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Coast to Coast - September 2007

Day 12 - Thursday 20th September
Grosmont to Robin Hood's Bay
(15.5 miles)

I slept until the alarm woke me at 6am, and then snoozed until 6.40. So much for my 7am departure! Still, I packed quickly, and not long after 7am I was down in the dining room eating cereal. I'd tried a mirror piccy on the way downstairs, but it didn't come out very well.

On the stairs at Grosmont House

In the dining room I met two other walkers, Al and Elizabeth from Australia, who were also planning an early assault on the final stage. As I was eating and chatting I converted the bread rolls and Brie that I'd bought in Glaisdale into sandwiches for the walk, and wrapped them in a plastic bag I had left over from something earlier in the trip.

Unexpectedly, the proprietor came downstairs and made us some tea and toast to go with our cereal. As he was delivering it he told us all in pretty authoritative tones that we didn't need to leave that early, and that we had loads of time to get to Robin Hood's Bay. We explained that we each had a bus to catch, but he said that most people did. He sounded so knowledgeable that I asked whether he'd ever walked the stage himself, but it turned out that he hadn't. Okay... :)

After breakfast I settled up--50 all in--and set off back to the road. It was 7.50am, so there was still time to enjoy a relatively leisurely walk to RHB, and the prospect of a drink and a wander round the village at the other end.

Grosmont House

View of the railway from the carpark

The day's walk starts with a killer ascent to Sleights Moor, but before it became really steep I passed some allotments (sporting the mandatory pea wigwam and sunflowers)...


...and I turned back there to take a last look down to Grosmont.

Leaving Grosmont

I also passed a very purposeful looking snail on the road...


...and moved him to a gatepost on the other side so that he wouldn't be squashed by passing traffic.

After that I settled to the climb, though, and soon enough I found myself emerging onto the top of the hill in bright sunshine.

Clearly it had rained earlier, but the morning was now fresh and invigorating, and I pressed on making rapid progress, and keen not to delay my arrival in RHB with any unnecessary meanderings.

At a carpark the route left the road for a shortcut across Sleights Moor, and at the point at which it joined the A169 a few hundred metres later I made my only significant navigational bollox of the day. Looking at it now, it's clear from the Harvey's map, but not from my copy of the Anquet OS 1:50k, that it's possible to take one of two paths across that little patch of moorland, but that wasn't apparent on the diagram set out in the brick, or on the ground, and so when, at the other end of the path, I followed the instruction to "turn right, then left across road 20m later" I found myself walking in the wrong direction along the A169, because the path I'd followed had come out almost half a km south of the one that Stedman had had in mind. That didn't become apparent for some time, but eventually it occurred to me that there really ought to have been a path off to the left, and that I shouldn't be continuing along the road.

On turning round I saw that 4 other walkers had crossed the road behind me, and were now progressing across the moor on their way to Littlebeck. When I spoke to them later it turned out that they had been similarly confused, and therefore I've set out below a picture of the OS 1:50k showing both the path I (and they) took (number 2) and the one Stedman is actually referring to (number 1). NB: number 1 isn't shown on the OS 1:50k, or at least not in the version that I have on my computer, although it is shown on the Harvey map.

The confusing junction of the path with the A169

I was a bit annoyed with myself for losing a whole 15 minutes or so (!) walking in the wrong direction, but I set off back up the road and in due course followed the others across the moor.

Finally on the path towards Littlebeck

I began to feel a little tired as I hiked on across the moor, and on the descent to Littlebeck I tried to remember whether it was the place where on a previous crossing I'd found the Women's Institute providing tea and cakes for walkers in a little village hall at the bottom of the hill. It may have been but there no such delights on offer this time, and so I stopped for a quicky piccy and then followed the others up the hill towards Littlebeck wood.

The walk through the wood was lovely...

Littlebeck Wood

...and I stopped on a number of occasions to take a close look at interesting fungi growing by the side of the path.

Oyster mushrooms?

There was a strange cave-like feature in a bank beneath the path...

...and the route meandered through the trees and then down a series of steps...

...to a curious structure known as The Hermitage, where I took some photos for the others and then they took one for me.

The Hermitage, Littlebeck Woods

The others were a friendly bunch--Al and Elizabeth, whom I'd met at breakfast, and Dave and Ann--and I was sorry not to have met them earlier.

The path continued through the trees...

...to a waterfall known as Falling Foss. I think this must have been it, although it doesn't look particularly spectacular in the picture I managed to take.

Falling Foss

Eventually the woods came to an end, and I emerged onto a path and soon afterwards turned sharp left up a gentle incline towards the junction with Sneaton Low Moor, about a kilometer and a half away.

I knew from previous experience that it could be difficult to find the right path across the moor, and so I paid particularly careful attention to the guidance in the book. Despite much careful inspection of the landscape, though, and some uneasy to-ing and fro-ing along the beginning of the path, I was unable to see the, "...solitary tree that appears in middle of moor," for which Stedman encouraged me to aim. The others were behind me by this point, and so I wasn't able to take the easy option and follow them either, and so I took a bearing, made a mental note of where it seemed likely I should be aiming for on the other side and set off.

View across Sneaton Low Moor

I think I rejoined the road a little to the East of the point shown on the map, but it didn't matter since I had to walk East on the road in any event, in order to pick up the path across the remaining piece of moorland towards RHB.

As I walked I realised I needed a loo break, and for a couple of minutes it was touch and go as to whether I'd be able to finish and make myself decent again before the other walkers arrived at the road beside me. Fortunately I managed, and before moving off I unwrapped one of my Brie rolls to eat as I continued, as by now I was a little hungry again.

The path then turned left onto what is the last piece of remote countryside before Hawkser. It's known as Graystone Hills, although I remember it as being relatively flat.

A series of signposts marks the first part of the way, and navigation was pretty straighforward until, just after a particularly boggy bit, I think I must have missed a sign, as a result of which I went a little bit too high and had to find my way back down to the proper path along a hedgerow. I noticed the others coming up fairly quickly behind me now, and that not very deeply buried competitive spirit that I mentioned on an earlier stage rose to the surface again, and insisted that I should be the first to arrive at the sea :) I therefore pressed on as quickly as possible along the path, once I'd found it...

...zipped at speed through Hawkser, where I saw a couple of walking blokes eating crisps on a bench where I'd sat with Matt, Less, Mark and Sue when we'd walked the last stage together in 2000, and made off along the lane...

...that leads through the interestingly named Hawkser Bottoms caravan site...

...towards the coastal path.

I was tired and a little footsore by that stage, but I knew I had only a couple of miles or so to go. I stopped briefly to take off my fleece, as it was now sunny and warm again, extracted my remaining sandwiches from my pack and set off along the final stretch. The weather was perfect, and despite my hurry I stopped a couple of times to take pictures of the sea.

The coastal path to Robin Hood's Bay

After 20 minutes or so I became aware that one of the blokes I'd seen at Hawkser was dashing along the path behind me with a dog, and as I passed through a gate he called over for me to stop. I did, and it turned out that he was also finishing the walk, and had wanted to say hello because we'd not met on the route. He asked if we could walk together for a while and I said that of course we could! It was nice to have somebody to chat with. His name was Stewart, and he introduced me to his dog (Tarragon) and his friend, Jason.

It turned out that Stewart and Jason had been camping along the route, a day or two ahead of me. Stewart was an interesting bloke, and again I felt it was a pity that I'd not met some of the people I'd met that day at an earlier stage. Like me, he hadn't met many other campers en route, and I reflected a little wistfully upon all the dorky interesting camping kit-related conversations we might have been able to have had we met sooner. At one stage he asked whether I had a spare 50k to invest, because he had somewhere very, very safe to put it... I almost laughed out loud, but managed to make some kind of polite response instead, which involved explaining that I didn't even have 50 pence to invest at that point :)

The remaining walk passed quickly now, and when Robin Hood's Bay made its first proper appearance round a bend in the path I stopped to record the moment.

Robin Hood's Bay

Stewart and Jason had to go and collect their tent from somewhere before descending into RHB itself, but I was keen to finish and so I went on alone, arranging to see them later in the pub if they finished before I had to leave for my lift home.

Start of the hill down to the sea in Robin Hood's Bay

It always feels a little odd to descend in a rucksack and scruffy, walking clothes through the brightly dressed day trippers in Robin Hood's Bay, and it's the clearest possible reminder that the walk is about to come to a conclusion. On the way down I took a picture of one of the steep little side streets so characteristic of the old village...

...and another of the Bay Hotel which stands right at the edge of the causeway...

The Bay Hotel (incorporating Wainwright's Bar)

...and then I walked down onto the sand to get my shoes damp, so I could be sure that the walk was well and truly over.

I got out my little tripod and started trying to stand the camera on the sand to take a final picture, but a kind holiday maker walked across and offered to take one for me. It turned out that she was a keen walker too, and had taken her three children, when they were aged 6, 9 and 12 on the Pennine Way, which I thought was pretty amazing! It had taken them 18 days: very impressive indeed.

She was a little uncertain of how to work the zoom, and so I attempted to combine instructions with the appropriate sort of "Yippee! I've finished!" smile. I wasn't entirely successful but it came out okay in the end, and here it is :)

On the beach at Robin Hood's Bay

After that I left my rucksack at a table outside the pub, and made my way up to Wainwright's Bar for a celebratory gin and tonic. I carried it back to the table outside, and sat for a while watching tourists milling around and other people finishing. It had been 1.15pm when I'd arrived, which I'd felt was pretty good going. Bearing in mind how quickly I'd walked, though, I was glad I hadn't started any later, as I now had a couple of hours to get something to eat, kick my heels and try to remember the name of the hotel at which I'd been told to meet the Coast to Coast Packhorse for the lift home.

Stewart and Jason arrived in due course, and we made our way over to the excellent chippy just around the corner. We retired with our fish and chips to a table outside, and there I enjoyed every mouthful of my lunch while Stewart fed half of his to Tarragon, and Jason shared his chips with the seagulls.

Stewart and Jason were planning to meet up with a bunch of other walkers in Wainwright's bar, and so after lunch we headed back in that direction and I spent a happy hour or so chatting with the others who'd finished that day. Back in Osmotherley Andy had asked me to say hello to a couple of people he'd met en route, and I managed to locate them and pass on his message. I think we all then signed the C2C book from behind the bar, and after a pint of Theakston's I began to think about packing up and making my way back up the hill for my lift.

Several people were planning to stay the night, and I was a little sorry to be leaving the happy bunch in the bar. On the other hand, I was looking forward to getting home and getting back to my computer, after a wallow in a nice, hot bath. I therefore said goodbye, we all exchanged hugs as though we'd known each other for a couple of weeks rather than just a couple of hours, and I made my way out and down the steps to the road for the last time.

It turned out that the Packhorse People had said the Victoria Hotel after all, and I arrived with about 5 minutes to spare. I was the only person going back, and it was great fun to chat with the driver about his experiences of the walk as we made the journey back to Kirkby Stephen. Along the way we drove through a period of extremely heavy rain, and since it was not yet 5pm I thought of all the C2C'ers who were likely to have been caught in the downpour, and was glad I'd managed to avoid it. In due course we arrived at the Pennine View caravan park in another torrential downpour, and I took a final photo after retrieving my car from the pound.

Rain at the Pennine View caravan park

After that I drove home, and that was finally the end of that :)

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