thought until I realised that its engine roar was not receeding into the distance, so it had to be a Harrier, hovering. It was neither. I was a wide awake now. Peering through the curtains I could see that it was thundereous rain, shed loads of the stuff, happily on the other side of the double glazing.
The double glazing of a lovely room in an excellent guest house in St Bees; The Tomlin Guest House which I can highly recommend. "Early breakfast?" "Yes. At what time?" So enabling an early start, and in fine weather, the dawn downpour having moved on or spent.
It's a low level walk to Ennerdale Bridge except for the inappropriately named Dent (1000 ft approx); "Bump" or "Lump" would be more fitting. It's a simple haul up to the summit but a fright awaits on the other side. The descent to Nannycatch Beck is worryingly steep.
All in all though, an enjoyable walk. To be rounded off shortly with lamb chops, washed down with Jennings Bitter here at The Fox and Hounds. Then into a routine of early to bed, especially tonight as I make the most of a soft mattress and crisp sheets. I'll camping out for the next three nights.
Pic 1 is Dent from the outskirts of Moor Row & Pic 2 is from Dent looking NW - Cleator, Moor Row with Irish Sea beyond (if image quality allows you to see that detail).
Tuesday, 3 August 2010
The extra comforts in my pack have pushed its weight up. A better sleeping bag, a pillow, a little thingy to sit on, more washing kit, even a full gas cylinder - it all adds up to 21lbs. Leaving my camera at home helps balance the extras so I will have to rely on my phone for pictures. It is fixed since my last trek so I am blog-enabled!
Body and signal strength willing and available I should be able to post the occasional update.