Coast to Coast

Day Fifteen – 6th May 2011: Grosmont to Robin Hood’s Bay – 15.5 miles

Breakfast was served in the main house. We were joined by another couple who were train enthusiasts and they, unbeknown to us, had been in the room below us. It was a little bit forced but we did try to make conversation, as the person that had let us in, Mary, had disappeared and closed the door to the kitchen behind her. Being left alone, none of us knew whether to help ourselves to some breakfast items in the room or not. We hadn’t been told to but then again we hadn’t been told not to. In the end we decided that we would help ourselves. Eventually, Mary, who without being unkind was a little strange, appeared and took our order for the cooked breakfast. She then proceeded to query what we did or didn’t want before eventually accepting our order and shuffling away to cook it.

There was quite a long wait before our cooked arrived but once it was deposited, Scary Mary, (as she would now be called) disappeared once more. We had a chuckle about Mary to the other guests but then they made their getaway. We on the other hand had to get our Platypus’s filled with water. I drew the short straw to do it. Bearing in mind it was a big old house and Mary was, well, scary, I felt as if I was taking my life in my hands as I turned the door knob and entered her domain. The very small kitchen was about 15 feet away from the door at the end of, and along, a short corridor. She had her back to me and I managed to get perhaps half way before she saw me. She turned like lightening (the fastest she had moved all morning so far) and shooed me out waving a cloth at me. She was shouting, ‘out, out, out, get out of my kitchen – you shouldn’t be in here’. It was obvious why she didn’t want me in there as it was a tip, with pots and pans pilled high, all unwashed. However without her being on hand to see to us I had no option but to seek her out. All I wanted was some water, which she did then get for us. Looking back, it was the most hilarious breakfast of the trip and we still laugh about it now, thanks Scary Mary.

Back at the room we packed our last remaining things and set off along the drive and turned to face ‘THE HILL’. So many people talk about the steepness of this hill and how it goes on and on. Yes it is a 1 in 3 but it was fine and having walked about 180 miles we couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. We realised that our legs were fine with only a little hint of what they felt like the evening before, however, we had taken a couple of painkillers each as a precaution. We had found this throughout the walk, that we always felt fine in the morning however tired our bodies were the night before. I suppose this is where all our training and general fitness paid off, in giving quicker recovery times.

As we crested the hill we had good views over to Whitby and the coast and looking back we could see how Grosmont is situated in such a steep sided valley. The road levelled out and we were on moorland again with good views all around. We crossed Sleights Moor and the A169 before dropping down to the lovely hamlet of Littlebeck with its river.


Littlebeck

As we had descended it had started to rain fairly big drops and although I was going to tough it out, I did put a fleece on to keep the worst off whereas Rachel put her coat on. A few yards further on and it stopped as soon as it had started. Now at Littlebeck, we started our walk through the woods and as we gained height in the stillness of the wood we got very hot. It was one of those days that you never really knew what to wear, one minute too hot, the next too cold. We soon reached the Hermitage and took the obligatory picture before moving off in search of the waterfall that wasn’t too far away.


The Hermitage

Due to the lack of water, Falling Foss waterfall was pretty but hardly the torrent we had hoped for but it was a pleasant enough sight. Just as we came out of the woods and near the car park for the falls, we decided to stop for the first time, finding a suitable bank to lounge on.


Falling Foss Waterfall


May Beck

Suitably refreshed we set off once again. We had only 16 miles to do but ideally wanted to get to Robin Hood’s Bay by mid afternoon so that we could relax and drink in our achievement. After a little road walking we crossed Sneaton Low Moor without problem and we soon met the B1416 road which we followed for a short while before crossing over and starting the walk across the Graystone Hills.


Whitby Abbey from Greystone Hills

This is the last patch of moorland of the walk and looks innocuous enough, but it can get incredibly boggy. Fortunately due to the dry weather the surface was good and in places where it would have been boggy the peat was just springy. There were a couple of walkers not too far ahead who then suddenly disappeared in to a dip and never came out and we were just about to find out why. When we got to the spot the moor dipped down into a basin which was totally waterlogged with no apparent way across although we could see a path on the opposite bank. We assumed that others must have gone across at that point but every time we tried a different route we began to sink. At least it was clear water and not brown bog slime but even so we didn’t want to get boots too messy and feet wet on the last day. It seemed incredible that this, on our last day, just a few miles from the end, was the first time our boots were getting wet. We eventually found a drier passage, albeit with the odd panicky moment, and made it to the other bank, reaching the brow we could then see the two guys we had seen previously, they too had made it. We caught them up and all decided that the route from here on was unclear. They went off in one direction, we went off in a slightly different one as I thought I could just make out where the path might be although it was hidden by gorse and hedges. Sure enough there it was and then the other two came over and we continued together.

These two Old Gents were good company and we laughed and joked our way to Low Hawsker passing the first signpost for Robin Hood’s Bay, three and a half miles away. The road walking seemed to go on a bit but the banter helped take our mind off it and we had soon made it to High Hawkser. The Old Gents decided to stop for a breather but then nearly changed their minds when they saw a couple of ladies that had been rather limpet like earlier in the day. It looked as though they we just setting off so the Old Gents decided to stop and risk it. We wanted to stop as well but we decided to carry on, hoping to find a suitable spot further on.

We continued to the caravan park and got our first good look at the North Sea, there was no doubting it now, we were going to make it. Just where the route joined the coastal path we found a good spot to have our break with good views along the cliff tops in both directions.


Cliffs and the North Sea

We could afford to take our time as it was only just after lunch with about an hour to go, maybe less. Soon we noticed the two ladies appear and stride out along the coast, the Old Gents nowhere to be seen so obviously putting a bit of a distance between themselves. We too let them go and allowed them to put a fair distance between us before setting off once again.

Initially I was fine on this last section but when the path got very near to the edge coupled with a fairly stiff breeze blowing, I really didn’t enjoy it very much. I’ve got a bit of a thing about cliff edges and sheer drops so to some degree this was the worst part of the walk for me as it felt very exposed. As we rounded a bend we saw Robin Hood’s Bay for the first time and the emotion then kicked in. I’m not afraid to admit there was a tear in the eye and a lump in the throat; perhaps just another mile, and it would all be over.


Robin Hood's Bay

The cliff top turf gave way to tarmac as we entered Robin Hood’s Bay. We passed our B&B for the night, The Wayfarer, and headed down to the beach. We had decided long ago that the option of dropping our packs off at the B&B before the last half a mile down a very steep hill was not an option. Our beloved packs that had become part of us, moulded themselves to us, had carried all our worldly goods for 200 miles, had never let us down and had served us so well, were coming with us – we would do it, together!


The Wayfarer

The streets were strangely deserted with only the odd visitor and no walkers in sight, certainly none with back packs. We turned a corner and were met with a couple coming towards us. As we got closer we realised that it was Caroline and Peter who we had met at The Stork on the Ennerdale Bridge leg all those days ago. We greeted each other like old friends, all four of us on a high with what we had achieved. It was strange but we all agreed that we wouldn’t do it again, not because we didn’t enjoy it, but with the weather having been so fantastic, we could never hope for another crossing being as good. We felt that it would only ever be an anticlimax and a disappointment. It was also very weird that they were the only ones that had finished on the same day as us. Everyone walks at a different pace I know and has different itineraries but it just seemed strange that out of all the people we had met, only one other couple was finishing on our day. We congratulated, and wished each other well, before heading to the slipway.


Robin Hood's Bay


Robin Hood's Bay

As we rounded the last bend, there it was, the beach, the sea, the end. The plaque on the wall of the Bay Hotel proclaimed as much. There was no one there to welcome us but we didn’t do it for other people, we did it for ourselves, to test us, to see if we could do it, and we had. In some ways to be by ourselves was quite fitting, an intensely personal moment, we had earned it.

The lump returned to my throat as we took our final steps on this odyssey, down on to the sand. And yes the tide was out. Two weeks, 200 miles and the flippin tide was out, again! We walked across the beach to the waters edge which was dead calm, not even a ripple and dipped our boots – it was done, no more now, it was finished.

We felt proud that we had accomplished it, we were really happy and the look on our faces said it all. But, we did speak, we did fling our arms in the air and Rachel did her best Meg Ryan impression with a ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’. We suddenly remembered our pebbles, faithfully carried all the way from St. Bees, buried in the depths of our packs. We were going to throw them together but I also wanted to film it as well, to capture the moment. Rachel threw hers before I was ready, so no throwing together and no video, but Rachel took my stone and threw it for me, once I had got the camcorder ready.


Mark - Coast to Coast - Done!


Rachel - Coast to Coast - Done!

So once all ceremonies had been observed we wandered back to the slipway and up to the Bay Hotel and got someone to take a photo of us next to the plaque.


We made it!

We went into the bar where we purchased our celebratory pints. We signed our name in the book as having completed the Coast to Coast and left a message for Frank Skinner. We also noticed a couple of entries from people we had met including Gary & Sam who had left a message for us which was nice of them bearing in mind we hadn’t seen them for a week.


Sam & Gary's entry in the book


Our entry

I was quite surprised at how many people didn’t make it from the first week. I was expecting a lot more entries especially as we had had two rest days which meant several people should have beaten us to the end. We took a photo of ours and Gary and Sam’s entries before going outside with our drinks. We got someone to take a photo of us next to the plaque and shortly afterwards the Old Gents arrived and joined us in a celebratory pint. The banter flowed as before and the two certainly made it a very humorous end to our trek and it was good to finish it with like minded people over a drink.


Please Sir, can I have some more!

We mentioned to them where we were staying which they thought was quite posh but as we hadn’t checked in yet we didn’t know for sure. We had booked the Wayfarer because it had very good reviews and looked as if it was a quality establishment, but posh, we didn’t know about that. We took one last look out to sea, said our goodbyes and started back up the hill in search of our B&B. The street was still deserted but once we had made it back to the top there were more day trippers about. What they thought of 2 walkers with heavy packs I don’t know, but the locals must get used to it.

We booked into the B&B and were shown to our room which was lovely. We had been given a front facing room with a balcony which was a nice surprise. It was the poshest B&B we had stayed in and a good way to end our walk.

We sat out on the balcony for a while soaking up the sun having a drink when the Old Gents appeared, walking past to get to their B&B. We waved at them to get their attention and when they realised it was us they bowed to us and then took the mick out of us, suggesting we had ideas above our station and how we had gone up in the world – we waved them off, we would miss them.

It was now shower time and like the true gent that I am I let Rachel go first. We then discovered that there was no shower gel so after finding the owners they gave us their own as they had run out. Rachel began to shower and then about half way through realised that the water wasn’t draining away and was nearly at the top of the shower tray. She managed to finish without it coming over the top but it was close. We waited to see what would happen before I had my turn but when nothing did I went to find the owners again. It was suggested that the macerator had stopped working and that as they couldn’t get it working they would have to get a plumber out. They then decided to move us to the room next door, which although it had been booked for that night, the people hadn’t checked in yet. It was hoped that by the time the people arrived the problem would be solved. We collected all our stuff together and moved everything next door where we did have shower gel and the shower did drain away. Over the last few days we had not had the need to wash any clothes and so it was quite nice to put our final set of dirty clothes in the bag for the last time and put our clean set on which would last us until we got home the following day.

We had already looked at the menu and so had decided to eat at the Bistro at the B&B. It wasn’t cheap but after eating standard pub grub for most of the last 2 weeks it was good to have something a little more upmarket. We went downstairs and grabbed a table. The food and service was excellent and we had the full works, and why not, we deserved it. Caroline and Peter had also seen the menu, which was situated on a board outside, and decided to come in for their celebratory dinner as well. We would see them one more time in the morning as they were catching the bus and leaving about the same time as we intended to.

We went back up to our room and sat out on the balcony for a while until it became a little too chilly. It hadn’t really sunk in that it was over. We had just had a meal, we were back in our room, we had started the pre-packing of our packs ready for the morning and we were thinking about what we had to do the next day, everything we had been doing for the last fortnight. We were very much still on automatic pilot. So much of the Coast to Coast is a ticking off exercise. You tick off mentally everything you do and then look for the next thing and then tick that off as well, and so it goes on, day after day. Even now when we could relax a bit more we still had a relatively early night, the bus was due at 10.30am so we didn’t need to get up early, but old habits die hard.

 

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