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Coast to Coast - September 2007

Day 11 - Wednesday 19th September
Cringle Moor/Cold Moor to Grosmont
(25 miles)

Although I was tired I didn't sleep very well, because the ground I'd pitched on sloped down to the left and I kept slipping off the mattress and rolling towards the porch. I woke at 4.30am with a backache and in need of the loo, and so I slipped out and then took a couple of Panadol and read until 5.15am. After that I slept until 6am, when the alarm went off.

In the tent

I was planning to walk to Grosmont that day, and since my back was still aching and I'd lost my sleepy feeling I got up and made a cup of tea. As I boiled the water I admired my new home-made windguard, made from materials purchased from Bob and Rose at backpackinglight.co.uk.

Flash new windshield

Once I'd done that I inspected my feet, which turned out to be pretty dirty, but otherwise in perfect condition. Good for Roclites and light rucksacks!


When I finally stuck my head out of the tent I found another beautiful morning, and I went for a bit of a walk around before packing up, because I'd not been able to see anything as I'd descended to my camp the night before.

View to the North

I spotted the shaley area I'd detected the night before, just a little way above me up the hill. It looks like the product of some sort of mining activity to me.

I also saw the last part of the series of steep paths I'd negotiated in the dark, golden and glorious now in the early morning sun.

Eventually it was time to stop faffing and get ready to leave, though, and so I took a couple of pictures to record the position of my tent...

Somewhere between Cringle Moor and Broughton Bank

...and then moved off.

Very shortly afterwards I came to a signpost which gave a pretty good clue as to my position...

...and so I pushed on up the hill, and from a little further up I was able to see exactly where I'd been.

I'm normally more interested in the small things I see at the side of the path than the large, dramatic landscapes, but the views to the side as I climbed up the hill were beautiful, and truly awe inspiring.

Another view to the North

As the pics have shown, the morning had started out dry and beautiful. A bit of a shower erupted as I neared the top of Cold Moor, though, and I had to get out my jacket for a while.

The path gleaming in recent rain

As I climbed again, this time towards the Wainstones, closer proximity confirmed that I had indeed spotted Roseberry Topping in the distance, on leaving Osmotherley the day before...

...and looking at it now I realised that in a little over a day and a half my C2C walk would be over, very probably for the last time.

As I glanced to the side I noticed a curious sheep observing my progress. Sheep are often described as stupid, but they've always seemed fairly bright to me. Certainly it's not unusual for them to take a close interest in passing walkers, and I reckon that if I saw a hefty great farmer coming towards me across a field with a murderous gleam in his eye I'd dash away bleating PDQ myself :)

Eventually I arrived at the Wainstones...

The Wainstones

...and I lingered there for a short time before pressing on over Hasty Bank. I was hoping to get to the White Lion Inn near Blakey Ridge by lunchtime, and when I consulted the book it seemed that there was an awfully long way to go.

The rain had blown away as quickly as it had blown up, but it was now windy, and getting windier, and with all the ups and downs I'd encountered since Huthwaite Green the afternoon before I was beginning to feel as though I was riding a switchback. Well, more like pushing the carriage, really, than riding it.

The path to Clay Bank Cross seemed to go up and up...


...and on and on...

...and on...

...and--uncharacteristically--I began to long for it to start to go down and down and down a bit. Finally it did...

...and finally down...

...passing a discarded glove along the way, the appearance of which reminded me of one of those scary stories we used to tell each other at school, at dead of night...

The Black Hand, en route to... YOU!!!

Just before the last of the descent to Clay Bank Top I came to a little bench and decided I deserved some breakfast, and so I broke out a cheese & onion pasty that I'd been saving for a special occasion and took a short break. As I unwrapped the pasty I wasn't quite sure where I'd bought it, and I hoped it was still okay. Some cautious prodding revealed the usual stodgy, slightly damp sort of feel to it, though, and so I crossed my crubeens and ate on.

Pasty time!

As I moved off I noticed that the gate had been cunningly designed to allow owners to let their intellectually challenged dogs through easily, and although I was impressed by the design, and by the fact that somebody had gone to the trouble of making it, it struck me that it's never necessary to assist cats or piglets in that way.

For dogs who can't use a gate

Eventually I reached Clay Bank Top, and zipped up the other side towards Urra Moor. As I crossed the road I saw 3 American walkers being dropped off. Presumably they'd spent the night in Great Broughton or Urra.

Clay Bank Top

It was misty on the moor, and I soon spotted another walker in front. Attempting to catch up gave me something to focus on, but he was a pretty fast walker and I didn't make a great deal of progress towards him.

A shooting party of some sort appeared out of the mist and walked down the hill towards me. They seemed an unfriendly bunch. Walking three or four abreast, none of them responded to a smile, and I had to step off the path to let them pass.

A little further up the hill I encountered a few blokes stamping around to keep warm. Beaters, perhaps?

Wainwright reckons it's 9 miles from Clay Bank Top to the Lion Inn, and after the ascent of Carr Ridge (which didn't take long) it's pretty easy walking up on the moor. Quite a lot of the time it's possible to see the path crossing distant hills, so for once it wasn't difficult for me to know where I was going.

Faced with such easy walking I thought of my lunch, put my head down and pressed on as quickly as I could, with very little to distract me from Patrick O'Brian's The Far Side of the World. I spotted a dead bird, though, not far from the shooters. It had probably been flying only a short time ealier, and I hoped it didn't have a family hidden somewhere in the undergrowth, anxiously awaiting its return.

Red Grouse (thanks, John)

Incidentally, nipping across to the RSPB website just now in the hope (unsuccessful) of identifying the dead bird, I noticed the following in the Bird Guide section.

What species are covered?
The guide contains most of the species that occur in the UK, with the exception of a few vagrant species.

How on earth can it be possible to describe a bird as a vagrant, I wonder? I thought when I first looked in the Guide that pigeons weren't included, and got a bit hot under the collar about it, but Bob Martin has kindly pointed out that they are in, under Wood Pigeon and Rock Dove.

Still, I don't follow the logic of excluding some birds because, presumably, they're regarded as a bit of a menace. Aren't they simply doing whatever is necessary in order to survive, just like all the rest of us? If they're birds, and they live in the UK, not including them in the guide seems bizarre to me. Maybe the RSPB should be renamed the Royal Society for the Prevention of Birds *g*...

Anyway... I also saw a lovely hairy caterpillar, all dewy and gleaming as it crossed the path...

...but as far as interesting sights went that was about it, really, other than the path itself.

A bit of the track across the moors

I eventually caught up with the walker in front, and he turned out to be a bloke that Andy and I had briefly chatted with on the Cleveland way the day before, as we'd left the C2C to descend to Osmotherley. I also walked for a short time with another bloke who approached from behind. He was doing the C2C with camper van support from his father, and was combining stages, having started the previous Tuesday. He pressed on, though, and I continued along the apparently interminable path.

There was a bit of rain, and for a while that provided a distraction. I was watching carefully for signs of the pub, and because for some reason I had it in mind that it's a white building my hopes were dashed at one stage when the small white blob I'd noticed on the horizon eventually turned out to be a large piece of plastic wrapping. Eventually on rounding a bend, though, I saw the Lion Inn in the distance...

...and half an hour or so later I arrived. As I approached I was advised by a kindly walker, who was just leaving, to nip in smartly because a coach party had just arrived. I did, and not long afterwards I'd ordered a pint of Old Peculiar and a baked potato with cheese and salad. Yum!

There was a bit of an anxious moment when the bar man accidentally delivered my baked potato to a new arrival at the table next to mine, but I managed to wrestle it away from him and soon I was tucking in. I got out my notebook and the map, and also the clever pair of collapsible specs I bought in Boots to help me to read in the tent, and spent a happy time switching between eating the potato, fiddling with the camera and writing up my notes.

Lunch at the Lion Inn, Blakey

I also spent some time studying the guidebook in an attempt to work out exactly where I'd started from that morning. I'd taken a grid reference from the tent (NZ545033), and it seemed likely that I'd walked about 11 miles already and that I had another 14 to go if I was to get to Grosmont, which was quite a long way. It was just after noon when I'd arrived at the pub, and I knew I'd have to make sure that I didn't fall too deeply under its fuggy spell and fritter away what should have been walking time in eating, drinking and reading.

Meanwhile, though, there were a few other visitors at the tables around me, and it sounded as though a few of them were waiting for the Americans I'd seen at Clay Bank top. On my other side were two women, and we fell into conversation after a while. They had a little Border Terrier with them, and I was able to give it a bit of a cuddle. I'm planning to get a Border Terrier as soon as an opportunity presents itself, and the two women recommended The Dog Whisperer as an aid to training.

I found that I was still hungry after my potato, and so I bought two packets of crisps and another half of Old Peculiar, and ate/drank them while we talked.

If I'd not had so far to walk I'd have liked to stay even longer in the pub. The two women were staying there that night, and for just a moment I considered abandoning my 12 days plan and looking around for a place to stay. The Inn itself was a possiblity, and certainly the prospect of a hot bath or shower was enticing. I reminded myself of how much I'd regret the loss of my 3 days at home if I didn't press on, though, and so reluctantly I finished off my crisps, and the last little sip of Old Peculiar, and began to get my things together at about a quarter to 2.

The weather had brightened considerably while I'd been in the pub, and I set off in bright sunshine.

Leaving the Lion Inn, for Grosmont

The walk over to Glaisdale starts with a few miles of road walking, but since it was sunny, and I'd had a good lunch, I didn't mind that too much. There wasn't a great deal to be seen except for the road, though, and so after a while I was reduced to taking shadow pics for something to occupy myself as I walked.

I passed the little white cross known as Fat Betty...

Fat Betty

...and a rather cute sign warning me to watch out for frolicking lambs...

...and eventually, a little before Trough House, I escaped from the road for a while and was able to continue along a good, dry path across the moor.

It was still windy, and at Trough House I passed a few sheep who seemed to be sheltering in the lee of the wall.

Sheltering sheep at Trough House

After that, though, there wasn't a great deal to do other than enjoy the bright but breezy weather, and the lovely moorland scenery, whilst pressing on as quickly as possible towards Glaisdale.

I frequently came across grouse on the path...

...and as the afternoon went on I made numourous...

...and largely unsuccessful...

...attempts to get a clear picture.

Eventually I was reduced to stalking them...

...through the heather...

...but almost every time I produced the camera the bird would wait until I'd raised it to my eye and then take off with a squawk and an explosive flurry of wings...

...before coasting down to safety a little further down the path.

Eventually I was able to bribe one to stand still, though--phew!--and after that I turned my attention back to the path and pressed on.

It seemed appropriate that when Glaisdale eventually appeared on the horizon it should be bathed in a rainbow.

Glaisdale finally appears

It looked fairly close, but still it was almost an hour later when I finally arrived. Despite my attempts at photographic distraction it had been a long, hard walk, coming, as it had, on the back of 2 hard days and 11 miles before lunch, and I felt pretty exhausted as I made my way down the hill.

Entry to Glaisdale

On the way, though, I was delighted to pass a Post Office shop with an extensive supply of delicious and interesting goodies, and so I left my pack outside and went in to browse around. I was hoping to make some sandwiches in the tent for consumption on the way to Robin Hood's Bay the following day, and so I bought 3 bread rolls and a piece of Brie as well as some tea bags and a bottle of water. The woman running the shop was very friendly, and gave me directions to the pub via an extremely steep but welcome short cut.

As I made my way down I passed some lovely red flowers in the grass, but each of my 4 attempts to take a clear photograph failed, and so here they are mangled by Paint Shop Pro instead. At least the colour is fairly accurate :)

Pretty litte flower

It's about 5.5 miles from Glaisdale to Grosmont, and since it was already 6pm I should probably have gone straight on. I was so tired, though, that I really felt the need of a rest, and so I stopped at the pub and had half a pint of Black Sheep (for energy...) and a coffee.

The bar staff were friendly and welcoming, and when I saw the extremely extensive menu I was tempted for the second time to stop for the night. Part of me was actively looking forward to camping, though, and I also knew from experience how long the walk to Robin Hood's Bay even from Grosmont (15.5 miles) was likely to take. I was due to meet the C2C Packhorse for a lift home at 3.30pm, and I didn't want to have to sprint through the day with an eye on my watch, worried that I was going to miss the bus. Half an hour later, then, I packed my things together and set off.

The Arncliffe Arms, Glaisdale

It had rained while I was inside, but the rain had now stopped and I continued, revigorated, towards East Arncliff wood. I was feeling almost energetic again after the Black Sheep (or maybe it was the coffee). Energetic enough, at least, to take a short detour under the railway in order to see Beggar's Bridge...

Beggar's Bridge, Glaisdale

...although apparently not quite energetic enough to walk round to the other side and get a better picture :)

I enjoyed the woodland walk, though...

...despite the fact that it was pretty dark inside.

East Arncliff wood, lightened in PSP below

I emerged from the wood onto the road down to Egton Bridge just after 7pm...

...and everything was straightforward and easy...

Beautiful grasses

...until I got to the village, at which stage I got a bit lost trying to find my way past the pub. Looking at the book now it's hard to see how I could have found it confusing, but sometimes things seem less clear on the ground, in the dark, after a long day.

What was clear, though, was that Egton Bridge was a very lovely village indeed, and if I'd been there in daylight hours I'd very much have liked to take a closer look.

Egton Bridge

As it was I had to continue, and on finally reaching Egton Manor I turned right and set off down the track for the final stretch of the walk.

It was very dark...

Track at Egton Manor - how it was, and brightened in Paint Shop Pro

...but there was only a mile or so to go now, and all I was interested in was arriving at Priory Farm Camping and putting up my tent.

As I passed another lovely house on the left, though, I couldn't resist stopping for a photograph. There's absolutely nothing to be seen on the unadjusted picture, but brightened in PSP it came out like this.

I also took a picture in the direction of the manor house itself, and again--with the assistance of my cunning photo-manipulating programme--it's possible to get an idea of what I would have seen had there been enough light around to illuminate it at the time.

Egton Manor

After that I stumped on along the path. I had about a mile and a half to go, and I wasn't expecting to meet anybody along the way. As I approached the Toll Cottage about half way along I heard voices, though, and it turned out to be two blokes and a dog, chatting away together in the dark. I said hello, and they confirmed that it wasn't much further to Grosmont.

Although it was dark I was aware of a few irritating clouds of insects buzzing around my head, and at one stage I stopped to take a picture to see whether they'd come out. It turned out they did...

...and, although I couldn't see it at the time, playing in PSP reveals just how close Grosmont now was at the other end of the track.

I finally reached the end of the path just before 8pm, and with an enormous sense of relief began to look around for the Priory Farm Camping I'd read about in Stedman's brick. There was mention of a shower--yippee!--and also of a 'camping room' in the farmhouse, containing a toilet and kettle for the use of campers. All I could see, though, was a steep, thistly field with a large, apparently unoccupied--and possibly abandoned--house on a rise above it. There was no sign of any campers, and in fact absolutely no sign of any sort of human habitation at all. I felt sure that I must have misread the map, but after considerable searching it became clear that there was nothing else.

I approached the house and knocked at the door, hoping that there might still be somebody inside, despite external appearances, but there was no reply. I knocked again, several times, but the only sign of life I found was an uneasy looking cat crouching on a window ledge. I was quite incredulous, and aghast: it hadn't occurred to me at any stage that there might be a problem with the campsite at Grosmont, and after a walk of approximately 25 miles I was more than ready to put up the tent, get into my sleeping bag and cook myself a meal. It was eventually clear that I wasn't going to find anything, though, and so finally I had to turn away and go on.

As I passed the thistly field I thought about putting up the tent, but it was so steep and uninviting, and so completely at odds with what I'd been expecting, that I couldn't bring myself to do it. I considered a wild camp too--had it been absolutely necessary I could have put up the tent in on any piece of flat ground beside the path--but I had no water, as I'd been expecting to get some at the campsite, and so it wouldn't have been possible for me to cook a meal. I therefore stopped to take a photograph of the house...

Abandoned (?) house at Grosmont: no camping

...and then turned towards the road and continued.

I was pretty fed up as I trudged on towards the village, but the priority had to be finding somewhere to stay and therefore I decided to get out the guidebook at the first convenient moment and look through the acccommodation section. I passed a couple of people along the way. They looked a little surprised to see me hiking up the hill in the dark with a large rucksack, and they both suggested B&Bs. I continued to a phone box, though, and got out the book, and Grosmont House sounded like such a nice place that I decided to ring them instead. I did, and although they were clearly surprised to be getting a call at that time of night they eventually said the master bedroom was free, and gave me directions.

I passed the pub on the way, and was sorely tempted to go in to get something to eat. First I had to be sure of my accommodation, though, and so I decided to book in at the house and then return to the pub for food as soon as I'd dumped my things. Although it was only 5 minutes walk from the phone box to the B&B, the directions turned out to be surprisingly difficult to follow, and I spent a bit of time wandering up and down the road as I attempted to find the correct place to turn off. I arrived in the end, though, to a relaxed and friendly welcome.

Unfortunately, the room turned out to be very unattractive. It looked as though it had been furnished with odds and ends, the shower was mouldy--literally--and the carpet was dirty. There were clean towels in the bathroom, but they smelled very strongly of soap. Afterwards I wondered whether possibly the room was kept in reserve rather than used on a regular basis, which might have explained its appearance. Certainly every other part of the house appeared bright and cheerful and clean. At the time, though, I was profoundly pissed off, and it was with the proverbial sinking heart that I cast off my pack and made my way downstairs to ask about food.

I'd had high hopes of the pub, but I was told that there wouldn't be anywhere still serving food at that time--about 8.30pm--and so in desperation I asked whether it might be possible to have a sandwich. Apparently it wasn't, but I was offered a chicken salad instead. I explained that really I only wanted a sandwich, but for some reason it seemed that a sandwich wasn't a possibility, and so I accepted the salad. The salad was nice when it came, and it was accompanied by a glass of wine, which was also welcome. When I asked about breakfast, though, I was told that they couldn't do it until 8.30am. Since I had almost 16 miles to walk, and had to be at Robin Hood's Bay by 3pm at the latest, I explained that I wanted to be away by 7am, and we agreed that they would leave some cereal and milk out for me.

After the chicken salad the man I'd spoken to on the phone, who'd looked after me during dinner, asked whether I'd like some sort of creamy pudding thing. I normally try to avoid them, but I was so fed up by that stage that a creamy treat sounded very attractive, and indeed it was when a very large bowl of strawberry gateau and cream arrived. I did a quick calculation and reckoned that the gateau must have been at least 120,000 calories, probably entirely eliminating the benefit of all the walking I'd done over the course of the preceding 11 days. Uh-oh... The bloke also put on some music, though, and for the first time in more years than I can remember I found myself listening to Georgie Girl by The Seekers, and things finally began to look up a little...

Georgie Girl -- The Seekers

After dinner I decided to have a bit of a look around before bed, because my mind was still racing with the various highs and lows of the last couple of hours and I needed to try to wind down. I wandered into the Guest Lounge and sat down to watch a bit of television, and there I met two other guests, William and Wendy, who were married. William was a train enthusiast, and of course Grosmont is on the Esk Valley Line, and famous for its little steam trains, and they explained that they made at least one visit to Grosmont House every year, and had come to regard the proprietors as friends. They spoke very highly of the place, which again suggests to me that I'd simply been unlucky in my room.

The three of us chatted and watched television in a desultory sort of fashion until about 10.15pm, at which stage we all began to fall asleep, and so I went up to bed. I decided to sleep in my sleeping bag, so I laid it out on the bed, jumped into my sleeping kit, lay down and was fast asleep in what can't have been more than seconds.

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