The Coast to Coast

Walked in August 2008

Day 12 – Wednesday 27th August

Clay Bank Top - Grosmont
22.5 miles

I woke at 6 and started to pack as I had called the taxi company the day before to arrange a pick up for 7 to take us back up to Clay Bank Top. We were both packed and waiting outside the pub early, but when 7.15 rolled around and there was still no sign of the taxi I called the company again and found out that they’d thought I’d wanted it for 10 o’clock, not 7. They weren’t able to send another car at such short notice, so we had to walk the one and a half miles or so back up to the way – extra distance we could really have done without. Darryl was more annoyed than I was, which was surprising considering my right ankle was about as close to broken as you can get. We marched up the hill, Darryl going a little too fast for my liking (and my foot), and eventually rejoined the way at Clay Bank Top, taking about an hour. There was a steep ascent at first but after that it was pretty much flat the rest of the way over Urra Moor and over Round Hill, leaving the Cleveland Way at Blowarth Crossing.

All in all our progress was faster than the day before. My ankle was painful but sufferable, and I was able to enjoy the walking, especially since most of it was on an old railway line, the surface level, soft and sandy. Darryl reckons that on previous days in the mountains we were clocking around 1.5 – 2.5 miles per hour, but on the railway line we were doing more like 3.5. Now that’s motoring. Considering there wasn’t a great deal to see on that stretch (apart from the impressive view to the North) it was a real Godsend to have such a walker-friendly path.

We took a few photos, one funny one of Darryl hugging an ancient marker stone, but the morning was a little dull for any good shots of the excellent views. After several miles The Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge came into view, though it took some time to skirt around the wide valley edge to reach it.

The pub was open so we went inside, leaving our packs by the door. We ordered Coke, coffee, sandwiches and Kit Kats, filling ourselves up in readiness for the remainder of the day which was considerable. Back outside we shouldered our burdens and walked on, passing the nearby cottage (which besides the pub was the only building for miles), where coincidentally my editor Charlie lived when she was younger. We walked along the road seeing lots of dead bees on the ground (a result of a new and nasty parasite apparently) and found another odd stone called Fat Betty, a stout stone with a stone wheel on top where some hikers leave snacks for others to take.

 Moving on we started crossing the last of the North York Moors with Danby High Moor and Glaisdale Moor to follow, passing the disused stone shooting lodge of Trough House as the weather started to change for the better.

We could now see the sea a lot more clearly and could feel the end approaching at last. As we turned onto a long dusty track we were passed by a few quad bikes and people out walking their dogs. During a rest stop Darryl tried phoning a local tourist information office about campsites near Grosmont. No luck though. There was a campsite two miles shy of Glaisdale, but if we stayed here it would mean a final day of 21 miles, and we really didn’t like the sound of that. We continued on down the road toward Glaisdale passing a woman walking her dog. The dog started barking at us, but the woman shouted at him then told us he always did that to backpackers. This explained why dogs had barked at us on previous days, and on the Pennine Way too!

We walked down into Glaisdale, a pleasant little village on a slope and bought some nice sweet things from the shop, before having a sit down on the bench opposite. The weather had picked up since leaving The Lion Inn and the walking was good, even though there seemed to be a lot of it. We moved off and walked down the hill to the train station near Beggar’s Bridge then up into East Arnecliff Wood where we followed a nice wooded path for a while before dropping down onto the road that led into Egton Bridge.

We were now pretty exhausted. Having had the extra and unwelcome trudge up to the way from Great Broughton, along with almost twenty miles of moor walking, our energy stores were depleted and we didn’t seem capable of replacing the energy efficiently enough. According to Darryl’s account of the trip we had to stop between Egton Bridge and Grosmont purely because we couldn’t walk another step. We didn’t talk during the break and I even had my head in my hands! I can’t remember the moment but I can certainly believe it. Any day of walking can break you, it doesn’t need to involve a nasty hill climb, miles and miles of painful, rocky paths or foul weather, it can be the most pleasant route on Earth but somehow it just grinds you down and before you know it your energy has gone and you just want to collapse on the ground and go to sleep. Somehow though we picked ourselves up and followed the toll road to Priory Farm.

As we passed the farm we saw tents in the field and thanked God that we had no more walking to do. The field wasn’t great but we found a decent enough spot and dropped our gear, chatting to a group of guys who were doing an outward bound course or Duke of Edinburgh. Darryl went to the find the farmer to pay for our pitches and returned with the news that there were no shower facilities, nor another other facilities for that matter, save for a toilet and small kitchen we could use. We could both have done with a shower, but anything was better than nothing, so we pitched the tents, cooked some food and got to bed. I checked my ankle to see if the welling had gone down (it hadn’t) and noticed an impressive bruise was forming.

I remember having a pretty lousy night in that field. I felt sweaty and grubby, and so did my sleeping bag. It wasn’t comfortable either. The ground was lumpy, and a guy in a tent nearby was snoring for Britain. Still, the next day as the last. We had made it this far and my sprained ankle hadn’t stopped me. This was enough to give me comfort and the resolve necessary for tackling the last stretch to Robin Hood’s Bay. Oh yes, come Hell or high water...



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