12th June 2011 – Robin Hood’s Bay to Grosmont – 15.1 miles
I didn’t sleep all that well in the night. I was awake at 03:00 and then again at 04:00 and 05:00. I finally gave up trying to sleep at 06:00 when I obviously fell asleep as the alarm woke me at 07:00. I have a new iPhone app that allows me to wake up to music, just like I used to 30 years ago with my alarm clock radio! Now that’s progress for you 🙂
The result is that I spent all day humming Pink Floyd’s “On the Turning Away” which was not the intended walking song at all. So tomorrow I’ll be changing the alarm to “Walk the Line”. You can’t choose your head splinters though, I learned that long ago!
The skylights were blue when I awoke, not a cloud in the sky and it was already warming up. This looked promising for a great days walking.
Breakfast in the Manning Tree, just like everything else, was excellent. Cooked to order and cooked well too! Lovely thick toast and the best hash browns I’ve had outside of the US. All in all this would be a great place to finish your C2C walk and it’s certainly a great place to start it. If I had a complaint, and regular readers will know I usually do, it was that the pillows were a little on the hard side – and that’s it 🙂
I left a glowing recommendation in the Visitors’ book and set out with a spring in my step.
First job of the day was to try and find a pebble on the beach. I squeezed past an ambulance which was parked, blue lights flashing, outside one of the houses on the narrow and ridiculously steep streets of the old town. I hoped that was the extent of the excitement for the day.
The Bay Hotel was deserted as I took the obligatory photos of the C2C sign on their wall. I had hoped that someone would be around to take a photo of me setting out, but it was perhaps too early and everyone was sleeping off the excesses of the Folk Festival. There wasn’t even anyone on the beach. The tide was right out again so I headed for the water line and on the way stumbled across a small stash of pebbles, from which I selected a couple of small ones and dropped them in my pack. I continued to the shore and dipped my boots, then headed for the Cleveland Way, south out of the village.
With hindsight I could have walked along the beach pretty much all of the way, at least as far as Boggle Hole and probably further. The Cleveland Way climbs up and down the cliff path gaining and losing height in steep, lung bursting staircases – good for the long views but it played havoc with my knees.
At Boggle Hole Hostel I found a tiny puppy beside the path. I thought he must have wandered off from the house nearby, or perhaps he was lost – but I then saw he was tied to the tree he was sitting beneath, his lead wrapped around his leg to hobble him and a small margarine tub filled with water beside him. Obviously someone had brought him along, decided they didn’t want to have to look after him all day and stuck him in the shade beside the path. He looked ever so lonely and sad – and I’m not a huge animal lover – but I could have happily throttled the selfish git who’d left him there.
I took to a quiet farm access road for a while, climbing up the hillside to the transmitter mast at the start of the Lyke Wake Walk. Then it was out into the heather along a thankfully dry route. North Yorkshire has had very little rain this spring which is bad news for the local farmers but good news for walkers. Parts of this route can be a horrendous boggy nightmare, but today it was glorious. The path was flanked by teaming masses of Skylarks, Curlew and Plover so you are almost constantly accompanied by the music of the birds. The sun was playing along too, shining nicely, with a cooling breeze to take the edge off the temperature.
I passed a guy who looked to be almost dead on his feet. He was walking so slowly I initially thought he might be in trouble, but then I realised he must be at the end of the 40 mile endurance walk. He didn’t have far to go though, he tried a smile as we passed, but it fell well short of his eyes, he seemed to be in a world of his own; boots scuffing the ground and head bowed.
I tried the Lyke Wake Walk a couple of years ago and I know how hard it is. I didn’t finish, I only managed about 24 miles but I knew I couldn’t make it to the end. Fortunately we were being supported by my brother so were able to call it a day at pretty much any point.
The Lyke Wake Walk now dropped down to Jugger Howe Beck on a well laid stone-stepped path, across a little bridge and then up another long, steep stone staircase on the other side. It was tough going and I could only imagine how the guy I’d just passed had felt, climbing out of here after almost 40 miles.
The path was easy to follow and I was drifting off into reveries as I walked, clearing the mind of work and thinking about anything and nothing – it was this day-dreaming that I blame for the little scream and the unconscious outburst of “F***ING HELL!!” that escaped me as a voice called “morning” behind me. A cyclist had managed to creep up behind me on his Ninja Stealth bike and shouted at the top of his voice immediately behind me. I stopped and caught my chest, to prevent my heart from escaping and he stopped and apologised. He said he thought he’d been far enough behind to avoid the shock, but I knew he was lying! He cycled off, no doubt chuckling to himself and carving another little notch in his handlebars.
I left the Lyke Wake Walk route at Lilla Cross and turned right onto another wide, eroded track through the heather. I was beginning to feel a little leg weary so I stopped for lunch beside a marker stone, something to prop by back against and to rest for a while.
30 minutes and half a pack of Fruit Pastilles later I felt much better and continued on, along Foster Howes Rigg which has another wide, eroded track all the way along it. I donned headphone and iPod at this point, listening to an audio book, but with the volume low enough to listen out for ninja cyclists.
The route across Sneaton High Moor would be rough if it was wet and raining, but although the sun was hidden by clouds now, the weather was still fine and the path was cracked and dry all the way.
About an hour after lunch I reached the crossing of the A169 and entered into a stage which I was a little concerned about. I’d picked this section of the route based on pictures from Google Earth. Whinstone Ridge looks like an immense elongated quarry, a huge straight scar across the moorland; probably the result of mining a seam (maybe lead?). But there’s no path according to the OS map. Google Earth however suggested there was, so here I was, with a huge diversion on my hands if it wasn’t navigable. Luckily it was. In fact it looked quite heavily used. There’s a clear path all the way down the centre of the scar and some paths along the top of it too. I stuck to the centre line, a path at the foot of steep slopes on both sides and lovely and sheltered for it.
I took a tumble on one steep section, skinning my hand in the process, and feeling a bit silly, but on the whole it was a great route.
The dodgiest section of this improvised route was at Arundel Hill – there’s no Right of Way here and no obvious path either. Again, I’d used Google Earth to map a path through fields, crossing as few fences or walls as possible (only one in fact) and keeping the trespass to a minimum. I was in luck again, no-one saw me. On the exit from the field I spotted a “Beware of the Bull” sign that was obviously supposed to deter exactly what I’d done. If there was a bull he was out for the day.
At Boggle House (the second Boggle of the day) it started to rain. I delayed as long as I could, but it was obviously not going to stop, so I pulled out my Poncho and threw it on. It worked a treat, although it was a little warmer than I was expecting. But it kept me and my pack dry as we walked along the last mile or so into Grosmont.
I missed the path I’d intended to take into the village, forcing me to either backtrack (never going to happen) or trust to luck at the fords I could see on the map. Luck wasn’t with me this time though and they were too deep to cross, I tried crossing at a shallow spot nearby, using stones, but they were too slippery and I dunked my foot before using prudence and backtracking. I didn’t have to go all the way back though; I cut through a churchyard and along a path beside the railway into the village.
The place was heaving with steam train tourists; more cameras than a Hollywood premier and all in the hands of middle aged men with too little to do in life. A steam train was just leaving the station, which didn’t really manage to raise much interest me; I was wet and tired and needed a shower.
I found the Station Hotel, next to the station funnily enough, and checked in. My bag was waiting in the hall and I was shown to my small single room.
The Station isn’t a patch on the B&B last night, there’s a fuse box or something in my room that keeps clicking every 15 minutes or so. It’s already getting on my nerves and I know it’s one of those annoying noises that’s going to keep me awake tonight.
I’m back from dinner now, a chicken- and stuffing-filled Yorkshire Pudding which was lovely.