Dr Jenny Kingston, our intrepid and dynamic Chairman, has taken it upon herself to undertake Wainwright’s famous Coast-to-Coast walk in aid of the Trust. The walk is a 182-mile (293 km) hike along the famous long-distance footpath in Northern England. Devised by Alfred Wainwright, it passes through three contrasting national parks: the Lake District National Park, the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and the North York Moors National Park.
With only her husband Peter (and his trusty compass) for support, Jenny is hoping to complete the walk in only 12 days!
Please consider sponsoring Jenny's epic endeavour via the link below and, each day, you can follow her progress on this page as we will post updates as we receive them directly from Jenny (whenever she has enough signal to send them to us!).
Jenny’s Coast-to-Coast Diary
DAY 1: wells - st bees - ennerdale bridge
We left Wells for Bristol Temple Meads on Sunday morning having checked the rail network website for delays. Website not to be trusted: no trains between Cheltenham and Birmingham. Two hours in a bulging minibus (one of three laid on for 200 passengers!) later we got to Birmingham and made our way to Carlisle.
Monday morning: weather was grim. Gales and heavy non-stop rain made the long trudge up the Coast Path from St Bees an arduous and slightly dispiriting start. We eventually turned inland and stopped for a late lunch several miles later in Cleator, a small village with not even a bus shelter under which to study our waterlogged map, and nothing open except for an off-licence. Thankfully we found The Ennerdale Country House Hotel on the outskirts and received a wonderful welcome with hot radiators and a fire. We dried our soaking clothes for an hour. Don’t believe any claims to waterproofing. We thought we’d done our research. Not in that rain! Much needed pint of Ennerdale Blonde which we enjoyed while chatting to our first fellow coast-to-coaster, Charlie who says he’s planning to camp!
We eventually emerged to find the rain had stopped! Five more miles of gentle walking to The Shepherd’s Arms in Ennerdale Bridge. Huge dinner and a bottle of wine ensured a good night’s sleep. One of the walkers we got chatting to over breakfast turns out to have been at the same college in Oxford as Peter. They’ve not seen each other since 1977. He had lots of good local knowledge and advised us not to go up Red Pike in high winds and cloud.
day 2: ennerdale bridge - rosthwaite
Dry start on Tuesday. Stunning walk along south side of Ennerdale Water, our first Lake. Very wet underfoot, often over our boots. So far so good. Next stop five miles beyond the lake and into the hills is the most remote youth hostel in the land, completely off-grid (see photo below).
We sheltered from the wind and had our sandwiches. The Stedman book says from the hostel things can get a bit tricky: ‘Indistinct path rises to contour around the western face of Brandreth and Grey Knotts’ - great advice if you are able to identify these two peaks!
Video: Stunning scenery! Tough walking but worth it!
Video: More breathtaking scenery but a bit windy!
Sun hiding, so no help for navigating. With uncharacteristic foresight, Peter has a compass and seems to know how to use it. We thus find our way off the high fells and make long descent to Rosthwaite and first rain of day.
The Royal Oak is a gem. We are put in the ‘coast to coast’ room next to the drying room.
‘It’s hot-pot tonight,’ the landlady says. So nice not to have to make decisions with a menu.
The food is smashing. We eat in a dining room bulging with noisy octogenarians who are hard at it in the bar when we turn in.
Day 3: rosthwaite - grasmere
After the third Full English in a row (I could get used to this) we set off in the rain again. Rapid climb and heated discussion, had we gone wrong already? Eventually found ourselves alongside Stonethwaite Beck where we were meant to be. Very boggy underfoot, footpath more like a whitewater rafting river in places - have a look at the video footage! I went face first into the river off one stepping stone a bit later, thankfully not filmed!
Video: Jenny’s River Crossing
Video: Peter’s turn!
We determinedly stomped up past Eagle Crag up to Lining Crag so far so good and some fabulous views (captured in the video 2). Again our book advises this is where a lot of people get lost. It’s true! We were aiming for a path up to Greenup Edge, not obvious. TypicalIy I went charging ahead onto what turned out to be the mountaineers’ route, exhausting.
Once we were up at Greenup Edge we came across Charlie again. After discussion we all agreed in the howling wind and rain with sodden maps and books we’d be foolish to attempt the ridge walk via Helm Crag. A disappointment because I’d been looking forward to it as a highlight. We’ll have to come back on a sunny day.
Video: It’s all about the views!
We began a slow but beautiful descent into Grasmere and met several walkers en route. A group of four young Japanese people had struggled up from Grasmere and anxiously asked how much further to Borrowdale and did we think the sun would come out! Very optimistic question we thought.
Peter upped the pace because all my chatting with passers by and path repairers was holding us up. He didn’t want to miss out on a cream tea. We route marched into Grasmere in time for a blueberry scone and tea.
Meeting my old friend Sally and her husband for supper tonight. They live very close by and know the best places. Looking forward to a rest day in Grasmere tomorrow then on to Patterdale on Friday.
day 4 (Rest day): Grasmere
Sally and Andrew, who we hadn’t seen for a few years, took us to a wonderful restaurant just out side Grasmere called The Yan. It means The One in old Cumbrian dialect which is still used for counting sheep. Some of the numbers sound a bit odd... bumfit means fifteen!
Andrew has been walking in the Cumbrian fells since he was a child and is a very keen and experienced walker. We learned a lot from him, not least of all how helpful walking poles are. Foolishly we’ve always been a bit snooty about walking poles and thought they were for weaklings, obviously not.
Task one for our rest day was to trawl the numerous walking shops in Grasmere for walking poles. The science incorporated in walking poles is huge, overwhelming and after a while, a bit boring. So many enthusiasts determined to enlighten us. PK kept wandering off to look at maps while I tried to concentrate on rapid deployment systems, locking mechanisms, adjusting tension, carbon fibre and angles of wrist straps. In the end we plumped for the cheapest that would fold up enough to fit in our rucksacks, as good criteria as any I reckon. Should have tried harder is what my school report would have said when we got back to the B&B. I couldn’t work out how to make my sticks stay solid have tried the rapid deployment mechanism. Each time I pressed down on them they collapsed. Peter resorted to reading the instructions and crisis over. Photos of poles in action on our way to Patterdale tomorrow in yet more rain.
Grasmere is lovely. We were dutiful and went to visit Dove Cottage where Wordsworth lived for ten years. It’s being restored at the moment so none of his stuff is in it.
It’s opposite Grasmere lake which is beautiful even in the gloomy rain.
Too late for the famous gingerbread so we won’t set off tomorrow until we’ve bought some. Until then .....
Day 5: grasmere - patterdale
Yesterday it poured so we had supper at the closest restaurant to the B&B, The Jumble Room: what a find! Routier Restaurant of the Year 2019 apparently. We discovered that the Lake District has the second highest number of Michelin starred restaurants per head of population after Tokyo. This is a real plus when you’re walking the Coast to Coast Path! The Yan and The Jumble Room are both fab even if they haven’t got their stars yet.
We saw two of the must-do things before we left Grasmere. William Wordsworth’s grave, which we could hardly see for masses of primary school children on a literary trip (very encouraging), and as promised, The Gingerbread Shop.
We had several warnings of yet more heavy rain today so wrapped up well in full waterproof paraphernalia before leaving “the fairest place on earth”. Miraculously we went in the right direction and soon found ourselves climbing gently up Tongue Gill on the right side of Great Tongue (I love the names of the fells) towards Grisedale Tarn, a pretty mountain lake.
At this point we had a decision to make: the highest route via Helvellyn and Striding Edge which the guide books say is not for the faint hearted, those who suffer vertigo or in windy conditions (lots of memorials on the way!); the slightly less higher route up to St Sunday Crag; or the lowest route along the valley. We did not agree. It was very windy and even though the rain had not started it was threatening. Reaching a compromise we chose to climb up to St Sunday Crag. Thank you Sally and Andrew, it would have been so much harder without the poles. We are converts.
St Sunday Crag is very high, windy and cold. We got a bit lost and had to do some more ‘mountaineering’ to get back on track which was terrifying, I honestly thought I was going to fall. When we eventually got to the top it was worth it. (See pics and video.)
Day 5 : Video - From the top of St Sunday Crag. Sorry about the wind noise!
We had an apple and some gingerbread at the top which was enough to sustain us after the vast breakfast we began the day with. Up again to begin the descent to Patterdale. Very steep - the poles were huge help and meant we made faster progress than we otherwise would have. About three quarters of the way down we passed a family on their way up dressed in day clothes and shoes. The young woman appeared to be helping her partially sighted father up the path. I’ve no idea how far they were planning to climb but they will have found it very hard.
We arrived in Patterdale in time for Peter’s cream tea. Our B&B is a remote farm in the most perfect setting about a mile out of the village. Only down side is we have to walk back to the pub for supper!
Great day with very little rain. Bed early tonight because tomorrow we have the highest climb on the Coast to Coast Path. I’ll let you know how we get on.
DAY 6: patterdale - bampton Grange
Had just enough energy to get to the pub for supper last night. We made our way by torch light and passed a large group of fell runners with lights on their heads. This really is an extreme sport. Sitting by the fire, we enjoyed large plates full of pub grub and watched England lose to the Czech Republic. Back at Crookabeck Farm by 10pm and time for bed.
Adam was our host. He’s a young man who grew up on the farm that has been in his family for three generations. He can make more money from B&B than from farming, he says.
The forecast was good so we abandoned waterproof trousers and just wore ‘showerproof’ ones. Was this wise? We set off with some trepidation having looked at what was ahead. Slightly nervous about Kidsty’s Pike, highest point on The Coast to Coast Path.
It’s amazing what difference a day makes - sun and Saturday: lots more people out on the fells. Mostly middle-aged walkers but several quite elderly hikers too.
We slowly made our way upwards. I kept thinking we were nearly there to discover it was yet another false summit. After about three hours climbing we spotted Kidsty’s Pike ahead just as the rain began to fall. Very windy and cold again but, as before, it was so worth it.
Video: The panoramic view from the top of Kidsty Pike
The books warned us that the descent from Kidsty’s Pike is the steepest too. This worried me because we’d had a frighteningly steep and tricky descent yesterday. We managed, and it didn’t seem to be as difficult as yesterday going down to Patterdale. I’ve since discovered we went the wrong way yesterday and took a very steep path instead of the more gentle longer route!
Once at the bottom we had a four mile trek along the shore of Haweswater Reservoir towards Bampton. Peter’s pace picked up noticeably at about 3.45pm and I realised we were on the Cream Tea Hunt again. We arrived at the Crown and Mitre in Bampton Grange at 5.30pm, gasping for a pint. Peter especially keen because there were no tea shops on the way. The pub was shut! We pushed at the door and found a note on the bottom stair TO US. A paper welcome from Wendy with the key to room number 2 but no tea and no beer, major disappointment. We settled in to room number 2 and waited for Wendy. Two pints of local ale and a steak and kidney pie later, we’re back in our room contemplating Yorkshire and a good sleep, if the church clock opposite doesn’t keep us awake...
Day 7: bampton grange - orton
We stayed in The Crown and Mitre in Bampton Grange last night, just on the edge of the lakes. Wendy, our host, has lived here all her life and is 60 now.
While we were enjoying our pies, I was eavesdropping on the conversation in the bar. A couple came in who introduced themselves to Wendy and the four locals leaning on the bar as James and Arabella (really!). They were staying in their new holiday home in the village and wanted to come in to say hello. They had a pint and asked what goes on locally at New Year, explaining they wouldn’t be around at Christmas. Fifteen minutes later they left. Wendy told us Bampton Grange is now mainly second homes. When she was a child there were 130 children in the local primary school, there are no children in the village now. Things have changed so quickly.
After breakfast the next day we believed Wendy when she told us it was going to clear up and again chose not to wear full waterproof trousers. BIG MISTAKE.
We set off for Shap in the gloom and soon it was pouring heavily. The landscape is very different, the stiles are different too (see photo!).
Four or five miles on we reached Shap having passed the ruins of Shap Abbey en route.
We were so sodden that we decided to drop into the pub to dry out over a half. We arrived at 11.55, the pub didn’t open ‘til noon so we huddled under the porch waiting for the door to open.
Japan and Scotland were on the telly playing in the rugby World Cup and several people came in to watch. Clearly not much support for Scotland in this part of Yorkshire; they were delighted when Japan went ahead.
We left the pub to make our way eastwards into the Yorkshire Dales. We had to cross the main rail line to Glasgow and the M6 first, the latter by way of a rather narrow footbridge which I found a bit disconcerting. Rain got heavier so we buried our phones in our backpacks - no more photos. Peter navigated over the murky and very boggy moorland expertly. We walked into Orton a few minutes before four, tea rooms shut at four, phew, just in time!
Passed Kennedy’s Chocolate factory which produces chocolates for Her Majesty The Queen. An improbable find in this beautiful village. If it’s lighter tomorrow we’ll take a photo...
DAY 8: orton - kirkby stephen
We emerged from The George in Orton to an almost sunny day. Bronwen and Andy, our hosts said they thought it would be overcast but dry. Bronwen added that she thought, “the weather will pick up when you cross the Pennines because it’s another world over there.”
Orton is extremely pretty with some beautiful houses. We peeked into the chocolate factory then made our way east out of the village. A sign sign (below) attached to a gate in the village provoked discussion on several levels.
We walked past two or three remote but affluent-looking farms, crossing the lovely dry stone walls using the step up stiles which are part of the walls.
Finally we reached open moorland and started to climb gently. The ground is incredibly wet and boggy after the rain. Our walking poles are a real boon crossing such boggy land, we’re far less likely to get stuck or to fall over. The views here are wonderful, much wider and more open valleys than in The Lake District and the sky seems bigger somehow.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park is quite strict as the sign below shows. What are people supposed to do? It’s another 11 miles of walking before another loo is available!
We had a wonderful rain-free walk today. Peter navigated perfectly and we also find the maps that appear from time to time on posts very helpful.
We found ourselves coming down off the moor towards Kirkby Stephen in good time. I couldn’t resist this signpost on the way down!
Our pit stop tonight is wonderful. Redmayne House, run by Rob and Liz is a luxury B&B, WITH A BATH, the first we’ve come across. Usually small little en-suite showers with plenty of hot water but it’s not the same. After we’d wolfed down the delicious cakes Liz produced we each had a long soak and are now going out in search of food and a pint. Until tomorrow when we cross the Pennines...
DAY 9: Kirkby stephen - keld
We dropped into The Taggy Man for a pint to discover they were setting up for a pub quiz. The cost included a supper of pork pie and peas which didn’t appeal so we thought we’d give it a miss. We downed our pints watching England amass lots of goals against Bulgaria. Just standing up to leave when the first quiz question came across the sound system, “What does Dysphagia mean?” Every dentist knows this, should we stay after all? Peter really couldn’t face pork pie and peas so off for a curry.
As you can see, the guide book suggests a watery start so we hoped for a good breakfast. Liz did not disappoint. We would recommend Redmayne House, it’s fab.
On up the hill towards the peat moors. We passed this sign which confirms we’ll be half-way when we get to Keld. Can’t believe it, it’s going too quickly.
I said it was boggy yesterday, it wasn’t. Today is completely different. The peat moors are extraordinarily boggy and require concentration and effort. They also seem to go on for ever but the huge views are worth it.
We are aiming for The Nine Standards on the top of Standards Haggs. It’s quite a climb through the bogs. There are three alternatives to get up there and we are directed which way to go by sign post based on the season. The reason for this is to cope with the erosion on this part of the path caused by so many walkers. We don’t see anyone else today, not surprising given how boggy the recent rain has made the terrain.
Once up at The Nine Standards the view is spectacular. Well worth it. This is the watershed of England. All rivers to the west flow to the west and those to the wast flow eastwards.
The peat has an interesting effect on the water, it turns it golden.
On our way down into Keld we pass lots of small little stone buildings. Almost one in each field, we were mystified. Our hosts on our arrival at the wonderful Keld Lodge Hotel tell us the are cow houses to protect the poor beasts in the winter. They all look derelict now and we only see sheep.
Keld is tiny and beautiful at the north end of Swaledale. At last, The Yorkshire Dales proper!
day 10: Keld - Reeth
The Keld Lodge Hotel is unashamedly a walkers’ hotel. Drying room for boots and wet clobber, simple rooms with lots of hot water, great beer and food. Keld is beautiful and tiny. I imagine the hotel is one of the biggest employers in the village.
Dave, who retired from his job in Brussels five years ago in his early fifties, bought the hotel. He is a keen walker and fell runner and very knowledgeable about the area. He poached Matt, the chef, from The Sharrow Bay Hotel. We had surprisingly good food as a result.
Today we are making our way through Swaledale. I had no idea that this area was the centre of the English lead mining leading up to the industrial revolution. The remains of smelters, tunnels, forces and flues are in abundance on the moorland above The Swale.
We set off on an upward climb in the murky drizzle with our daughter Nicola, who has joined us for a couple of days. We were aiming for the ruins of Crackpot Hall which was built in the seventeenth century and was lived in by prosperous farmers, gamekeepers and mining officials over the years. The view back down the valley was fantastic.
We had to make a decision here between two routes, one down again and along the river bank all the way to Reeth or one up and up to see more of the remnants of the mining history then dropping down to join the other route just outside Reeth. We opted to go up the increasingly steep side of Swinner Gill below Buzzard Scar. We kept on climbing, rewarded by brighter skies and more amazing views.
We came across the cloister-like remains of Blakethwaite mine and a nearby kiln.
At about this point we lost concentration and found ourselves on neither the high mines route or the lower river route but our own middle route. Thankfully we were walking in the best weather yet with bright sun. The wonderful views back along Swaledale more than made up for the extra mileage of our unplanned detour.
We passed several cottages with no road access, some of which had been restored. Very difficult in the winter but summer views compensate.
At last we were back on the banks of the beautiful Swale.
We arrived safely in Reeth just before sunset.
day 11: Reeth - RICHMOND
We woke up to glorious sun and more gorgeous views in beautiful Reeth.
The book describes today’s walk as “A pleasant and short stretch up ancient nuns’ steps to a peaceful hillside above the steep valley of the lower Swale.”
Nicola set a punishing pace hoping to reach Richmond in time for an early afternoon tea before setting off to Darlington to catch the 4.30pm train to Kings Cross. Not sure if 26 year old legs are just quicker than our 60+ variety or if the previous nine days of walking have taken their toll but it was an effort to keep up!
We left Reeth along a beautiful water meadow on the banks of The Swale.
After a couple of miles we came across Marrick Priory which was founded in 1154 for Benedictine nuns. In 1535 a pageboy sought shelter in the Priory during a storm. He turned out to be Isabella Beaufort fleeing from London and the attentions of Henry VIII. Sensibly she did not want to marry him!
The route carried on up above the lovely River Swale, our faithful companion for the second day. The views, as usual, are more than reward for the speed walking with Nicola pacemaking.
Three miles out of Richmond, Nicola decides to run on and find somewhere for us to eat. Thankfully we can slow down a bit to enjoy the early afternoon sun and scenery.
Wainright was obviously a fan of Richmond judging by this plaque we passed.
Nicola has discovered what is meant to be the best tea room in the town and we join her for a slap up tea.
We’re now relaxing in our lovely B&B, 66 Frenchgate, until dinner in a highly recommended restaurant. It’s all walking and eating! A day of rest tomorrow before we hit the final few days to Robin Hood’s Bay.
day 12 (rest day): Richmond
Richmond is definitely worth a day, so pleased we chose to stop here. 66 Frenchgate is at the top of a long, steep and cobbled Street, one of many in Richmond. The most highly recommended restaurant just happens to be opposite! We collapse into bed after another wonderful meal with local produce.
Rachel, our landlady said we must see Richmond Castle so we set off. The Swale, which is said to be the fastest flowing river in the country, runs through the town. It’s very impressive.
Richmond Castle is one of the oldest stone-built castles in England, work began soon after 1066. It was built by Alan Rufus, cousin of William the Conqueror who scandalised the Church by living unmarried with wonderfully named Gunnhild. We climbed the tower, wandered through what was the great hall, peered down their private latrine and wandered into The Cockpit Garden, so named because it was the site of cock fighting and bear baiting! If you’re ever here visit it.
Peter went for ‘The Georgian Theatre Experience’ a tour of Britain’s oldest working theatre in its original form. He loved it.
Apparently this is where Box Office comes from. You could book the boxes but not the pit or gallery. It was quite an atmosphere with all kinds of extra-curricular activities taking place during the performance!
We spent the evening at Richmond Station. Now disused but beautifully restored as an arts centre and cafés. We went to the cinema and saw Official Secrets which was interesting.
Waking up this morning to resume our route to Danby Wiske.
day 13: Richmond - Danby Wiske
Today was definitely the least interesting section scenically so far. Walking from the Yorkshire Dales to the North York Moors we have to cross the very flat Vale of Mowbray. It’s pretty enough but compared to what we’ve been used to it’s very tame.
We reluctantly left Richmond behind and headed east. Cloudy but not the predicted rain.
We meandered along the banks of The Swale, under a very busy motorway type road which I think was the A1M and on to Catterick racecourse.
Catterick has been a military base since Roman Times and is now the biggest army base in Europe. We have heard volleys of firing practice over the last couple of days.
Leaving by Catterick Bridge we enjoyed the last mile or two beside the wonderful river we have been walking with for four days now.
Bolton-on-Swale is one of the prettier places we passed. A lovely church and some beautiful houses.
Unfortunately we had to walk for miles along country lanes. I find walking on tarmac roads at this stage in our project quite hard. Peter views it as an opportunity to put pace on. I’m feeling irritable because I deliberately kept my back pack light and Peter has bought today’s paper (plus all the mags, travel sections, sports pages etc) and says my back pack is the only place it can go! His is already bulging, full of our emergency biscuits and apples. Papers are surprisingly heavy when you’re feeling fractious.
We were overtaken by many Lycra-clad cyclists, bit like walking on the Somerset levels but not as pretty. The land either side of the lanes was swampy and wet. Not very appealing.
We wandered into Danby Wiske, our destination for the day, to find one pub and nothing else. The pub was open, a man was sitting staring at a glass of wine. Not clear if he’s punter or bar man. A few grunts later we discover the pub isn’t open for food today because the landlords are away!
Consoled by our lovely hosts at the B&B, Serin House, who kindly drove us into North Allerton for supper. We had a great evening catching up with our nephew Edward who joined us from Durham and eating too much at a jolly Italian.
Our B&B is very comfortable and has a bath. Say no more..!
Day 14: Danby Wiske - Ingleby Cross
The Vale of Mowbray is very muddy and dreary in October in the rain. We’ve got a short 10 mile walk today to Ingleby Cross at the start of the North Yorkshire Moors. I can’t wait for the change in terrain.
The river Wiske is just outside the village. It was the first of four significant crossings of the day and it was rather underwhelming.
Lots of flat muddy fields with sheep in them before the second crossing, a bridge over the main London to Edinburgh railway line.
More muddy fields, farms, sheep, cows and horses all looking a bit dejected in the rain. Surprised to come across what looked like fly-tipping when we spotted an apparently abandoned fridge in the distance. On closer inspection it turned out an enterprising farmer is using it as a ‘travellers’ tuck shop’. Very trusting.
Halloween seems to be a big thing in these fields too!
Our third notable crossing of the day was over the York to Middlesbrough train line. Peter is checking it out half way across in this photo.
Flat fields again, seem to go on forever. Finally glimpse a hill through the low clouds and rain.
Could we be reaching the end of the Vale? YES! We make the final and most frightening crossing of the day just after Grinkle Carr Farm: the very busy dual carriageway that is the A19. Our guide book says this is more dangerous than Striding Edge; I think it’s true. We waited for several minutes before we spotted a moment to dash across to the central reservation. Even longer to make it to the other side. Cars whizzing by in the rain with very few gaps.
Fairly soon we reach Ingleby Cross and a lovely cafe for lunch which is obviously geared up for Coast to Coasters judging by the signs over the doors (Photos of cafe entrance and beer).
Park House is a lovely walkers B&B about two miles up a hill (yippee) in the woods on the edge of the Moors. Very excited about tomorrow’s walk but it’s 22 miles so early to bed tonight! Wish us luck and no rain! I’ll let you know how we get on.
day 15: ingleby cross - blakey ridge
Park House used to be an outdoor activity centre and is now described as “The Walkers B&B”. Victoria greeted us with great enthusiasm and an arm in plaster. She’s a fell runner, keen walker and hockey player. She fractured some bones in her hand four weeks ago playing hockey. This doesn’t seem to stop her. She drove us two miles for supper in the pub using one arm only, slightly unnerving in the big old Range Rover!
Seriously, she was a great host and Park House is perfect for us. In the season and when not in plaster Victoria provides an evening meal too. Breakfast was served by her 6 year old son who’s used to helping in the kitchen before going to school.
It wasn’t raining when we left Park House and headed up to the moor through a long forest. Pheasants everywhere. One angry male tried to chase Peter and attacked him on the back of the leg several times.
As the trees gave way we stepped onto Scarth Wood Moor. A lovely sight but weather looking a bit ominous up ahead over the hills.
We found a gap in the trees from which we could see the flat Vale of Mowbray behind us.
Ahead however the next ten miles are described as a “switchback” in the book with lots of ups and downs over about five or six very high hills and mountains. Off we went aware we had another ten miles to do after this bit and we wanted to get to Blakey Ridge in daylight.
It was harder work than we had been expecting. I began to wonder if we’d finish in time.
When the fog cleared the views were wonderful.
Not many people about today. One mad dog walker lady with four labradors and three Jack Russells who was too occupied to speak and a very silent man who didn’t respond to our hearty hellos. Not surprising given the weather.
It took us five hours to negotiate these huge up and downs and find ourselves on the top of the ridge where we will stay for a further ten miles until we reach The Lion, our destination tonight.
The weather lifted and we fell into a rhythm walking along the ridge. The views either side were lovely and huge.
Our only company were masses of grouse who seemed to laugh at us as we walked by. They make a very evocative noise which will forever remind me of this stretch of the North Yorkshire Moors.
As our book says, after several miles you do get fed up with heather. Our book also says you can’t miss The Lion Inn, it’s the only thing on Blakey Ridge! We kept our eyes peeled and finally spotted something that could be a building in the distance. Our pub?
Thankfully we trudged the 50 metres up off the track to the pub. A slightly disappointing welcome. We asked if our bags had arrived and were told “If they have they’ll be outside room 11.” Relieved to find them we had to carry them to a completely different part of the pub which, given our day, we could only just manage. A pint of Wainwright and a pack of ready salted later and we couldn’t have cared about anything...
day 16: blakey ridge - grosmont
Full English breakfasts are beginning to lose their appeal. It’s important to stoke up when you don’t know if lunch is an option. We made a decision to eat breakfast (since it’s always included in the B&B rates) and take pot luck with lunch. Grasmere Gingerbread stash running low and going a bit hard now.
Two sleek young twenty-something men were sitting at the table beside us. They were dressed for country pursuits in 3/4 length trousers, wonderful knee-length socks and pullovers. Eavesdropping has become a habit, they were discussing shopping for ‘greens’ and ‘browns’ in very polished Southern accents. Can any one enlighten me?
When we emerged from the pub to start walking we found ourselves cloaked in fog with very limited visibility. Given the fact that our breakfast companions were obviously up for some shooting this was quite unnerving.
For the first mile or so we had to follow a minor road which was not too difficult. When we cut off onto the path it was more intimidating. The moorland looks the same up on this ridge in any direction; it’s easy to become disorientated. The grouse were very chatty as we gingerly made our way. You can hear them on this video.
These challenging conditions lasted about two hours. Peter’s compass was essential and thankfully as the fog began to clear we were in the right place and with some wonderful views.
We had a long descent downwards with ever clearing skies. The route was easy from here, we just had to follow a track along the ridge and look down on the aptly named Great Fryup Dale.
Peter spotted a pub a couple of miles ahead on the map in a village called Glaisdale. A late pub lunch in prospect we really lifted the pace. Passing at least two signs saying The Arncliffe Arms is open for lunch every day we thought it was definitely worth the effort. The village is on a very steep hill and it took us some time to find the pub. The note stuck to the pub door said Winter Opening Hours, lunch at weekends only!
I was fuming and gingerbread didn’t cut it. We were under the impression there was nothing until Grosmont and set off grudgingly.
A nice walk up through a wood then down again to a track along the river Esk. Two miles later we reached Egton Bridge, a beautiful village with a wonderful pub, The Horseshoe Hotel, open for lunch all day. Much nicer than the Arncliffe Arms!
There are some lovely houses and interesting pets.
Grosmont, our last stop before Robin Hood’s Bay, is lovely. Our B&B is above an interesting gallery and café and run by the gallery owners.
After settling in we wandered out. The gates were down on the railway crossing. Look what went by…
Grosmont had the foresight to preserve its train lines after Beeching.
The other thing about Grosmont is that the name means big hill in french. We have to start our last day of walking by climbing up it.
Here we come Robin Hood’s Bay!