10th May 2006 – Clay Bank Top to Glaisdale – 20.0 miles
Although I was in bed early, I was also awake early – very early – a pair of cockerels were having a shouting match at 04:00, one on each side of the house. They kept up an almost incessant battle for about an hour before finally letting everyone in the area go back to sleep. During the disturbance I had decided to visit the toilet and in my fuzzled state I forgot about the low doorway into the bathroom and cracked the top of my head on the beam. That resulted in a foul temper, a throbbing head and an egg sized lump in the morning.
I was hoping for cockerel for breakfast, but was disappointed to find only the usual full English. It was about par for the course, but not particularly memorable, so it wasn’t awful and it wasn’t great.
There were no problems today with what to do with myself if I got to Glaisdale early, there was a pub in the village that would see me comfortably through to the check-in time at the B&B. I decided, therefore, to set out early from Maltkiln, or at least as early as breakfast would allow. I was ready to go at 08:00 and Wendy’s husband Gerry walked me to a path they had had opened behind their house and provided me with a hand drawn map to return me to the C2C path. Their path cuts through a small, dense plantation of pines and leads up onto Urra Moor. This saved me the chore of walking back up the road to Clay Bank Top which I really want looking forward to. I later looked at this path on the map and it’s about 3/4 of a mile shorter than walking back to CBT – my first short-cut!
The path climbed steeply to the edge of Urra Moor before skirting round the edge for a short distance, I got great views of the Wain Stones behind me and of the Bilsdale Transmitter mast built high on the edge of the Cleveland Hills across the valley. The path soon picks up one of the many rough access roads that criss-cross the moors supporting the hundreds of grouse butts littering the area. This particular one was smooth and straight and heading directly for the trig point on Round Hill. Another nice easy bag this one, on a day for trig points, only a few yards off the main path and close to the Hand Stone, one of the many ancient way markers that are dotted across the moors and many of which today’s path passes close to.
A couple of minutes after leaving the trig point I could see a large group of walkers behind me, I thought at first it must be the Thundering Herd, but then I remembered they were staying at the Lion Inn last night, and were therefore about 10 miles ahead of me. It soon became obvious that there were two groups behind, one a bit faster than the other. The leading group were part running part walking and passed me shortly after Bloworth Crossing. They were a group of 8 young men, none of whom acknowledged me until I asked them if they were running the C2C, one of them called back they were not planning on going that far.
This group of 8 was soon a group of 7 as one of the lads dropped off the pace and stopped to join the slower, much larger group behind me. I had a good idea at this point that they were probably one of the forces (they actually turned out to be army) and were doing either the Cleveland Way or the LWW. The energetic group of 7 lengthened their lead over me gradually and the slower group seemed to stay about 10 minutes or so behind me so were going at about my pace.
The path is easy on the feet with no large stones to hinder your footing and scattered along the length are little pieces of history like remnants of rail tracks and posts. Keeping an eye on both groups helped to break the monotony along the Rosedale Ironstone Railway, which as Wainwright suggests make for great walking, but it’s not exactly awe inspiring. The railway follows the contour line across Farndale Moor and High Blakey Moor before reaching the legendary Lion Inn.
The Lion Inn lies almost exactly half way between CBT and Glaisdale, and I arrived there about 10:40, hoping it would be open, but expecting it to be shut. I was in luck and stepped in out of the now blazing sunshine to refresh myself with a nice pint of Diet Coke. I was the only person in the pub and I suspected the army Land Rover in the car park was there to deter their walkers from taking a break. I only stopped for 15 minutes or so, just long enough to savour my pint and ask the barmaid to drop a scoop of ice into my water bottle.
On my exit I found myself at the tail end of the larger, slower group of walkers who seemed more open and talkative than the faster group earlier. I chatted to the two lads at the back of the group, both looking very weary and fed up. They were army, as I suspected, and not on basic training as I had also thought. They were doing the LWW and had set off from Osmotherly at 05:00 that morning. They had no idea how far they had left and seemed a bit disappointed when I said they had about another 25 miles to go.
I was walking at a slightly quicker pace than this group and worked my way through their number to the front of the pack and on to the large half-white cross called Fat Betty by the side of the road. Shortly after I came across a large group of army vehicles and tents, parked in a lay-by, obviously set up to support the crossing and providing food and water to the walkers. The leading group had obviously stopped here as they were no longer visible on the path ahead. I was glad to have the moors to myself again and cut across the heather following the line of marker stones and along the path of the LWW.
I bagged the trig point on Loose Howe, another easy one right by the path, but in a state of decay and neglect, sinking into the moor and crumbling away to nothing. It still maintained a white coat of paint though, so its not been completely abandoned just yet.
Shortly after the trig point, I left the path of the LWW, taking the George Gap Causeway to the Cut Road past Great Fryup Head (who thinks of these great names?) and across Glaisdale Moor. This is still quite easy walking, some of the way is paved and the rest is on a broken stony track through the heather, following the many marker stones, some of which have painted white tops to make them stand out against the predominantly brown landscape.
I came across a number of deposits of a white crystalline substances deposited on the moor by, I’m guessing here, farmers. It looked like large grains of salt and the deposits were of the sort of size you’d expect from a 10 or 20 pound sack. If anyone has any idea what these are, I’d love to know for sure. I suspect it’s food for the Grouse?
The contrast between Great Fryup Dale and the surrounding moorland is startling. You walk across this brown desolate moor and are presented with a glorious green valley sloping away in front of you. Its also sort of nice to know that you’re not going to have to drop into the dale and walk back out again, as the path follows the easterly ridge of the dale towards Glaisdale Rigg and Glaisdale Moor.
The path soon meets a quiet road across the moor and this is followed for a short distance. Here I met another lone walker doing the C2C, sitting in a small hollow by the road side making a brew and trying to drag out the time before arriving at Glaisdale. I myself had my mind set on a lovely cold Diet Coke at the pub and pushed on to the trig point at Glaisdale Rigg, where the path leaves the road and takes again to the open moorland. The path is wide and gravelled though and the walking is easy now all the way into Glaisdale itself.
Greenhowe, my B&B for the night is one of the first houses in the village, but it was only 13:30, so I pushed on down into the little village. I knew there was only one pub in Glaisdale, but what I didn’t realise was the steepness of the hill between it and the B&B. This changed my plans for the day somewhat. I had expected to go down to the pub for a drink, then go and check in and then come back to the pub later for something to eat. However, I really didn’t fancy a 2 mile round trip with a climb of about 300 feet in the middle, so I decided to have a hearty lunch now and pick up something for a snack in my room later.
The Arncliffe Arms was be-decked with bunting, comprised of the flag of St. George and the Union flag, in preparation for the UEFA Cup Final that night, also it turns out the landlord had decided to kill two birds with one stone and get his World Cup flags up too. Middlesbrough have a good local following and the pub was expected to be packed that night, so another good reason fro staying in my room. I found the Thundering Herd in the bar all tucking into lunch on their way to Grosmont, where they were staying that night. I ordered my own large lunch and chatted with the guys until they said their goodbyes and headed off.
I stayed in the pub and sampled the Black Sheep Emmerdale they had on tap, until they closed at 15:00 and I made my way back into the village. I stopped at the little post office and picked up some crisps and cake for my evening snack and knocked on the door at Greenhowe at 15:30. This B&B was completely different from all the other places I had stayed at. It was a large family house run by a lady of my own age, or slightly younger, who used some of her spare rooms in a B&B capacity. She showed me to my lovely room and then brought me tea and biscuits. There was a For Sale sign outside the house and she explained she was moving away from the village and back towards Blakey.
I spent a quiet evening watching Boro get stuffed 4-0 and succumbed to a bizarre compulsion to congratulate my feet on the job they had performed so far. I took a couple of photos of them and treated them well all evening. My right foot had developed a blister in the exact same spot as that on my left heel and I lanced, cleaned and applied a Compeed to this one too. I was asleep as soon as the match finished.
A warm and friendly welcome from the hostess who, upon my arrival, provided tea and biscuits in my room. Bright and airy single room with lovely en-suite and all very clean and tidy. Double bed, chest of drawers, bed side cab, TV, tea and coffee and plenty of plug sockets.
The downside to Greenhowe is that it is now three quarters of a mile from the only pub in town. Since the other pubs have closed, the Arncliffe Arms is the only hostelry and there is a very steep hill between the two establishments. Not really what you need after 19 miles. Having said that the pub serves good food and good beers.
A For Sale sign and a viewing while I was there does not bode well for the future of this accommodation though.