As well as walking backwards along the route this year, my plan has always been to walk as many non-standard Wainwright legs as possible, while still maintaining as many of the usual stops as possible to facilitate baggage transfer.
In the opening sentences of his Coast to Coast guide book, Wainwright states that he wanted to “encourage in others the ambition to devise with the aid of maps their own cross-country marathons and not be merely followers of other people’s routes”. Millions of people ignored this encouragement (myself included) and slavishly walked the route he set out in 1972 – and we are all the better for it in my opinion. I doubt his route could be improved on, but it can be modified and amended, possibly without too much detriment and hopefully that will be my plan for this walk.
There were certain restrictions placed on Wainwright’s route when he was planning the walk in 1971 and 1972 – he had to stick to Rights of Way for one thing. One small error of judgement in his original route guided readers well to the north of Orton to take in the fabulous limestone pavement and the ancient settlement at Castle Folds – he received threats and letters from the local farmer for the amount of traffic this generated, across what was actually private land and the farmer installed a bull to deter walkers. AW finally had to revise the route and use the roads to the south of Great Asby Scar instead of the much finer higher alternative. The higher route is now all Open Access and I will be using this as part of my 2011 walk.
I’m sure too, there were also times when AW had to choose one fine path from A to B over another equally fine path, I now have the chance to pick the other path. The section of path between Keld and Reeth, for example, has so many possibilities that AW couldn’t detail them all. I’ll be using little trodden paths to take in Great Pinseat and using a path through the old mining scars of Forefield Rake and Friarfold Rake.
Robin Hood’s Bay to Grosmont
Right from the off I’m leaving the traditional route and I’m heading south out of RHB instead of north. My plan is to avoid the road walking around Hawkser and the dreadful orange bogs across the Graystone Hills. Instead I follow the Cleveland Way south, along the cliff path before heading west to pick up the start of the Lyke Wake Walk at Ravenscar. The path here is well defined, mostly firm underfoot and crosses wild, exposed, heather moorland. At the Lilla Cross I head north west to pick up the Whinstone Ridge, a well defined is somewhat muddy path that crosses Goathland Moor. At the end of this path I’ll follow footpaths into Grosmont.
Approaching Jugger Howe Beck on the Lyke Wake Walk path
On the whole I don’t expect my feet to be any drier when I arrive at Grosmont, but I will have avoided all road walking, crossed much more moorland and spent more time in wild and lonely scenery – something that is almost completely lacking from the original route through Hawkser, the Graystone Hills and the Littlebeck woods. I also manage to avoid the knee-crunching, 33% descent into Grosmont along Fair Head Lane.