The Coast to Coast

Walked in August 2008

Day 11 – Tuesday 26th August

Ingleby Cross – Clay Bank Top
11 miles

We woke to a fairly overcast morning and left Ingleby Cross at about 8.10, setting off back up the hill and into Arncliffe Wood. Instead of turning right like I’d done the day before, we turned left and used several small footpaths in order to avoid the diversion to Mount Grace Priory and meet back up with the main route further on, saving ourselves at least half a mile.

Darryl did a great job in following the map and negotiating our way through the wood so that in no time at all we found ourselves emerging from the wood on Beacon Hill with a huge view across the spreading valley towards Middlesborough which would have been a lot better if there hadn’t been so much cloud. The Coast to Coast Walk joined the Cleveland Way here, and we would follow both routes for the rest of the day and part of the next.

The ground here was very boggy to begin with but it soon got better and before long we found ourselves in Clain Wood. We were nearly out of the wood when I happened to step on a solitary stone lying on the path and my right ankle buckled. There was a cracking sound and pain shot up my leg. Straight away I told Darryl what had happened and he helped me take off my pack and sit down on the grass verge. I hoped I’d only twisted it and the pain would go away. Somehow I knew this was wishful thinking. I took a couple of strong Ibuprofen to hopefully reduce the swelling and after a few minutes rest I tried standing on it. It was still painful and very sensitive. I found it hard to imagine finishing the walk with the injury if it was a sprain or a break which it must have been, but even if I wasn’t able to carry on, I had to get out of that wood at some point, so I put my rucksack back on and we both continued along the path, slower now with me wincing almost constantly for the rest of the day.

We passed two fast walkers shortly afterwards, one of whom was a retired fellow from Hebden Bridge who had beaten our record for the Pennine Way (not that we’d been trying) by completing it in 11 days. He said it would have been 9 if the weather had been better. It just goes to show that some people don’t wind down when they retire. He seemed very focussed on his pace, and kept saying ‘yeah, you got him’ in response to everything Darryl said, even when he told him how I’d sprained my ankle. We decided to let him carry on and he zoomed off up the hill and out of sight, no doubt keen to catch up his mate who was probably now in the next county.

At the top of the hill we had a break and were passed by two female walkers who were just doing the Keld to Robin Hood’s Bay section. A lot of people seemed to be doing short stretches of the walk at a time rather than all at once. We pressed on hoping that we would soon reach the Lord Stones Cafe where we could get something to eat and drink. I hobbled on, still wincing every time I had to walk over rocks and go downhill which really agitated the swollen ankle.

We reached the bottom of Carlton Bank and Darryl said the cafe ought to be nearby according to the map. We couldn’t see any sign of it, nor any sign of sign pointing to it! I stopped and had a sit down while Darryl had a scout around the area. On a large patch of ground nearby that seemed to have been cleared by earth-moving equipment, three youths were working or mucking about (it was difficult to tell which) until a spade flying through the air signalled the end to their day’s efforts and they all piled into a small car and drove off. Two cyclists passed by (retired gents by the look of them) and a third stopped for a chat. I mentioned I was doing the Coast to Coast and had hurt my ankle and he suggested finding a good walking stick. Reasonable suggestion I thought, and made a mental note to keep an eye out for a suitable stick during the remainder of the day. He said there happened to be a cafe nearby (aha!) just a hundred yards down the road. Just as I was looking around for Darryl to tell him the good news, he appeared over the top of a nearby hill and I pointed down the road. He came over and we both thanked the cyclist for his vital intel before shouldering our packs and heading down the road to Lord Stone’s Cafe which was surprisingly busy considering it seemed to be in the middle of nowhere.

There were equal numbers of cyclists and walkers at the cafe. The room inside was packed, and we were lucky to get a table outside. There was a small pack of guineafowl prowling around looking for scraps. It’s really hard to imagine a more bizarre looking bird. They’re similar in appearance to partridges, but their heads are so out of proportion with their plump, round bodies that they just look like an uncooked roast waddling around wondering where the oven is. At this point I only had coins in my pocket (we hadn’t seen a cash point for a few days) so Darryl bought us both a couple of very large all day breakfasts. We sat at the table and waited for our food. My foot was throbbing but thankfully the drugs were keeping it subdued enough. Many people came and went, and considering the cafe resembles a little hobbit hole, dug into the side of the hill and tucked away out of sight of the road, it really is amazing it’s so popular. Then again, it is the only refreshment stop for miles along the hills so people probably go out of their way to find it. Our vast plates of food soon arrived and we tucked in greedily, replenishing our energy stores in a fashion too noisy (perhaps) for civilised society.

When we’d finished eating Darryl went on ahead to check out the path while I stayed at the cafe and chatted to a retired couple who were walking the way from Richmond to Clay Bank Top. They had left their car at Richmond and were staying at B & Bs. They said they’d seen us in the Blue Bell Inn at Ingleby Cross the night before, but we’d gone into the separate dining area to eat our evening meal in front of the TV and hadn’t really spoken to anyone (unsociable buggers we are). We talked about how rewarding long distance walks are and how they really let you enjoy the countryside and see places in your own back yard you never knew were there. The chap was surprised I was still walking on my bad ankle, but I told him for the time being at least I didn’t really have a choice since I could hardly call a taxi until we reached a proper road. It was time to move on and I caught up with Darryl just before a steep ascent to Cringle Moor. There were incredible views from the stone seat at Cringle End,, though they’d have no doubt been even more incredible if the sky had been clearer. Nevertheless we could see across to Roseberry Topping and almost to the sea, proving how close we were to journey’s end.

We moved on just as the retired couple I’d been chatting to caught us up. Some of the paths proved quite awkward and uneven – more punishment for my swollen ankle, and I’m sure I’d have enjoyed climbing over the mighty Wain Stones if it hadn’t been such a painful ordeal.

The descents were the worst, these really put pressure on the injury and I had to move slowly, something that really annoyed me as I like to stick to a good pace on a walk. As we finally descended Clay Bank Top we passed a 78 year old walker who looked very fit for his age, although he did say he had a new knee and new eyes (by this I presume, and hope he meant contact lenses). We finally got down to Clay Bank Top (the end of the day’s walk) to find it was really just a car park. From reading the guidebook I’d been given the notion that Clay Bank Top was a wonderful and favoured wild camping spot not to be missed. Hardly. There didn’t seem to be anywhere suitable for camping nearby so we called the local tourist information office who told us that the Jet Miner’s Inn in Great Broughton had an area for camping.

We called a taxi company who arranged to have us picked up and dropped off outside the pub in town (roughly 2 miles away) for £6. There was a post office opposite the pub so we went in to draw some money out and buy a few supplies for the next day.

Crossing the road again we soon found the grassy area behind the Jet Miner’s Inn and set up our tents near some static caravans. We couldn’t find the man who ran the campsite, but another chap said he should be back later, or we could pay him in the morning. We showered then went into the pub to get something to eat and drink. Darryl had Spaghetti Bolognese followed by a sticky toffee pudding while I had a nice Chicken Parmesan and a toffee apple crumble. We had a couple of beers to relax, the alcohol helping to take my mind off my beleaguered foot. The landlady said the guy who organised the camping out the back would be around in the morning, but that if we had to be off early we could leave the money with her or just not worry about it! Sounded good to us, though we would have rather paid if possible. It’s like stealing otherwise.

We returned to our tents, glad to find that it was quite warm outside. I slept fitfully, possibly because of my foot and possibly because I still couldn’t get properly comfortable with the sleeping mat. Yeah I know... Moan, moan, moan.


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