Thursday 14th July Littlebeck to Robin Hood’s Bay

The last day dawned bright and clear, amazingly. Looks like we are going to make it after all. Although, when we ask, we find that Trish had to give up when she got to this B&B. Must have been gutted. Can’t take finishing for granted.


Feeling a little mixed about the last day. Its great that we have got this far. A bit sad that its nearly over. Pleased and excited too.

Anyway, off we go… Back down into Littlebeck village, then on into Littlebeck Wood. “… a stunning 65 acres of woodland, filled with oak trees, deer, badgers, foxes and birdlife galore.” Actually, quite a pleasant, if muddy, tack through woods. Needless to say, any wildlife kept well away. There is a sort of cave thing, called The Hermitage.

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And a ‘beauty spot’ waterfall, Falling Foss, which has its own tearoom open later in the day. But it is soon traversed as we roll speedily onwards towards the finish line.

The last ‘problem area’ is Greystone Hills. Another scrubby boggy moor area, where the path disappears amongst many others. But today even that doesn’t catch us out, as we find the obscure posts, and hit the boardwalk over the worst of the bog. No one was there to appreciate how clever we were though.

In such a short time we are back on the road, and underneath the first sign for Robin Hoods Bay.


The trail diverts through Low Hawsker.

Things are beginning to look more coastal. There’s a caravan park. The sun is shining.

We stop for lunch in the caravan park café, the oddly named Woodland (??) Tearoom.

Two minutes later we are ON THE EAST COAST!!


Our cup runneth over when we rejoin The Cleveland Way for the final motor into our destination.

Oh The Cleveland Way, The Cleveland Way

Lets all hear it for The Cleveland Way!!!

The clifftop walk is beautiful in the fresh sunshine. Blue sky, blue sea. White cloud scudding along in the breeze. You can’t help but smile, as the last few miles undulate away underneath your boots.

Too fast, too fast, our destination is in sight. We sit for a while to try to make it last longer. We don’t want to stop.


We are so quickly finished with the cliff path, and walking through houses leading on to the main road down into the little town.

The long road down to the harbour is so very steep. Lovely old cottages and buildings crammed together so precipitously line the road. The place is packed with tourists, day trippers. No one seems to know what we have done. Not even when, oh there it is, the slipway, no not even when we go down and dip our boots into the North Sea.

Where is the Reception Committee? the bunting and congratulations? Someone should be here!


Well let’s go on down to the beach anyway.

It is only really there, down on the beach, that it starts to sink in.

We take off our boots for a paddle. I find a couple of pebbles from Fleswick Bay carried in my pack all the way. We are supposed to throw them in now. Just then a young couple, probably teenagers, turn up, and you can just tell that they have finished it too.

“You just finished?”

“Yeah, us too.”

I give the girl one of my pebbles, as she hasn’t got any. We plunge our feet into the sea together, throw in the pebbles and take photos for each other.

Now we have really finished.

It really is true. We walked across the North of England. Wow.

We really did it!!


Wednesday 13th July Grosmont to Littlebeck via Whitby

Our walk today is a short half day, and we are at a loose end. There really isn’t anything to detain us in Grosmont. There’s nothing in Littlebeck. And there’s no diversion en route. The weather isn’t good enough for sitting about either. We go down to the station for another look around, and find that its possible to get a train in 10 minutes, which will give us 2 hours in Whitby and arrive back leaving plenty of time for our short walk. Decision made.


We therefore desert the trail for a joyride to Whitby. In Whitby station (one working platform) the train schedule is designated as ‘Steam’ or ‘Diesel’. It really is an integrated service. The steam trains are huge, though, while the diesels are the more usual one or two carriage affairs.

In the town it is freezing, with a cold, cold wind blowing. Just like last time we were here, although that was the end of October. We do the tourist hotspots. The Abbey (more than one school trip is here today). The harbour. Into the town for lunch via the market square. You can see the Whalebone Arch up on the hill, as we cross over the river to explore the other half of the town. A quick circuit of the North Town, then back on the train to Grosmont. Not a bad diversion into civilisation.

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By the time we restart our walk, the weather has improved a little. We watch the trains pull out, then begin the quite hard 700’ ascent out of the village onto, you’ve guessed it, more moors. We climb onto Sleights Moor, pausing briefly at the Bride Stones.

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As we cross over into the next valley we can see Whitby Abbey in the distance. Odd to think we were there a few hours ago. The marvels of modern transport!!

Meanwhile, as we descend to Littlebeck, our feet carry us back into summer. The lane is sheltered and warm, and full of Meadowsweet and Honeysuckle.

The tiny little village, at the bottom of a steep sided valley, has a Woodcarvers Cottage, a Kelp House and a Methodist Chapel. There is a pretty bridge across the stream.

We carry on uphill to Intake Farm, our bed for the night. As contrasts go, this couldn’t be more of the opposite to last night than it is. We have a really warm welcome into the farmhouse kitchen, where the Australians are already installed. Tea and homemade cake is swiftly thrust upon us. Our room is warm, sunny and cosy. Looks like it was a child’s room.

We later have an evening meal all together. Ten guests squeezed around a huge table. Two of them are elderly Yorkshire folk of a type I would have thought no longer in existence. She with grey permed hair, twin set and pearls. He of the cap and jumper persuasion, although he couldn’t have been wearing his cap at the table. They were very proud of Yorkshire, and not at all intimidated by so many walkers. We all helped to clear away afterwards. The farmers, being religious, we had no alcohol and an early night. But after last night it was great.

Tuesday 12th July Blakey to Grosmont

The day dawns grey, and a cold wind whips across the moors. Its not exactly ‘wuthering’, but its not exactly July either.

We set off up the road, on the look out for Old Ralph, and Young Ralph crosses. The old feller proves elusive, Then we turn left towards ‘Fat Betty’

Fat Betty ( sometimes referred to as White Cross ) stands just north of, and is easily accessible from the road that leads
from Blakey Rigg to Rosedale Abbey, at the junction of the Danby, Westerdale and Rosedale parishes

The head of the cross is an ancient wheelhead painted white, set into a large stone base, also half of which is painted.
It could possibly be Norman and is only one of two known wheelheads on the North York Moors

It perhaps takes its name from a Cistercian nun, Sister Elizabeth from the Priory at Rosedale
These nuns wore gowns of undyed wool and were referred to as ‘ White Ladies’

Another tale is that a local farmer’s wife, Fat Betty, fell from their horse and cart on a dark, foggy night.
When he arrived home and noticed she was missing from the back of the cart he retraced his route across the moor
and all he could find was the large, squat stone


Ooo… Its all a bit weird up here. As far as the Coast to Coast goes, it is customary to leave an item of food and take one that has already been left by someone else. But when we pass by, the cupboard is bare. (Later John and Trish report that when they passed a short time earlier, there were several sweets and some money there! Its one for Poirot evidently.) Whatevs. We leave a cereal bar.

Continuing on, we cross more moors… Glasidale High Moor (views to Great Fryupdale). More Moors. More grice.

We descend down a long tongue of moorland, eventually passing into the Glaisdale Valley.


Just at the point where the farmland starts, there are 2 birds of prey noisily circling and diving around each other. They are making too much noise to be hunting. The book says to look out for Merlins. Maybe that’s what they are.


Glaisdale Village is a rather eccentrically strung out place, separating into 2 roads. It’s a case of ‘you take the high road and I’ll take the low road.’ All roads join back at the Arncliffe Arms. Amazingly there is a café under the pub. We have been in so many pubs it makes a change to have a choice. We are already installed when John and Trish make the same decision.

Unfortunately the place is being run by one rather feckless individual who is making ‘slow’ into an art form. He hasn’t much of a clue about making food, and is sooo painstaking, doing one thing very slowly at once. Lucky we only ordered fruitcake and cheese, but even this modest request takes half an hour.

The conclusion is that he is the son of the pub owner, told to get downstairs and make good. Meanwhile the unwashed dishes mount up, and he has to keep going upstairs for things he has run out of… Like tea bags.


After lunch we walk along the river for a while, via Beggars Bridge, then up through a muddy wood, next dropping down a lane into Egton Bridge. We pass The Horse Shoes. It looks pretty enough with its flower filled window boxes. But it is quiet. Too quiet!!

We have plenty of time, so we make a stop at St Hedda’s church (Catholic), to see some wall friezes in the Catholic style. Then we continue along a toll road belonging to the Egton Estate.


Coming into Grosmont we again bump into John and Trish, who are looking rather forlorn at the prospect of continuing much further. They are last seen heading off towards Littlebeck.

In the village the level crossing gates are shut, so we stand and watch the train steam out on its way back to Pickering. Large, noisy and nostalgic. We came here some years back, on a rainy day, whilst staying in Kirkbymoorside. We spent some time going round the engine shed. In those days the line stopped here, but now it goes on to Whitby, which enjoys an integrated steam and diesel service.

Which brings us to Grosmont House, our stand-in B&B.

Something strange happened to me there. Inexplicable.

From the outside it looked like a rather run down Gothic pile. Inside we were welcomed by the owner, who took us on a tour around long dark corridors, and an amazing dark galleried dining room hung with flags. A dark visitor’s lounge packed with books stored higgledy piggledy on old wooden shelves… so reminiscent of, and even smelling like, Penlan before we moved in. A huge staircase with a similarly huge gothic stained glass window. Somewhere, the smell of lilies. Another long corridor, and our room. An odd combination of posh and dirty. There were crumbs on the slightly greasy Chinese rug, as though someone had been eating biscuits there. There was a new metal four-poster bed, on which the curtains looked dingy. In the (dark) bathroom there was a 1970’s mouldy plastic shower unit which had seen better days. Everywhere dark cold slightly damp.

I freaked out big-time. Seriously. Just wanted to get out ASAP. Couldn’t wait to get out for tea. Didn’t want to go back. Slept poorly and fitfully. Couldn’t eat breakfast the next day. Was never so glad as when we left.

I cannot explain how I felt in any adequate way. It reminded me of the house in ‘A Handful of Dust’, Hetton. The house that Tony Last tries so hard to save from decay. It reminded me of our own house, and the struggles to keep it up. And the Jones’s. Clearly the owners here were being overwhelmed by the decay around them. The smell of lilies reminded me of the undertakers’ lounge so recently visited.

All that.

But it doesn’t cover how I felt in that house. I felt trapped. Endangered. Like being in ‘The Shining’, a film I’ve never really seen but know by repute.

Even stranger THE BOOK gives it high praise. “A delightful place”. “The fresh lobster salad is said to be divine”. Trip Advisor also seems to have this schizophrenic dichotomy in its reviews. Half of them think its great, 5 stars. The others seem to have had my experience. I can only conclude that there are 2 wings. One where everything is fine, and the other which is never cleaned. Either that or there is some weird evil mansion which slips in and out of time a la Brigadoon.

I know which one I was in.

One for the XFiles.

Monday 11th July Broughton to Blakey

Before we get any further, mention must be made here of the sandwiches we were equipped with at The Wainstones Hotel. In spite of the association with the name ‘Wainstones’, an outcrop I would rather forget, the Hotel deserves remembering for their superlative sarnies. The combination of Swaledale Blue Cheese and Plum Chutney, though perhaps sounding a tad unlikely, was FAB, and if I ever get another chance to have them I will.

We were not to know the treat that awaited us, though, as we set off back up to Clay Top to rejoin the trail. Not for us the lift back up in the hotel car. Having said that, the morning was good, the walk through Broughton fresh and quiet, and the ascent through the woods entirely trouble free.

Back at Clay top we rejoined The Cleveland Way, and so of course immediately headed up steeply until we got to the heather clad top of Urra Moor.


There a broad track awaited us, winding gently along through heather which will be spectacular sometime soon when it turns purple, but is presently a rather boring grey brown green sort of thing. The Moors are open and empty. The walk continues along ridges with views to one side or the other, towards Middlesboro and its smoking chimneys (we do still make something in Britain then), or down into rural Farndale. We pass two ancient looking stones, one with a face the other with hands, both allegedly boundary markers. We join the track of the disused Rosedale Ironstone Railway, another ex industrial installation.

At this point the skies become grey, and I decide that there is something more boring than walking through farmland. Try moors. Flat ones. In fact I would go so far as to say that this section, either side of Blakey, was MY least pleasing section of the walk. So stick that in your pipe Wainwright.


Even the Cleveland Way slunk off in disgust, to find some more ups and downs.

Of course, there were one or two ameliorating instances of interest.

  1. A large signboard warning all passers-by of the dangers of the Moor.

Namely, Adders lurking in the heather.

Ticks and your imminent danger of getting Lyme Disease if you get one on you, not that there’s much chance of doing anything to avoid it once you are up here. (Unless you were thinking of having close personal contact with a sheep. Don’t do it mate.)

Lastly Fires. Not much chance of starting one, its so damp.

Cheerful then. Welcome to The North York Moors.

  1. Grice, being the plural of grouse… possibly. There are a few of them up here. Their heads stick up suddenly from the heather, singly and then a few together, where they hide unaware of the dangers pointed out by the sign board. Though I suppose, on balance, their greater danger lies in the calendar edging inexorably towards the ‘Glorious Twelfth’.


  1. The lunchtime stop involving sandwich of previous mention.
  1. A couple of Charity Walkers who overtake us like formula one walkers, as they attempt to complete the walk in some overly fast time ‘for charitee’.

But really that is about it for the walking. I am therefore quite glad to see The Lion Inn on the horizon.

The Lion Inn Blakey. Built 1553. The 4th highest pub in Britain. Huge. Old dark and quirky inside. It stands on the side of a busy B road over the moors, and judging by the size of the car park, is a very popular stop indeed for day trippers. The sunshine has returned, and we are soon drinking beer with some of our fellow walkers.


In our room a SHOCK awaits. A note from Mickeldore tells us that our accommodation for tomorrow night has been rearranged. No longer may we stop in The Horse Shoes in Egton Bridge, but must continue instead to Grosmont House. It is no longer ‘up to the expected standard’!!! What can have happened to The Horse Shoes? It is a topic of wonder later in the evening, as others have had their stay there cancelled too.

As this will be our last evening together in the same place we all eat together. Those two from day one turn up too, and much sheep is consumed in the form of ‘Barnsley Chops’, the special of the day. John and Trish have a mega day tomorrow as they have to go the full distance to Littlebeck (2 days for us), and so will be starting unfeasibly early.


Sunday 10th July Ingleby Cross to Broughton

For the last two days we’ve been having a laugh. We’ve been strolling along , on holiday. Not today my fine friends. No. Its back to striding over the empty moors etc, as we join The Cleveland Way!!

After breakfast we enjoy a lengthy send off, when it transpires that our hosts from last night once lived in the very street of the very town that Uncle Walt lived in. (Namely St. Ann’s Drive, Coalpit Heath, Bristol). What are the odds eh.

Full of the coincidences of life we start and continue in an upwards direction, as we scale the side of that mighty escarpment we have been walking towards for two days past. Churlishly we again spurn the chance to go to Osmotherly. When we get to the top of Arncliffe wood we are on The Cleveland Way. The sky is blue, the air fresh, and the views great. The path alternates between trees and brackeny moor land. Lines of hills proceed into the distance. Far away is Roseberry Topping, a hill which sounds like a desert.


For a short distance after the village of Huthwaite Green we join a bridleway, replete with its own supply of multitudes of flies. Jesus they were annoying. More annoying to the encrusted horse which passed us, no doubt, but even so most unpleasant.

The path plunged upwards at this point, at a ridiculous gradient. At least, by the time we panted our way out onto the paved path across Live Moor, the flies had given up.

On the top was ‘a local’ gathering whinberries with a large plastic scoop. He seemed to be happy to chat, but by the time we were ready to move on someone else was coming up the track, and I guess his whinberrying would be set back again. (Or should it be winberries?) The hazards of gathering beside the Coast to Coast path!


The path continues to switchback, down then up over the next Moor. The next one is Carlton Moor. That’s the one with the now defunct gliding club right up on the top. The planes have gone, but the buildings remain. Down in the valley the rain has set in, but so far up here we are dry.


There is a trig point at the top of Carlton Moor from which, it is truly said, you can see the North Sea and Middlesborough (smoking chimneys thereof). You can also see that the charm keeping rain elsewhere is about to wear off. Don the waterproofs and man the lifeboats!!

Down below there is reputed to be a café. The steep descent is therefore accomplished quickly, The Lordstones Café located, and a cup of tea and a scone purchased, just before the skies again open into an apocalyptic downpour. We are sat next to a window outside of which a walker and his dog sit together, well, doggedly, getting soaked to the skin, but unable to forsake each other or come into the café, Health and Safety being what it is these days.


By the time we have consumed our snack, the rain has stopped. Did that just really happen? Summer in Yorkshire.

It is after this stop that the full beauties of The Cleveland Way become apparent. Not a footpath for taking the easy way, this one. If there’s a large block of moor or rock, well, why not just go straight over it, they thought, those walk planners. We’re not going ROUND anything. No. What people want is the chance to go steeply up, and then come even more steeply down. And then when we’ve got them down, we are sure as eggs they’ll want to go up again. The Cleveland Way. Planned by a sadist. That’s what the sign should say.

In the words of Ray’s song, penned in homage,

Oh The Cleveland Way, The Cleveland Way,

Let’s all hear it for the Cleveland Way (rpt)

It goes up up up,

It goes down, down, down

It goes up and down, up and down …

You get the picture. The ‘more adventurous of the party’ enjoyed it.


Up over Cringle Moor.


Down Kirky Bank.

And Up.

And Down.


(To the left here can be seen an undulating low level path. Not ours)

And up.


And so on, until the final assault on the Wainstones.

Ah the Wainstones. …

”the outcrops, (a favourite of Wainwright’s), resembling cake decorations atop Hasty Bank.” Is all THE BOOK has to say.

Wainwright comments “This is an enjoyable section, a change from heather, and there is no difficulty in scrambling between the buttresses to the easy ground above. You will like the Wainstones.”

Well, no offence, but this is SUPPOSED to be a walk. Not a flaming climb up over slippery rocks with little indication of the right route. No, Wainwright, I did NOT like The Wainstones. You can keep them. My patience with you was sorely tried at this point.

Of course, Ray loved them, and would have stayed to play had he received some encouragement.



At this point the weather started to close in again, so we made our way along the plateau behind the stones, then steeply steeply down towards Clay Bank Top.

By the time we got near the road it was pouring down, but we still had a way to go, as unlike others on the walk, Ray felt, and I’m not saying that I disagree exactly, that calling the Wainstone’s Hotel for a lift would be somehow WRONG. Even though its what everyone does.

Therefore we had another 3½ miles to go. But, hey, the rain stopped, and we were going down, and although we nearly got lost at one point, Ray saved us and we didn’t. And we got to walk through the entire village of Broughton, past The Bay Horse (which for some reason I so wanted to be The Prancing Pony. Delerium had set in).

The hotel was fine. It had a bath. Great Day.



Saturday 9th July Danby Wiske to Ingleby Cross

“Danby Wiske… At 110 feet above the sea,… is the lowest point between the coastal extremities of the walk.” Poor old Wainwright really didn’t enjoy this section at all. He adds, “To walkers whose liking is for rough places and high terrain, this will seem the dullest part of the whole walk; those who believe the earth is flat will be mightily encouraged on this section.”

Its not so bad… really. We set off through the village up another lane and then through more farmland. In no time at all we cross over the East Coast Mainline, and as we walk on away from it the roar of the trains indicates that it is akin to the runway in Heathrow as regards frequency of use. There seems to be a high speed train shooting up it at two minute intervals. I am lead to remember something I heard on the radio about some rail lines already running to capacity.

Its muddier than yesterday, after the overnight rain. Expect the crops like it. At Oaktree farm we go through the farmyard carefully trying to avoid some quite impressive mud baths. Nevertheless there is a basket of goodies for walkers by one of the gates. I am faraway in thoughts when crossing a stile I get a nasty shock. RATS!!! But on closer inspection they are plastic after all.

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More farms, more gates and stiles, more mud. We even get to go across a railway line on foot. Luckily much less busy than the previous line! (According to the Rail Atlas it’s a freight line going to Stockton on Tees).

The Cleveland Hills are definitely getting closer, and in no time at all we are at Exelby Services on the side of the A19. A chance for a late coffee break is seized upon. The service station is a rather ramshackle/low key affair reminiscent of the Little Chefs by the A40 around Ross on Wye. The cheerful rather underemployed fellow serving the coffee engages us in conversation about the Coast to Coast. Are we going to Park House tonight? We are. His auntie works there.

The next bit, the crossing of the dual carriageway A19, is by far the most worrying thing of the day for me. Perhaps because we have been off the beaten track for so long. Whatever. Lorries and cars are doing the full 70 up here, on their way towards Newcastle. Its scary!!! Eventually Ray gets me to the central reservation, and then over altogether, into another very quiet little road, which leads us into Ingleby Arncliffe and on into Ingleby Cross.

There is something strange going on here. Quite a few of the gardens have witches in them, and other lifelike mannequins. Up in the church tower Rapunzel is letting down her long hair.


Down around the village green there is a collection of old cars, and someone is busy fixing one. It is only when we get right up next to it we realise that the mechanic is a mannequin too.


It is slightly spooky. All too quiet. It feels as though we have strayed into one of those weird villages they used to have in The Avengers circa 1964. We only need Steed and Emma to come running out of the Post Office to confirm it.

We are not at our overnight stop yet, anyway, so we press on towards Park House, leaving the village and starting upwards along a Forestry Commission Trail. Park House is obvious, so now for project two. We have plenty of time to walk on to Mount Grace Priory, we just need to find the path. It is clearly shown in the book as a spur leading off the main trail, but the only path we find is signposted ‘ No Public Right of Way. Site of Special Scientific Interest.’. Hmmm

We have a good scout about, and there is no other path. At one point we come down through the trees on a minor path, and scale down over a bank, only to find ourselves back on the apparently closed path. That’s the Forestry Commission for you. Never walker friendly.

There’s no other option, so we proceed along the rutted muddy track. There has obviously been a vehicle along here recently anyway. So much for SSSI. The track takes us into Mount Grace Priory by a back route. Once in, we have to get to the front ticket office. Its English Heritage AGAIN. The man at the desk asks how we got in, and we are both a bit defensive. He just wants to give us directions to Osmotherly, though, and doesn’t seem to be remotely concerned about our trespass. Apart from that they are welcoming, and don’t seem to mind the big boots tramping around their upstairs history exhibition.

Lunch is a civilised affair in the Priory grounds.


The place is HUGE, although ruined. The monks were Carthusians, and lived alone in individual cells where they seem to have had penthouse suits by the standards of the time. Meals were provided. They had several rooms, an upstairs, a garden, a toilet and running water. Not bad. Come and join us brothers!!


Later, on our second trespass of the day, the weather starts to close in. We arrive at Park House just in time to avoid squally thunder showers. Big rain.

The landlady has gone to pick up a group of walkers from our next days destination, well Clay Bank Top. Her husband, a deeply apologetic Bristolian, makes us a cup of tea which we enjoy whilst watching the rain hammer against the windows. When ‘Auntie’ turns up we are ushered again into one of ‘Julia’s’ rooms!! That’s twice now. Wahay! Apparently Julia stayed here with her film crew for several day’s filming, involving body doubles and helicopters. Illusions shattered then. 2Well she never did what you have done!” the landlady told us later. “She never walked the Coast to Coast”. People all along the route still love her though, for stimulating all the extra interest and bringing more business their way. Even the Australians have watched her programmes.


Park House is an ‘evening meal included’ place. The other group of walkers having arrived, we are regaled with tales of how bad the next days walk will be for us. They got caught out in the rain though. They look older than us too. It won’t be too bad surely. It will be an early start at any rate.

Friday 8th July Richmond to Danby Wiske

Wainwright was not very complimentary about the next section of the walk, through the Vale of Mowbray. He comments “If you are fond of placid rural scenery and have an interest in farming, you might enjoy this section…” Later he warns “Don’t bother to clean your boots before leaving Richmond. There is mud glorious mud ahead.” The terrain will be fairly flat and there is a deal of road walking, but hey you have to get to the next highland area (North York Moors) somehow. You just have to take the rough with the smooth… and this is the smooth. Anyway, we are attacking it in two bits, rather than going straight to Ingleby Cross, which would have been 23 miles. Never underestimate the effect of walking EVERY day. It takes its toll, and I am glad we decided to break it up.

We set out from Richmond passing underneath the Castle on the opposite bank of the Swale. Through some playing Fields, past a sweet little terrace of houses, along the main road, then turning in via the sewage works. Classy. But then we bid civilisation goodbye, turning away from the river to cross farmland. Sticky clay fields full of purple white and pink potato flowers.

The village of Colburn is deserted, and while we sit outside the Hildyard Arms eating a boiled sweet from Les, we see not a soul.

Another farm track and more fields, this time wheat, barley, and rye.


It is rather close and misty. We catch sight of an American Bloke we have seen but not spoken to before. Probably in Grasmere. Very distinctive tartan shirt, so has to be the same bloke. When we have to shout at him as he drifts off ahead of us down the wrong track (talking on his mobile phone) his gratitude brings him to accompany us as far as Brompton on Swale. Later people ask if he tried to convert us, as he is some kind of religious type. His conversation with us did not go that far, but he seemed to have no idea at all about the crops he was walking through. “Potatoes??” he responded enthusiastically. Come on now. Even Americans must realise that French Fries come from somewhere.

We don’t go into Brompton on Swale, but cross under the A1 there on a path by the river. The road can be heard from quite a distance and is of course very busy. Glad we don’t have to cross it on foot.

We do emerge onto a very busy cross road just outside Catterick Bridge. Ray wanted a photo here of the Scotch Corner directional Road sign, but sadly the camera memory card was full.

Now following the river along a scrubby section with a few sparse trees here and there. The river at our side is quite big and brown, and still moving along fairly swiftly, with not so much white horses as cream ones. We see the last of it just before joining the road into Bolton on Swale, which despite its name, does not seem to be on it at all.

It is another very quiet village, but someone near the church has left out supplies for walkers, and an honesty box in which to pay, which seems uncommonly friendly. Not many highlights this morning, but by now it is lunchtime, so we utilise the seat in the churchyard and settle down to our Richmond bought sandwiches.


The memorial erected here in the 1700’s commemorates the popular local, Henry Jenkins, who allegedly was 169 when he died!! Course, with a name like Jenkins he was probably Welsh too.

After Bolton on Swale we go on through some muddy and overgrown paths, and some muddy cow filled fields, all alongside a beck. In one such field there is a gang of rather naughty cows, which on closer inspection seem to be steers or stirks or whatever. This lot are not sitting down or munching. One or two of them do NOT want to move out of our way, and there is a bit of galloping and cow ‘horse play’, if that’s possible. Luckily they are more interested in each other and the beck, and do not seem to be particularly curious about us. Though if you spend your time in a field on a major footpath presumably walkers should not hold much interest for you.

We climb over a style onto a red brick bridge, and here starts THE ROAD. Not Cormac Macarthy related, but a long… long section of mostly deserted tarmac, through largely featureless countryside. It starts to rain too. We pass the John and John Garage (Closed off. Barking dog.) and then conversation wears thin.

We start to lose it big time. Sad to see people dissolve into mental torpor and verbal diarrhoea. Especially when its you. There is much employment of a country accent, and talk of road signs and no through roads, with a side order of T junctions. At one point a splendid green insect alights onto us, hoping for a lift out of this area of the doldrums we surmise. It is about the only point of interest. A muck spreader passes. Days pass. We are looking forward to getting to Streetlam.


The rain stops. We walk on. Ho hum. Tum tee tum tee tee.

Iggle boggle black bobble.

Then all of a sudden we are there. Streetlam!!! Oh. That was it.

We are supposed to go around the outside of a horse enclosure here, and on across fields for a bit. Unfortunately someone has put their horse into the horse enclosure. (No. How unlikely.) It’s a nice horsey. Ray says so. It wants an apple. But nice horsey is big, with big feet, and he won’t go away from the stile we are supposed to go over.

I can’t handle it. Not after all those dementing tarmac miles. So we are back on the road for a little longer. But not too long really, and at least it saved us some mud encrustilations.

Just at the point of all hope lost, we round the corner into Danby Wiske, a maligned destination in the middle of a maligned section of walk.

Wainwright complained that there was nothing here, but times have changed. There is a pub, The White Swan, into which we swiftly decamp as large drops of rain begin to bless us. Once inside, the skies open with a vengeance. Pity those hardy folk who are going straight on to Ingleby Cross. Our landlady for the night is already in there discussing stocks in the shop section of this multipurpose building. Later on we are back again for our evening meal. There certainly is not a lot in Danby Wiske, but what is here is fine and dandy.

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Thursday 7th July Reeth to Richmond

Les sends us off with those oft heard words. Its going to be an easy day…

It would be good to get to Richmond in time to explore, certainly. We wouldn’t want to dally around as we did yesterday. For whatever reason we set off with a good deal of focus and purpose this morning. In no time at all we are out past the Swale, back on farmland, striding down a lane undeterred by the only blocked path we ever encounter en route, and marvelling at the sight of a hare speeding eccentrically across a field to our left. Pheww.

After the Marrick Priory Outdoor Centre we ascend up over the wet, slippery tree clad Nun’s Steps, through the village of Marrick, and then on over the small walled fields at the other side of the village. As yesterday the stiles are plentiful and awkward, or should I just say quaint? Your view probably depends on your size, as many are very narrow gaps in drystone walls, surmounted with little wooden gates held shut by fearsome springs. Anyone not tall thin and strong of arm may well find them a problem.


Not us though. And not this morning!! We motor on past Elaine’s Kitchen (not tempted to stop) and a farm called Ellers. Then, as we ascend a field, … Surprise!!!

Coming down the footpath towards us is a man travelling slowly on a quad bike, an old fellow with a stick, and between them an absolutely enormous bull.

It is lumbering between the two of them whilst they encourage it with shouts and thumps. We squeeze back into the wall as the ill matched trio pass us. The men are monosyllabic. Trust me to wear my red top today!! Quite what they would do if old bully didn’t want to cooperate I can’t imagine. There’s not much of them, and an awful lot of him. We stand quietly until they are well past, then proceed upwards swiftly. By the time we get to the field gate his fan club, a large herd of star struck cows, are pressed hard against it. (”Ohhh. There he goes! Isn’t he handsome! They are thinking. You can see it in their eyes.)

There’s no going through there. We have to go a bit further along the wall and climb over. Not as easy as I had thought, the clue being in the word DRYSTONED wall. There’s a movement of stones unconnected by mortar as you wobble your leg inelegantly over the top. Nevermind. The bull is now on the other side of the wall, and the cows are not interested in us. That was exciting.

We rejoin the road, and walk on down to the village of Marske, where we stop for a bite to eat and a slurp of water. outside the Church of St Edmund the Martyr. Then we continue on down the lane and over fields towards Paddy’s Bridge. Just as we start to descend through the trees, the rain starts, and its enough for waterproofs. Unfortunately, as there is already a load of mud on my boots this ends up around the waist of my trousers. Ascending from the bridge the path resolves into wet clay. Steep wet clay. Very slippery. Thank goodness for the stick. Just as we come out at Applegarth Scar the rain stops again, and more mud is deposited on the trousers as we take them off. I get a bit grumpy about this. Perhaps I need lunch.


After Applegarth Farm, therefore, we stop by the path and eat our lunch with fortuitous timing. We have no sooner finished than the rain starts again, but this time we are heading into Whitecliff Wood so we don’t care.

Beyond the wood we are again on a lane. This time it will take us right into Richmond. The shower soon passed, and in a short time we see the town in the distance.

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It does feel strange coming into a town and being amongst traffic.

Richmond is centred upon a large cobbled area, presumably a market square though now a car park. We need a cup of tea, so in our current dishevelled state we head for the market. We are not clean enough for a Tea Shop. An overworked and disorganised old fellow eventually provides us with a large mug of said liquid and a slab of cake. Bliss.


We recover sufficiently to think about exploring. Unfortunately the rain has other ideas and we scuttle into The Green Howards Museum to get out of it. This proves to be a surprisingly interesting diversion into military history.

Richmond is quite an atmospheric little town. Its steep streets cling to the hill around the castle before descending back to the Swale on the south side. It is most definitely quirky. The butchers shop is offering Squirrel Pies for example.


Later, showered and changed, we stride out again, through another almighty downpour, up to the Castle (English Heritage. “Would you like to join…?) It is well huge. Again, really interesting, and we meet Jenny in an upstairs exhibition concerning the small band of Conscientious Objectors imprisoned in the Castle during the First World War.


We carry on around the town exploring side streets, the park, passing the theatre. Oh it’s a proper town this! You can even get Calomine Lotion for Ray’s legs, and stocks of emergency Compeeds for blisters yet to be (we both have one apiece already). When we eventually choose The Black Lion for tea, there is of course a load of loud women on a ‘Girls Night Out’. Yep. It’s a real home from home.

Wednesday 6th July Keld to Reeth

The sun is shining and the sunglasses are on. Keld village is fresh and quiet in the golden morning light. We did not dream of Julia last night after all, and I have got over my tussle with the plughole which refused to open.

Out on the trail, the Australians are off already. We have a choice today. The more adventurous of the party may choose the ‘high level’ route via old lead mines and industrial devastation. The rest of us have the option of an easy 4 ½ hour walk beside the picturesque Swale. This is Swaledale after all, and it would be a shame to miss it. Anyway, by the time we have diverted slightly to look at a waterfall, the weather seems to have changed its mind (It was the sunglasses that did it). We proceed up the high route path as far as Crackpot Hall, a very much ruined farmhouse, before definitely deciding to retrace a few steps and take the lower route.

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Almost as soon as we get down to the river and Ivelet Wood the air is full of the presence of rain. We decide to don the rainproofs. Good timing. We are hardly in them when it starts in earnest. It turns out to be the most furious downpour of the walk (at least one that we were actually caught in). The rain continues for most of the morning. Glad we didn’t opt for the high route.

Whatever. This provides an excuse, if one were needed, to divert down a paved path through a meadow to the tea shop in Muker, where we are later to be found sitting damply with Bob and Priscilla, and those two from day one! Whatever they were called.

Muker is a great little touristy village with art shop and public loos, craft shop and woollen outlet. Plus a sheep on the roof. Must be on the coach tour itinerary.


The walk beside the river is lovely, and not really wet underfoot. At this rate we will be in Reeth by early afternoon.

Therefore we have no trouble at all finding a pub for lunch in Gunnerside (The Kings Head) where we enjoy an enormous Ploughmans with 3 different local cheeses and a beer.

Things were rosie by the time we left the pub in a relaxed state, the rain having stopped. Sadly, dear reader, we had been sold a pup. The path did not continue in easy and leisurely fashion beside the river, but diverted upwards. Firstly we went too far up the road, missing the automatic gate, which was, in fact, more impressive than it sounds, as we found out after turning back again and locating it as a vehicle went through. Can’t see how we missed it.

Anyway, now ascending steeply (this is more like the C2C we know and love), we pant on past many a dead rabbit carcase. Later there are 3 sheep posing on a wall. We emerge onto open moorland where there are many paths to choose from and promptly get kind of lost again. So much for lunchtime drinking.


Ray says we are heading in the right direction anyway, so we keep going. And yes we do eventually find the hamlet of Blades, but Bob and Priscilla are in front of us, even though they left the pub after we did. Also, no offence, but I would not call this a low level walk. We are high up on the side of the Swale valley. Also, although THE BOOK shows short distances and not many landmarks IT LIES. Well, about the distances anyway.

The afternoon has opened out for a bit, but as we walk towards Kearton there are noises over the wall as if someone is shooting. All those (prejudiced) thoughts about weird and hostile locals, inbreeding etc etc spring to mind. When we get around the end of the wall we can see three or four land cruiser type vehicles at the top of a field. Presumably the gunslingers posse. No wonder there were dead rabbits. clip_image012

We are not allowed through Kearton. Its private. So we have to make a steep and muddy detour in order to by pass it on the road.

Beyond the farm we catch up with Bob and Priscilla who are in a state of shock having been hit by air pellets from the wild westers up the track. They were visibly shaken but luckily no real damage was done. Whether it was intentional or not is hardly an excuse. They are really upset, but are not planning to report it. Wainwright didn’t mention the chance of getting shot! Ah Yorkshire, you see fit to match your unfriendly stereotype.

They seem to need company, so we walk with them down through Healaugh, past a Morris Minor in working order, and eventually rejoining the river bordered by a rabbit infested field full of collapsed burrows. (Where are people with guns when you need them?) By now it is late afternoon. It has been a long old day. Not at all what I expected. We pass the Reeth suspension bridge, and make it into the town as all the tea shops are closing.


Then we realise we are looking for Cambridge House, a B&B well out to the north of Reeth. That last hill is not enjoyed. Especially when we pass the town boundary and we are still not there.

When the owner greets us with a ‘joke’ that we still have further to go I must admit I do not altogether see the funny side. He only means around the back to the boot store and drying room though. Once we have debooted he comes up trumps with homemade cake and tea in his conservatory overlooking the town. Not such a bad old cove after all then.

Les. What can you say about Les. He obviously enjoys running the B&B. He has already lugged our suitcases up to the bedroom. He greets the guests, cooks the breakfasts and does all the front of house. He entertains us with talk of his immense cycling career and horrific accidents, whilst also putting the world to rights in general. Next day he insists on taking our photo before we go. ‘Quite a character’ doesn’t quite do him justice.

Later we are out in the rain again as we head back into Reeth to find food. We dive into the first pub, The Buck, only to find the usual suspects are already there. Food and beer great, we are soon sitting on a table next to John and Trish. He is ahead of us on the beer stakes, and is holding forth on the inability of bar tenders ‘down south’, or the bar tender of his local Golf Club in particular, to produce a decent pint of beer. Apparently, they don’t know how to look after it (??). This strikes a chord with the pub staff, and before too long, after the subject has turned to the use of ‘sparkles’ (??) to give the beer a head John is on the receiving end of his very own ‘sparkle’, so that he can take it back to the Golf Club bar.

I wonder if he ever did?


Tuesday 5th July Kirkby Stephen to Keld

Tuesday brings a grey sky seeming to promise rain… but its not raining yet, and not too windy. We may yet make it alive over the peat bogs after all. Breakfast is a dark affair in a dark wood panelled room. It’s a relief to get out into the air and on our way through the back of the High Street and over a stream (Frank’s Bridge), towards the village of Hartley.

We’re not very cheerful. Oh dear. Bit silent. Hartley is most definitely on Postman Pat’s route. (Although Pat’s Village is supposed to be in the Yorkshire dales I thought). Anyway, if there were any doubt about it, there is his van!!


We turn left for a look around the village instead of going right. I bend down, fatefully, to tighten my laces (this operation is performed daily after about half an hour, and is probably why I have no blisters but a numb toe). When I straighten up from the lace of destiny my walking companion, light of my life, long suffering friend, has gone. No problem you might think. Can’t have gone far.

It turns out that the village has THREE bridges over a small stream, all within 300 yards, but not visible to each other.

In retrospect viewed from above we must have looked like one of those preposterous farces on stage where people come and go through revolving doors (or in this case over bridges) somehow without catching sight of each other. Of course Ray thinks I was doing it deliberately. Of course I think that he was. Whatever. It went on for far too long and became too serious to see the funny side. I even went a short distance up the track before turning back and going round the village again. So did he. Still we didn’t see each other. Finally I enlisted the help of a village resident, ‘Mrs Goggins’, who was out polishing her letter box.

Had she seen a man circling the village with a blue rucksack? No she hadn’t, but her conclusion was “It’s the gentlemen. They can’t help it.” Followed by the observation that hers was safely playing golf today so she knew where he was.

Just after leaving her I was off for another circuit, when we met up! I was upset. He was a bit cross. Mrs Goggins came down the road to see what had happened. Never could explain it.

I was left to contemplate ruefully how easy it is to lose someone in a short time.

The quietness continued.

Anyway, onwards.

“This day is something of a Red Letter Day. Not only do you cross the Pennines – the so-called backbone of the British Isles on whose flanks the Industrial Revolution gathered pace 200 years ago – but in doing so you cross the watershed of the Coast to Coast”

You also cross from Cumbria into Yorkshire.

Also Keld is half way.

Well then lets crack on. The track is now up past a quarry, and up and up onto the open top. Most people have got ahead of us due to the Hartley Disappearance, but we catch up John and Trish by the Rest-a-while Carved Seat. They are taking the lower ‘green’ route today to avoid the bogs. At the parting of the ways we meet Bob and Priscilla. Both concerned about the bogs, but we encourage them that it can’t be that bad (why am I saying this??)


We can now see Nine Standards Rigg in the distance. It doesn’t look that far after all. So we press on up the ‘red’ route, the path designated for July usage, a system in place to try to spread the erosion of the peat. I do want to get there. It looked amazing on TV.

It is amazing.


The monuments have been recently restored, but what they are or why…

They are right at the top, though. FAN-tastical. It is still grey and windy but we can see for miles all around. Too windy to linger long though. We take it in for a while, then onwards dear friends over the hour or so of epic bogs.

How lucky are we that it has been such a dry month. There’s a lot of DRY bog up here. Gynn (U3A) was contemplating making ‘bog shoes’ from old tennis rackets. Not necessary this week, although its easy to see how it could be very tricky in

normal wet conditions. This is a watershed after all.


In some places we descend down into ten feet of peat. Peat Hags. In others we have to leap over wet oozy green stuff. We are constantly going round the worst bits, and then its hard to find a path. Navigation is to head towards distant white posts, when they can be seen at all. Other than that it is just a case of trying to follow the bootmarks.


Its still easy to see that it is drier than usual. What it must be like up here in the wet I can barely imagine.

The grey increases, and it comes to a light drizzle. Then we find a cairn, and a little later a tower of millstones can be seen in the far distance. Bit by bit we make it through and eventually descend from the moor tops, down to a gravely track, where we have lunch with the sheep sitting in a Grouse Butt (semicircular stone hide for gunslingers). The drizzle comes and goes, and the wind wuthers a bit on and off. There is a real sense of freedom up here though. Everything is spare and open. There is something wonderful about it.

We are now in Yorkshire. Not sure if its technically Swaledale as yet, but we are getting there. Although the path is still occasionally muddy, the bogs are behind us, and in a short while we can see the first Yorkshire habitation, Ravenseat Farm. Something of a TV hotspot, this, as the farmers wife, whilst supplying cream teas, featured on Julia’s C to C, and according to the gossip we get in Keld, has been on Countryfile too… and in a magazine!!!

There is a notice on the kitchen door. ‘Ring Bell for Teas’, which we do. Luckily she’s in, and in a couple of minutes we are sitting on a picnic table just moved into the barn as the rain is starting to look more threatening. The cream tea arrives, as do more people. Its great.

She already has 5 children, and another is imminent. She tells us all that she bakes scones everyday, and nothing ever goes to waste with all those mouths to feed.


The rain is easing off a bit, so we make a move. Not much further to Keld. There are a notable number of stone barns up here, according to Wainwright mostly empty. It gives the scenery an Alpine feel as they are perched on the side of steep inclines.


We follow the river into Keld, hitting the tarmac road just before the Wainwath Falls a spectacle depleted by the lack of rain.

I can live with that!

Keld is a great little village at the head of Swaledale. It is a crossroads of the C to C and the Pennine Way. It was the centre of a lead mining industry in the 19th Century, not that you would ever guess it now. It has a public toilet and a phone box (no mobile signal). There is a Church and a new Visitors Centre, The Keld Countryside and Heritage Centre, only open since May. Inside we learn that Keld is undergoing a kind of restoration resulting in old derelict properties being turned into holiday homes.


It doesn’t take long to see all there is though, and we are making our way up to Keld Lodge, our B & B for the night, and once the old Youth Hostel, when we are accosted by 2 middle aged men sitting on a bench. They are going the other way along the C to C, East to West. How were the bogs, and what was the Lake District like they want to know. They have plenty to say, and one of them has a complete set of Ray Majer Equipment (Zamberlan boots, Green rucksack, and even a blue hat with mesh bits!) Their attention is soon diverted, however, by the arrival of 2 exhausted girls who need their bench, having come via the Pennine Way. We make our escape.

Keld Lodge is more of a Hotel than I was expecting. There’s a friendly bloke at reception who later turns out to be the owner, good food, a drying room AND holy of holies… we get THE ROOM THAT JULIA STAYED IN!!! Nothing more need be said.