The Coast to Coast

Walked in August 2008

Day 13 – Thursday 28th August

grosmont – Robin Hood’s Bay
22.5 miles


Hopefully there would only be 12 – 15 miles to do today, a thought which gave me a bit of a push to get up, get dressed and get packed. It was a warm, sunny morning and although Darryl and I had been pretty drained the night before, we actually felt good as got ready to leave the campsite, glad that we were only hours away from completing the walk. It had been harder than we’d anticipated, and although it hadn’t been as tough as the Pennine Way, we had enjoyed that other walk more and had been more sad about ending it. This time we just wanted to get it done and go home. I took another photo of my ankle just for comparison. I had kept it elevated during the night but the discolouration had spread considerably. Oh well, only a day to go then I could have a proper rest.

We walked up the road to Grosmont and stopped in a small shop to buy some nice treats and liquid for the day. We then walked up to the train station and engine shed where we were able to have a look around. The steam engines were old but still very much in use, and the locals and visitors alike still enjoyed being able to use them as there were a lot of people at the station. The Sir Nigel Gresley train in particular was an impressive sight.

We had to press on and so left the town climbing up a very, very steep hill which we hadn’t anticipated and had had no warning of. I couldn’t believe it. It was the last day and I had sprained my ankle, couldn’t we just have an easy time of it instead of being forced up a stupidly steep hill first thing in the morning. No, clearly not. I think Darryl must have noticed how annoyed I was as I wasn’t really responding to him, just moaning and cursing under my breath. The hill seemed to go on forever until it finally levelled out on to Sleights Moor. We followed the road for a while before turning left onto a rough footpath and heading toward the A169 which led straight to Whitby. When we reached the busy road we could see Whitby a couple of miles away on the coast, including the ruined abbey.

We crossed the road and walked down the hillside toward Littlebeck where we stopped for a break outside the church where I retrieved a crushed pastie I’d bought a few days ago and threw away after a few bites. We pressed on into Little Beck Wood then came back down to the small brook again when we realised we’d gone wrong. We got our bearings then followed the correct path into the wood, then Scarry Wood and Great Wood.

We passed an excavated mineral worker’s cave and then the Hermitage which is a hollowed out boulder carved with the initials G.C. for George Chubb a local schoolmaster in 1754. We chatted to a couple walking along the coast. They knew about the route we were walking and had done several parts of it themselves. We walked on and soon came to the Falling Foss waterfall and nearby the Midge Hall tea rooms where we stopped outside for a nice break and a delicious cream tea each. The Sun was still shining and there were a fair few people walking in the woods and enjoying tea at Midge Hall.

When we felt we had rested long enough we set off back through the wood, following the May Beck to eventually emerge into the open once more near a picnic area. We then climbed a long, hard hill up to farms then Sneaton Low Moor which looked more like African savannah than moorland in the blazing sun, though regular patches of heather and bog helped dispel this illusion.

Most of these bog patches would have easily swallowed my boots if I’d let them, and near some of them helpful folk had left planks of wood that could be picked up and manoeuvred into place to cross some of the worse sections. Darryl had problems since he was wearing his trainers and had to keep back-tracking to find ways across the wet, spongy ground. I turned back after reaching the fence to give him a bit of a hand, picking up bits of wood to make bridges for him like it was all some big puzzle game.

My foot was still quite painful but it hadn’t been hampering me as much as I’d expected. I was able to limp on and just reassure myself that it would all be over soon and I could rest it properly. We stopped after a mile or so of pleasant lane and moor walking for a break and beyond fields of wheat could again see Whitby and the coastline.

Moving on we soon came to Hawsker and stopped for another rest outside the pub where we downed much needed, refreshingly cold Coke. By road it was only a couple of miles to Robin Hood’s Bay, while along the coast it was double that. The shortcut was tempting but since we were so close to finishing the walk it seemed wrong to cheat, so we continued on along the official route passing first one caravan site, then another with rows of static caravans stretching off toward the sea. We trudged down through the site and found the coastal path, turning right and following the path along the last few miles toward our destination.

We could hear seagulls again, for the first time in two weeks and could smell the sea air. The rugged coastline looked beautiful, framed as it was by deep green grass and vast stretches of wheat. We saw a boat out to sea being followed by a flock of seagulls who were no doubt looking for fish, their hungry caws reaching us across the waves. We passed several other walkers as we made our way along the sandy path, many of whom looked just as weary and keen to stop moving as we were. The day seemed to be stretching into infinity with Robin Hood’s Bay eluding us at every turn of the coast. But then suddenly there it was.

We could only see the lower half of the town to begin with, peaking out from behind the last of the tall cliffs before us. Before long though we were passing houses and found ourselves at the top of the town and technically ending what we had begun a fortnight ago on the other side of the country. There were many tourists around, hardly surprising since it was a nice day and the town is very picturesque and right next to the sea. We stopped at a shop to get a drink, and checked the bus times for the next morning before walking down the long, steep slope to the beach so that we could dip our boots in the water. We dropped our packs on the sand and collapsed for a rest before doing anything else.

We didn’t really know where we were going to stay that night. There were a couple of campsites near the town but we were pretty spent and I didn’t want my damaged foot to do any more miles than were necessary, so we decided to try the youth hostel at Boggle Hole which was only a quarter of a mile or so further along the coast, tucked into an inlet. Darryl phoned them and secured two beds for us, so after dipping our boots in the North Sea and burying the stone I had carried from St Bees, we set off up some wooden steps to the coast path and heaved our aching bodies along to the hostel where we picked up our room key, dumped our bags in the two-bunk room, showered, ate in the canteen and then had a couple of bottles of beer in the common room. While in there I took my clean sock off and studied my ankle again. The colouring was almost beautiful. A doctor and his family came in at one point and was shocked to see the state of my foot. I told him it looked worse than it was and he said the alcohol would help with pain and swelling. I didn’t need an excuse though. I was gutted that the last two and a half days had been extra hard with the injury, but at the same time thankful that it hadn’t happened at the beginning of the walk.

We shared our room with another guy, a strange, quiet chap who came in to dump his gear then disappeared for a few hours before returning as it was getting dark. Darryl thought the smell of our clothes might have driven him off. I could believe it. The room was very warm and opening the window didn’t seem to help much. If I’d been on my own the covers would have been off all night, but decency meant I had to suffer a bit. Oh well, at least I didn’t have another day’s walking ahead of me.


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