Coast to Coast Stage 10 – Ingleby Cross to The Lion Inn

State of play at the start of Stage 10

Another long day in the field. Ended up being a bit shorter than yesterday but with lots more ups and downs – 1,344 metres of ascent as opposed to 340 metres yesterday.

Fortunately all the climbing came in the first 15 miles and the last 8 miles were flat. So at least the legs were (relatively) fresh for the climbing.

Unfortunately Steve Hart, Atkinson’s finest coach driver, was unable to meet us for our prearranged drink after a work over-run.

We left The Bluebell at Ingleby Cross just after 09:00 following a very good breakfast. We had been royally looked after the previous evening – they opened the pub just for us after a mix up with the booking.

The walk started with a climb up through woodland to pick up the Cleveland Way. As this is a recognized National Trail the waymarking and general path condition was far superior to the Coast to Coast which is an unofficial route.

We were again walking through woodland and there were lots of chiffchaff singing and an unconfirmed willow warbler. The only people we saw up to this point were a young couple walking in the same direction who were going at a more leisurely pace than us.

A sharp descent brought us to Lordstones Cafe where we enjoyed a large pot of Yorkshire Tea (Yorkshire Quality).

As we were about to leave, the young couple from earlier turned up and we struck up a conversation. They are from Cologne and walking the C2C in more bite sized (and sensible) stages.

We generally did our bit for Anglo-European relations, at this fraught time. Ian pointed out to them that Cologne and Liverpool are twinned but thankfully didn’t mention Tony Woodcock.

There followed three climbs and descents of about 120 metres which took it out of the old legs. We then levelled out for the last eight or so miles. There was a splendid topographical memorial to Alec Falconer at the top of one of the climbs

The sunlit lowlands of Middlesbrough (my Alma Mata) were laid out below us in the distance and I was delighted to make out the Transporter Bridge – happy days.

There were lots of Red Grouse now appearing with their distinctive and somewhat comical call. I had heard two or three curlew but only caught a glimpse of one disappearing behind a hill.

A little further on I heard another curlew quite distinctly and after a quick scan round spotted it sitting on a nearby ridge of grass. I managed to have a quick look through the binoculars before it settled out of view.

After another hour or so of pleasant moorland walking we then joined an old railway line which would lead us virtually to our destination, The Lion Inn.

Dear Lord the last stretch, along the railway line, was unremitting in its tediousness. I did however see a solitary lapwing and another Curlew, in flight this time.

A short-cut off the trail saved us about half a mile to the pub. After a well earned pint I was overjoyed to find a bath tub in our room and took full advantage. I was also delighted that they had three vegan mains on the menu.

A much more manageable 17 miles tomorrow!

Coast to Coast Stage 10 – Richmond to Ingleby Cross

It is with a weary hand that I hold my phone to type this missive. Twenty three miles over what is generally considered to be the dullest stage of the C2C. You will hear no argument on that front from room 5 of the Bluebell Inn. You will hear thunderous snoring in a couple of hours – and that’s covered by the Wilco guarantee.

Having rendezvoused in Darlington and having the good fortune to catch the bus to Richmond driven by a young man channelling the spirit of Alain Prost, we arrived in time to check in at our B&B and get out for a couple of pints before retiring.

In the morning, after a filling breakfast and great black coffee, we set off just after 09:00. Richmond Castle was the first checkpoint of the day – towering over the footpath on the other side of the Swale.

We were making good progress, it was perfect walking weather – dry, no wind and nice and cool.

After the first twenty minutes or so Ian declared that we had now left the Neutral Zone and Christian Prudhomme had stuck his head out of the sunroof and waved his flag!

There was a noticeable change in waymarking and path conditions as we approached Bolton on Swale. On notice on a gate stated:

  • Keep dogs on leads
  • Don’t cut across the field
  • Pick up after your dog
  • Take your litter home
  • Enjoy your walk

I made the last one up…. They probably wanted to say it but there wasn’t room after writing all the orders.

Bolton was however very picturesque:

We were now faced with four miles of road walking to Danby Wiske but, as I’ve noted before, road walking is dull but you do cover the miles quickly.

The hedgerows had all been chopped back ruthlessly and they were eerily silent. You would expect to see and hear lots of bird activity at this time of year – all a bit worrying to be honest.

The whole walk was pretty disappointing on the bird front. A greater spotted woodpecker and a solitary redwing being the highlights. There were lots of rabbits though!

We had been pre-warned that the White Swan at Danby Wiske probably wouldn’t be open and that turned out to be the case. We had a bite to eat from our supplies on the neat village green and continued on our way with about eight miles to go to Ingleby Cross.

This was much of the same – fields and roads, fields and roads. We had been walking towards the Cleveland hills for the last few hours and they were looming larger now. We could also now hear lots of traffic.

Then came the realization that with legs aching from 22 miles of walking, we now had to take our lives in our hands and attempt to cross 5 lanes of the A19. The guide book recommended taking your time and then running like hell. We followed their advice!

We finally reached The Bluebell and were given a warm welcome and beer! The evening meal was tasty and filling as well. The room was compact but warm and I filled one of the thoughtfully provided hot water bottles and moved it from calves to quad’s to shoulder to try to ease the tiredness a little.

Only the same distance to walk tomorrow – just with more ups and downs. Still, The Lion Inn will be our reward!

Coast to Coast – a summary so far.

I thought I’d clarify where we are on our journey following Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk, from St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay, how we got here and what we still have to do this week.

In June 2017, me and Ian (referred to on this blog as ‘the mountain goat’ due to his ability to ascend every hill seemingly effortlessly) took the train to St Bees on a Saturday morning and began our trek.

On the Saturday afternoon we completed the coastal section of ‘day one’ of the usual itinerary to shorten the distance on Sunday and allow us to make it to Black Sail Hut, a legendary youth hostel in the Lake District, by Sunday evening. This we duly did and it was well worth the effort.

On the Monday we completed another long section to Grasmere – this was probably the toughest day so far.

Tuesday was a nice short section to Patterdale which allowed us to take the high route option over Helvellyn and Swirral Edge.

Wednesday was another long but easier day to Shap and on Thursday we completed our first section by walking to Kirkby Stephen where we were able to catch trains back home the next morning.

Then, last July, we returned by train to Kirkby Stephen and walked three sections in two days, firstly to Keld on the Friday and then onward to Reeth and then Richmond on the (long, hot) Saturday.

We are now returning to Richmond for one final section.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, we will (hopefully) walk 23 miles to Ingleby Cross, followed by 21 miles on Wednesday to the Lion Inn at Kirkbymoorside. Thursday should be a more leisurely affair with a mere 17 miles to Littlebeck. Then, finally, on Friday morning, a veritable hop, skip and a jump of 11 miles to the finish at Robin Hood’s Bay.

We’ve allowed ourselves an hour or so at RHB to refresh a little before catching a bus to Scarborough to catch trains home.

Coming soon – last four stages of coast to coast.

The long wait is almost over….

Eight months after progressing as far as Richmond on the Coast to Coast walk, the mountain goat and I have finally got around to arranging the last four stages to Robin Hood’s Bay. The train tickets and accommodation are all booked, the training has commenced and I’ve found my west coast pebble from the beach at St Bees – which is destined to be deposited on the east coast at Robin Hood’s Bay, as tradition dictates.

It will come as no surprise that we have compressed the remaining distance into four stages instead of five – a night’s accommodation saved for one thing. This means that we will have three successive days of over 20 miles followed by a (relatively) easy trek of 12 miles into RHB on the last morning.

Just because the IT contractor market is on its arse doesn’t mean that I should be sat on mine…

So all being well, on the evening of Tuesday 26th of March, I’ll post the first update – Richmond to Ingleby Cross. Hopefully we’ll be in the Bluebell Inn (with an old friend of the choir) rehydrating after a long day in the field.

Coast to Coast – Keld to Richmond, Saturday 14th July

After an excellent breakfast, we hit the road just about on schedule for a tough day knocking off two stages of the Coast to Coast. I always encourage the people who are walking with me to take a good look round the accommodation before setting off as it can be something of a nuisance to have to return to the B&B.

As I waited for Ian to, admittedly, run back to Butt House for his sunglasses, I took the opportunity to adjust the laces on my new trail shoes and check the route.

It was lucky that we ended up taking a wrong turn as on Frank’s Bridge I thought to myself ‘shallow, fast running water, lots of rocks – classic Dipper territory’. Almost on command, one flew under the bridge. It ‘dipped’ nicely a few times and then flew off. There were quite a few Oystercatcher calling and flying around but no sign of the Curlew from yesterday.

The walk today  followed the River Swale for the next few hours as we headed towards Gunnerside. The river level was, as you can imagine given the heatwave we’ve had, ridiculously low – as shown in the photo at the top of this piece.

We were accompanied from time to time by small groups of kids doing the D of E. We saw their trendy teacher talking to some of them at Gunnerside and neither of us could quite withhold a smirk. Fair play to him though for giving up his weekend.

Gunnerside also held the highlight of the two days walking. As we were topping up the Factor 50 something caught my eye and I thought I could see the outline of a Little Owl in the opening of an old stone barn. I quickly dug my bino’s out and there it was, clear as day. A first for me and a bird I’ve always wanted to see.

The pace was good, basically just following the river mixed in with a fair few fields and stiles. I think they were basing the average width of people on Twiggy when they built the traditional Yorkshire Dale’s stile – they were a bugger with a rucksack.

Yorkiestile

We made Reeth for lunch after about 4 hours 20 minutes and had an excellent repast at the Buck. A pint of Timothy Taylor’s, in excellent condition, to wash it down. It was getting hotter all the time and we wanted to get a move on. After replenishing our water supplies in the village shop we were underway again.

BuckReeth

We were plodding along for the second stage of the day to Richmond. It was a scorcher and we kept referring to View Ranger regularly to see the kilometres still to walk and both applying the usual references:

10km – 2 Park runs

4 km – once round Sevvy (Sefton) Park etc.

Marrick Priory was the first target. It was right next to the scruffiest, ugliest farm you could ever imagine – a real shame.

There was a short steady climb of about 120m but it was all on slab steps so it wasn’t too tough. After that it was a steady succession of fields and stiles to Marske.

Whitecliffe Woods offered a welcome bit of shade and we kept up the pace, knowing we were now within  a couple of kilometres of the end of the day’s two stages.

Eventually, Richmond came in to sight and we were both relieved to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Richsign

It was a job to get any accommodation in Richmond but we did find a B&B with a twin available eventually. The landlady had been a joy to deal with but after the longest walking day I’ve ever had, I just wanted a decent shower… what a let down. I haven’t seen a shower that poor since Allardyce was picking the Everton team.

Anyway, Richmond is a Timothy Taylor stronghold so that was soon forgotten. Only had to make sure we were on the 08:47 bus to Darlington the next morning.

Coast to Coast – Kirkby Stephen to Keld, Friday 13th July

Friday the 13th…. What could possibly go wrong?…. Very little as it turned out.

My walking companion joined me on the Carlisle train at Warrington BQ and after a quick walk round Carlisle we caught the sprinter to Kirkby Stephen.

The volunteer guard (works every Friday as there are lots of tourists going over the Ribblehead viaduct) warned us that about sixty kids would get on but that they would only be on for five minutes as they were going swimming. He said that sometimes they got in our coach and sometimes the other one. A Geordie gentleman offered him a fiver to make sure they got in the other coach, a sum I said I was happy to match. As it turned out they got in our coach but were very well behaved and brought the average age down slightly.

The taxi I’d ordered to take us from the station to where we’d left off in Kirkby Stephen last June was twenty minutes late. He came up with some cock and bull story about two caravans having crashed but you can’t kid a kidder.

Having bought some essential supplies we eventually found the footpath and headed over Frank’s Bridge and round Hartley Quarry and began a steady but manageable climb to the top of Nine Standards Rigg. It was drizzly and misty in parts but the temperature was much more tolerable as a result.

Map
If only there was something to take a fix from…

The nine standards are pretty spectacular. They’ve seemingly been there for ever but nobody is really sure what they were for. They are also part of the watershed one side rain falls to the North Sea and the other side it flows to the Irish Sea.

 

9 standards

This is as high as we will get now before we finally reach Robin Hood’s Bay. This section of the walk is notorious as being really boggy and they have also waymarked three different routes for different times of the year to cut down on path erosion. As it was, with the heatwave we’ve been experiencing, there was very little to worry about. To further ease the bogginess problem they have also put in a lot of new slabs and have done a cracking job of it.

Slabs

Lots of interesting bird life. Some really good views of Golden Plover and, finally, a close up look at a Curlew in Keld itself. One I couldn’t identify but from looking online I think was a tree pipit.

The rain eased off pretty quickly and all in all it was a nice steady walking day. Keld is very picturesque and both the B&B and Keld Lodge over the road (with Black Sheep on draught) are very comfortable and welcoming. The views are superb as well.

View

Big day tomorrow as we knock off two stages in one day in order to get to Richmond! Looks like about 23 miles but we’ve got an early breakfast booked and it’s not forecast to get over 20 degrees.

About

Thanks for visiting my blog on walking the long distance paths of the UK. I am a keen hill walker who has come to realise, in my fiftieth year, that I haven’t done as much of it as I would have liked to over the years.

After walking the first half of the Coast to Coast last summer with my mate, the human mountain goat, I decided to take on Glyndwr’s Way as a way of improving my general fitness before we complete the Coast to Coast later in the year. I started this blog for Glyndwr’s Way but it seemed to be well received so I’ve made it a more general blog so I can include write ups of the second half of the Coast to Coast and, next on the list, Offa’s Dyke and any subsequent adventures.

The aim is, whatever the walk, to write up the description of each day in the evening, while things are fresh in my mind. I’ll try to keep it light hearted and focus on the things that interest me, such as bird and any wildlife sightings. I’ll also look to describe how the route was holding up in the weather conditions, any access issues and, last but certainly not least, the pubs in the various towns and villages I’m stopping in.

GW Day 1 – Knighton to Felindre (postponed)

The men from the met office hadn’t been optimistic but I left it to the last minute to make a decision. However, on the Friday morning I was meant to start the walk, it was still showing as thunder and lightning for the whole afternoon. I found myself thinking, not for the first time in my life, “what would Ray Mears do?” As the first day’s route would have meant me walking across exposed moorland at the height of the expected storm, I decided to err on the side of caution. Singing in a choir for the last ten years I always thought I’d make a good conductor but I didn’t want to find out like that. Screenshot_2018-06-01-06-31-30

I have been offered a lift to Felindre on Saturday morning to start the walk at stage 2 so that’s what I will be doing! I will return later in the summer to complete this first leg…

 

GW Day 2 – Felindre to Abbeycwmhir, Saturday 2nd June

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Having been dropped off at just after 10:00 at Felindre, the first job was to get through the Upper House Farm farmyard without setting the dogs off. Mission failed… at least they were all in kennels.

There must  be some local rivalry as to who has the loudest farm dogs because twenty minutes later it was the canines at Rhuvid to show what they could do and they easily took the rosette.

The waymarking was, as the guidebooks suggested, excellent and there was no real way of going wrong. The paths were firm and dry all day with only one boggy bit but it was well flagged up in the books and relatively easy to negotiate. Most of the paths were grassy and easy walking which helped as it was up and down most of the day.

Dark Clouds

The dark clouds were threatening but never really looked like giving any trouble and as the morning drew on it was getting warmer and I was developing quite a thirst. I had checked the opening hours at the New Inn at Llanbadarn Fynydd and I knew I’d be ok for food if I got there before 2pm. I was on schedule for 1:15 so no worries. On a photo on their website I had noticed a Ludlow Gold pump clip on the bar and I could hear it calling me onward!

There was a lovely stretch around Castell y  Blaidd and at Fron Top I heard a curlew but couldn’t locate it. It was all road then for a while but it was easy going and relatively quick and meant I’d get to the pub a bit earlier for a spot of lunch and a well earned pint (or two) of Gold!

A nice downhill run – with the only blocked gate of the day – brought me to the pub bang on ETA.

“Pub closed due to staff illness”

Now, you won’t find a man who believes more wholeheartedly than me in the rights of people to take time off sick. It’s a fundamental human right as far as I’m concerned. But for crying out loud…

My euphoria at being out in the Welsh countryside on a beautiful day had been reduced somewhat but I pushed on, knowing that I would need to stop soon to eat my lunch. This would now be a bar of Dairy Milk.

It was a long steady climb out of Llanbadarn Fynydd after ‘lunch’ and then a short, boggy bit before climbing again to a wide, grassy path with amazing views all around.

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I still hadn’t passed (or even seen in the distance) any other walkers all day. Lots of birds though, more importantly, including numerous Red Kites, Buzzards, Stonechat and the best look I’ve had at a Redstart in years. I heard plenty of cuckoos but didn’t get a good look at any. Same with Chiffchaff. Lots of close up views of Skylark and plenty of Chaffinch as well.

The last two miles felt like five, as is usually the way. There was at least a pub in Abbeycwmhir, my destination for the night, The Happy Union. The union I had in mind was between me and a pint of real ale and as I turned down the path to the pub door at 5:15pm, having made reasonably good time and spitting feathers, I saw the sign.

Open at 20:00

It did at least open! It was very welcoming too to be fair. The Felinfoel Double Dragon was eminently drinkable and the staff and locals very friendly. Here’s hoping for the same standards in Llanidloes tomorrow!

 

 

GW Day 3 – Abbeycwmhir to Llanidloes, Sunday 3rd June

That was a hard day… Second day legs coupled with more ups and downs than a typical Everton season…

After the lunch debacle yesterday I asked Meryl, the excellent host of the Laurel Bank B&B, to prepare me a packed lunch. She charged £7.50 – I thought, that’s steep Meryl, steep.

She didn’t charge me that much really but that wouldn’t be funny / mildly amusing, as it suits you. She actually made me double egg chips and beans on Saturday night and with the packed lunch it didn’t add a tenner on the bill. Highly recommended.

After leaving Abbeycwmhir at 9:20 it was a steady climb to 450 metres whereupon 8 text messages beeped their arrival. Abbeycwmhir is blessed with the Happy Union Inn and at least one great B&B but it is considerably short changed when it comes to mobile signal.

Anyway, after a climb through rough pasture and a descent to Bwlch y Sarnau it was a boggy forest path for a mile or so, followed by road for about the same distance. Road is usually dull and hard on the feet. The benefit is that you cover distance quickly. On the GW however the views from the roads have been pretty spectacular.

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The heat was taking its toll but I had put sun cream on a couple of times and was wearing my trusty Tilley hat all day so it just added to the fatigue rather than being dangerous in any way.

Wildlife highlight of the day was catching sight of a stoat skittering up one of the (many) roads ahead of me, his black tipped tail giving him away.

On the bird front it was much the same as yesterday. Heard lots of cuckoos but couldn’t pick any out and heard a really clear curlew calling, but again, couldn’t spot it.

The last couple of hours were hard work, rather than being as enjoyable as the walking had been. Lots of ups and downs at the end of a decent walk (never the best time) and yet more road.

On the final few kilometres into Llanidloes there were a few interesting sights. The Newchapel baptist church has had an interesting history:

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I had earlier put my packed lunch off for about an hour, hoping to come across a nice spot to eat it before finally settling for a boring bit of ground I could drop my rucksack on. I thought to myself – why are there no dedicated benches on the trail? You can barely move for them in the Shropshire Hills – ok, slight exaggeration. Then, about 1km outside of Llanidloes, I found this, dedicated to Aneurin and Marina. Even though I was metaphorically at the elbow, I couldn’t not sit down for five minutes, given A&Ms friends and relatives had done the decent thing.

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I had three pubs on my list for Llanidloes. The Angel, The Mount and The Crown and Anchor. Only 15 miles tomorrow so I was thinking I’d allow myself 4 pints. After walking in the Crown and Anchor I immediately felt at home and immediately used up 3 pints of my quota…

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I wonder if there’s a local church we could sing at? For about 20 minutes…

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