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Coast to Coast 2008
Day 14 – Thursday 22 May: Intake Farm to The Villa, Robin Hoods Bay.
Our 8am breakfast provided by Judith was, in my view, the best on the entire walk. I had the usual full English breakfast, and it was ‘full’ believe me, with plenty of toast to follow. We sorted our bags for the last time and left them for Packhorse just inside the farmhouse doors. We had a chat with Judith before we left at 9am. The 2 Aussies set off just before us but there was no doubt we would see them along the route somewhere. Dave and Ron set off to Whitby where he would get a train to Middleborough and then onward to Leeds and his native Bradford. We had a steady walk down the lane from Intake Farm to the village itself admiring the various types of ‘Intake Farm’ cattle along the way.
As we reached the entrance to Littlebeck Nature Reserve I saw a solo walker with rucksack sitting on the single bench. I noticed the white baseball cap and thought it could be Diane from Wisconsin – but she was setting out from Glaisdale this morning it can’t be her – but it was. Diane was feeding a friendly robin at her feet with a few crumbs from her packed lunch. She explained that she had set off at 6.30am from Glaisdale and was having a rest on this 19 mile stage. Diane looked a little weary and her feet were aching. I invited her to join us on the last section of the walk and promised we would not be going fast. Diane suggested she was going to take a short cut up the steep road towards Hawsker to shorten her route but when I mentioned ‘cheating’ and that she would miss the delightful Littlebeck woods Diane agreed to join us and we all set off, initially on the wrong path (my fault) up through the woods.
Littlebeck Nature Reserve is a picturesque woodland with streams waterfalls, wild flowers and many species of birds. The path has been protected by wooden boarding along several sections of the woodland. The walk through the woods is pleasant with only one steepish uphill section to the Hermitage, a cave carved out of a large boulder. I took a photograph for Diane and she took me for us. We descended to Falling Foss waterfall where we took a few more photographs of Diane on her behalf and then onward we went towards the end of the woods where we would turn sharp left up the minor road before turning across Sneaton Low Moor.
We passed the 2 Aussies in the upper reaches of the woodland and made hasty progress over the moor which was largely dry but still boggy towards the far end despite the dry weather we had been having. I bet this section can be a quagmire in really heavy rain. We reached the B1416 and I made the decision to take the road route around to Hawsker rather than the very boggy, even in dry weather, section over Greystones Hill. There is no saving in distance by taking the road but it is obviously firmer under foot and faster and we made swift progress to High Hawsker where the Hare and Hounds pub called to us.
We saw the Doncaster brothers, John and Brian, sitting on a bench in the village and I had a chat with them whilst Mick headed off to the pub to make sure it was open. Diane resisted the lure of a drink and said she was continuing her walk and joined John and Brian. Malc and I went to join Mick and the Hare and Hounds pub – there was no point rushing on the last day especially when we could sample some of the fine ales on offer at this pub before heading down the coastline for the last 4 miles of the walk. The licensee was a young local man who had recently taken over and he explained that he would be providing lunches from the weekend. The beers were well kept and went down well. This is a great little pub and ideal for a lunchtime stopover on your last day. We had 3 pints of beer before heading down the road and lanes via the caravan park to the cliff top path that would lead us into Robin Hoods Bay.
I deliberately went ahead of Malc and Mick as I intended calling at a geocache on the way and didn’t want to delay them. You cannot help smiling at the sights and sounds of the North Sea coastline having walked across Northern England in good company and in great weather – how lucky we were to be there. I visited the Easternmost C2C geocache and walked on to the top of the hill in Robin Hoods Bay where I waited for Malc and Mick before heading down the steep hill to the official finish line at the Bay Hotel.
What happened next was almost unbelievable. We had just met up with a solo female Cleveland Way walker who took of photograph of the three of us at the top of the hill and as we walked towards the bay we started to chat about our respective journeys. The Cleveland Way walker told us that she had met a very fit and elderly Australian lady in Whitby the previous day carrying a heavy pack – it was obviously Dame Jude. As if by magic the Cleveland Way walker said ‘In fact she is there look’ pointing to a bench by the side of the road a few yards away. It was Dame Jude and we swiftly vaulted the metal barrier by the side of the road to greet her. I did not waste the chance to get a photograph of the three of us with Dame Jude which was kindly taken by the female Cleveland Way walker. I feel awful now because we didn’t ask her name – who ever you are many thanks.
The three of us walked down the hill to the bay Hotel with the Cleveland Way walker and Dame Jude. Meeting Dame Jude again was an almost perfect end to our walk but what we saw around the corner really was a perfect end of walk scene. Chas and Dave, Diane, John and Brian, Geoff, Jane and Jeff were sitting below the finish sign outside the Bay Hotel and applauded us in to the end. ‘The 3 beer barrels had rolled in to Robin Hoods Bay’. That gesture summed up what the C2C is all about – great camaraderie. We all congratulated each other and I went off to the bar to get the C2C visitors book and three pints of beer. Jane was handing out large slices of a birthday cake that they had purchased for Diane as it had been her birthday a few days earlier whilst she was on the walk.
Chas and Dave had finished a day earlier and by coincidence they had booked into the same B & B where we were staying i.e. The Villa. Chas was typically congratulating us and thanking us for helping them across the walk but really it is Chas and Dave that deserve big congratulations as they had set out with a basic plan and had managed to make their way from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, camping along the way and bluffing their way across the network of paths. At the not so old ages of 67 and 60 didn’t they do well.
I signed the visitor’s book and we took a few group photographs before the obvious few more pints of John Smiths beer. I set out to the waters edge to throw in my pebble and I asked Malc to take a photograph of me to show my wife. I marched out to the sea, threw the pebble, walked back and Malc said ‘Oops, I forgot to take a photograph I was talking, go back out’. Too late Malc, the defining moment had gone. Strangely, I didn’t see Malc or Mick throw their pebbles into the sea. Perhaps it didn’t mean anything to them but it did to me. I looked in the visitor’s book and was pleased to see the names of some of the people we had met along the route including the Oakley Plodders i.e. Old Gits – great to see.
We spent quite some time down at the Bay Hotel and congratulated other C2C walkers as they came in to the end including the 2 Aussies and the Sussex 2. We started to go our ways as the afternoon progressed. John and Brian had to go up the hill to get on the Packhorse minibus back to Kirkby Stephen – well done guys and great to meet you. I had a private word with John to keep Mick guessing about where we knew him from. At 4.15pm we decided to go up to The Villa to book in. Malc and I walked up the hill with Diane who was also booking in at The Villa. Mick said he was just checking what time the fish and chip shop was open until as we wanted to have fish and chips for our evening meal. We expected him to follow us up the hill but we ought to have known better – he decided to have a few more beers with Geoff, Jane and Jeff. We waited outside The Villa for 15 minutes but decided to book in without him.
Jane, our hostess made us feel extremely welcome and showed us to our spacious rooms and shared bathroom facilities. I was impressed by the standard of the accommodation and the energy put into the business by Jane. I had a bath and the packed away all my gear – I would not be needing my walking gear and boots anymore – well not until the following week when I planned to go walking in the Peak District. I heard Mick book in at The Villa – you cannot miss hearing his booming and enthusiastic voice.
The fish and chip shop was open until 7.30pm so we set off down the hill again at 6.45pm. Chas, Dave and Diane had already left as they were dining at the Bay Hotel where Geoff, Jane and Jeff were staying. We had all agreed to meet for a post evening meal drink at the Bay Hotel. We walked slowly down the hill to the bay and went to the fish and chip shop up a side street. We each purchased our fish, chips and peas and sat outside on a bench whilst we ate them. They were delicious. A quick walk around Bay Town as it is called before we went into the Bay Hotel for a drink. The others were finishing their meals and a short time later we all gathered in a very hot ‘snug’ room just inside the pub doors. We were joined by Chas and Dave, Geoff, Jane and Jeff and Diane.
We had a good old debrief of the walk and the various events that occurred throughout the walk. We were actually making a lot of noise but the other pub customers and staff realised we were just unwinding. I didn’t feel like drinking much at all but Mick and Malc were on form as were most of the others. The jokes started to flow. Dave started to tell a lengthy joke but in a slightly intoxicated state he forgot the punchline. Mick started to show the others a few mind reading tricks – well not mind reading tricks really just a con job involving coughing (does that sound familiar) as we had talked about doing them a few days earlier. We had a good evening and at 11.15pm I set off up the hill back to The Villa, closely followed by Mick and Malc who squeezed another beer in I believe. It didn’t take me long to fall asleep despite the noise coming from a giggling Mick and Malc in the next room.
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