Kirkby Stephen to Robin Hood’s Bay
Off again, this time into the Pennines. We had sunshine and enthusiasm, reaching the Nine Standards – man-made cairns, visible for miles – in time for a coffee stop.
Today was reputedly a boggy day, the area likened in the guide book to the Battle of the Somme. I wasn’t looking forward to this. Falling in a bog on Day 1 isn’t a good idea. But it was better – or less bad, anyway – than expected. As thunder started to rumble around us, we stopped at Ravenseat Farm for a cream tea and a rest. This place has become famous because of the shepherdess who lives there. We had not seen the programmes about her on television nor read her books but had heard of her and her large family. Welly-clad kids were everywhere. She welcomed us warmly, pregnant with her ninth child. Some lady! We arrived in Keld (mid-point of the whole walk) just ahead of a serious downpour.
The following day the guide book warned of a potential wrong route near the appropriately named Crackpot Hall. Don’t it said, take a narrow path with a precipitous drop but rather the higher, simpler route. Guess where we ended up? We survived to take another ‘difficult alternative’ by accident but arrived safely in Reeth. We fell in love with the little town with its grassy square, hills all around and evening sunlight. Perfect conditions for an evening drink outside the Buck Inn.
We then had a silly day. Tony lost his sunglasses (if you put them on top of your sunhat, and then remove the hat……), our flask of coffee turned out to be a flask of hot water (‘I thought you had put the coffee in …’) and we ended up climbing a barbed-wire fence after a slight mis-navigation. It was also a day of stiles. These are annoying obstacles, stone-built and narrow to prevent sheep access. They also effectively prevent short people wearing rucksacks going through them.
It seemed something of a cheat to have a day off in Richmond after three days walking but it was a lovely place to stay. Not much of a rest as we visited the Georgian Theatre, the Green Howards Museum, the old railway station, the Richmondshire Museum and the castle. The ‘rest’ resulted in my having backache but good old ibuprofen and a French meal got me going again.
The next couple of days were flattish and easy with drizzly, miserable weather and lots of mud. We walked through fields of rapeseed nearly as high as me – you get totally soaked when the crops obscure the path and it’s a fight to get through them. But the sun finally came out and we were greeted at our next B & B with glasses of prosecco. How civilised!
The Yorkshire Moors beckoned us. We were looking forward to the views across to the North Sea. I’m sure you can see that far but all we saw was mist. It did bring, however, a certain eerie charm. Lunch at a café at Lord Stones, a tasty bowl of soup, was a pleasant change from the usual sandwiches. We were now away from habitation and the landlord of the next B & B, the Buck Inn at Chop Gate, picked us up and returned us to the route. Had to dry my soggy boots with the hairdrier.
Sunshine the next day – we could see! Captain’s Cook’s Monument and Roseberry topping were in the distance – super memories of the time we lived near them in Great Ayton when the children were small. An easy day and we arrived early at the Lion Inn, a huge, old pub in the middle of nowhere (Blakey Ridge, actually). They serve the world’s largest helpings; do not even think about having a starter!
Tony was getting excited about reaching Grosmont, home of a steam railway. We had to visit the engine yard and take multiple photos of trains arriving and leaving although I confess I left Tony there. Then suddenly it was our last day, the longest on this part of the walk at over 16 miles. It was also the muddiest. It was possibly the muddiest walk of my life. At times we had to leave the path when it became bog. Our GPS proved invaluable as signage across this part of the moors is poor. We arrived at Robin Hood’s Bay with some Australian walkers we’d met at various times on the walk. The tide was in so depositing our pebbles from the sea at St Bees was simple. We had a group hug, elated that we’d made it, then a drink in the Wainwright Bar at the Bay pub where we all signed our names in the Coast-to-Coast walkers’ book.
We have actually walked across England – an excellent experience. I believe Tony is plotting the next one…