Coast to Coast

Day Thirteen – 4th May 2011: Ingleby Cross to Clay Bank Top – 12 miles

We had been a bit chilly during the night, there being a hard frost and the heater in the room was not working very well or at all. We got ready as quickly as we could and headed for the pub for breakfast. It appeared that we were the only ones that had stayed overnight as we were the only ones at breakfast. The food on offer was acceptable but the ambiance seemed a little strange as it was eerily quiet. At one point we wondered whether the landlord was coming back with our cooked order as it had taken quite a while and we couldn’t hear anything, it felt as if we were alone in his pub. He did eventually reappear, thankfully.

Having paid our dues we set off on what was becoming yet another beautiful day. It was still quite windy but once we got going the wind didn’t seem so cold. Almost at once we stated the climb up to the top of the Cleveland Hills through Arncliffe Wood. The forest track twisting and turning as we climbed higher, quite steep in places but the path was well protected from the wind and by the time we had joined the Cleveland Way we had worked up quite a sweat. Once on the ridge we passed the Telecoms tower and could see the whale back of the ridge that we would follow for the rest of the day. We could also look back to the way we had come the day before and we could even pick out certain places we had passed. To look back over the 20 miles plus we had walked the day before certainly made us realise just how far it was, when it is laid out like that before you. But we were progressing the other way today and so started the rollercoaster that are the Cleveland Hills.


Vale of Mowbray


View east from Cleveland Hills

The scenery was very similar to the South Downs and the undulations very similar but what was very different was the way that where roads cut through them the descent and ascent is steeper and rockier than the South Downs. In the south, the descents and ascents are much less taxing and more gentle, although dropping by the same sort of height. This came as a bit of a shock as we were thinking this would be an easier day but by the end of it we certainly knew that we had done it.

We passed over Scarth Wood Moor and then decided to stop and have a short breather at a couple of benches suitably positioned to give views to the north. We rejoined the path and continued down in the direction of Huthwaite Green, contouring round, through a wood for quite a while, which was a bit of a surprise as it is easy to assume that you follow a ridge all day. Ultimately, after fording a stream we arrived at Huthwaite Green where we picked up some other walkers going in our direction. There was one couple that were Canadian who had been over before and had returned to do some more of the Coast to Coast. There were also a couple of lads that then overtook us but before setting off they asked us which direction Ravenscar was. Our maps not being suitable meant that we couldn’t help them. They didn’t seem to have any concept of time or distance but they seemed happy enough.


View back to Scarth Wood Moor

It was a steep pull back up onto the ridge from Huthwaite Green and so when the lads had gone we decided to have a food stop and found a sheltered spot on Live Moor looking out over to Roseberry Topping.


Roseberry Topping

Just as we were sorting ourselves out a grouse appeared and clackered his or her way over the moorland just behind us. We had heard the odd grouse in The Dales but only just caught sight of one fleetingly as it flew off in the distance. This one was very close and kept us amused for a while before it too flew off. Over the next couple of days we were to hear and see many of these fine birds.


Grouse

The route over Carlton Moor gave us our first views of the North Sea, or at least it should have done. It was quite hazy and so we couldn’t put hand on heart that we could actually see where the land ended and the sea began, but at least we knew it was over there somewhere.


Carlton Moor

It was quite blustery going across the moor but never enough to worry us and before long we had passed the gliding club and were at the edge and looking down on Lords Stone Café or the approximation of where it should be. The property was well hidden by the hillside and a small plantation, but we could almost smell it.


Lord Stones Cafe


Kirby Bank from Carlton Moor

We made the long descent to the road and then followed a path and there it was in all its glory. We did have enough provisions to last us until the following day but as it was so nice and warm we decided to stop and have something to eat. Chips and a pint of beer were the order of the day for me but Rachel decided on a non-alcoholic alternative, in the event a wise choice on her part. It was quite busy but we managed to bag a table none the less. We could hear an aeroplane sounding like a bee in a tin can and after looking up to the heavens saw that a small plane was doing aerobatics which was entertaining. We had known that we would have plenty of time on this leg so we hadn’t hurried so far but this stop had the potential to last a bit too long and so we reluctantly set off on the next batch of ups and downs. Before we left I took some video footage which wasn’t unusual as I took it out many times during each day – ooh er missus! I didn’t know it then but I had unwittingly taken some footage of a famous gentleman, but more of him later.


Lord Stones Cafe

There is probably a quarter of a mile of flat before the start of the ascent on to Kirby Bank. It was easy to stride out which was good but it had the effect of sending my pint to my legs, what a lightweight! The steep ascent that followed was interesting as my jelly legs did their best to send me back down to where we had just come from. We soon reached the Falconer Memorial seat and then set off along Kirby Bank.


Kirby Bank

We soon reached a point where we could see the Wainstones, the outcrop of rock that we would have to negotiate shortly. However, we still had to go down and then up again before we could reach them. The descent and then ascent was again steep but as we approached the Wainstones we realised that the obvious route was through them which would mean a little bit of scrambling. I thought it would be a novel idea to video our progress through the rocks which added a further dimension, probably not to be recommended. All too soon we had made it and came out, life and limb, as well as camcorder, intact.


Wainstones


Wainstones


Wainstones

Much of the path on the Cleveland Hills is paved so easy to follow but it can feel like walking on a pavement at times and hard on the feet. Within about half an hour we could see that the edge of the ridge was getting nearer which also meant that the Chop Gate road was in the next dip.

We had previously spoken to our B&B at West Cote about when to call them as they had offered to pick us up from the lay-by at Clay Bank Top, free of charge, and drive us back to the accommodation. We had to make sure that we phoned on the mobile just as we got to the lip of the edge, just before or just after then there was no signal. We thought it couldn’t be that specific but just as we got about 10 feet down off the lip the signal went. We made contact and continued to the road, the theory being that in the time it took us to get down off the ridge they would be able to get to the pick up point, and so it transpired.

Just before we got to the road we met the two lads that had passed up earlier in the day at Huthwaite Green. They had got lost at the Wainstones. Not seeing a way through they decided to skirt the stones but then went very low and somehow went a couple of miles adrift. They had no idea how they were going to get to Ravenscar and we weren’t really convinced they knew how far away it was bearing in mind it was mid afternoon already. We wished them well and left them to work out their next move.

Within a couple of minutes Stuart turned up and took us to West Cote. It was the first time we had been in a car for many days and it seemed so fast as we drove down the road, its strange how you get used to a different pace of life. Stuart was very jovial and pleased to see us and before long we arrived at our bed for the night. We were shown to our room which was pleasant enough and set about having our shower and relaxing. Stuart had already said he would run us to and fro to The Buck Inn at Chop Gate when we were ready, again free of charge.

Suitably spruced up we called for our taxi and Stuart drove us to the pub. On route he told us that Frank Skinner the comedian was also staying at West Cote but hadn’t arrived yet. We didn’t believe him as he had been so jovial and jokey earlier; we thought he was pulling our leg. He told us that we would see later as he would be bringing him down to the pub as well – we still didn’t believe it was the actual Frank Skinner, maybe a chap with the same name. The pub was a little unwelcoming and cold. There was only one other couple in there who were eating but they didn’t seem to be communicating with each other. We just needed the tumbleweed rolling across the floor to complete the picture! The staff were pleasant enough and our food was acceptable if not inspiring but it did take a while to arrive. A couple of more people came in but it still felt a bit strange and I was quite glad to get away really. We had pre-booked a time for Stuart to collect us and it was almost that time anyway. We walked outside to the car park and were met with the sight of the proper Frank Skinner and his girlfriend Cathy. After a certain amount of humble pie and apologies directed towards Stuart we had a chat with Frank about the walk. They had already completed the first half of the C2C a couple of years earlier and aimed to finish the other half this time. It was difficult for him to find the time to do it all in one go and so had decided to split it. We also chatted about the day and we all agreed that we had found it more strenuous than we had expected. Lord’s Stones Café was also talked about and the fact that they had stopped as well. It wasn’t until we checked the video that I saw that they were there at the same time as us and I had unwittingly caught them on film. They weren’t going as far as us the following day and when we told them that we were going all the way to Grosmont and carrying all our own stuff, they thought we were mad. We could have talked for ages and Stuart suggested we go back inside to carry on the conversation but we didn’t want to cramp their style and so left them to their evening meal. They were on holiday as well and so we felt that they didn’t need groupies to have to talk to all evening. We would miss them in the morning as we were hoping to get back to Clay Bank Top and start walking by 8.30am, whereas they were planning on a later start. We wished each other well and parted company, our celeb spotting over for the day.

Back in the car Stuart basked in the fact that he had proved us wrong about Frank, and we ate yet more humble pie. At the B&B we arranged our breakfast time and headed for our room. We remarked on how normal Frank and Cathy were and how genuinely interested he was in the walk, and us. It would have been really good to have a longer chat but I think we made the right decision. We heard the door go later and knew that Frank and Cathy had made it back. We had single beds that night which was rather nice as we could spread ourselves out a bit, the thought of any hanky panky furthest from our minds. One thing about the Coast to Coast and that is when you get to bed you really want to be there – and to sleep!

 

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