Monday, 18 July 2011

Coast to Coast - Monday 18th July - Day 13 - Glaisdale to Robin Hoods Bay

Beggars Bridge, Glaisdale
Despite having been told by the bar staff the previous evening that 8am was the earliest we could have breakfast, we were less than impressed when we arrived in the bar to discover the table next to ours had already finished eating and left. As we had a long day ahead, we would have liked an early start and our mood wasn't improved by the half hour wait for our breakfast to arrive. We eventually set off from the pub at nine o'clock and although the weather was quite good at this point, we were soon squelching through mud on a path through East Arncliffe Wood as we headed out of the village. The terrain after leaving the wood and passing through Egton Bridge village was fairly tame and a total contrast to what we had been used to over the previous days. After dodging puddles on the old Egton Estate Road, we followed the road into the village of Grosmont and after stopping to top up supplies at a nearby shop, were treated to the fantastic sight of a steam engine on the North York Moors Railway pulling away from Grosmont station in huge billowing clouds of steam and the piercing sounds of the train's whistle.

Egton Estate road
Leaving the village, we climbed an impossibly steep lane up onto the moors before striking off across the main A169 road and descending to the beautifully situated village of Littlebeck. Wainwright describes the village as a 'miniature arcadia embowered in trees', which captured the scene perfectly and is a far better description than I could hope to write. Leaving the village on a woodland path, our opinion changed somewhat as we soon found ourselves floundering in ankle deep mud, slipping and sliding around in the glutinous morass. To cap it all, as we struggled on, the rain came back. We passed another walker who seemed to think he was lost, despite signposts in the area confirming the way and we left him looking confused and soon after arrived at The Hermitage, a shelter carved entirely from a huge boulder at the side of the path.
Distant View of Whitby Abbey from Sleights Moor
After a short break here, we arrived at the impressive Falling Foss waterfall and it was here, as we stood on the bridge watching the water cascading through the trees, that the heavens decided to really open and subjected us to a downpour of monsoon proportions.
Chapel in Littlebeck
One mistake we made on the trip was in not taking a waterproof map case, which until the last three days of the walk hadn't been a problem but as we passed the Falling Foss tearooms, we needed to consult the guidebook as we now came upon a Coast to Coast signpost that appeared to be guiding us along the wrong side of the river. Consulting the book in the torrential rain would have resulted in it being turned to papier mache, so we decided to follow the signpost anyway. After a short distance it became apparent that it did indeed lead us along the wrong bank so we crossed to the other bank, splashing through the shallow water to the other side. Following the path alongside the river in the torrential rain, we came to a bridge that appeared to be leading us back to the other side of the river once more, so we left the riverbank and climbed up out of the woods on a track which soon became a country road as we approached Newton House farm.
A very damp arrival in Robin Hood's Bay
The rain had by now eased and having consulted the guidebook and map to confirm our position we followed a footpath opposite the farm heading back onto Coast to Coast path. Initially, the path crossed a field full of young bulls that did the usual thing of 'stalking' us before circling around and following close behind. We shouted and clapped our hands and they soon moved back as is usually the case and we made our escape by climbing over a stile into a wood. The path through the wood was extremely overgrown and very wet after the rain and we were soon soaked. To add to the discomfort, we were now attacked by swarms of flies that settled on every piece of exposed skin. We pressed on through the foliage overhanging the path, trying to  get rid of the flies as best we could and after a very uncomfortable spell fighting with the insects and the sodden plant life, we crossed a stile and emerged onto a lane by New May Beck Farm. The relief wasn't quite total however, as there were still plenty of flies to contend with but gradually, as we entered open moorland, they began to subside.
Robin Hoods Bay
We were now back on track, as confirmed by the presence of a Coast to Coast signpost just after the farmhouse but we had made very slow progress throughout the morning. Arriving at the B1416 we crossed  onto moorland and here decided to stop and have a rest and something to eat. As we sat looking towards the distant outline of Whitby Abbey, it slowly disappeared behind an inky black curtain of torrential rain falling along the coast, and as heavy black clouds began building up behind us, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we too would soon be getting a good soaking. I consulted the guidebook, which confirmed that we still had almost eight miles to go to the end of the walk. Wainwright, when he devised the Coast to Coast walk, built in a large, looping diversion at either end to take in the coastal scenery on the east and west coasts, giving the walk a fitting start and finish along clifftops. We sat staring gloomily at the rain as it now engulfed most of the coastline we would soon be walking along and as I studied the map in the guidebook, it occurred to me that less than a mile distant from where we sat, was a path that led to the B1447, which if followed, would take us through Fylingthorpe and then onto Robin Hood's Bay, a distance of around two miles.
Alan gets his boots wet in the North Sea
We debated this option and sat looking at the uninviting prospect of eight more miles in heavy rain and decided that the opportunity to cut out around five wet miles after being soaked for a third day in a row was too good to miss and headed off in the direction of the road. After plodding alongside the grassy verge alongside the road for a few hundred metres, a car pulled up on the opposite side and the driver called out 'do you want a lift'?, and as I looked up from under my hood was surprised to see my wife Ann grinning at us from the car. She had come to collect us at the end of the walk and although it was good to see her smiling face again, we obviously turned down the offer and arranged to meet her in the bar at Robin Hood's Bay. As we continued, the rain kept falling in thundery bursts until eventually, we reached a sculpted wooden village sign at the top of the steep road down to the sea and the end of the walk. We had envisaged finishing in a burst of sunshine and splashing our boots in the waves before sitting outside the bar in warm July sunshine with a well-earned pint, but these things rarely turn out how you imagine them and of course, the tide was out too!.
Job done! 
After a hurried dip of the boots in a puddle of seawater, we headed into the bar where we met up with Ann and sat drying off and enjoying the taste of success, as well as the obligatory pint. As we headed back to the bar for a second pint, Alan, another walker we had spoken to in Marrick and had also been at the Blue Bell Inn camp site in Ingleby Cross, came in dripping wet. He had completed the coastal section but told us we had made the right decision as it had been a very unpleasant walk in torrential rain along the clifftops. The three of us toasted ourselves at the bar and signed in the 'Coast to Coaster's book. As with my previous walk, thirteen years earlier, I found the finish to be strangely anti-climactic, almost a disappointment. One minute, I was taking part in an adventure, one that I had been planning and dreaming about for some time and now it was abruptly over. We said goodbye to the other Alan and were soon driving to Whitby, where we had rooms booked for the night. After thirteen days of lugging a 13 kilo rucksack over mountains, sleeping in a tiny tent, coping with dodgy showers, trying to wash and dry clothes, being soaking wet and squelching through mud while being attacked by swarms of flies, not to mention the aching feet and leg muscles, it was over. Did I enjoy it? Most definitely! Would I do it again? Absolutely!!

No comments:

Post a Comment