Coast to Coast Day 14 – Grosmont to Robin Hood’s Bay (15.5 miles)

This is actually the day after as, well, who has time to write when someone’s handing you a glass of champagne or three?

I’ve been brought back to the west coast again in less time than the Tony Blackburn radio show. This automobile idea may just catch on. The first lot of washing is on and I’m slouched on the sofa. Back to normal then. So, one last report.

Yes, there are pictures of us all on Facebook happily dipping our boots in the North Sea but you know, it wouldn’t be like Wainwright to give us a straightforward final day. In fact, the way’d he’d planned it, we would have started in Glaisdale, thereby adding another 4 miles to our count for the day AND stopping me from climbing into the beating heart of steam train! But really, you can’t complain too much when the final leg of your journey takes you through moorland and woodland and along the tops of the cliffs, especially when it’s all on a beautiful sunny day.

We had all put on our Claire House charity t-shirts ready for the big finale. But before that my train had come. It was sitting idly on the platform smoking away and waiting for the starting whistle to blow.  I couldn’t resist asking the engine driver if I could climb aboard to have a look and happily he said yes! It was a brilliant start to a memorable day.

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We ‘climbed’ the road out of Grosmont, as that is the only way to describe tackling the 1 in 3 gradient.

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It took us back onto the moors and from the tops there I could now properly see the sea! En route though we lost sight of it again for a while but our path through Littlebeck hamlet and the Little Beck woodland nature reserve was a happy diversion. These woods felt even more magical than yesterday’s East Arncliffe Wood by Glaisdale, and that’s definitely saying something. It felt more ancient and tranquil and I could imagine, if I sat in one place for long enough, that I’d see so many different birds and animals. There was also a tea garden at the other end which looked really lovely but we had to keep walking, as we still had a long way to go 😦

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There was a signpost in the second half of our walk that said 3.5 miles to Robin Hood’s Bay.


But we did, of course, decline this direct path. Wainwright began the Coast to Coast trail by taking us North West along the edges walking away from St Bees. Paul pointed out that it was a nice symmetry that we’d ended up walking South East along the edges down towards the Bay. I can say, having seen them both just the once that they are comparable in beauty (one slightly negative point about this side though was the number of flies that were about today. A hell of a lot, and all of a sudden near the end! Don’t know if it’s always like this on sunny days?). Sally was saying that she’d quite like to (but not all in one go) get around all the coastal paths of the country. Quite a feat if she manages it. 

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Eventually, and finally, we started passing the first houses in Robin Hood’s Bay. My feet were tired and they were telling me but as we walked down the streets I think we all started to get a little excited. I wasn’t sure where Simon and Heather were going to meet us as we passed both their cars outside the B&Bs but none of us could ring because the signal was pants.

The last street down is a very steep descent, probably on a par with our first street up this morning. As we came round the final corner some whoops and cheers erupted and there were Simon and Heather and some other people I didn’t recognise, holding up a big banner for the Six Pack!! What a welcome! I couldn’t stop grinning! As we crossed through their banner like champions through the tape Simon cracked open a bottle of champagne and started filling glasses. The ‘other people’ were John’s son and daughter and her partner.  They’d made the banner and come to surprise their dad and Simon and Heather had met them accidentally at the water front!


It was the most amazing ending to an amazing adventure!


Coast to Coast Day 13 – Blakey Ridge to Grosmont (pron. Growmont: 13.5 miles)

Chopping the last bit up in a different way to Wainwright.


It was the penultimate day! And the first day that John cracked open his bottle of suncream. All of us tramping with him lathered some liberally on our arms as hey, it was a short sleeves day!

Bucolic is a word I have always had problems with, because I always forget the definition. To me it sounds like some description of an illness but it means an idyllic rural or pastoral scene and so today, or at least this afternoon when we came down from the moors, was typically bucolic. We had small villages with stone built houses and village greens and woods and streams and steam trains (although I missed the train!!!) and yet more English bluebells and we had the sunshine. It was like we’d strolled into an episode of Heartbeat and that was not so far fetched as the programme was filmed very close by.

We had a lengthy walk along the moors to begin with but being fortified by yet another cooked breakfast (for nearly all of us) and perhaps because we were now getting used to this walking lark it went by at a fairly decent pace. We weren’t quite yomping but we did surprise ourselves pleasantly each time one of us asked Julie how far we’d come.

We made our votive offerings to ‘Fat Betty’.


This is also called the White Cross but there are myths and legends about why this stone was erected, involving nuns or farmer’s wives or both, who may have been called Elizabeth or something like that and anyway apparently it’s now a bit of a tradition for walkers to take and leave some food on this ancient stone slab. I solemnly put down my last packet of jaffa cakes as it was only right to give someone else the benefit of the main thing that has kept me going this couple of weeks. 

On one of our stops we got treated to a couple of fly-bys by a ‘Hawk’. I had no idea what it was called really, it was just a fast, loud plane to me but Paul and Derek know these kinds of things. Then as we walked down and into the first village of Glaisdale it flew higher up but kept circling every five minutes until I started feeling paranoid. Was someone carrying something in their rucksack that was sending dodgy heat signals? Eventually I tried to block out the still considerable noise and distract myself with some inviting signs for a tea shop. 

We were due to go through three villages today; Glaisdale, Egdon Bridge and Grosmont where we were staying. Sally had suggested waiting until Egdon Bridge before we stopped anywhere as that meant that we wouldn’t have far to waddle with our cake filled bellies. The signs here cannily pointed out that this was the LAST teashop UNTIL Grosmont. It was like it had read Sally’s mind! That in itself was a sign that we should stop and after all we had less than 5 miles to go. As we walked in, the Aussies were on their way out.  This was the second group (not the band of 4) that we’d met on and off and today they were stalking us in reverse. I.e. they kept getting to a place before us. They had been two guys and a woman but now it was just her and one the guys,  Doug and Sally.  Nice people and intrepid travellers by the sounds of it.

With the cakes and scones scoffed we wended our way past the Beggar’s Bridge and into the lovely woods between this and the next village. It is so called because apparently a pauper who was courting a young woman in the village decided he needed to go off and better himself before he could marry her. On his last night before heading abroad he wanted to say goodbye to his sweetheart  but the rains had come down heavily and the ford was not fordable. But he did make his riches and eventually came back and married her. Then he had a bridge built over the Esk so that no other lovers would have to go through his heartache. I love a nice happy ending 🙂


The Gallery cafe in Grosmont is a lovely place to stay. Lovely rooms and they cook a mean evening meal. Doug and Sally were also staying here (see what I mean about stalking?). It’s above an art gallery and a cafe funnily enough and the whole place is run by a local artist and Julie even bought one of his paintings. Grosmont is tiny but it does have a train station and although I missed seeing the steam train pull in this evening there is, fingers crossed, another one coming at precisely (because trains are always on time!) 9.15 tomorrow morning.

Spot the pair of grouse!
A fording point

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Coast to Coast Day 12 – Clay Bank Top to Blakey Ridge (11 miles if starting at Great Broughton)


Which way is the Bridleway?!

We went to the pub today.  It was only 11 odd miles away so just enough to work up a thirst.  

The Lion Inn sitting atop Blakey Ridge is the only habitable building for a few miles. But that doesn’t seem to stop the trade as on this Wednesday night it seemed very lively. It’s a rabbit warren of a place with rooms tucked away in this corner and that and solid stone walls that feel like they will stay up forever. Indeed parts of it have already stood for more than 400 years and can definitely be dated back to Elizabethan and perhaps even older times. It’s had bits added to it over the years. Sally and Derek are in a modern wing while Julie and I and the boys need to climb up steep narrow steps to find our beds for the night.


So we realised, retrospectively, that perhaps we should have done yesterday and today’s walk in one go and maybe broken up the 25 miler day instead. Partly because the diversion to Great Broughton which we insisted on walking ourselves added 2 or 3 miles onto the whole route. There is no accommodation at Clay Bank Top so it can’t be done any other way. 

Reading the books regarding the Clay Bank Top sleeping problem we have noticed differences between the two editions of the Wainwright. Obviously there are changes in what’s on offer but the following lines are the 1st edition but sadly not in the 2nd.

‘The nearest communities [are] not at all tourist conscious and not unlikely to suspect, if you ask for a bed, that you are suggesting a sexual adventure, which, of course, is ridiculous (or is it?).’

On the upside of the way we’ve done it means that we’ve had two days of the moors which, frankly, are spectacular and again, all I can say is the pictures don’t do it justice.

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An aside:

During the walks, I think since the ‘Ruby’ misunderstanding, John’s taught me a few ‘new’ old words.  Words that aren’t used very much any more.  I told him at one time that I used to live in Todmorden (West Yorkshire)  for a while.  He told me that ‘Tod’ means fox and quite often boys with red hair are called Tod. Also ‘blunt’ used to mean blond.

I didn’t know that the word ‘ford’, a passable point in a river, was also a verb. So you can ‘ford’ a river at the ‘ford’ in the river!

Another word he taught me yesterday was ‘ghaut’ which is a road that goes down into the sea, which may or may not have houses on. His aunt used to live in small terrace house on Tin Ghaut in Whitby. The link below shows a picture of the road and John was able to point to the house she lived in. The link also talks about the word having viking origins. However when I did a google search on it, all I got what a reference to the hindi word ‘ghat’ which means the path or steps leading down to the river. Fascinating.


Coast to Coast Day 11 – Ingleby Cross to Clay Bank Top (12 ish miles)

Well who would have thunk I’d be craving a hill but it really did feel good after yesterday’s interminable monotony.

Our route today, after Beacon Hill with its radio station,


was virtually all on the Cleveland Way, a path that, by our experience, was really well managed and well signposted. The full route is 110 miles long and runs between Helmsley in Ryedale and Filey in Scarborough. It skirts around the edges of most of the North York Moors National Park in the shape of a mangled horseshoe. We had a little 10 mile nibble of the north west part today and it took us through a variety of terrain. 

The main part were the moors themselves exposed on the hills. Our path was a stone slabbed walkway which made it fairly easy for us to pass through (at least in this season) and protected the flora and fauna around us. I didn’t quite realise that it would be so colourful with a real autumnal vibrancy. My camera just could not do it true justice. 


The view of the farm lands below

It did get really warm and sunny sometimes and we also got our friend the wind back on the tops after he’d gone off in a sulk yesterday. But we also had rain and some terrific hailstone meteor showers. I found the white balls whizzing down past me from behind mesmerising  but a few of us had peeled off too many layers from the previous sunny patch and found it all too cold and painful. It was a bit of a ‘four seasons in one day’ kind of a day and we were adding layers and taking them off again several times.


We met the Girls again at the cairn at the summit of Live Moor. Turns out one of them lives in the next street to me! What are the odds!

As well as the moors we had a few lovely woodlands to trail through, some of which were carpeted with bluebells. Some of which were muddy quagmires! Sally managed to fall over in it, which would have been a good camera moment if anybody had thought in time, but she still managed to have less mud on her shoes than me.

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This particular path was slightly off the track as we were staying in Great Broughton tonight, so instead of taking up the offer of a lift from Clay Bank Top, we walked straight there. We’ve kind of decided that for the whole two weeks of this challenge our only mode of transport should be our feet, and occasionally, after comedy falls and arduous journeys, our knees. 

Arrived at the Newlands B&B in time for afternoon tea.


Coast to Coast Day 10 – Richmond to Ingleby Cross (23 miles: long moderate)

We should have actually done a mile less today because we were staying at the top of Richmond and could cut across. So that 23 miles should have been 22.

But. Oh my goodness. 25 miles! How? Well firstly I was master navigator and the last time I took the helm was day 5 so hey, be afraid! I managed to get it wrong really early, following one path for a while when it should have been another. That added nearly a mile. And luckily that was my only mistake. Then there was the A1 roadworks detour that we had to make which added at least another mile.


Finally our accommodation for the night was past Ingleby Cross, still on the route luckily, but up a VERY steep hill and that also added a mile, which I guess we can knock off tomorrow but really we could have all done without that final ascent today.  

Oh, and did I mention that in this leg of the journey we were required to dash across the A19, which we managed to reach at half 5, so, errr, during the rush hour!

We’d left Pottergate B&B at 8.10. The people there were very friendly in themselves but they had signs up everywhere that said ‘Do Not..’ and ’No ..’ which would have been much more kindly received if they’d added the word ‘Please’ in front. But never mind. We’d had a fantastic dinner the night before, The La Piazza 2 was the only Italian in town so we weren’t expecting much but the food and the service there is amazing. We said goodbye to Simon then and Heather this morning. They’d enjoyed the easy stints. Time again for the Six Pack to hunker down for the hard stuff.

We pushed on after my initial mistake.  On farmland and road, road and farmland.  There is a lot of flat farmland between Richmond and Ingleby Cross.  Wainwright writes:

‘To walkers whose liking is for high places and rough terrain this will seem the dullest part of the whole walk; those who believe the earth is flat will be mightily encouraged on this section.’

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We were quite happy to have a break from hills but this long trudge did indeed get tedious.  We did pass some pretty villages along the way; Colburn, Bolton on Swale, Danby Wiske.  The last has a pub called The White Swan, where a friend had come whilst doing the Coast to Coast another time. He and his son thought they’d made good time getting to this point so they stopped to have a bite and maybe a pint here. He said that last 9 miles after was absolute torture. We, therefore, steered clear of that joint. Although those last 9 miles still felt like absolute torture.

On a happy note we met the bloke who went up the High Stile alternative route on Day 2.  We’d last seen him leave his friend at that juncture to start climbing. This was in the wooded bit before we came out into the ‘breeze’. This time he was walking with a stick and a bandage on his right leg. Apparently, that particular day was not such a good day to try crazy ridge stunts. He was very lucky and I was glad to see he was okay. Yet he was carrying on to the end and still walked at a faster pace than us. So after relating his story he left us behind.

The A19, at the point we cross, is a thundering duel carriageway. And not only was it busy, we had been walking nearly 10 hours by this point so we were just a tad on the tired side. However, there is nothing like the sight of an articulated lorry bearing down on you to put a bit of fire in your legs. Using the central reservation as an island of temporary safety, we scampered finally to the other side with all limbs intact.

Poor old Ingleby Cross is very close by and a pretty village but with that rumbling all day I wouldn’t choose it as a destination normally. But tonight I could have slept happily right next to the A19. We sadly trudged through its streets and out on the other side to Park House. Beverley, the owner, who reminded me a bit of Denise in The Royle Family, was lovely and opened up a bottle of fizz as we trudged in and just handed out the flutes, which was a lovely welcome. We were all able to toast getting to the end of the longest day of the route and I was able to get my burning feet out of my shoes and socks and cool them on the slate floor. Heaven!

Sorry, more flowers, but I’ve never seen pink bells before!
A gate decorated in a rather macabre fashion.
I can just see Paul as a Roman centurion :-)
I can just see Paul as a Roman centurion 🙂

Coast to Coast Day 8/9 – Keld to Reeth to Richmond (22 miles ish in total: moderate)


‘And did those feet in ancient time, walk upon England’s mountains green’.  

I’m not quite sure for which part of our green and pleasant land ‘Jerusalem’ was written for but the amazing scenery this weekend often evoked thoughts of the poem.  We had two near idyllic walking days; I say ‘near’ because there was a bit of a biting wind coursing through for a lot of it.  But at least, for the most part, it was behind us and it may well have been responsible for pushing the few grey clouds over our heads and keeping us dry, so it was all good.

The only thing that wasn’t good was that Chris and Ali, our friends from the Wirral had a motor malfunction just 15 minutes from meeting us at Keld to come and walk with us for the day. So we didn’t get to see them at all.

Simon, Julie’s husband, and Heather, Paul’s wife, had come down on the Friday evening and had planned to walk both Saturday and Sunday with us.  Given that the last time they’d come with us was on Day 1 they were probably wondering whether we’d made all the hardships in between up!


The last two or three miles were a bit  tiring for me and I think Derek had a sore foot, John had a pulled muscle and Sally had a tight achilles to contend with.  But up until then we’d had a pretty lovely day. We had chosen the low route which follows, in part, the river Swale. This is only briefly touched on by Wainwright but the Henry Stedman – Coast to Coast Path book, which we’d been using a lot, has comprehensive maps and descriptions.  

The ‘low route’ isn’t a fully apt description as there were a few up hills along the way, the steepest of which was right after we’d stopped for tea and scones in Gunnerside. Scones with jam, and cream. Well we were walking right past and it seemed to be calling us in! But it was nice to pretend for just a while that we were all out for a gentle stroll for the day.

I had a great time taking pictures of wild flowers (all at the bottom).  I don’t know the name of most of them apart from the English bluebells and Derek told me the white ones with the long leaves were wild garlic. If you can enlighten me on the others, that would be great!

Simon and Julie ready to rock!
Applegarth Scar
Just, you know, the usual rustic barn and rolling hills shot


No tea stops today but a nice early arrival into Richmond.  Again, we followed the Swale occasionally but by no means all the way. However our climbs up the hills seemed gentler.  The views were stunning again. What more is there to say? Oh yes, the mileage was shorter.

We saw the Aussies again too. The band of 4 whom we’d first met at St Bees and 2 out of 3 of the other group who we’d seen on the road here and there. It’s been quite a social affair has this walk sometimes.  We’ve met various groups and individuals following the trail.  A few were doing the first half only, some were doing the whole thing with rest days here and there. And others, like us, were chipping away every day.  

There have been a few regulars. Collectively as described above, the Aussies, who are older than us and generally very friendly. Although the band of 4 did look smug after we came in late on Day 5, but we felt much better when they staggered into Kirkby Stephen the next day and past our B&B window whilst Julie and I were having cake and tea! Then there was the Israeli with the big backpack.  Now he was hardcore.  How he managed to haul his whole luggage up Loft Beck in those winds I know not! The younger lot are the Yompers, two boys (in their 20s?) who seem to walk very fast and often look like they’re in a huff with each other. Maybe they were a couple. And the Girls (2 young women, again somewhere between the 20 and 30 mark) who’d met two older men during dinner one of the evenings and had then spent several days trying to shake them off! If you’re looking for a holiday to get away from the complexities of life, then this is not it!

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Coast to Coast Day 7 – Kirkby Stephen to Keld (12.75 miles: Strenuous)

Today was a good day!

Yes we had another hill to mount, yes it was another windy day, especially on the tops, and yes we had bogs and plenty of them and yes a few of us were crawling out of them on our knees. But we were only doing 12 odd miles and the sun was shining and after the hard slog of the last couple of days we could afford to take it a bit more gently.

At breakfast we were still feeling sluggish and some of us were thinking we’d like to do the low green route (there are 3 routes – red, blue and green that you can do depending on the weather and the time of year) and some of us favoured the red. We decided to decide at the splitting point. 

We found a great Coast to Coast signpost near the start that showed us our origin and destination and how far we’d come.  Our actual mileage to date is a bit higher owing to the circuitous route down from the Lakes. But it was pleasing to see that we were close to half way point.  


Progress to the diverging point had been pretty good. It was a bit steep and ‘phewy’ in a few places, especially with full bellies, but the ground was good and generally dry.  Therefore we all opted for the red route that would take us up to the top of Hartley Fell and over the first obstacle of the Pennines.

Nobody seems to know much about the Nine Standards. These are nine prominent dry stone cairns (we’re not talking about those mini pyramids; these are tall structures, taller than Paul so that’s pretty tall!).  They fall very close to the dividing line between Cumbria and Yorkshire. Old maps and documents fairly certainly prove that they’ve been about for at least 500 years and maybe even 800 years but their original purpose is unknown. Some of them have had to be rebuilt because they get the full force of the weather but they do stand out quite dramatically and on a good day there are spectacular views all around.  The Standards are only on the Blue and Red routes and very often the mists are down and the weather makes it too dangerous to come here so we were very lucky.


Further on from the stones, we were starting to get into the boggy bits to get over the tops and down the other side. You’d think, with the amount of practise we have had that we’d be better at staying dry but there were still a few mishaps.

Oops John! Would you like a tissue?

We accidentally followed the wrong path down to the road, earlier than we should have done, but it was a happy accident as it meant a little less squelching which I believe everybody was rather happy about. And it also meant that we got to see some sheep being herded up the road to a new field by a farmer and his amazingly expert Collie dogs.


Coming into Keld we were due to stay at a place called ‘Butt House’.  Of course, being of a puerile mind it always made me chuckle when mentioned but I have to say that this B&B has beat the other ones we’ve stayed at hands down. A proper boot room when you come in to get all your outside gear off, baths in several of the rooms, lovely food, and absolutely lovely hosts in Jackie and Chris. And we were finally in Yorkshire.


Coast to Coast Day 6 – Shap to Kirkby (pron Kurbee) Stephen (20 miles: long moderate)

A surprisingly empty M6.
A surprisingly empty M6.

Shap apparently became a better place to live once the M6 opened in 1970, as the once clogged A6 running through, stopped being a major artery for traffic going to and from Scotland.  On our trek today we crossed both the A and the M. One, with a few strides across from the King’s Arms and the other by way of a kindly built footbridge. From last night’s memory it was a tiny village and didn’t seem to exist much beyond the main road but for now there was no time to explore as we had yet another long day.

Paul giving us some moral boosting laughs as Ninja Map Reader before we began
Paul giving us some moral boosting laughs as Ninja Map Reader before we began.

I know it says ‘Moderate’ in the title but for whom is 20 miles a moderate walk? Perhaps there were no mountains in our way but them moors ain’t exactly pancake flat and we had not, unfortunately, got rid of the bogs despite the limestone plateau that we were supposedly now walking on. However, at least we knew where we were and where we were going and, more importantly, how to get there. No more intentional off piste-ing for this group.

It was a dry day but really quite cold with the wind.  Bizarrely, there had been a hell of a lot of wind in the Lakes but this was the first time it had felt really chilly to me; I had to finally get out the fingered gloves.  There was a lot of moorland that we passed through and a lot of archeology too but I wouldn’t have been able to spot it by myself.  I can imagine that on a rainy day you can get lost here and the instructions to ‘hug the walls’ that Paul was giving out would definitely be required.  The path along was very visible for us though, and anyway there was sometimes barbed wire surrounding those dry stones so we couldn’t get very up close and personal with them if we’d tried. Plus when there were no walls, the Coast to Coast became, in Derek’s words, the ‘Post to Post’ as we were given a handy trail of wooden markings to guide us through.

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It appears that Robin Hood stopped his galavanting around the country here as apparently his grave is along this route.  Paul did call out when we were near it but as none of us, apart from maybe Paul, had the energy to take more steps than required, we trooped past with a few grunts of acknowledgement. In fact the terrain today was at times quite stunning and varied from rolling hills and streams to the moorland brush.


I was aware of it but by about mile 10 onwards I only wanted to get to Kirkby Stephen and it was a happy sight when it came.  20 miles done in just under 9 hours this time including lots of stops.  The soles of my feet were burning and my back was seizing up.  

However, within an hour or so of putting my feet up I was recovered enough to look at the list of local eating places that Fletcher House had kindly provided.  Derek had talked about Kirkby Stephen having a good curry house and everybody fancied it.  He called it Ruby so I tried finding it in the list. But there was only one called the Mango Tree. Maybe it had changed hands. I said this to Derek and he looked at me strangely.  So I’ve now learned a new Cockney rhyming slang term. Well not that new because it appears Ms Ruby Murray was a famous singer in the 1940s and 50s.


Coast to Coast Day 5 – Patterdale to Shap (16 miles: strenuous)

Oh my goodness Heather Haydock, that husband of yours is a diamond geezer! Not only did he carry my sticks for the last part of our nearly 12 hour ordeal, he walked quietly and patiently with me while I muttered the words to ‘One Man and his Dog’ to make my feet keep moving in a last gasp effort to get to the King’s Arms in Shap. And it had all started so promisingly.


I’d woken up a bit early but in time to hear a real dawn chorus. About half 4, a Babel’s tower of birds trilled and tweeted for a good 5 minutes or so in unison.  Surprisingly harmonious too.

Our plan, on this bright sunshiny day, was to do the walk up as far as Kidsty Pike (the highest point on the Coast to Coast walk at 2560′) and then, instead of attempting the very steep descent here, we were going to go up along the tops and then head east following a more gentle path. There wasn’t really a difference in miles, it was like two opposite sides of a square and none of us fancied going down something that was even steeper than Dent Hill from Day 1. This alternative route past High Raise was clearly marked on all the maps and been recommended by one of our colleagues at work and the B&B owner in Patterdale who was a very seasoned walker so it all sounded kosher. I was master navigator today and a bit nervous, what with having zero sense of direction, but the others were all ready to help where I needed so I thought what could possibly go wrong. 

We set off after another great breakfast and made our way out of the village. The ascent was a gradual, not too muddy, path. past Angle Tarn.


Which was good as I wanted to keep my boots dry today. We met several fellow walkers en route and everyone was in pretty good spirits as it was such a lovely day. Our alternate route veered north before actually getting to the pike but we thought that as it was so close we’d go and stand at that point and look over at Haweswater Reservoir. A terrific view. Ahead, the outer edges of Cumbria and flatter, greener land. Behind, the mountains, including the snowy topped Helvellyn Ridge. This was close to our last goodbye to the Lakes and I wish now that we had kept to the route and dropped down there. Not only because we would have not got lost but also symbolically, it kind of seemed appropriate. 


So we walked north over the tops and got to the cairn on Wether Hill as stipulated. It had been a long, tedious, often muddy way to that point and I’m not sure I could have recommended it even if we had got things right. We should then have met a path that went South East for a bit and then East but nothing seemed to be there. Some of the guys followed our original way further and found one going East but that would have brought us out much higher up than we wanted as so we retraced our steps to the cairn. Paul even checked the coordinates on the map with where we were and we were definitely at the right spot.  One option would have been to walk all the way back to the Pike but I was hoping that was not going to be necessary and finally we decided to take a very faint path that was headed roughly in the right direction. It took a while to trek because it kept disappearing and reappearing further on.  Quite often there were little hillocks that you walked up that stopped suddenly like mini cliff edges.  You either had to walk back round or attempt to jump down, as Julie tried to do, One second I saw her stuck on one of these mounds and getting a helping hand from Sally. The next, she’d disappeared completely and Sally was down on her hands and knees. Luckily, the peaty soil gave a soft landing and it was a little light relief in quite a serious situation.  

Eventually we found a good, clearer path that was heading north east.  We took it as we all just wanted to get off the hills before we were totally knackered.  It brought us out into a farm just as the farmer was out walking his dogs.  He was very friendly (although the dogs looked a little jumpy) and sadly confirmed that we were more north than we wanted to be.  A little less than a mile from Bampton where the famous ‘Withnail and I’ telephone box was.  At that pronouncement my ears pricked up.  Although we were all shattered and not looking forward to the 5 miles or so left to hike I wanted a picture of that telephone box.  Luckily we had to walk through Bampton and I got my snap.  


But the phonebox didn’t work!  We wanted to call the King’s Arms to let them know we’d be late and none of our phones had a signal. A text to Simon and Heather finally made it out and good job as they were due to close the kitchens at 8.  


We got there at about half 8 and the chef had stuck around for us. Our final count according to Paul was over 21 miles. But frankly, the biggest thing I felt above the exhaustion, was relief, to be safe on the ground. It was a little bit scary at times to tell the truth and we were supremely luckily that the day had been so dry and clear. But oh my goodness we’ve got to do another 21 tomorrow!


Coast to Coast Day 3/4 – Rosthwaite to Patterdale via Grasmere (17 and a bit miles: Strenuous)

Day 3

We thought we’d get to Grasmere early and get to some of the walking shops. After all it was only 9 and a bit miles and we were cutting a mile of that out as Gillercombe, the B&B, was just down before Rosthwaite. The ‘official’ path technically goes up into Rosthwaite and then down the other side, but as we’d kind of done that the night before to go out for our dinner it was agreed that going across the bottom of the triangle to meet that path this morning was acceptable. Just as well because I was the last one to get out AGAIN, and the team were all downstairs patiently waiting.  This time I had a camelbak issue so it was sort of an excuse.  Suffice to say the water pipe is being ditched for regular bottles which was one of the reasons for the planned shop. I also had to ask Rachel, our landlady, for a spare spoon as I’d managed to lose the one I had. I couldn’t work out how I’d done it.  She said, judging by the state of the room at that time, that she wasn’t surprised at all. Have to say though, she was a great host and made us feel right at home, if our homes were more chintzy.  Her cooked breakfasts were superb. 


We had the wet weather gear on again as there was rain forecast for the day.  It didn’t materialise and in fact we had a bit of sunshine in the morning  which was quite lovely.  Only problem was that the rains had already been, overnight and by the looks of it over the several days previous. Our little gentle saunter from Stonethwaite Bridge along the bridleway turned into a game of stepping stones in a newly formed stream! Even before we got to the foot of Lining Crag, our first major climb of the day, we had covered barely 2 miles in over 3 hours.  The path had the odd dry patch here and there which was how you knew it was a path and not a waterway.  The grass and moss on either side could be dry or could be a spongy bog waiting to suck the boot off your foot.  Then there were the newly formed rivers running crossways at various points that created little puzzles for us.  Where was the best place to cross?  Which stones looked solid, which were slippy or wobbly? Was it possible to step all the way across or would we have to make a leap of faith. Hands up who has dry feet still?

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So the thing is, that this stretch of the walk and Day 2’s stretch were done by some of our group last year, at roughly the same time of year as a little practice and it was by their accounts a completely different experience.  For Day 2 they had the same mirky drizzly walk around Ennerdale but then the sun came out for the rest of the day and there was no wind (ferocious or otherwise)  and they sat on the tops in their t-shirts and had a little sunbathe. For their Day 3, their hard part started when they started stepping up the crag.  Today, that bit wasn’t so much the issue as the dancing around the rivulets and although we could feel the ascent in our legs, it was hard looking up for all the looking down that was required.  Plus there was wind, not quite so strong as yesterday but still pretty relentless.  I think I did see the little flowers that Wainwright talks about in his book at the top of Lining Crag, called Starry Saxifrage or, as Julie misremembered, ‘Sexy Frangipane’ but I was too tired to take a picture. We did not try and do the Ridge walk that is possible at this point but dipped down into the Wythburn basin and up over Far Easedale from which the path to Grasmere was true but tediously long.

We got there just before 4pm.  We’d managed the 8.2 miles in about 6 and a half arduous hours. But the Quaker run B&B had a wonderful drying room with stacks of newspapers and we managed to stuff our shoes and make a quick change. Then Julie and I did a mad dash about so that I could get my water bottles and a new woolly hat (I’d mislaid mine after day 1) and she could get some more inner socks (which she found) and long sleeved thin tops (which she didn’t).  I was able though to lend her one of my Primark specials until Simon (her husband) arrived again at the weekend.  So it all ended well in the end.

Day 4

There are a couple of routes to Grisedale Tarn.  We thought we’d take the easier one as we needed a breather after all the challenges we’d had in the previous days.  The gentler path is Tongue Gill on the south side. We were two thirds of the way up after having puffed and panted at the rather steep stepless incline when Sally (master navigator for the day) consulted the maps with a furrowed brow. ‘So I think we took a wrong turning at the bridge at the bottom.’ Where we should have gone straight we went left and essentially up Little Tongue side of the Great Tongue (I’m only describing this so I can write down these awesome names). Which happened to be the harder route. There was a murmur of consternation and then Julie pointed out that she felt so much better knowing that she found the hard path ‘hard’ and not the easy path.  That made complete sense to us at the time and we all nodded in agreement and felt better.


A tarn is like a lake that is in the mountains, like a gigantic basin really. This one looked very calm and picturesque, until the winds whipped up at the point when we wanted to sit and eat something.   

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We wended our way around and descended down without too much mishap. It was still water logged but we were used to it by now and we weren’t far from Patterdale. We also saw a strange little red bridge across the way.  Apparently made out of paper for an art installation. Well there you go.

We did a similar distance to yesterday but we got to our accommodation in 5 hours this time.  A little quicker.

It is possible to do Rosthwaite to Patterdale in one day and some people do but it was nice to get to the B&Bs earlier in the afternoons for a little bit of a chilling, admiring the view and doing the laundry.


Especially as tomorrow I’m due for a moan.  It’s a 16 miler and up the highest point on the route.