An Epic English Hiking Adventure!
St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay – We made it! We were all smiles after finally reaching Robin Hood’s Bay, the official end point of Alfred Wainwright’s iconic Coast to Coast walk across England. And we are proud to say that we’ve now totted up almost 500 miles towards our ‘Summer 700’ after completing our second long distance hike.
From the stunning fells, tarns and mountains of the Lake District to the rugged purple moors across North Yorkshire, we’ve been lucky with the weather and experienced some of the best scenery that England has to offer.
Take a look at the final 3 days of our epic journey on foot!
Happy to have reached Robin Hood’s Bay, the end of our Coast to Coast walk!
Day 18 – Blakey Ridge to Littlebeck. (17.5 miles) – Tuesday 5th August 2014 – ‘Almost There!’
Day 18 and another step closer to Robin Hood’s Bay, a small historic fishing village on the North Yorkshire coast, and the official ‘end’ of our Coast to Coast walk. Knowing that we only had around 30 miles left, literally gave us an extra spring in our step as we endeavoured to get there by Wednesday afternoon. (This was our revised plan as we had originally estimated an end date of Friday 8th August).
We knew there was quite a lot of road walking on today’s section, which although tough on the feet, is good for maintaining a fast pace. So we set off, aiming for Littlebeck, a few miles further than Grosmont where most of the other C2Cers had planned on staying. As it had forecast rain the following day, our theory was that we’d make the most of the better weather today and give ourselves a shorter walk tomorrow.
Leaving ‘The Lion Inn’ and setting off along the road.
As we were doing our Coast to Coast walk using only strip maps, as opposed to having a Coast to Coast guide book, we weren’t privy to any insider knowledge on best accommodation or points of interest along the way. So when we heard from a fellow hiker that we’d be seeing ‘Fat Betty’ today, our immediate thoughts were of a ‘burger wagon’ or ‘greasy spoon’ along today’s route. Instead, we were surprised to find out that ‘Fat Betty’ is a white stone marker where C2Cers have taken to creating their own kind of ‘food exchange’ swap shop. Basically, you leave some kind of food stuff in exchange for something someone else has left. It’s a neat way of swapping – one person’s junk is another person’s treasure after all!
We were pleasantly surprised by what we found and took what we considered were the best of the treats – a flapjack and a battered looking Toffee Crisp – replacing them them with two packets of Haribo sweets. It was either those or instant noodles – that’s all we had left of our rations!
Wayne with ‘Fat Betty’.
After our food exchange with ‘Fat Betty’ it was more road walking before heading along a track through the moors to Glaisdale, where we decided to stop for lunch.
Heading in the right direction.
A clear track to follow.
On a mission to reach the coast…
The beautiful purple heather on the North Yorkshire Moors.
Glaisdale is a quaint little village, complete with grocery store, post office, local butchers and pub. We picked up half a dozen eggs outside a farm house for £1, then headed to the village store for a few more supplies (just to last us until tomorrow). Unfortunately, we arrived during the lunchtime slot when the village store closes for an hour. So we bought a couple of pork pies from the butchers next door, and sat on the bench across the road while we waited for the shop to re-open.
Glaisdale village – Our lunchtime rest stop.
Luckily the Butchers was open when the Village Shop was closed for lunch.
One of the tastiest pork pies we’ve ever had!
Walking through woodland after our lunch stop.
After leaving Glaisdale, it wasn’t long before we saw a sign telling us that Whitby was only 8 miles away. This meant that we’d soon be able to see the sea! It wasn’t as straightforward a walk as that for us however. Alfred Wainwright’s route takes you inland so that you walk along the cliffs and down into Robin Hood’s Bay, as opposed to straight there!
As the crow flies, not too many miles left to go!
Those were the days! A sign showing the road tolls from 1948.
Our next destination was the village of Grosmont that is home to the North Yorkshire Railway. The village was bustling with day trippers eager to have a ride on the famous steam locomotives that are the major tourist attraction here. We didn’t stop, other than to use the public toilets on our way into the village, continuing on up the steep hill out of the village that has a gradient of 1 in 3. We certainly needed a rest when we got to the top and were glad that we didn’t have full rations in our backpacks!
All uphill. After the hard section leaving Grosmont.
When we finally reached the main road at the top of the hilly section we could see across to Whitby. We could definitely see the sea in the distance, as well as Whitby Abbey dominating the skyline. It spurred us on that little bit more to carry on to Littlebeck where we camped in the back garden at Intake Farm.
Not giving up! Continuing on a few extra miles to Littlebeck.
We reached Intake Farm around 6:00pm where we bumped into some fellow C2Cers whom we had met previously along the route at various places. They invited us to join them at the 8-seater picnic table, where we caught up on the day’s events and heard about their impromptu visit to a community fete in Egton where they became spectators in a fiercely fought ‘Gooseberry Growing Competition’!
We were also treated to a pot of tea and a slice of cake by the lovely owner of Intake Farm, a perfect ‘welcome’ and end to the day!
Day 19 – Littlebeck to Robin Hood’s Bay. (12 miles) – Wednesday 6th August 2014 – ‘Coast To Coast Complete!’
After a good night’s sleep, it was a posh breakfast for our last day of hiking! Wayne set to work making us some tasty omelettes filled with cheese, onion and tomato and then it was time to get going. Destination: Robin Hood’s Bay!
We decided to cheat a little by taking an alternative track next to the farm to get us back onto the Coast to Coast path, instead of walking back through Littlebeck. (Well Alfred Wainwright does encourage you to make your own route). However we didn’t end up saving much time or mileage as we doubled back on ourselves when we reached Falling Foss so that we could see ‘The Hermitage’. (A hollowed out stone where supposedly a hermit once lived). The stone itself is not that spectacular, but what enticed us there is the old folk tale that if you sit on the stone chairs on top of the rock and make a wish – it should come true!
I made the obligatory wish and performed the seat sitting ritual, whilst Wayne looked on not believing a word of the superstitious nonsense! But hey, you never know…
Cooking up a breakfast feast for our last hiking day!
A wooden troll lurks under the bridge next to Midge Hall Cafe.
‘The Hermitage’ complete with 2 stone chairs on the top. The tale goes that you must sit on the first chair to make your wish. Then you sit on the second stone chair in order to make your wish come true.
We also spied a wooden troll lurking under the bridge next to the Midge Hall Cafe and happened to discover the location of a Geocache! (No more clues as to its exact whereabouts – you will have to do some searching for yourself!)
Our route through the woods after Falling Foss.
It was then on to Hawsker for a rest-stop. Again we took an alternative route opting to walk along a farm road instead of across the moor – just in case of bog! We met another group of C2Cers (whom we later saw again at the Bay Hotel in Robin Hood’s Bay) and shared some of our experiences with them, as well as helping them to find the correct path as they had gotten a bit lost!
Heading across the final section of moorland before reaching the coastal path.
Robin Hood’s Bay – here we come!
From Hawsker, the path leads you through Northcliffe Holiday Park straight to the coastal path that runs along the cliff top. We had read in a couple of blogs that you can’t actually see Robin Hood’s Bay until you come around the final section of headland, so we hurried on in full waterproofs by this point as we found ourselves in a huge downpour. Good old English weather!
Making our way along the coastal path.
No sign of Robin Hood’s Bay yet…
In full waterproofs as we were caught in a rain shower.
Waterproofs off as the sun makes an appearance!
Fortunately, the rain only lasted about 10 minutes and we were greeted with sunshine and blue skies as Robin Hood’s Bay came into view after Ness Point. We headed straight downhill towards the sea to complete our walk with the obligatory dipping of the toe and to throw our stones into the North Sea – the ones we had actually carried with us all the way from St Bees. (Some geologists someday are going to find the presence of these stones really confusing!)
Heading down to the water’s edge past the Bay Hotel.
The stones we had carried from St Bees, ready to deposit in the North Sea.
From the Irish Sea to the North Sea. The customary dipping of the toe!
Thank goodness the tide wasn’t too far out!
We made it!!!
Then it was off to the Bay Hotel for a celebratory pint! Traditionally, the Bay Hotel is the meeting hub for all Coast to Coast walkers and has its very own Wainwright’s Bar. We signed the ‘Coast to Coast Visitor’s Book’ and enjoyed catching up with other C2Cers we had met along our journey, each with their own travel tales and unique perspectives of the Coast to Coast path.
Cheers! Victory pints in Wainwright’s Bar.
Two families we had met along the way originally from New Zealand and Germany.
Two pints later, we were legging it back uphill to the Post Office to get some ‘cash back’ for the evening’s food and campsite fees, as the nearest ATM machine was 6 miles away in Whitby! After walking just short of 200 miles over 19 days, we definitely didn’t want to walk an additional 6 miles!
The official mileage for the Coast to Coast walk is 192 miles, but after having chosen the ‘high’ route on a number of occasions our final total was 196.4 miles. Added to our 276 miles walking the Pennine Way, we are 27.6 miles short of 500, but two thirds closer to our ‘Summer 700’ mileage total!!!!
So having acquired some cash, it was just a simple ‘uphill’ walk to the Hooks House Farm Campsite. It was our most expensive ‘patch of grass’ yet at £20 for the night for 2 ‘walkers’, but we had no other option. (Although our lovely view over Robin Hood’s Bay helped to make up for the overpriced pitch).
Our campsite just up the hill from Robin Hood’s Bay.
Our pitch overlooking the bay.
Our celebratory dinner!
It wasn’t fish and chips on the menu for dinner like we had planned as there was no way we were walking back down the hill to the chip shop and back up the hill again to the campsite. So instead, Wayne treated us to a full English fry-up, expertly cooked in our mini frying pan! Sausage, bacon, eggs and black pudding – what more could I ask for!
Day 20 – Rest Day at Robin Hood’s Bay – Thursday 7th August 2014 – ‘Seaside Celebrations’
The next morning our ‘Support Team’ (aka Mum & Dad Fenton) came to the bay to pick us up and take us home. But not before we’d had a day enjoying the seaside and some much sought after fish and chips! (Really on the Coast to Coast they are hard to come by!)
A beautiful morning at Robin Hood’s Bay.
Perfect weather to end our Coast to Coast adventure!
A stroll along the beach.
Jumping for joy at completing the Coast to Coast!
A busy day at the bay.
Another reminder we have reached the ‘end’!
Our final treat – some much awaited fish and chips!
Yes, our ‘Support Team’ treated us to a giant portion of fish and chips! No more eggs, tortilla wraps, cuppa soups, instant noodles or spam! (Well, for a fortnight at least!)
We now have 2 weeks to rest, catch up with family and friends and return to ‘normal life’ before we head off to the USA for the final part of our ‘Summer 700’ – hiking the John Muir Trail across California’s Sierra Nevada.
We now know we can do the miles. We now know we can carry the backpacks. I suppose we’ve just got to get used to watching out for bears! We won’t cross a road for over 200 miles. We’ll be hiking in complete wilderness without a phone signal or our ‘Support Team’ to come to our aid.
We’re not worried in the slightest! In fact, we’re very excited. SO BRING IT ON!