Coast to Coast

Day Fourteen – 5th May 2011: Clay Bank Top to Grosmont – 23 miles

We tried to be as quiet as we could as we got ready, not wanting to wake Frank and Cathy. We always tried to be quiet wherever we stayed but the idea of being mentioned in one of Frank’s comedy routines as being the noisy neighbours on his trip had an added incentive for us in keeping the noise down.

Judy was waiting for us in the kitchen. She was very friendly; we hadn’t spoken to her much previously so it was good to chat. However, I was beginning to think that the chat was taking precedence over the breakfast as it seemed to take a little longer than I was hoping, being impatient to get to Clay Bank Top for 8.30am and the 23 miles that lay ahead. We also ideally wanted to make the shop in Grosmont that evening as we didn’t really want to get our supplies the following morning. I needn’t have worried though as we arrived at Clay Bank Top at about 8.45am so only slightly later than planned. Stuart drove us back and mentioned that it was probably going to be a rather windy day, which didn’t bother us as long as it wasn’t going to rain, which it didn’t.

At the lay-by we bade Stuart farewell and girded our loins to ascend the hill which went up directly from the road with no chance to stretch the legs first. It was pretty steep but manageable and as we gained height the wind really picked up and almost blew us off our feet as we hit the crest. It was a biting wind as well and we covered up with fleeces and headgear, resisting the urge to don coats. I hate walking in a coat as it feels so restrictive and everything crinkles and crackles with each movement. We could now set off at a quicker pace and so told ourselves that the walking would soon warm us up. We reached Urra Moor and a nice wide track before reaching Bloworth Crossing where we now left the company of the Cleveland way and were back on the Coast to Coast path proper. For the next few miles we would be on the route of a disused railway that used to go across the moors.


Bloworth Crossing

The walking was easy, on a very good wide path and level, so we could make good time. This was part of the reason we decided to do the 23 miles to Grosmont as once we had attained Urra Moor the route was relatively level (albeit at an altitude) or down hill for much of the day. Consequently, the plan to achieve 3 miles an hour including stops should be achievable, assuming our legs could cope with the distance.

We saw and heard many grouse as we crossed the moors, this being prime shooting country, people on the other hand were very scarce. It was very bleak but we had good views all around and with the good paths, making progress easy, we never got bored. We soon reached High Blakey Moor and around a bend in the track we had our first glimpse of Blakey Ridge and the Lion Inn.


Lion Inn Blakey Ridge

We had intended to go in the pub but as the opening times and our schedule didn’t really dovetail we stopped just outside next to a wall out of the wind and tucked into our dwindling supplies. We had enough to see us through the day but just hoped that the shop in Grosmont was well stocked as we would be out by the end of the day. We had done 8-9 miles in about 2.5 hrs which wasn’t bad but knowing that with the stops and the fact that we would slow as we became more tired meant that we didn’t stay long.


Lion Inn Blakey Ridge

We could see the great arch of the ridge and valley ahead of us, which seemed a long way away, but it again was easy walking alongside the road on the grass verge. The only disadvantage was that the wind was in our face for much of this part of the walk but as we approached Fat Betty it switched and was now at our backs. We crossed the road to see Fat Betty and had a look at the wares that had been left by other walkers. As tradition dictates, you leave an offering and then take something that has been left. Why, I don’t know, but entering into the spirit we left a coin and a note to Frank and Cathy weighted down by one of the wares. It may well have blown away before they had a chance to see it, assuming that they stopped there.


Fat Betty


Fat Betty - now what shall I have!

We found Great Fryup Lane which we followed for a while before turning off to Trough House and High Glaisdale Moor. Here we had views down Great Fryup Dale before coming out onto the road that would lead us to Glaisdale Rigg.


Great Fryup Dale

We decided to have another break and hunkered down below some heather to get out of the wind. The path followed the Rigg all the way down to Glaisdale, so it was easy walking but weariness was starting to set in and our pace slowed slightly.


Glaisdale Rigg

We had made good time so far but we still had about 5 miles to go before we reached Glaisdale, which psychologically meant we were almost there. The wind was starting to diminish as we lost height which was welcome and as we approached Glaisdale it was calm. We were now faced with a major decision. There are two ways around or through Glaisdale and we now wanted the shortest and the least strenuous. We picked the left route which seemed very steep but I’m sure the other route would have been just as bad. We arrived at the station and then further on, the River Esk and Beggars Bridge.


Beggar's Bridge Glaisdale

Having reached Glaisdale we had 3 miles to go and what appeared to be a nice amble along the river was in fact quite an undulating walk through woods initially.


River Esk


East Arncliffe Wood

It was just as we had nearly made it through the woods that Rachel hit, ‘The Wall’. I remember it as being in the wood but Rachel feels it was further on just after Egton Bridge, but either way she needed a wee and she just lost the plot. She just said quite forcefully and loudly that she had had enough. She just stopped and took her pack off. I knew that she must be really hurting to say that, as she doesn’t give up at anything. She had her wee, we had a break for 5 minutes and then in true Rachel style she picked up her pack and just said, ‘lets get going’. There was no way she was really going to give up but she just needed to let off steam. As we walked away we chatted and laughed and she admitted that she did indeed just need to blow. We had a chuckle and wondered at how we were going to get to Grosmont as we were shattered.

In some ways it was very strange that we felt this way after about 21 miles. We had completed two days of 20 miles and felt tired but not this tired and we both felt the same, it wasn’t just one of us that was conking out. My assumption when we had planned this day was that our fitness that had been built up over the last 2 weeks should carry us through and in a strange way it did but we would have to wait until the next day to find out. As we had said to Frank the previous night, the Cleveland Hills leg from Ingleby Cross was harder than we had thought and perhaps it took more out of us than we thought.

We passed a ford across the road as we purposefully slowed our pace before making it to Egton Bridge which was a pretty spot. Turning right off the road we joined the Egton Estates Driveway and could hear the whistle of the steam trains at Grosmont in the distance. We stopped at the railway bridge and took our packs off for a breather for 5 minutes and had a cereal bar before continuing towards our goal. About half a mile later by the river there was a bench that we sat on with our packs still on as we thought if we took them off again we wouldn’t have the strength to put them back on again. We were shattered but with one last effort we dusted ourselves down and strode into Grosmont and miraculously at the sight of the steam trains all our aches and pains seemed to disappear. It was 5pm, bang on time. The shop was still open for another half an hour so we bought our supplies for the next day and then went to have a closer look at the trains.


Grosmont


Grosmont

Grosmont is black, very black, from all the soot from the trains. As one engine was manoeuvring, with the sight of all that smoke billowing out of its funnel, it was easy to see why. Rachel loved it and I almost had to drag her away, so much for feeling tired, but I would have the last laugh, later. We had to walk a little way up the hill past the pub to our B&B which we found without trouble.


Grosmont

Our accommodation was in what looked like a converted garage which was comprised of 2 en-suite bedrooms over two floors finished to a high standard. We were brought some cake by the owner which went down a treat before we did our ablutions and then had a little rest before heading for the pub. We were tired but the cake and the shower had helped to revive us to a degree.


Hollins Lodge Grosmont

It had started to rain very lightly as we set off for the pub but not heavy enough for waterproofs and it soon stopped, just a passing shower. We wondered whether the next day would be wet as the clouds had rolled in and it seemed to be set. We had had such great weather so to have one wet day, well, we couldn’t grumble could we? But that was tomorrow, first the pub, so it was downhill to the Station Tavern, which was, funnily enough, next to the station. It was quite busy but the food arrived in good time and we re-fuelled eagerly. As we were eating one of the train drivers came in and he was completely covered from head to toe in soot. There was another couple further along the bar that appeared to be quietly talking about walking but we were unsure whether they were Coast to Coasters as we hadn’t seen them before. Suitably full, we set about leaving.

The rain had returned but was little more than spitting as we left the pub. I set off at normal speed expecting Rachel to follow me up the hill to our B&B. I got about 50 yards when I heard a shout from behind me asking me to stop. I turned around and saw Rachel glued to the spot laughing and saying that her legs wouldn’t work. This, I hasten to add, wasn’t due to the amount of alcohol consumed but the fact that her muscles had decided enough was enough after the rest in the pub. I walked back part way to encourage her, which broadly amounted to me laughing at her and telling her to get on with it and saying that she was such a lightweight. If the truth be told my legs were not a lot better but I certainly wasn’t going to admit it at that precise moment. We limped back to the B&B giggling as we went, and just for a change had an early night, quite worried about how we might feel the following day.

I felt relieved that we had completed the 23 miler and was looking forward to the final day.

 

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