Coast to Coast 2011: Day Two

Monday 13th June – Grosmont to Blakey Ridge

Today I shall mostly be humming the tune to “I Walk The Line” by Johnny Cash.

I slept a bit better last night. I awoke at 4:45 the first time, despite the clicking from the fuse box, and managed to doze for another couple of hours until the alarm went off at 7am. Johnny Cash singing “Walk the Line”. As head splinter insertion goes this one worked quite well and I was crooning along all morning to that song.

I went down to breakfast at 8am and met my first C2Cers of the walk; 2 guys walking from Kirkby Stephen to RHB, having done the first half into KS last year. It turned out they were from the North West too and we’d walked many of the same paths over recent years. I got the impression they’d had a fairly bad week weather wise, with lots of rain and high winds hampering their progress. The weather guessers were predicting a rain free day today with winds speeds dropping from their recent levels. The 2 guys were as sceptical as I was about that.

Breakfast was pretty average; bacon not done enough and fried eggs similarly undercooked, tea “as weak as maidens water” according to one of the guys. The toast was nice though, thick cut and plenty of it.

I mentioned the ticking fuse box to the landlady when I checked out and she said no-one else had ever mentioned it. I resisted the urge to sarcastically admit it was probably my imagination, I paid up and set out.

I left about 09:15, with only around 14 miles to do I didn’t need to leave early and I wanted to take my time and enjoy the walk. Walking east to west relieves me from the pressure of needing to be out early to avoid the crowds and not having to walk as part of a long caterpillar of people hiking along the path. It makes a huge difference to my level of relaxation, I’ve noticed that already and I’m only two days in. I admit to being fairly anti-social, I enjoy walking on my own, I prefer to walk on my own and I love the feeling of being completely alone on the hills. On previous long paths I’ve only been able to find this solitude by leaving early, or by walking the Pennine Way 🙂 Walking this way along the C2C has achieved the same thing – it’s great.

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The downside to walking east to west quite literally smacked me in the face today, all day, and really hard! Wainwright chose to walk west to east for a number of reasons, one of which is that the prevailing winds across the UK tend to be westerly, so at your back for a west to east walker. Today I walked into a strong westerly. I knew there was a danger of this, but I’d dismissed it as I do all the possible bad weather you can experience, but it hurt today. It made a fairly short, undemanding walk very difficult. Just as I’d found on one of the early days of the Pennine Way last year, strong headwinds can add a serious burden to your days walking.

As I set out from Grosmont, however, it looked like a perfect day; a bit overcast but warm with a light breeze. I joined the back end of a snake of walkers leaving the village, but they soon turned off and I was on my own.

Almost immediately it started raining – so much for the bloody weather guessers – but the sky was blue with just a smattering of white cloud – bloody magic rain – I hate it. I sheltered under an overhanging tree for a few minutes until the shower passed, then carried on. I got caught again several minutes later and again figured it would be a short one, so rather than don the poncho I sheltered under a tree. It passed after a couple of minutes and stayed off all day, although it looked threatening for much of the afternoon.

On the old toll road I passed about 20 walkers, all obviously doing the C2C, all queuing up to have their photo taken beneath the toll board – this was the first of a number of groups I passed over the next mile or so – dozens of them – all coming from Glaisdale I guessed and heading for RHB.

I passed through Egton Bridge, having some difficulty recognising the path going in this direction, but was soon on the road, climbing steeply up to and then into East Arncliffe Wood. The path through the woods was slippery and I needed to concentrate on the path carefully, which probably saved the life of a huge toad that hopped right in front of me, and would have been under my boot if I hadn’t been watching my foot placement. I encouraged him off the path – I didn’t want warts on my hands, so I didn’t pick him up 🙂

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The woods were great, despite the path, I met a few late starters from Glaisdale and half an hour later I was in the village myself. I stopped at the shop and bought something for lunch, as well as a nice cold can for right there – luxury. It was warm now, clouds clearing and looking like a promising day. This didn’t last though. On the rough bridleway out of the village I climbed into the wind and the clouds came in again.

I stopped and chatted to a local chap, retired, who walked up the C2C path each day for exercise, and to chat to C2Cers I think. He spotted me easily as an easter, a practiced eye obviously and he said he’d seen a huge increase in numbers since the Julia Bradbury series. He mocked me for walking into the wind and I had to agree it seemed like a daft thing to be doing at that particular moment. We said our farewells and he jogged off down into the village and I decided I’d had enough and found a sheltering grouse butt to sit down in and take an early lunch,

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The rest stop helped and I was refreshed as I set out again, meeting another clump of walkers over the next mile or so, all obviously coming from Clay Bank Top and heading to Glaisdale. I joined the path across Glaisdale High Moor and was thankful for the recent dry spell, it was puddle-ridden, but firm underneath so fairly easy going. The George Gap Causeway was a bit more sodden, but careful meandering allowed me to miss the worst of the water.

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So far I’d been following the traditional C2C route, but at the end of the GG Causeway, I went straight across, instead of turning right along the road. I was heading down to the old Rosedale railway that runs just below the lip, around Rosedale itself. The C2C uses this on it’s approach to the Lion Inn, and to be honest its a bit dull and tedious, but this section is absolutely magnificent. I can honestly suggest this as a viable alternative to the road walk from the Lion.

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East of the Lion Inn it uses a series of embankments to span little gills and becks and it has some stunning scenery down into the valley. The wind was a pain though – I was knackered now, from the walk across the moors into the teeth of a gale and still it came, now from the side, constantly trying to remove my hat. But I could see my destination, perched on the skyline and it was a welcome sight I can tell you.

I arrived, absolutely done in. Only to find my trials weren’t quite over. I was in a small twin room, at the top of a very narrow and very steep staircase, so getting my large cargo bag up there was a real pain, especially as the door at the top opened towards me, so I had to climb to the top stair to grab the handle and then try and step down a couple to actually open it, all with a 17kg bag in my hand.

At least I have WiFi tonight, so I’ve been able to include a few pictures. I’m going to order food now, so I send this and maybe update again later after foooooooood 🙂

lonewalker

Fell-walker, trig-pointer, peak-bagger, Wainwright-er & Pennine Way author, with a passion for long paths, malt whisky, fast cars & Man City

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5 Responses

  1. Hey Stuart, I’d love to say that wind’l stop battling you in the mush but I cant, I only hope it dies down for you mate,I posted your blog on my fb wall & its getting quite a few likes which means your doing something right! keep it up mate, it makes a great read as always 🙂

  2. Dave Sparrow says:

    Enjoying reading this immensely.
    Planning on doing the C2C (Eastbound) next year, but this will be very interesting stuff despite reading things in reverse!
    I’d be interested to know how many Eastbound C2Cers you meet on the whole route, including today’s big lump.
    I get a feeling that it could be a very disappointing trip to be part of a huge line of hikers everyday but I don’t think Westbound is advisable for a first attempt, especially as it will be two of us carrying full camping gear.

    • lonewalker says:

      Funny, I was thinking about this as I left the Lion Inn this morning – I reckon I passed 30-40 people yesterday – I didnt ask them all if they were C2Cers, but I guess most of them were. The final few days have so many stop options thats its hard to tell how many people are doing a particular day – but if you reckon on 50 people per day with about 12 stops thats about 600 people on the walk at any one time. Certain stops will be worse than others – earlier in the walk there’s less choice, so the crowds will bunch up.
      If you’re camping the answer is to leave earlier 🙂 I’ll try and remember to report back as I get closer to the middle/start (west to east speaking of course).

  3. Tex Gore says:

    Ah that sounds a bit more like it…

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