Distance: 15.5 miles (felt a whole lot longer and indeed was due to getting lost!)
And so it dawned, our final day of the coast to coast. After a terrific night's sleep in a comfy bed and lovely healthy breakfast, we were keen as mustard to get going. Well mentally we were. Our bodies told a different story. My blister and shin splits were making themselves known. I had taped up my legs with some kind of magic tape that Lynda has brought with her. I'm not sure how much of a difference it made as each step was agony, but with 15.5 miles left it was a case of mind over matter.
We set off over the railway and began an immediate steep climb of 230 metres up to Sleights Moor. As we neared the top of our climb, the sound of music drifted on the cool morning air. On the crest of a hill was a man, sitting next to his caravan playing a melody on his violin. What a surreal sight, but a welcome treat after our big climb.
Leaving the man to his music, we continued past heather and grouse, savouring the last of moors in all their purple glory.
Leaving the moors behind us, we dropped down to another picturesque village - Little Beck - before entering Little Beck woods, which are even prettier. This should have been a simple walk in the woods and out the other side. But somehow we managed to get lost, without leaving the very path we were meant to be on.
You see the book said we'd pass a something called The Hermitage, a boulder hollowed out to look like a cave. It also apparently had the date 1790 carved above it. We walked past something that looked like a cave but it had no date above it. We began to look for the next set of instructions. Except that nothing seemed to add up. We walked on, retraced our steps and repeated that several times until an hour later we were ready to lose our minds. A German family walked past us and we asked if they had seen something called The Hermitage. 'Oh yes,' they assured us, 'it's just along there.' The thing we'd thought was the Hermitage was actually just a cave. Had we just kept on walking along the path, we would have found the actual Hermitage and saved ourselves an extra hour on our tired feet. It's amazing what exhaustion does to your brain.
All of that meant we had to stop at the pretty Falling Foss tea room for a large slice of carrot cake. The tea room was set up for a wedding later that day and the bridal couple couldn't have asked for a prettier setting, with the Falling Foss waterfall as background music.
Getting back onto our weary feet, we continued through the woods, hopping on stepping stones that forded the stream. Once we cleared the woods, we were faced with another climb to another moor. We thought we'd left them behind us, but we had to make our way across Sneaton Low Moor. The book warned us that the markings here are unclear and to head for a lone post and solitary tree on the moor.
Well we got lost again. Except this time it wasn't in cool shady woods, it was in blazing sun over scrubby land with bogs to rival the Pennine crossing. We finally found our way after going very off piste for a while and emerged onto the busy A171 road. In the distance we could see the ruins of Whitby Abbey and sea just beyond it. Yet, no matter how far we walked, the sea never seemed to get any nearer. We continued across Graystone Hills where yet again, the signage was slim and the chance of getting lost was great. We passed two hikers just setting off on day 1 of their coast to coast journey, but going in the reverse direction. I think the look of us made them want to reconsider doing it!
Somehow we manage to find our way to Hawsker and its pub for a reviving cold drink. The day had turned into a scorcher.
We made our way down through a caravan park and finally reached the coastal path! Hoorah. It felt like we might actually be getting there at last. With stunning sea views to our left, we pushed on in the heat, each step utter agony but that much closer to the finish. It was remarkable to walk along looking at the North Sea, knowing that two weeks before we had walked along on the opposite coast of England looking at the Irish Sea.
At last Robin Hood's Bay hove into view.
If you've ever been to Robin Hood's Bay, you will know how steep the hill going down to the sea is. It's as though Wainwright thought he'd have a final trick up his sleeve to completely write off any knees that were still functioning. But by this point we didn't care. We could see the end in sight and the emotion of completing it overrode all feelings of pain and exhaustion.
As it happened, a wedding was taking place just as we walked into town. The streets were lined with well wishers, congratulating the new bride and groom. But as the happy couple were behind us, it felt as though the well wishers were all there for us. We decided that frankly, they were, and we entered the town grinning from ear to ear, feeling like rock star champions.
And then at last we were there. Just like that our journey of 192 miles was over. We took our obligatory picture at the end of the route sign. We were surrounded by people beer drinking people enjoying the sun in their shorts, oblivious to all we'd been through. We had hoped our husbands and my children would be there to greet us, but they were far more interested in rock pooling. So we had to walk further along the beach to find them. Only three things were left to do:
1. Throw our pebble from St Bees into the sea
2. Get our certificates of completion
3. Have a very well deserved pint.
And so we did.
Final thoughts on the Coast to Coast:
Back to day 13
Back to day 1
How to plan for the Coast to Coast