Who is Brian? Advice on Taking your Trousers down on Cold Moor and The Tallest Man in the World. Don’t cheat.

Post 39: Please note that as this is one of the best walking sections of the North York Moors, most of the photographs were taken at a later date as on Coast to Coast there was not the time or energy it needs to do justice to its beauty.

Some years later, I was walking the next section of Coast to Coast with Penelope, who had just asked numerous questions about the mine workings in the area. We left the Coast to Coast route to return to the car by a circular route. Through the mist and snow we reached a small pond named Brian’s Pond on the Ordnance Survey map.

‘Why is this pond called Brian’s Pond?’ she enquired.

‘I don’t know, perhaps Brian found it?’ I replied clutching at straws.

‘Well who was Brian?’

‘Perhaps he was a farmer who lived hereabouts?’

‘Seems unlikely to me,’ she said unconvinced.

‘Okay, I’ll find out when I get back home,’ I promised. To this day I have not been able to find out why the pond is so named. If anyone knows how the name came about please let me know; a promise to a lady should never be broken.

Leaving Brian’s Pond with Penelope, we reached Scugdale Hall where Harry Cooper, reputed to be the tallest man in the world when he was exhibited in Barnum’s colossal show in America, spent the early years of his life as a farm servant. In five months he grew thirteen inches whilst confined to bed and at the age of twenty-three measured eight feet six inches in height and weighed twenty stones. In 1198 he died in Calgary, Canada, at the age of forty-one, weighing twenty-one stones. It’s a small world as Penelope heralds from Canada.

Back in my ‘time machine’ to 1991 on Coast to Coast we continued to Cringle End at 1472 feet were there is a view indicator, this being a memorial to Alex Falconer (1884-1968) who under the pseudonym of ‘Rambler’ was a champion of walkers’ interests.

Lyke Wake Walk_0608

Arriving on Cold Moor Wendy was complaining about her leg muscles hurting and so I suggested she put some Radian B on them.

Lyke Wake Walk_0620_edited-1
The Wainstones taken from Cold Moor

‘I can’t it’s my thigh,’ she said ‘I would have to take my trousers down.’

‘Don’t be modest, do you want to finish this walk or not?’ I replied. ‘Nobody will notice up here and Clint and myself will walk on a little way.’

‘Okay,’ she said taking my Radian B and turning off into the heather. Wendy has the honour of being the only recorded person to take her trousers down on Cold Moor. In addition, it was her birthday!

I must issue a health warning at this point and say that taking your trousers down on Cold Moor is not recommended as it catches winds from the north, east, south and west; if male you are likely to get frost bite or sun burnt, depending on the time of year, on an essential part of your body.

Now they say you don’t know what you don’t know.

In 1991  I was not really aware of the following hazards that Wendy could have encountered by taking her trousers down. I have only become aware of some of these hazards and encountered them after many years of walking on the Moors. In no way should any of them put you off walking on the Moors.

There are adders on the North York Moors:

Lyke Wake Walk_1168_edited-1
This adder has just has his dinner me thinks
Lyke Wake Walk_1173_edited-1
This adder is on a diet
The big 50_6745
An adder in the grass this time
The big 50_6746
I stepped over this one without noticing it!

In 30 years I have had 3 close encounters with adders so that’s pretty low odds. 1 every 10 years. I have each time come close to stepping on them but still had time to photograph them. So keep your eyes open as if you step on one it is likely to bite. The venom is rarely fatal. Keep calm, clean and dress the wound. A bandage or tourniquet above the wound is useful. Then get to hospital as soon as possible.

There are also ‘scary’ harmless creepy crawlies:

Lyke Wake Walk_1939
Creepy crawlies that come out of dark shadows.

White Rose Walk_3442_edited-1

There are also ticks that can bite. If left untreated the bite becomes infected and leads occasionally to an illness called Lyme Disease. This can be very nasty and result in inability to move both sides of the face, joint pains, severe headaches with neck stiffness or heart palpitations. In 1990 there were only 19 cases so Wendy was pretty safe but in 2010 there was an increase to 953 cases. The best advice is to wear clothing, especially on the legs, that covers and protects the skin.

Lyke Wake Walk_0618_edited-1
From the Cleveland Escarpment, Roseberry Topping, the ‘Yorkshire Matterhorn’, can just be seen in the distance and Middlesborough to the far left.


Lyke Wake Walk_0644_edited-1.
At the Wainstones
Lyke Wake Walk_0639_edited-1
Looking back to Cold Moor
White Rose Walk_3451_edited-1
The Wainstones
Lyke Wake Walk_0630_edited-1
I believe this is Cleveland ironstone which is hereabouts

The Wainstones are the sharp edge of the Cleveland Hills, facing north over the Tees Valley. Erosion has exposed the thick slab of Middle Jurassic sandstone that forms the cap of the hills. As rain and wind wears down the soft rock underneath, huge square boulders break off. Not good if you are on the boulder at the time!

As we approached the Wainstones we noticed two coasters to coasters take the path off left towards Bank Lane and Great Broughton. Now this would be acceptable as long as they did not take the customary taxi ride back in the morning to Hasty Bank car park. If they did then they would be disqualified from Coast to Coast as they would not have walked completely from one side of England to the other. Next morning we ‘tested’ them out.

‘The two miles of road walking from Hasty Bank to Great Broughton were hard on the feet weren’t they?’ I said.

‘Actually we cut the corner off by going through the woods.’ They looked suitably sheepish and guilty. The long-distance walkers ‘Ethics ’ committee does not approve of such goings on. It’s cheating and leads to disqualification from having completed the whole walk.

Today had been a splendid day’s walking with marvellous views, even though exposed to constant winds. For varied scenery Coast to Coast takes some beating.

Lyke Wake Walk_0622
Looking from the Wainstones towards Bilsdale
Lyke Wake Walk_0657_edited-1
Looking back across the Tees valley

An Encounter with a Ruthless Killer and a Lady in the Gents.

Post 38: 8 April 1991: Day 11 – Ingleby Cross to Great Broughton – 16 miles (to Clay Bank Top) 

Awoke with a stiff neck! Applied Radian B, which seemed to do the trick but made me very unpopular at breakfast.

After stocking up with various goodies at the Post Office we left the Blue Bell Inn at 9.15am, with a long day ahead. The Post Office had never done so much business at 9.00am on a Monday morning.

We soon passed Mount Grace Priory dating from 1398, this being the best preserved of nine Carthusian monasteries that were built in England. Each of the twenty-four monks had his own small, two-storey cell and rear walled garden. Serving hatches adjacent to the cell doors permitted meals to be passed anonymously to the occupants. The BBC2 television programme, A Coast to Coast Walk, shown in the late 1980’s, certainly helped to put this fine historical site on the map. The power of television should not be underestimated as, after Sir David Attenborough’s programme, Stoats in the Priory, was screened in April 1996, attendance figures at the priory increased from 35,000 per annum in 1996 to 42,500 in 1997, then, after a repeat showing of the programme, a further increase to 45,000 was predicted in 1998. This despite the fact that stoats have daggers for teeth, are ruthless killers, perform a demonstrative, frenzied dance to hypnotise their prey, and give off a foul odour to deter those that threaten them. There have been no reported attacks on Coast to Coast walkers but they frequently kill rabbits eight times their weight and terrify song-birds and moorhens.

Leaving the dangers of the stoat populated priory, the picturesque village of Osmotherley was reached, once noted for having one of the most ferocious youth hostel wardens ever, who reputably was ex-SAS. In more recent times the village has become infamous for its toilets, men coming out of them laughing uncontrollably. At first you think there must be something naughty going on and when one morning I walked in to find a female, my suspicions were confirmed.

‘Good morning,’ I said.

‘Good morning luv,’ she replied.

My mind raced as I wondered what to do next. ‘Is it alright if I go in there?’ I said, pointing at a cubicle, where at least I thought I would get some privacy.

‘That’s fine luv,’ I’ve nearly finished. Finished what I thought? Then I saw her wipe the floor with her mop. That was it, she was the cleaner. I sat down on the toilet pan and sighed with relief. As I sat there it suddenly dawned on me why everyone leaves laughing; the walls are covered by jokes on newspaper cuttings, put there by the cleaner. I flushed the toilet, then left with a wide grin on my face. Such are the joys of the countryside.

Despite Wendy having a muscle strain in her leg, probably caused by trying to get away too quickly from lurking stoats, excitement grew as we started to climb onto the North York Moors.

The Unexpected

Post 37: Sometimes on a long-distance walk one comes across unexpected gems of information.
Walking on the Wilberforce Way today I came across a memorial in St Mary’s Church in the tiny village of Etton. Turns out that the memorial was to John Lothropp. He was baptised in the church in 1584. He was ordained in the Church of England but grew increasingly unhappy with the established church. So he left the Church of England to to become minister of the First Independent Church of London. He was a strong proponent of the idea of of the separation of the Church and State, keeping government out of the church and the church out of government. This idea was heretical in England during the time but eventually became the main the mainstream view of people in the USA. Due to imprisonment by the establishment authorities he was forced to move to New England arriving in Boston on the Griffin on 18 September 1634. After a difficult five years his group moved to Barnstaple, Cape Cod. From his 12 children there descended many famous people, including 6 Presidents of the United States:
George H . W Bush
George W. Bush
Millard Fillmore
James A. Garfield
Ulysses S. Grant
Franklin D. Roosevelt
In Etton I also came across a plaque to Thomas Carling.


P1020035Turns out the history of Carling Brewery dates back to 1818, when Thomas Carling a farmer from Etton settled in eastern Canada, at what is known as the city of London, Ontario. In 1840 Carling began a small brewing operation in London and as they say the rest is history. I once visited my much missed good friend Penny Bolton-Galbraith who lived at Poplar Hill, Ontario near London. My daughter Sophie Walker is employed by Molsen-Coors who own Carling!
Hard to believe this all started in a tiny little village in Yorkshire! What a small world we now live in and it never fails to surprise me as to what I come across on walks.

An encounter with a 169 year old. The end of C to C for Archie.

Post 36: 7 April 1991: Day 10 – Bolton-on-Swale to Ingleby Cross – 15 miles

There is a memorial in St Mary’s churchyard, Bolton-on-Swale, to Harry Jenkins who was born in the year 1500 and died in 1670, at the grand old age of one hundred and sixty-nine. That morning Archie’s feet and legs were in such bad shape, he was feeling about one hundred and seventy. One leg was badly swollen. Hardly a ‘New Man’.

‘It’ll be a piece of cake today, only fifteen miles and all flat across the Vale of Mowbray,’ I said, trying to improve his morale.

However, one of the strange things about walking on lanes is that it seems more tiring than on undulating moors and mountains. The feet are put down in the same repetitive manner leading to a sort of repetitive strain, the equivalent of which, typists and computer operators experience in the hands.

We arrived at the wonderfully named village of Danby Wiske, hoping to obtain a drink at the pub, but, unfortunately, it was closed. We somehow managed to lose Clint when he stopped at a kiosk to phone home. Archie was now in trainers, but was still making slow progress. Trainers are recommended for arduous road walking as, compared to boots, the increased cushioning eases the foot pounding. We couldn’t afford to wait any longer for Clint and eventually left Wendy waiting for him in the village, listening to Radio 4. We felt a bit guilty at leaving a female on her own, but sometimes such decisions are necessary and we were sure Clint would soon join her.

Shortly before Ingleby Arncliffe, we encountered the last major obstacle of he day, the A19 dual carriageway. After 139 miles of walking, cars don’t seem to just go fast, they scream past as though attempting to break the world land speed record. Even small lorries sound and look like juggernauts. It would be easier to cross the East Rongbuk Glacier leading to Everest than cross this road. No wonder so many hedgehogs and other animals end up splattered on the tarmac. After about ten minutes, when nothing could be seen or heard, we scurried across with our packs jumping up and down on our backs, delighted to get safely to the other side.

The big 50_6758
Nearing the end of Coast to Coast for Archie.

At Ingleby Cross, it was evident that Archie was in great pain and could not carry on to our booked accommodation at the Osmotherly Youth Hostel. Instead we managed to book a night at the Blue Bell Inn, where, joined by Clint and Wendy, we had a ‘last’ supper for him. He decided that Coast to Coast had come to an end and he would catch a bus to Northallerton, then train home to London. He had walked 140 miles with only another 60 to go, ten days completed, only three left. It was a sad way to end a walk. On his return to London he saw a doctor who, to our surprise, said that he had been bitten by an insect, which had caused the swelling in his leg. The one thing I hadn’t brought with me was insect bite cream as I never imagined insects would be around at Easter. How wrong can you be? Another lesson learned.

Archie couldn’t be regarded as being a ‘New Man’ at this point, more like a ‘Broken Man’, but it was not so long after the walk that he took the plunge and got married. Clearly the hardships of Coast to Coast had made him realise that a pair of slippers by the fireside might be a better option. The long-distance walkers’ ‘Ethics ’ committee allows for up to five years off from long-distance walks in order to get married and/or have children. However, it was not long before he returned to long-distance walking; once tried it is difficult to give it up.

The Grand National and a Bath in the Dark.

Post 35: 6 April 1991: Day 9 – Grinton Lodge Youth Hostel to Bolton-on-Swale – 18 miles

We left Grinton Lodge at 9.30am, in fine weather, taking a short cut to Merrick Priory by crossing a ford. The only problem was that, on arrival at the ford, it was found to be in flood. Never go for short cuts, they always involve more mileage.

As a result of my mistake we had to follow the B6270 to Marske; the only consolation was to see a lamb born by the roadside. At Marske we found a seat (real luxury) on which to have lunch, at which point a crowd of elderly coast to coasters came along with video cameras. They were doing the walk in separate day sections, looking more like Japanese tourists rather than serious walkers.

Good progress was made to Richmond where, on passing a pub, Clint popped his head out and dragged us inside.

‘It’s the Grand National today,’ he said. ‘What’ll you have to drink?’

‘Guinness please, I thought it was at three o’clock and it’s only two now,’ I replied.

‘That’s right, make yourself comfortable.’

The big 50_6757
Escape from the rain for the Grand National

Hearing the rain outside there seemed little choice, but I remembered we still had over seven miles to walk and excessive drinking and walking don’t mix. Events like the Grand National make you feel part of nation, but since Sky television came along these ‘national events’ on terrestrial TV have become fewer and fewer. For example, what Englishman wants to watch Russia play Italy at football when England are playing a pre-World Cup match? Unfortunately, unless you can afford Sky you have no choice. Similarly, what Englishman wants to watch Scotland and Australia play rugby when England are playing the All Blacks? My childhood days were spent waiting for football on Match of the Day or live Sunday afternoon football, now Sky has the big matches and little is left for the rest of us.

At about 4.15pm, we left the pub fully rested, but a little worse for drink. The rain still poured down but we didn’t care. We slithered along the mud alongside the River Swale until at 7.15pm we arrived at our pre-booked bed and breakfast.

‘Thought you were never coming,’ the farmer said.

‘Yes, we were a little delayed watching the Grand National.’

‘The wife will show you to the accommodation.’

Clint and Wendy were shown to their en-suite accommodation in the farmhouse, whereas Archie, Dave and myself were shown to the stables. Water for washing was provided by a bucket, there were unheated outside toilets, shower and washrooms. I had booked the accommodation! I decided to wait for the other four to have their baths inside the farmhouse, then, just as I was getting in the bath for a long-awaited soak, the fuses blew and I was in pitch darkness. To make matters worse there was no hot water. A low point of Coast to Coast.