C2C 2006: Day Ten

9th May 2006 – Ingleby Cross to Clay Bank Top – 13.5 miles

Day 10 is another one of those days where you need to time your arrival at your destination quite well. Arrive too early and there is nothing in the vicinity to provide shelter or refreshments, and you will be sat at Clay Bank Top twiddling your thumbs either waiting for the B&B to open or if you are staying at one of the more remote options, waiting for your B&B owner to collect you. This meant another late start for me, which tends to mean tripping over other walkers all day.

There is no choice in the matter, breakfast is at 08:00 in the Blue Bell and it is served at a large communal dining table in the back of the pub, right next to the kitchen. This was the liveliest and one of the better breakfasts of the walk though with your order taken as you sit down and then served up a few minutes later. Most of the Thundering Herd were there, with the exception of one or two who had not been able to find room at the BB and were staying further up the village. We helped ourselves to toast with a most efficient system supervised by one of the guys.

It was Dave (I think) of the TH who told me that Sherpa have a location in RHB where you can have your bag delivered without actually staying there. It costs the usual £6 delivery fee and then you pay £2 to the lady who looks after it. This was going to be much easier for me that driving from RHB to Glaisdale to collect my bag from the B&B. I rang Sherpa as I was leaving the BB and asked if it was possible to add another delivery to the end of my current schedule. They said it was no problem at all and if there were any problems they would leave a message for me at my B&B that night. Well done to Sherpa for being so flexible, they are obviously still small enough to cater for these sorts of eventualities.

I eventually left the Blue Bell at 09:25. As I was putting my boots on at the front door, the Ferrymen arrived in the village. They were delivered by the Ferryman in his car, disembarked, collected packs from the boot and set off up the road towards Arncliffe Hall. I gave them a couple of minutes head start then followed on after them. The TH had left about 30 minutes earlier – I wanted to give them a good lead – as nice a bunch of guys as they were, I didn’t want to walk in their dust cloud all day.

The weather was fine, not yet bright and sunny but promising to be a great day. It actually turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year so far, with very little wind to keep you cool. The first of the six or seven hills of the day was a bit of a surprise after yesterday. As you enter Arncliffe Wood, the path climbs steadily for about 2 miles, gaining only about 750 feet in that time, but that’s about three times more than all the ascent of the last day. I was sweating bullets by the time I reached the first switchback that meant I had joined the Cleveland Way.

I had considered killing some time today at Mount Grace Priory, but when the choice of path came up I decided against it, I really wasn’t all that interested in their drainage systems. If the nuns had mounted a gritty defence against marauding French troops, holding off the encircling army for several weeks, before finally, once supplies were exhausted, sallying forth and dying bravely on the blades of the vastly outnumbering army then I might have wandered up and had a look, but a nice drainage system? Sod it.

I passed my first walkers of the day on the approach to the transmitter station towards the top of the climb through Arncliffe Wood, they were an older couple taking things very easy. I then passed another couple waiting at the transmitter station who asked me if I had passed a couple on the way up. They assured me they would catch me up later (did I really look that knackered already?).

I bagged the trig point at the top of Arncliffe Wood, a slightly tricky one as I had to clamber over the wall which is topped with barbed wire to get a decent picture of it. The path then leads downhill slightly across Scarth Wood Moor to a cattle grid where it meets the course of the Lyke Wake Walk (LWW) for the first time. The LWW is a 40 mile challenge walk across the North Yorks Moors devised by a local farmer by the name of Bill Cowley, the 40 miles needs to be completed in less than 24 hours. The C2C, Cleveland Way and LWW all follow the same path for the next day and a half, that’s a lot of boots every year across this delicate moorland, more and more of which is being paved to cope with the strain.

The Cleveland Way is a well waymarked National Trail, so I guess it was complacency that caused me to misread one of the finger posts and I headed off on completely the wrong track. I realised after about 5 minutes that I was not where I should be and the GPS paid dividends here, as I used it to navigate my way back to the path without just retracing my steps. My parallel path ran for about half a mile along a very overgrown stream until I scrambled up a bank to regain the main path. I was immediately passed by the couple who had been waiting at the transmitter station. “Haha, told you we’d catch you up” they said cheerfully. I walked with them for a short while and they told me that their friends were much slower so they tended to walk ahead then wait for them further along the path. The gentleman member of the older couple had recently had a triple bypass, so no wonder he was taking it easy – well done that man!

One of the great things about today was how far ahead you could see, the path was clear to see for many miles, undulating over the many small hills that make up this part of the North Yorks Moors. Without the haze in the middle distance I think it would have been possible to see all the way to Clay Bank. The path runs over a series of small climbs; Live Moor, Carlton Moor, Cringle Moor, Cold Moor and then the climb up past the Wain Stones onto Hasty Bank, most of these had steep rocky descents which made today hard on my knees.

The downside to being able to see so far ahead was the sight of so many other walkers on the moors ahead of me. Its not that I’m anti-social or anything – but what the hell are they all doing on my hill? It felt like a bit of a procession today, in sight at various points were; the old couple with the triple bypass, their friends the not quite so old couple, the Ferrymen, the Thundering Herd, me, another old couple and a solo Aussie / Kiwi, all of whom were doing the C2C. Not to mention about 16 to 20 other people I met during the day, coming the other way doing other walks.

I would be tempted, if I did it again, to do what the Thundering Herd did today and that is to walk all the way to The Lion at Blakey, it does make for quite a long day (20+ miles), but at least I could have left early, missed the crowds and still had the comfort of knowing that my accommodation was open and accessible.

My progress so far suggested I was still going to arrive at the B&B way too early and my mono-pace wasn’t helping matters, I tried to walk a bit slower, but I end up speeding up again when I stop consciously thinking about it. I walked past the Gliding Club on Carlton Moor and bagged the trig point, a nice easy one this right on the track. This trig point has a very ancient looking neighbour, a slim stone pillar about four feet high with what looks like a benchmark cut into it. But for the haze again, the view from here would have been awesome, as it was I could see for probably three or four miles across the woods and fields below.

The path down from Carlton Bank led me straight to the Lord Stones cafe, perfect timing really as it was about lunch time and the sun was now very hot and a break was in order. The Thundering Her had arrived a few minutes before me, but were still gathering their order together so I jumped the queue and ordered a pot of tea (with free refills) and a large homemade flapjack (£2). The TH have two treasurers, one for lunch and one for dinner, their lunch bill for today came to £48.

I was very impressed, in some ways, with Lord Stones. The prices are very good considering its location, a more unscrupulous owner could charge pretty much what he wanted for teas and coffees this far from civilisation, but they were very cheap. He also had Old Peculier from the keg at £2 per pint!! Never seen it that cheap anywhere. Unfortunately the owner is not a very friendly chap, I spent about an hour in the cafe, sitting indoors out of the blazing sun and in all that time he never stopped moaning to whoever would listen. From the sound of it his gripe was with the Ordnance Survey people, who appear to have omitted him from the latest revision of the 1:25k scale maps. The owner was convinced that there was some dark and sinister motive behind this.

I allowed the TH a good head start before leaving Lord Stones at about 13:30, the lookout point at the top of Cringle Moor providing a view of Roseberry Topping, 6.5 mile away, now that the haze was burning off. I passed the Ferrymen at this point, radioing the Ferryman and arranging their pick up at Clay Bank Top. The lone Aussie had left Lord Stones a couple of minutes after me and he was keeping pace with me, obviously someone else who likes to walk on his own.

At grid ref NZ 52530 03307, next to the path on Cringle Moor is a very interesting piece of graffiti, it is impossible to tell how old it is, but its not your run of the mill “Baz was ere”. It says “Tempus Exploroomais Negotium”, which according to a post on the North York Moors National Park website may mean “Time solves all problems”.

As I descended from Cold Moor I could see the TH lazing by the Wain Stones on top of Hasty Bank, it was very hot now and I was even considering blagging some sun screen off one of the Herd. They were still there 25 minutes later when I puffed up the top and flopped down next to them for 5 minutes. I was getting warm greetings from these guys now, they were a thoroughly friendly bunch of guys.

I only needed a couple of minutes to get my breath and replenish the water bottle I keep strapped to my belt, from the supply in my pack and I was off again, just as the lone Aussie arrived at the top, followed almost immediately by the Ferrymen. The final descent off Hasty Bank was a killer on my already badly abused knees and the road walk down to my B&B in Clay Bank Top was the second worse section of the walk. The road was not too busy but what traffic there was moved very quickly and there was no pavement or footpath. The heat was bouncing back off the tarmac to add to that coming from the sun, altogether the worst 1/2 mile of the trip.

I shall always remember, fondly, the welcome I received at Maltkiln House, I knocked on the door and Wendy answered it, immediately asking me “How are you feeling?” I responded that I was feeling fine, “Oh thank goodness” she said. This did seem a bit odd until she told me later that one of here C2C guests had died in the night the previous Saturday. Bizarrely enough, on the same day another man doing the C2C had died on Hasty Bank and had been airlifted to hospital. I don’t know what killed the two, but I guess it must have been heart related, I thought it had been a fairly tough day – but I didn’t think it had been a killer.

Wendy showed to me to my apartment style accommodation, with a bedroom, living room and bathroom all on one floor. I was provided with a big pot of tea and biscuits (including a Kitkat!) and then left alone until tea time. I had a massive bowl of lentil soup, almost enough for a main course on its own, followed by a beef casserole and Black Forest gateaux. I walked off part of dinner by having to climb a nearby hill to get a phone signal to ring home.

Tonight’s Accomodation

Maltkiln House

Received the sort of welcome I have come to expect from B&B’s on the C2C, warm and friendly plus tea and biscuits (Inc. KitKat!).

Home-cooked evening meal was sturdy and filling and I knew I was setup for tomorrow’s walking when I had finished it. It included a sherry to start and wine with the meal.

I had an apartment to myself with a twin bedroom, separate sitting area and bathroom. Plenty of space to spread out and sort out kit, although I did have to disconnect the TV to charge my phone. Overall I felt it could have been a bit cleaner, especially the bathroom, but the other plus points made up for this.

If you want to do the C2C the Wainwright way and stop at CBT, you could do a lot worse than the Maltkiln