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Journeyman's Coast to Coast Journal 2006
Tuesday 27 June - Littlebeck to Robin Hood's Bay
I was wide awake and raring to go at 6am and looked out of my window across the valley to the Littlebeck Nature Reserve. I was looking forward to my last day for all sorts of reasons including the walk through this scenic nature reserve. All three of us had arranged breakfast for 8am and once again the time passed quickly as I checked my rucksack and gear was in order. I joined Malcolm and his wife for breakfast and we chatted away about our last day. I had to walk down the hill into Littlebeck and then back up through the nature reserve whilst they had to cut across the fields, along paths from Intake Farm, to join the main route at the end of the nature reserve. I settled my bill with Judith and collected my packed lunch. At 9am I was off on the last day of my journey and I felt absolutely on top of the world. I was looking forward to every moment of this day in particular the march into Robin Hoods Bay to the official finishing post. Would there be anybody there who I had walked with? Would the tide be in or out? Did the others make it? And if so did they sign the visitor’s book at the Bay Hotel? There were dozens of thoughts flashing through my mind as I descended the track into Littlebeck village.
As I turned to enter the Littlebeck Nature Reserve who was the solo female walker with a massive pack standing at the information board? I recognised her – it was one of the two Australian women I had last seen briefly, but not to talk to, inside the Blue Bell at Ingleby Cross. I was surprised to see her and asked if she was Ok. ‘Yes’ was the reply ‘but I am regretting not using Sherpa on the last day’. Her name was Ruth and she told me that her walking companion had left her the day before – I wasn’t sure whether this had been planned or forced. She had been travelling fairly light but had decided against using a baggage carrier on the last day. I sensed she was in no hurry and found out later when we met for an evening meal with the KK that she had a leg strain. I said goodbye and told her I would see her in the bay Hotel where I would buy her a drink and I set off walking up through a delightful wood that had undergone extensive footpath restoration in recent months. I had read about how muddy it can be in the woods but it appears funding had been secured and boarding had been placed over what would normally be muddy area’s. I took the usual photographs in Littlebeck Nature Reserve of the hermitage and Falling Foss waterfall but I have included the information board here on this journal to illustrate what a delightful place this is.
I made good progress despite the frequent photographic stops and in no time at all, with a spring in my step, I emerged from the wood and walked up a road before crossing a heather moorland area. This was boggy in places despite the relatively dry spell and I can see why Stedman and Wainwright made comment about the area being boggy at times.
As I arrived in Hawsker and crossed the main road up Back Lane and towards the Caravan Park I looked at my GPS which showed that I had walked almost 200 miles. A significant moment, I thought, so I walked until the GPS showed 200 miles and I telephoned Linda to tell her where I was and about my GPS reading. I wasn’t sure whether to stop for a packed lunch on the cliff top paths ahead or carry on to Robin Hoods Bay – I decided to make a decision as I walked along. I took loads of photographs as I firstly approached the coastal path, then of the cliffs in either direction and others as I neared Robin Hoods Bay I walked with a male walker, on the Cleveland Way, on and off for the next couple of miles.
There was no bench to use for my packed lunch and the adrenalin was flowing – my destination was Robin Hoods Bay and watch out anyone in the way – here I come. I bagged my last geocache, appropriately called the Easternmost Coast to Coast, on the coastal path above Robin Hoods Bay. I had found 21 along the route including the furthest west and the furthest east. This aspect of my C2C walk added that something extra and I must say I enjoyed it.
I strode down the steep hill to ‘Baytown’ with purpose and pride. I felt physically and mentally fit and strong and I genuinely felt I could turn around and walk back to St Bees. I went straight to the seating area directly in front of the official sign on the wall of the Bay Hotel. I asked a Scottish gentleman seated directly below the sign if he would take a photograph of me and he congratulated me and obliged. There was no one there I recognised and although I have read countless comments, from those who finish the C2C walk, about it being an anti climax I did not feel that at all. Yes it would have been great to have people there to greet me but to be honest I was still buzzing with excitement and I set off to dip my feet in the sea and deposit my pebble.
On the way down into Robin Hoods Bay I had not really paid too much attention to the fact that the tide was well out but I set off across the beach, past boats left on the sands, some 300 metres to perform the rituals of wetting my feet and throwing the pebble in the sea. I took a few photographs but I was so far out there were no passers by there to take a photograph for me. The mobile telephone reception was non existent at the Bay Hotel so I telephoned Linda with my feet in the sea to tell her my news. She was obviously delighted for me but I wished she was there to share a cuddle.
I made my way back to the Bay Hotel – What’s this? Wainwright's bar is closed? I made my way upstairs into the bar and ordered a pint of John Smiths Cask beer and asked for the Visitors Book. It was quite busy in the bar and I wanted everyone to know what I had achieved. I saw the distinctive rucksack carried by Nigel against a chair but there was no sign of him. I thought he must have set off early from Grosmont to get here. Where was he? I wanted to shake his hand but I couldn’t find him. I was a little disappointed at the attitude of the bar staff who seemed unconcerned at not being able to find the Visitors Book and I asked again. Still not much response other than ‘it’s here somewhere’. I hunted around and found it on a ledge and went out onto the balcony of the bar overlooking the bay and sat at a table to complete my next task. I made my entry in the book using my own name and of course Journeyman. I used the same phrase to open my entry in the book as I intended to use on the Sherpa Message Board ‘WOW! What a fantastic journey’. I slowly drank my beer whilst I perused the visitor’s book for the last few days. Nigel had signed in a short time before me but I still couldn’t see him. Four members of the Army had completed the walk the previous day in nine and a half days. I read the entries intently looking for the people I had met along the route previously – it was great to see that Ian and Val had arrived as planned the day before me. There were no signs of entries by Bill and Marie, Gordon and Charlotte, Chris, Tim or Ted. That did not mean they had not completed the walk – only that they had not signed the book and I wondered if it had been made available in the upper bar due to Wainwright’s bar being closed. I did see the entry of David from Brighouse who had made it as planned in 8 days – great respect to you David. It was fascinating reading the diverse comments of those who had completed the walk. I could have sat there for hours but I had other things to do so I bought another pint of John Smiths Cask and went back to the seating area in front of the finish sign. I sat down and started talking to a lovely couple from Sheffield who congratulated me and we started chatting about a wide range of issues. What a coincidence they lived a few hundred yards from Malc in Sheffield and even offered me their mobile telephone (the Orange network covers the bay area) to ring Malc if necessary. What genuine Yorkshire folk.
As the Sheffield couple were leaving I asked them to watch my rucksack whilst I purchased my third pint of John Smiths Cask. I sat eating my packed lunch with this drink below the finish sign expecting some other C2C walkers to arrive in due course, in particular the KK. I wanted to applaud them at the finish line as they had done extremely well and deserved some recognition at the time. I then asked a lady sitting nearby to take a photograph of me at the finish whilst I donned my Macmillan Cancer Relief T shirt and baseball cap. This was another important part of my end of proceedings and I wanted to take such a photograph to forward to the Macmillan fundraising office in Rotherham and I thought it would be appropriate to use on the homepage of a website, walkingplaces.co.uk, featuring my forthcoming journal. I sat patiently in the sun and confess to having another pint of John Smiths Cask as I waited for the KK, Ruth, Malcolm and Sandra and the solo male to come around the corner to celebrate their achievement. Where were they? I had provisionally arranged with the KK to meet them for evening meal at the Victoria Hotel later that evening. I didn’t particularly want any more to drink so at 3.45pm I set off walking back up the hill to my accommodation at the top of the hill on Mount Pleasant South called Fern Leigh. As I was about to set off Malcolm and his wife came around the corner and I congratulated them and pointed them in the direction of the upper bar where the Visitors Book was being held. I then saw the solo male walker eating an ice cream outside a little shop on the right. He had been told that it was the best ice cream in Robin Hoods Bay and he did not want to miss it. No signs of Ruth or the KK and I booked in at my accommodation shortly before 4pm. My end mileage on the GPS was 205.30 miles and I switched it off.
I had a warm welcome from Lynne, the owner of Fern Leigh, and I was shown to my single en-suite room on the first floor. The rules about the keys and breakfast were explained and Lynne told me that there was one other female guest. I didn’t know at that time but it was Ruth, the Australian girl, who I had spoken to at Littlebeck Nature Reserve. I firstly wanted a shower and I must say it was the best shower I have ever had or seen, having a large spray head area and ample hot water. I noticed that the small area’s beside my big toes (referred to a few days ago) had for some reason blistered slightly during today’s walk. I treated them and thought it was because of the heat underfoot and the pace I had set. They were trouble free and had disappeared altogether the following day. It was strange not to have to get onto my daily routine of changing maps, recharging batteries and arranging my rucksack. I just packed all my gear into my case and put my boots into my rucksack – job done. I contacted Linda and Malc by telephone to discuss the walk and arranged to meet Linda the following morning on the car park near to where I was staying. I watched TV for a short time and at 6.15pm I set off to the Victoria Hotel to see if the KK had arrived.
I walked into the bar and saw Tressa and Kitty from
the KK and Ruth the Australian girl. It was at this time I learned she had
booked in at Fern Leigh. Di and Patty would be joining them later. Tressa
bought me a drink and thanked me for guiding them on several sections of the
walk. We sat outside in the evening sunshine at a table and after a couple
of drinks we ordered our evening meals. We had started our meals as Di and
Patty joined us but for some reason they were going to eat at the Wayfarer
just up the road. I sensed a bit of an atmosphere between the KK.
Apparently, D & P had left T & K to do a bit of running during the walk and
they had become separated. I think a slightly wrong route was taken but I
told them it didn’t really matter they had reached Robin Hoods Bay and
should be proud of themselves. They intended to go down to the Bay Hotel the
following morning to perform the various rituals. The four of us enjoyed our
evening meals and firstly Ruth retired to Fern Leigh. She was travelling to
Braemar in Scotland the following day to visit friends as she used to work
there. Tressa and Kitty went to the Wayfarer to join the other two members
of the KK and I went back to Fern Leigh to watch a bit of TV. Whilst
watching TV I reflected on a magnificent holiday and started to think. What
next? I dozed off to sleep.
© Copyright Walking Places 2006