And so it had arrived! We were finally ready to do the final day of our adventure, and what an adventure it had been. Just 19 miles lay before us until we got to throw our pebbles that we had carried for 177 miles so far into the North Sea at Robin Hood’s Bay. Meantime it was time to put the waterproofs on for one final time, as the weather it seems wasn’t going to let us see the sea until we got to dip our toes in it, but that was ok.
Leaving Glaisdale and The Arncliffe Arms behind, we came first through East Arncliffe Wood, and then to the very pretty village of Egton Bridge, clearly a place where the well-heeled inhabit around these parts. We even saw Llama in someone’s very grand garden. It was then onto the slightly grittier but no less attractive Grosmont. Grosmont is a place for the steam train enthusiast and the train that we saw lingering on the platform is apparently the one known as Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films. The village is also famed for its steep streets and climbs and is used in both the Tour de Yorkshire cycling stages and was also part of the 2014 Tour de France. The hill that comes out of town is a whopping 33% for a short while.
From Grosmont the steep hill out along a roadside takes you up via Eskdaleside Cum Ugglebarnby (!) to Sleights Moor, where the mist and fret decided to descend upon us once more and deprive us of any views whatsoever for the rest of the day. A shame as apparently we would otherwise have been able to see to Whitby from here on a clear day.
We then entered the village of Littlebeck, which was just as pretty as Egton Bridge if not more so, and then the woods of the same name, which stretched for 3 or 4 miles and are a big local tourist attraction. It was very strange in fact walking with our boots and packs on to go past day trippers in flip flops and sandals to the waterfalls and cafes there.
Leaving the woods behind we once again made our way over our final moorland, which would take us all the way to the sea. The rains came for our final packed lunch of the trip and we found shelter in some gorse and heather albeit briefly.
It was then on via a hamlet called High Hawsker to reach a path which again met up with the Cleveland Way which we had followed a few days ago. This took us via some fairly depressing looking static caravan sites down towards the sea at last.
The sea was of course a lovely sight to behold, even if we couldn’t see much of it due to the fret. This stretch of coast is only 30 or 40 miles south of where I grew up, and so I began to feel very nostalgic at this point, and a bit poignant that our walk was nearly at an end.
The last three or so miles then match the same way the whole route started, via a coastal path along cliffs at the very edge of the sea, with Robin Hood’s Bay itself finally showing us its face through the fog.
The walk down into Robin Hood’s Bay is steep, past a series of seaside shops and pubs and the like. It’s somewhere between quaint and tacky, and whilst on balance I don’t think I’d choose to come here for my holidays, it was a fitting end to the adventure, as traditional as it is. It was also where Wainwright finished his own adventure all those years ago, and so like the many pilgrims before us, we ended by completing the ceremonial parts: First we cast our pebbles that we had carried from the Irish Sea into the North Sea; then we had our picture taken by the sign at Wainwright’s Bar of The Bay Hotel, which very fittingly says “The End“.
Our trip ended with a struggle for food amongst the mayhem of a very busy and touristy set of pubs, but with a beautifully appointed B&B in the form of Lee-Side. There was a bit of an unfortunate middle of the night search for a lost purse of Mel’s (which thankfully turned out not to be lost after all!), but that’s a story perhaps for another time.
The next day we went back to collect the car at Scarborough and return homeward and reminisce on all that we had seen and done. There had been so many highs and really no lows at all.
When I first coined thoughts of doing this trip I did so due to Covid and the search for a home soil adventure. I thought it would be a good and interesting path and it would be fun and a bit challenging in parts. It was all of those things in equal measure and more, and I’d unhesitatingly recommend it to anyone thinking of doing the same. If anyone reading this wants any more information or suggestions about it then do leave a comment below.
Ultimately the Coast to Coast walk provides a magnificent, close as you can get view, of one of the most beautiful parts of England. You get to see the inside parts of three of the country’s most impressive National Parks: The Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. In fact you get to see parts of those parks that I would wager that the majority of people who even live there never get to see. The navigation is hard at times too, most of it not being signposted, and so without a good map or other navigational aid like Henry Stedman’s excellent book it would be a very difficult (and indeed longer) trail to take.
You get to see some beautiful villages and paths, and the farmland, mountains, dales and streams which accompany some of the countryside along the way provides some rare and majestic wildlife. You also see great nods to England’s past, with the lead mines and railways of the Dales and the still agricultural farmland and waterways of the most rugged parts of the Lakes. Then there are old mills, stone circles and Iron Age sites along the way too, and so much more.
For me ultimately the overriding memories are the beauty and the quietness – we spent many days (although being out for 9 or more hours at a time) seeing practically no-one whatsoever; then the surprising variety of the days themselves, as truly every day saw a different landscape and new horizons; and then also the challenge of it all – it saw us do around half a million steps in 198 miles and lots of hard slog – It was harder than I thought it would be, and indeed most nights we were glad to get into bed by 10pm very tired but also always looking forward very much to the new challenge of the new day ahead.
I’ll pay tribute and thank the travel firm Mac’s Adventures here too. Frankly without them having arranging all of the logistics and accommodation for us it would never have happened, and the quality of that accommodation was by and large first class too. I had (with hindsight perhaps somewhat dreamily) thought of doing this originally by camping along the way, and then of carrying all of our kit. Both would have been mistakes, particularly with the weather that we experienced at times. The comfort of a homely B&B is actually very satisfying, particularly when you just want to get wet boots off and get them dried for the next day.
The final tribute and nod must be to Mr Alfred Wainwright himself. He himself coined this walk In 1972, and his books and illustrations of the Lake District formed an important part of my upbringing and my love for the hills and mountains. Many people have followed this path and will of course do so again – there are many videos on You Tube and the like to whet your appetite for this walk if you wish to follow in his footsteps too. I’d in fact as a final thought do it all again if the opportunity arose, or heaven forbid another global pandemic prevented me from leaving the country again. There is of course a very big world out there, and this country has lots of other places to go too, but it truly is a fabulous representation of the best that exists in so many ways. I thus heartily recommend it to anyone who is considering it.