Day 8 – Blister Day
(Keld to Reeth)
|Yummy carrot cake breakfast|
I’m awoken by a blaze of light green. It is 7:00am and the sun is beaming through my tent. I decide to rise early, unzipping my tent to a bright blue sky and a soft breeze. It’s a beautiful day for walking.
As I pay the £5.00 camping fee, the owner asks if I’m visiting the Country Show in Muker, a few miles away. He describes the various stalls and how he is currently baking cakes for the fair. He ducks back into the kitchen and hands me a slice of carrot cake, wrapped in a tissue. Wow, thank you! :).
The fair is off the coast to coast route by half a mile and I decide to visit if time permits.
I leave earlier then Hannah and Adam, where we decide to meet in Reeth later on in the day. The walk is a beautiful introduction to Yorkshire. I cross paths with the Pennine Way and stroll past a secluded waterfall cascading gently into a river.
I climb onwards, soon pondering over two different directions. There is an option of a high route and a low route for this day.The low route is described as more charming and easier. Well, the big wide trail leads upwards. There is a small side gate here that descends. The low route runs parallel to a river. I need to walk down near the river!
I squeeze through the side gate, stumbling through with my rucksack onto a thin and delicate looking path. I hike onwards. The path becomes more wild. The undergrowth brushes against me as I walk and a very steep drop emerges. The path is no more then a few boots width wide. Is this really the coast to coast?! This is dangerous! I focus on every step I take as I climb over fallen trees, hoping that the path will widen as I walk on.
I tread carefully for twenty minutes, until the path emerges into a clearing. God, where am I? The river runs parallel to my right side, reaffirming a vague sense of security that I haven’t completely gone off-path. The only way to go is forward, no way am I doubling back down the thin, steep trail again.
|UNDERGROWTH! (Yes, I walked through this)|
I march through the undergrowth, stepping where the plants have already been flattened. Sheep? Maybe someone has walked down here already? I continue through the tangle of undergrowth. My clothes and arms are wet with dew.
|Ore chute? Wheel Pit? Bouse Teems?!?|
You wouldn’t be lost if you walked with Adam and Hannah today. I bite my lip but I find humour in the situation. This is exploration! I can be an intrepid explorer, hacking my way through undergrowth and discovering new places. As I walk on, I stumble across a random stone ruin, a well and three peculiar horse-shoe like enclosures. I get within inches of a rabbit and I’m ecstatic that it hasn’t run away from me yet. “Hi bunny.” I say aloud. It is Day 8 and I realise there is a change in my attitude. No longer am I despairing, angry or frustrated at being lost. I take it in my stride. I try to make best of the situation by following the river, because I know its the right way.
I can hear people talking! It is faint but definitely there, the sound echoing from somewhere above me. I walk over a decrepit bridge and into a field for half a mile. I climb over stiles and skirt around a farmhouse, eventually meeting up to a bridge and a wide trail, back onto the coast to coast path! It’s great timing as I run straight into the American walkers then into Alan and Marianne who are walking a little further ahead.
We hike together, following the course of the river as it weaves through the Yorkshire Dales. All the c2cers take a diversion to The Country Show and I decide to join them. It only occurs once a year, how lucky are we that it occurs on the day we are passing through, it would be a shame not to check it out.
The fair is atmospheric and vibrant. Crowds of people mill around the stands, whilst a live band plays music. Refreshments are aplenty, there are herding demonstrations and lines of stalls selling various local goods from Yorkshire tea to home-made cakes.
I leave the show together with Alan and Marianne, ready to rejoin the Coast to Coast path. The book describes the Keld to Reeth leg as ‘11.5 miles of gentle, level walking.’ It wasn’t. The ascents were steep, taxing and frequent, peppered amongst descents for over half the days walk. We stop off at a cosy tearoom, clustered within a small village. Alan and Marianne generously buy me a tea and a scone.
|FREE CARAVAN! 🙂|
I inspect the compeed I stuck on, the edges a little blackened by the wool of my socks. My blisters have swelled up. The compeed prevents rubbing, but I have put them on too late and they are putting enormous pressure on the blisters beneath.
Day 9 – Parted Ways
(Reeth to near Brompton-on-Swale)
I spend the afternoon strolling through the winding alleys of Richmond: stocking up on snacks for the remaining days, purchasing a pair of trekking poles for £7.99 each and a pack of painkillers to numb my feet.
Day 10 – Soaked to the bone
(St Giles Farm to Dansby Whiske)
- Disclaimer: No photos today, it rained too hard to get my camera out!
I wake up to the amplified sound of heavy rainfall over my tent, there is hardly any light in the grey sky and I make little effort to shake myself out of the depths of sleep. Rain, really heavy rain…
I prolong with delay tactics. Let’s play some candy crush before I go. Happiness is a long, warm shower. Yum, new cereal bars.
I eventually leave late at around 11:00am. The rainfall is heavy and relentless throughout my whole walk. I stroll past bloated rivers and flooded trails. The sky is a endless, ominous slate of stormy grey.
I walk for hours, my clothing, my belongings and my boots are absolutely drenched. I bump into x4 Australians during my walk, hunched and head lowered against the battering rainfall. We walk together to Dansby Whiske and we shelter in The White Swan pub. It’s meant to be a 19.5 mile day today to Ingleby. I don’t want to walk in this rain anymore…
We converse in the pub for half an hour, whilst the Australians wait for a taxi. They decide to cab it for the remainder of the journey to Inglesby and I decide to stay at The White Swan Pub instead of pressing on in the rain.
Simon, the proprietor, shows me a little hut at the back with x2 beds. It’s £10.00 a night and I immediately opt in. Please, no more wet camping, not today. I am wet. Comically drenched. To the extent where I looked like I’ve just climbed out of a swimming pool fully clothed. I shiver involuntarily as I sit in the pub with my clothes sticking to my skin.
Gill, Simon’s wife, offers to launder and dry my clothes for me for £5. I dig through my rucksack and I realise all my gear is wet, including my sleeping bag.
Gill graciously offers to lend me her clothes to wear so I can wash everything I am wearing too (I only brought x2 shirts and x3 trousers). I’ve just run out of clean socks that day and laundering couldn’t have come at a better time.
I spend the evening talking to x2 of the loveliest local people I met during my walk, Jeff and Ernie. They were ex-mountaineers and ex-RAF and we conversed for hours after they invited me to join them for dinner. They admired that I was tackling the c2c solo and they appreciated my love for the outdoors. I found it so wonderful that two strangers held my attempt at the c2c so highly when at home my decision to do it was greeted by skepticism.
It was a gentle and enjoyable end to a difficult day. The rain was both draining and demoralising yet this was counter-balanced by meeting Jeff and Ernie who were both kind and inspirational individuals. I was over the moon when I was presented with a bag of fresh, crisp and clean clothes. I got to stay in a hut instead of a wet tent. Dansby Whiske was an unplanned stop due to adverse weather conditions.
My coast to coast walk so far has been a little erratic and spontaneous, yet this was the beauty of it. It was freedom and I had no idea what would happen the next day. I look over my itinerary and I realise that I’ve only stayed at 5/10 of my pre-planned destinations so far. It doesn’t matter, it’s unpredictable, it’s an adventure.
|As much as we try to plan things, sometimes
it is best to just go with the flow 🙂
Day 11 – Count My Luck
(Dansby Whiske to Osmotherly)
My blisters reoccur again, filled with water and pressured by my boots. I rarely use painkillers, but taking x2 ibuprofens that morning made a world of difference to walking. I no longer overpronated when I walked and my pace quickened with the my feet numbed down suitably.
Day 11 marks the day I finally meet x2 more Brits, Mark and Julie, doing the coast to coast. Roughly speaking, I’ve met:
- 10 Americans
- 6 Australians
- 6 Canadians
- 2 British
|Sherpa-Van (Baggage transportation)|
We walk together to Osmotherly when I ask for directions. “Don’t worry dear, you’re not far”. It was a very unusual route. We followed the drive to a stray gate into field and go through what feels like someone’s back garden. Thank god I bumped into people, I don’t think I would’ve gone this way.
Upon arrival, I pitch my tent and settle into Cote Ghyll Caravan Park. I grab fish and chips for dinner and consult Stedman’s c2c book. Osmotherley was another diversion for me. I initially planned to stay at Ingleby Cross but I felt the walk was too short from Dansby Whiske.
To Blankey Ridge tomorrow! God, the book describes the walk as ‘gruelling.’ 23 miles in one day?! Is that possible? I brace myself for tomorrow: final stretch now, a few more days until you finish…
|Home-made flapjacks I walked past near Ingleby, targeted for c2c walkers.|
Day 12 – Up and Down
(Osmotherly to Chop Gate)
I quickly lumber out my sleeping bag and pack everything away. My walk starts along the beautiful Cod Beck Reservoir.
Every single person I walked pass that morning said ‘hello’ to me. I genuinely appreciate the acknowledgement and I reply back cheerfully. It is a far cry from London, where you are surrounded by people yet eye-contact is avoided and communicating to others is kept to the bare minimum.
I begin to ascend higher and higher. Stedman describes how over 1000m of accumulated ascents and descents are made today. I walk with purpose and take in the views as I go.
|I can see the North Sea from up here!
(about 40 miles away)
This day is titled ‘up and down’. It is well and truly up and down. I ascend up to Scarth Wood Moor and down. Up Carlton Moor and down. Up Cringle Moor and pass the Wainstones. I am a dishevelled mess by 3:30pm. 3:30pm ALREADY!? I wonder how time flew by so quickly, then I remember: if you got yourself out of bed by 8:30am like you were suppose to, it would only be 1:30pm.
It’s still around 15km away to Blakey Ridge and I try to work out the timings: Can I do it? Maybe if I walk from now until 8:30pm?
The prospect feels me with dread and I decide that I need to find somewhere to stop. As I cross the Moors, I bump into a couple walking together. We discuss the coast to coast walk whilst hiking on the trail together. They are heading back to their car, and they offer me a lift to Chopgate down the B1257 motorway, 1 mile off the coast to coast route.
I thank them gratefully, after a fast five minute drive down the motorway. I approach ‘Buck Inn’. A lone pub in a small village and I contemplate treating myself to staying in a room that night. It was SO cold the night before. It’s towards the end of my walk. Maybe I should stay at a B&B just once.
“It’s £55.00 for a single room” says the proprietor. My heart sinks, I can’t afford it, I have £30 in my purse left for the final few days. “Can I camp here?” I ask hopefully. “It’s £5.00 for the night, with access to a toilet and a sink.”
No shower, I think bitterly as I set up my tent. I spend the evening absorbing the warmth within the pub, writing up my journal and treating myself to dessert. I try to freshen up as much as I can with just a sink. It’s been a long, difficult day and I grimace at my reflection. My ponytail is askew and I have a perspiring glow from walking that doesn’t seem to disappear. Regardless, I feel I am lucky. I’m lucky I have somewhere to stay tonight without wild camping. I recall walking pass a nature sign that describes how the Yorkshire Moors have a healthy population of adders. Camping near snakes? No thank you :).
Day 13 – Lost
(Chop Gate to Blakey Ridge)
|Up the route from Blaisdale Hall|
|Yorkshire Moors: home to the largest growth of heather in the world|
After dinner, I grab my wash bag and make a dash for the shower. “Hi!” says a man, locking eyes with me in recognition whilst I walk past the bar. Hi? God, have I forgotten someone?
“We jogged passed you with your rucksack, we thought you looked so young to be doing this on your own, good on you!”
I thank him and we converse. He’s done the coast to coast twice already and he’s jogging it for the third time with his wife in 8 days. I am astounded, what an incredible feat of fitness and stamina to run around 20 miles per day, ascending and descending the trails, for 8 straight days. He repeatedly says “good on you” as we talk yet I think vice-versa. Wow, I could never jog this.
Day 14 – History Day
(Blakey Ridge to Grosmont)
My hands freeze packing the tent away, I set off shivering with the cold, walking quickly in an attempt to warm up. As I stop to navigate, two walkers, Bob and Sarah, bump into me. We walk together, fighting the course of the wind buffeting against us.
|Bob and Sarah|
|Fat Betty: a small monument where tradition dictates that c2c walkers leave a food offering and take one.|
It’s wonderful to have company after hardly meeting anyone on the trail yesterday. Bob and Sarah are ex-engineers from New Mexico. We chat happily of little anecdotes about the c2c and who we’ve met:
- When we stayed at Patterdale, we met a 9 year old girl, Rachel, who has done the Coast to Coast 3 years in a row (aged 7 – 9), with her dad in summer. She currently holds a world record for it.
- In the lakes, there was a blind man, aged over 80, jumping and climbing in the Fells with a guide. (Wow!)
|Near the Pub, at Beggers Bridge|
|Left a note in the letter box with my camping fee wrapped inside.|
I walk excitedly towards Grosmont, free of the weight of my rucksack which I left at the campsite. Harry Potter trains! Real life Hogwarts express mentioned in the book! I can’t wait to see them.
It is a very peaceful and basic nights camping at Priory Farm. I am the only tent in the field and the surroundings are still and quiet. The overgrown grass is cushioning beneath me and the hedge provides shelter from the wind. I microwave x2 pizzas, one for breakfast and one for dinner. One more day to go.
Day 15 – The end of the Coast to Coast Walk
(Grosmont to Robin Hood’s Bay)
It’s a steep and taxing start to the last day. I hit two dead ends looking for Littlebeck village and I add a further 1 – 2 miles to the day by entering the woods from the wrong way.
Regardless of the navigation errors, the walk through Little Beck Wood was enchantingly beautiful.
The gentle patter of rainfall rolling across green leaves and trees. The occasional glimpse of dappled sunlight. The abandoned caves, mysterious boulders, and fallen trees lying across rivers. I cross stepping stones and stroll pass a secluded tea-room, next to Falling Foss, a 9M waterfall hidden within the depths of the forest.
After a short stretch of road walking, the beauty of the forest contrasts the muddy and bleak moors ahead of me. I cross through, wetting my boots and socks with my poor technique. I got more wet trying to navigate round the puddles then treading through them.
Wet socks and wet boots, I gradually plod into Robin Hoods Bay. The scent of saltiness that comes with a sea-side town and the grey, rolling sea reflecting the clouds above. I’m overcome by a sudden burst of utmost happiness. It’s raining and I sit down on a bench, embracing the view and the sound of the ocean. 14/15 days of walking, 200 miles, I’m here, the final destination!
|The end of the coast to coast walk!|
The tide is coming in and I step straight through the seawater. I don’t think my boots can get any wetter then they currently are after navigating through the bogs. I meet a down to earth and free-spirited receptionist on arrival. We converse about our travels: I’ve just come back from South Korea and he’s just come back from working in New Zealand for 2 years. I ask for a dormitory room and I’m assigned a 4 bed bunk-room with no other occupants. I’m in a private room, a stone throw away from the beach. I have fish and chips for dinner. I’m sleeping in a bed tonight. I’m genuinely overjoyed!
I spent the rest of the day at Candy’s, a quaint little cafe overlooking the sea. I unwind with tea and cake and I decide to write ‘Thank you’ postcards to send alongside boxes of chocolates to The White Swan and to Anwar for the help that they gave me during the walk.
The coast to coast was my first long distance walk. The experience has left me wanting to do more, watch this space :).
C2C Week 2/Final Round Up
- The c2c walk can be done on a shoestring budget. I spent a total of around £250 for the 2 weeks of the walk. The train fares from London were £30 and £9 (singles), book way in advance!
- Accommodation round up: 1 good samaritan’s sofa, 1 400m wild mountain camp, 2 youth hostels, 3 camp sites, 2 farms, 1 den behind a pub, 1 hotel garden, 2 caravan parks and 2 pub gardens.
- Navigation wise, I used both Harvey Strip maps and Henry Stedman’s guidebook. I learnt how to use a compass a few days before the walk via YouTube, and I have a terrible sense of direction. Believe me, if I can do it, you can :).
- I crossed every type of land imaginable from rugged mountains, to vast crop fields, to great bodies of water and wild moorland. It is the variety which makes the c2c walk so popular (the c2c walk was ranked 2nd in the world’s best walks).
- I had little/no experience map-reading before I did the walk. The amount of kindness and helpfulness from fellow walkers and locals was incredible.
- Whatever you bring, you have to hold. I only had x3 trousers and x2 shirts but it worked out ok.
- I wish I brought: more things to alleviate pain. e.g. tiger balm, zinc oxide tape and more blister plasters. The feet really do start to get painful at the half way point and painkillers make a difference to the day.
- There are so many lovely, little quaint pubs along the c2c walk, most are marked out in Stedman’s book.
- I did the walk in September. On most days, I walked with just a base layer. When it rains during the c2c, it will rain hard. Bring a waterproof rucksack layer to stop your things getting wet.
- I will be so happy if anyone is inspired to do the walk after reading this post. Please if you have any questions at all about the walk/logistics, feel free to email me.
- A link to my original coast to coast plan that I made is here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bw_svIa6rMDqdTFoVmJjU1RxODQ/edit?usp=sharing (I only stayed at 6/15 planned stops but still a good reference for campsites on route).