Coast to Coast Walk 1992

Author: George Tod

This walk is illustrated with photographs. Click on small photo to enlarge in situ, or click caption to enlarge into new window.
Part 5 - Farndale to Robin Hood's Bay

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Day 12 - Thursday 18th June - Farndale to Grosmont (Fairhead Farm) - 14.7 miles on C2C + 0.8 miles from B&B - 870 ft ascent on C2C + 650 ft from B&B

Accommodation - B&B, Fairhead Farm, Grosmont 15 including evening meal

After a huge breakfast we set off at about 10 a.m. into a very cool northerly wind with overcast skies and the odd shower of rain. The wind was even stronger once we got back onto the top of the moors. Brian looked longingly at the Lion Inn, Blakey, but it was only 10.45 with not much sign of life in there, so he resisted the temptation to go in. At Trough House, a refuge shelter, I stopped for lunch and a welcome respite from the wind whilst the others headed on to Glaisdale for a pub meal. In contrast to the YHA packed lunches, The one I got from Head House Farm for 1.50 lasted me for two days.

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Graham, Brian and Henry with 'Fat Betty'
Fat Betty
North Yorshire Moors Steam Railway at Grosmont
Steam Train, Grosmont

After dropping down from the moors into Glaisdale there was more shelter from the wind and the sky got brighter, although there was still the odd shower of rain. Having had a bar meal and found their B&B in Glaisdale, Graham, Brian and Henry took the train to Grosmont hoping to catch the steam train from there to Pickering, but they didn't manage it as they would not have been able to get a train back again.

There followed a pleasant walk along a wooded valley towards Egton Bridge. On the way from Egton Bridge to Grosmont I met up with a couple in their 50s who I had met up with several times previously. They had been mainly camping along the way and had been sending part of their equipment on using the "Pack Horse" service, although they had managed to get their pack weights down to only a stone each, which is less than most Youth Hostellers managed. The wife had hurt her foot and was limping along badly, although she managed to struggle on bravely to the end of the walk.

At Grosmont there was a steam train waiting at the Station, so I had a look at that and waited for it to set off. The B&B involved a climb of about 500 ft up the hill on the way out of Grosmont, so I was debating whether I should wait until 6 p.m. and ring home from Grosmont but possibly be a little late arriving for dinner, or head straight there and walk back down later. As the weather was rather cool, I decided on the latter. However, I was spared the walk as Jean rang the B&B because she had to go out. There were very good views across the valley from the farm and the room and meals were good.

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Day 13 - Friday 19th June - Grosmont (Fairhead Farm) to Robin Hood's Bay - 15 miles - 1450 ft ascent

Accommodation - YHA Boggle Hole 12.60 with full meals but no packed lunch

The weather was rather cold and windy again but, after walking over the moor, there was a pleasant sheltered walk along Little Beck and May Beck. Through the woods there are a few interesting features such as the Hermitage, which is a dome shaped shelter hollowed out of a large solid boulder of rock, and Falling Foss waterfall. There followed another few miles of walk across the moors with no shelter from the wind. Whitby and the North Sea were in sight from many places along the route although somewhat masked by mist and haze. Eventually the path dropped down from the moors and there was enough shelter from the wind to stop for lunch. From there on it was not many miles to Northcliffe and the sea, where the waves were crashing in and spray coming over the cliffs in places.

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Falling Foss
Falling Foss
North Sea from Ness Point
North Sea from Ness Point
Robin Hood's Bay - the End of the Walk
Robin Hood's Bay

The last 3.5 miles of the walk along the cliffs, despite being buffeted by the wind, was pleasant as the rough sea gave more drama and majesty to the scenery. Eventually the final headland was rounded and Robin Hood's Bay came into sight and was reached at 4 p.m. The only thing left was the final ceremony of dipping the boots into the sea to complete the linking of the Irish Sea and the North Sea. I didn't bother to go into the Bay Hotel to sign the book or buy a certificate for 2, or buy a Coast to Coast T shirt.

Boggle Hole Youth Hostel is about a half-mile walk along the cliffs in a little hollow. It caters for large school parties and has an annexe as well as the main building. Most people had been unable to book in there, but the main dormitories were almost empty, the school party being in the annexe. I can only assume that they had another party booked in who then cancelled, although they may have had problems catering for many more in the dining room. Dinner was soup, fish fingers and spotted dick.

Later on I went back to Robin Hood's Bay to the Victoria Hotel where Graham, Brian and Henry had arranged to meet some of the others. As I entered the bar a great cheer went up from the host of Coast to Coast walkers in there, and it was a very lively evening until I had to leave to get back to the hostel before it closed.

All that remained the next morning was to find the route back home by public transport, which turned out to be easier than I expected. There was a bus from Robin Hood's Bay to Scarborough, arriving outside the station five minutes before the departure of the train to York and from there I caught the Doncaster bus dropping me off 2 miles from home in Norton. The total cost of the fares was about 11. I was all set to walk the rest of the way, but Jean had managed to get a neighbour to pick me up, so I was back home by 2 p.m.

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After the Walk

After the Pennine Way the previous year it took me about 3 weeks to feel completely back to normal again. During that time I felt tired and weary and my feet ached from time to time. After this walk I seemed to be better within a few days, although it is hard to tell exactly because the following week brought some oppressively hot weather during which I felt washed out, but I would have probably felt the same even if I had not been on the walk. Certainly I did not suffer as much from sore feet this time as they took very little time to recover.

As for the question of whether training does good or harm, I do not regret having done none this time. The only thing which I would do differently, if I were to do another such walk, would be to make sure that I kept wearing boots for any walking I did beforehand to harden my feet more and, hopefully, reduce the problems I had with blisters. Even so I think that some of the problems were aggravated by the hot weather and possibly by my choice of socks. In terms of fitness for the walk, I still maintain that it is quite enough to keep fit by doing a good walk every two or three weeks and that there is no need for daily slogs carrying a full pack. Training seems to do nothing to help pain in the shoulders; in fact all that seems to happen on a long walk is that the affected area tends to go numb to most of the pain rather than building up any extra strength to support the weight. Certainly the investment in a rucksack with a waistband was well worthwhile, as was the attempt to keep weight to a minimum. On reflection, I could have reduced the weight even further by having less spare clothes, but this would have meant there was less flexibility as to when things had to be washed. The other thing to bear in mind is that different weather could have required extra clothing, particularly if everything got soaked, so it was wise to have a few things in reserve. Again, I never wore my gaiters throughout the entire walk and, even had it been wet, there were very few places where they would have been needed, so they could have been dispensed with.

Unlike the Pennine Way, there are not many sections of the Coast to Coast walk where it is not possible to buy food for lunches. In view of the rather poor packed lunches that the Youth Hostels provide, it would have been better not to have booked any in advance, as they could always be booked on the evening of arrival if it were found that no other facilities were available.

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Coast to Coast versus Pennine Way

So - how does this walk compare with the Pennine Way?

They both have good points and bad points and some people would favour one or the other depending on their own walking preferences. Without the Lake District part of the Coast to Coast walk I think the Pennine Way would outshine it by far, but there is no finer scenery in the country, in my opinion, than the Lake District, so this redresses the balance between them. The Coast to Coast walk has, perhaps more picturesque scenery but has the disadvantage of having a lot of road walking, with about a quarter of the walk being on public roads. The Pennine Way, on the other hand, studiously avoids roads except for a few short stretches, but has a lot more rough walking over boggy moors, which does not appeal to some people. Many of the people walking the Coast to Coast were older and more used to gentler walking, taking the options of the easier routes where possible and making use of the "Pack Horse" service for sending ahead rucksacks. For them, the more difficult terrain of the Pennine Way would not be very suitable.

The Coast to Coast walk has gained far more popularity in recent years and one of the drawbacks is that there are so many people doing the walk. In this respect it would be preferable to set off mid-week as the bulk of people set off at the weekend. There would then be much more peace out over the hills and less problems booking accommodation.

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