Post 41: 10 April 1991: Day 13 – Glaisdale to Robin Hood’s Bay – 19 miles
Woke up to sunshine piercing through the curtains. This was it, the last day of this epic journey having survived getting lost in the Lake District, overcome appalling weather and losing the company of Archie. However, I had met many new people and made a number of new friends, not least Wendy and Clint who would be walking with me on this last day. I felt six feet tall; actually I am six feet two and a half inches, but maybe a couple of inches had worn away after 171 miles of walking. One thing for sure, my feet were much larger and I was now down to wearing one pair of socks rather than two pairs as in St Bees. Top tip; always have boots that allow for foot expansion on these walks so that you start with two pairs of socks, a thin wickable inner sock and a thicker wool based outer sock. As the feet get bigger you can take the inner socks off. When you buy a pair of boots you should be able to get a finger down the back when the foot is pressed forward. My walking boots are normally a size larger than my normal shoes. My feet expanded about half a size on this walk.
By now, I looked like a weather-beaten beetroot, resulting from the effects of wind, sun and rain. Due to the need to keep my pack weight down, I only allowed myself a tiny tube of sunblock and a travel sized bottle of aftershave. Only Wendy, like any female, bothered to carry make up and smellies; it seems a woman must always be at her best, even on Coast to Coast. I decided not to do any more clothes washing as the washing machine at home was getting nearer and hand washing lost its attraction.
We had a huge heart attack breakfast, picked up a substantial packed lunch, then had a quick photo call in bright sunshine outside the pub; we were in good spirits and were excited to be starting on the last day.
We soon arrived at the early 17th-century Beggar’s Bridge, feeling not unlike beggars in our dusty, dirty and well-worn clothing. The bridge was built by Thomas Ferris in 1619. Ferris was a poor man who hoped to wed the daughter of a wealthy local squire. In order to win her hand, he planned to set sail from Whitby to make his fortune. On the night that he left, the Esk was swollen with rainfall and he was unable to make a last visit to his intended. He eventually returned from his travels a rich man and, after marrying the squire’s daughter, built Beggar’s Bridge so that no other lovers would be separated as they were. Isn’t that romantic?
We had a pleasant climb parallel with the River Esk through East Arncliffe Wood then, just after Egton Bridge, we arrived at an old toll booth sign:
The only category we felt we could fit into was the hearse, as we felt half dead through tiredness.
We continued along a track to Grosmont, which is a main station on the North York Moors Railway and where many of the trains are ‘steamed up’ in the morning. The railway from Pickering to Whitby was created by George Stephenson and after being threatened by closure was kept open by the North York Moors Railway Society.
After a steep climb out of Grosmont and the crossing of Sleights Moor, we arrived at the pretty valley of Littlebeck, which boasts a hermitage hewn out of rock, dated 1790 and initialled GC.
With the prospect of a return to work looming, I was inclined to take up residence and become a hermit. However, it is difficult to give up modern comforts and instead continued along Littlebeck to the lovely waterfall of Falling Foss, where we stopped in bright sunshine for our final packed lunch of the walk. I have a very good friend who lost her father at a much too young an age and he was laid to rest in this area, a beautiful, tranquil and peaceful resting place.
After a further seven miles, much of it over moorland, the sighting of the North Sea is a delight, but there are still three miles until the end of the walk at Robin Hood’s Bay.
We arrived at 5.00pm and met the Black Country Stompers. On the windy beach was my wife Celia, daughter Sophie and son Alastair.
The traditional dip in the North Sea and a photo call was immediately followed by a celebratory pint in the Bay Hotel.
I was now a man according to Wainwright and no longer a boy!
I was walking in Littlebeck with my wife and family and we met a father and teenage son walking Coast to Coast for the third year in succession. I had thoroughly enjoyed Coast to Coast and thought I would like to do it again sometime in the future, but not three years in succession; that was crazy.
One evening, when I was mulling over Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Pictorial Guide, I read his Personal Notes in Conclusion at the end of the book. I had read them before, of course, but on this occasion my eyes stopped in the middle of page xiv: ‘… but I would feel I had succeeded better in arousing interest for the planning of private long-distance walks if the book induced some readers to follow instead their own star and find their own rainbow’s end.’
Wainwright succeeded in my case and there and then I decided to take up his challenge to plan my own alternative coast to coast walk, which I hoped would be as equally attractive as Wainwright’s and which would allow a relatively solitary walk across England, taking in three of the country’s finest National Parks – the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. However, I was unable to walk my coast to coast route for another eighteen months and therefore decided to walk the Cumbria Way the following year to ‘fill in’ for 1992.