Day Fifteen

Littlebeck to Robin Hoods Bay(11 miles)

Woke up early to the sounds that a farm makes at the crack of dawn. Breakfast was in the same room as we ate the previous night and unfortunately our dinner guests had once again beaten us to the table. More pleasant conversation followed where all Nige and I wanted to do was eat and go. The previous evenings meal had been strained to say the least as we didn’t really have anything in common with the couple whom we found ourselves sat opposite whilst Judith served us 3 (delicious) courses. We stuck to safe common ground discussing walking and not much more. Breakfast was just an extension of this and it was no surprise when Nige refused his mandatory 3rd cup of tea and made our excuses.

Judith was a one in a million landlady who even walked with us to the end of the lane. I actually felt quite sad that we had to leave there so soon. However, before we knew it we had walked through the Hamlet where Nige stood on his tiptoes for a photo by the Ford.

We passed into Little Beck Wood which Stedman described as a ‘stunning 65 acres of woodland filled with Deer, foxes, badger and wildlife galore’. It was very pretty but we didn’t see anything living as we cut through the trees to arrive at the man-made Hermitage – a boulder hollowed out to form a cave.

We passed the impressive Falling Foss waterfall and followed May Beck until we reached a road which seemed to double back and head towards moorland. We headed for the ‘solitary tree’ which we were relieved to see was still standing and crossed the B1416 to enter the boggy crossing of the Graystone Hills. Great views of Whitby Abbey stood infront of us.

Signposts for the C2C and Hawsker pointed us in the right direction and we ploughed on at speed thinking spending a few hours in Robin Hoods Bay would be time better spent than dragging ourselves unenthusiastically across these fairly dismal moors. We passed a couple going the other way at speed who barely had time to stop as they shouted they had done the coast to coast the conventional way and were now going to do it the more challenging way. Suppose it takes all sorts. At High Hawsker we tried to find a pub that was open for something to eat but we were too early so we carried on down towards the coast to arrive at a caravan park which housed the Woodland tearoom & shop. This was actually a shop with a couple of tables crammed in at the side but they did serve some hot food. The food was ok but it seemed a sad way to spend the last meal of the walk – in the corner of an empty shop which saw no customers enter whilst we polished off our pie and chips.

We negotiated the well-manicured paths between pristine static vans to finally arrive at the view we had last talked about 14 days previous – the North Sea. There were some clouds above us but it was a muggy day so we removed waterproofs and started to walk down the path which snaked above the cliff-tops towards our final destination.

Maps and books were no longer needed and Nige and I found ourselves slowing down and stopping regularly to take photos of the dramatic coastal views.

Before we knew it Robin Hoods Bay, in all it’s glory came into view and we only had about a mile and a half to go to the end of the walk

Without warning the coastal path suddenly turned into pavement and we found ourselves joining an ever growing throng of people all dressed in shorts carrying wind breakers and beach bags down the steep winding road to the jetty which led onto the large sandy beach. We just knew that the tide would be out but that seemed little challenge as we stepped onto the sand and walked the last few hundred yards. We must have looked out of place in big boots and backpacks rummaging in our pockets for the pebbles we had picked up in St Bees 2 weeks previously. We dedicated the walk to Niges Dad who had sadly passed away about 10 weeks before we set off and threw our tokens into the North Sea.

Ceremonies over we only had one thing on our minds – beer. I secured the bench outside the Bay Hotel whilst Nige battled the crowds in the Wainwright Bar.

We spotted one or two other Coast to Coast walkers passing the pub on their way down to the sea but mainly the large crowd was just made up of holiday makers so after Nige and I had polished off the first beer of the day and taken the obligatory photos by the sign marking the end of the route, we moved the short distance up a side street to sit outside the Dolphin Inn. Much more our sort of place. We sent texts to family and friends telling of our completion of the route then spent the next half hour reading all the replies.

Our digs for this final night was The Boathouse – the closest b&b to the beach. It looked quaint from the outside but was very squashy inside. We didn’t care about that. It was just a case of trying to find one last change of clothes that didn’t smell too bad and get out for the night. Nige miraculously produced a clean shirt and pair of trousers he’d been saving the whole 2 weeks which I found incredible.

The Bay Hotel was like a magnet for walkers but it was just too packed for us plus the first people we saw were the couple we had spent the awkward meal with the previous evening. We quickly moved on up the hill and found a nice pub where the road bent round to the left. There were a couple of benches outside which we grabbed as Nige wanted to puff on a celebratory cigar. We felt a bit lost at this point thinking there should be fireworks or something similar to mark the end of the challenge but there were just a few stragglers leaving the beach and making their way back up to the car parks. On about pint number 3 things changed for the better as Sue and Merv and the couple from Stoke turned the corner. We grabbed some good tables inside and proceeded to have the sort of last night we had all hoped for.

The alcohol quota went out of the window and neither of us remembered much about getting back to the Boathouse.

Date: Sat, 31 Jul 2010 12:38:35 +0000

What was the point of that??

Spent last nights many waking hours thinking about this question and by the time the Cockerell crowed I reckon I'd sussed it. First of all though, before the profound final thoughts, a list of best and worst bits
  • The walking - no matter what the weather threw at us, just being outside and moving
  • Friends made along the way - some genuinely nice people
  • For the first time since number 1. son was born, the freedom to not have to think about anyone else but me
  • Getting a phone call from Dan, so excited he could hardly speak because he was tall enough to go on all the big rides at Oakwood theme park and DIDN'T cry when he got stung by a bee.
  • Niges Company - good conversation, inane chat and belly laughs (usually at someone elses expense)
  • Disappointment at weather in the Lakes after all the planning and anticipation - would liked to have seen at least 1 view
  • No sleep - got worse through the trip
  • Too many eggs!
  • Point '4' from the best bits
  • Niges' snoring, odour from his suitcase and frustratingly poor performing dongle
Anyone who knows me knows I planned this trip 'to death' for over 12 months and read loads of journals people had written online about their c2c. What I now realise is that for all the planning and preparation beforehand, the walk we did was unique and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

We walked along the cliffs and down into Robin Hoods Bay on Thursday expecting the bunting to be out and streets lined with crowds clapping us in to the finish line. What we got was throngs of holiday makers getting under our feet (and on our nerves) all wondering why we were so overdressed for a trip to the beach. As expected, the tide was right out so for the last few hundred yards across sand we put one foot in front of the other until they were being lapped by waves. The pebble I picked up in St Bees was thrown into the North Sea and we beat a swift retreat to the bay hotel where others had finished and were already drinking a celebratory pint. Booked into digs, showered, put on least smelly clothes (not too good in my case - Nige managed to magic-up a clean shirt) and got the final pub meal. Met up with others we had walked with along the way and gave the beer count a healthy boost. Latest night out for 2 weeks and most drunk but still had no effect on minimal sleep. Up for final 'full English breakfast' then taxi to Scarborough train station and train home.

Fantastic experience is the only clumsy way I can think of putting it. If you love walking and talking this walk is heaven. As far as achievement goes? Didn't really feel like that at the time but may do in weeks ahead.

Finally - much thanks to Nicola. I wouldn't have been able to do any of this without her support and willingness / ability to take on the terrible trio for 16 days. She has been great and has earned thousands of brownie points. Just got to find the right moment to drop into the conversation about Nige and ours next challenge.....


Final Thoughts >>>