Sunday, 22 July 2012

Walking the Wainwright Coast to Coast Part 3: Keld to Robin Hood's Bay. . .

See Part One here and Part Two here.

The second half of our holiday walk went very quickly as these things tend to do.

Day 8: Keld to Reeth
This was another of my favourite days on the route. You have the choice of taking the high route which passes a lot of abandoned mines or the low one which we opted for, as the remnants of mines, while historically interesting, are not exactly picturesque. Our route may not have been as dramatic but sometimes it's just as nice to be looking up from below as looking down from on high, especially during this walk through the very green Swaledale Valley.

We stopped in the tiny town of Muker (and I highly recommend doing so) where there is a lovely tea shop and the Swaledale Woollen Shop where, yes, I was able to buy some wool as a coveted souvenir of the trip. This was a day where we passed many Swaledale sheep who were quite obliging at being remarkably photogenic.

We ended the day in the very pretty village of Reeth centered around a green with all the Dales rising up around it.

Our B & B was in Fremington, just a mile out of the town but very close to The Bridge Inn, which gets my vote for our favourite pub on the route. Great atmosphere and a friendly and opinionated (my favourite kind) bartender.  It also served absolutely delicious fish and chips, battered in ale and dill. 

Day 9: Reeth to Richmond
This was our shortest day of walking which was just as well as it was raining. The paths took us mostly through farmers' fields and we made it to Richmond - the largest town on our route -  in about four hours.  This was our first glimpse through the mist of the town and its castle.

After drying out in a cafe, we walked the cobbled streets, did the Castle Walk, popped into a few stores and  happily checked into our hotel. Richmond is your best place along the route to have something for dinner other than traditional pub food. We went for Italian.

Day 10: Richmond to Ingleby Cross
This was the day I was dreading. It's the longest stretch and the most boring - 24 miles over a lot of flat fields and tarmac as you traverse the Vale of Mowbray. It's just a tedious and tiring slog. If I had to do this over, I would break it up into two days and stop at Danby Wiske - my feet were absolutely killing me by this point and there were still several hours to go. On paper it looks an easy and flat stage, if long, but what the books don't mention is how footsore you'll be at this point from the accumulative miles you've tackled day after day.  With fresh legs, this stretch probably wouldn't have bothered me so much.  It also didn't help matters that the rain came down in earnest during the latter part of the day. This is an example of one of the many soggy and muddy fields we had to cross.  But I knew better things were to come - you just have to endure this stage and get on with it.

Day 11: Ingleby Cross to Claybank Top:
Another day I was highly anticipating - I LOVE the North York Moors and I've done a bit of this route previously. You begin by climbing up through a wood and following a stone wall which leads to a gate. Open the gate and the moors just stretch out before you.  To the left is a great view of the flat vale that was yesterday's trudge and in the distance you can see Roseberry Topping, surely the most lovely name for a hill in all of Britain. Just beyond that is the North Sea but we'll be heading quite a bit south of this.

It was sunny and dry, a welcome change from the day before and I loved the undulating path with great views all the way.

The Coast to Coast has joined the Cleveland Way at this point (another long distance walk that is on my list to do) and the path is very easy to follow so you can just relax and enjoy the day. We had one problem with a bull that was blocking a gate and when it started snorting at us, we had to detour and climb over a wall, but other than that, it was pure walking bliss.

Day 12: Claybank Top to Glaisedale
This is another long stretch - 18 miles - but the path is quite soft under foot. Again, you are covering miles over the Moors and a good deal of the way follows a disused railway line.  I find the desolation and bleakness oddly beautiful; this is one of my favourite terrains to walk in.  I only wish that the heather had been out in full bloom.

If you want, you can also take a detour to this place (but by this time we'd seen enough of them at breakfast).

Day 13: Glaisedale to Little Beck
A very easy, pleasant and gentle walk that follows the River Esk.

It then heads through Grosmont, one of the stops on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway line where you can still board a steam train. There's also a very nice used bookshop across from the station that's fun to browse in, particularly if you are interested in rail history.

You also get your first real sighting of the sea as you come close to Whitby but again, you'll veer off to the south.

Day 14: Little Beck to Robin Hood's Bay
And so we came to our last twelve miles and we thankfully had a sunny day for it as we headed towards the blue sea. We took the odd road detour as the fields were still quite boggy, until we got to the coast where we picked up the Cleveland Way again and followed it all the way to Robin Hood's Bay.

Robin Hood's Bay is built up on a hill and the roads down are steep but charming. There's a small, crowded beach at the bottom with lots of weekenders - the hikers completely stand out in their boots and rucksacks among the flipflops and bathing suits. We arrived just after 2pm, threw our pebbles into the sea, had some  fish and chips and then boarded our mini-van to take us back to Kirby Stephen for our last night (when you use Packhorse you leave the car in this town). We had a delicious celebratory dinner at The Mango Tree - a fantastic Indian restaurant, highly recommended, and then a few pints in a couple of pubs. And home the next day, tired but quite chuffed at what we'd accomplished.

It was a wonderful walking challenge and I'd definitely do it again - perhaps east to west next time.

1 comment:

Diane said...

Your walk and the pictures have been making me feel quite homesick! We used to live in Appleton Wiske, a few miles from Northallerton, on the Durham - North Yorkshire border. Loved it and still have wonderful memories of walks over the moors and in the dales. Lovely! Thanks for bringing back the memories!