8th May 2009 – Lion Inn to Littlebeck – 17 miles
A day of contrasts awaited us; bitter, driving, chilling winds across the moors in the morning and lovely sunny wooded walks in the afternoon.
Rob has depleted his stock of Ibuprofen and needs to find a chemist or some other suitable outlet as soon as possible. The Compeeds only seem to work so far, but then the blisters he’s got are really difficult to patch as they are between his toes and along the length of his foot.
The Lion Inn is used to catering for many people at breakfast, unlike the Shepherds Arms at Ennerdale Bridge (hello Malc!). They served 20 people in the almost no time at all, fantastic service.
We set out with fleeces, gloves and balaclavas on against the bitter and savage winds that howled across the moors; sounds more like a blog from Suberia than North Yorkshire. If there was anything good about this wind, it was that it was at our backs, pushing us along.
We passed many unusual standing stones, historic boundary stones and market stones for the various paths across the moors. They add a sense of perspective to what we are doing. These stones were raised long before people carried maps and compasses for travelling across the county, never mind GPS devices and yet they still stand, mostly unused but a reminder to days gone by.
By the time we started to descend into Glaisdale we were tired of even the strong tail wind. At one point I felt like I was having to slow myself down, I was being pushed so fast from behind that I was in danger of going over.
We stopped at the shop in Glaisdale and tried to buy lunch, but they didn’t have much, so we pushed on down the hill in the hope that the pub was open. At the steepest part of the hill a cyclist came whistling past, brakes squealing in protest as he tried to slow his descent. A few seconds later he came peddaling back up the hill towards us. I was quite surprised to hear him call my name. He quickly introduced himself as Ian, a serial coast to coaster and owner of three journals on the Walking Places site. He had said he may be able to meet up with me today, he wanted to buy me a drink for the with I’ve done publishing his journals.
We’ve swapped many emails but never met, so it was great to finally put a face to a name. He had parked at the Lion Inn and was in for a very weary return trip with the wind in his face, so he was soon back on the road. Thanks for the drink Ian, it was much appreciated.
The Magnificent 11 soon arrived at the pub and all of a sudden it was a lively, noise filled space with the barman dashing around arranging tables and people calling orders across to the designated orderer. We said our farewells to them, we won’t see them now until Robin Hood’s Bay, and pushed on.
We took a wrong path into Arncliffe Wood, selecting the path close to the river. When we realised we should be on the path higher up we tried to scramble up the steep bank, rather than retracing our steps. The bank was too steep though and the leaf mould too slippery and I ended up sliding 30 feet on my arse towards the river, waiting eagerly below. I managed to prevent myself taking an early bath, but I was very muddy and scratched. It’s often much easier to admit a mistake and just backtrack!
Grosmont provided painkillers galore for Rob and the last big climb of the walk for us both, it’s also the prelude to your first sea view since St. Bees. Rob danced merrily for a minute at the sight.
Intake Farm provide a detailed route description from the main road after Sleights Moor which saves you an unnecessary hill that you would have to do if you went into Littlebeck first.
We arrived following two girls, who had been camped in the beer garden of the Lion Inn, right beneath our window as it happened and we were all offered tea and flapjacks in the farmhouse kitchen.
There is no pub nearby, so dinner is included at Intake Farm and it was great. Better than most of the bar meals we’ve had so far. There is no O2 signal though, so this will have to be posted at a later time.
I thought it may be useful, especially to those arriving from abroard, to discuss briefly the mobile phone coverage I’ve had over the last few days.
Between us, Rob and I have carried three mobile phones. I have the iPhone on an O2 contract, I also have a BlackBerry on Vodafone and Rob has an Orange PAYG SIM in his Nokia.
By far and away the best of these three, in terms of consistent coverage has been the Vodafone. It has had a signal in nearly every place we’ve stayed, often no more than one or two bars, but it has rarely not been able to get any reception at all. Stonethwaite and Keld are the only two stops where I’ve had to use a payphone.
Nowhere has O2 or Orange had a signal and Vodafone hasn’t.
Also, more and more places, even little B&Bs are starting to provide wireless access to their clients, often at no cost. The Shepherds Arms at Ennerdale Bridge charged us £2 for their wifi and Tony at Keld Lodge suggested we drop a quid in the Mountain Rescue donation box in exchange for the WEP key for his wifi router. Other places with wifi include; The Langstrath, Brookfield in Shap, Fletcher House in Kirkby Stephen, Willance House in Richmond, the Queen Catherine Hotel in Osmotherley and the Lion Inn at Blakey, all for free.
Hope that helps someone.