Coast to Coast Day 11 – Clay Bank Top to Glaisdale.

So we were nearly there! We’d done 10 days and 160 odd miles, and all that lay in front of us were two days on the moors. We were even promised (well maybe not promised exactly) our first view of the sea today, and so we could almost smell the finish line! Well not quite as it turned out, as the North York Moors had other ideas and things in store for us. In fact this day turned out to be just hard in every way, and a good example of how weather conditions even in mid August of a British summer can absolutely beat you up.

We had a day ahead of us of around 19 miles, and started it strangely in the back of someone’s car from the hotel in Great Broughton. They brought us back to the finishing point of yesterday’s walk at Clay Bank Top, and a very different day it was. It started out misty and drizzly, one of those days when you think you’ll probably end up getting a bit wet but don’t really want to don the waterproofs yet just in case. So we soldiered on for a bit and thought we’d see what it did.

Today’s vlog entry before the bad weather started.

After not very long it became clear that the weather and the visibility was just going to get worse and worse, and it stayed like that all day. We ended up with probably 40 or 50 mph winds, and lashing rain for probably 80% of the day. Such a shame, as other people’s pictures of this area have been spectacular and we would have loved to see it that way. But sometimes you just have to take the crap days with the good ones and put your head down and take them as all part of the wonderful adventure you’re on.

You get the idea…

Much of the walk until the middle of the day was on a former railway line through the moors, which at least made navigation simple.

The ex railway line that lined much of the first half our route.

Whilst we carried on getting wetter and wetter, we figured that even attempting to eat our packs lunches in this was going to be a bit tricky. There was certainly nowhere to sit down and the rain was getting ever worse. We knew that the only place we would pass all day was a famed pub up on the top of the moors called The Lion Inn. It was famed for being having not been decorated in about the last 500 years, but also for being very hospitable. Oh and it is apparently the second highest pub in the UK I think too. Unfortunately the hospitality didn’t extend to us, as when we arrived (just before noon) it was shut. Not wanting to hang around in the doorway like desperados in the rain we thus decided to trudge on and give it a miss. Shame, and maybe one for another day.

When it says ‘All-Day’, that was maybe in pre Covid times 😦

The second half of the walk was half along a road, and then back across Danby Moor, which from what I saw it is the most desolate place on the planet. Mel quipped (true black humour if ever you heard it) that she half expected Myra Hindley to jump out on us from behind the mist swept heather. If she had, then she would have been the only person who was mad enough to be out on the moors that day apart from us!

The afternoon was punctuated briefly by a visit to ‘Fat Betty’, another C2C tradition. Fat Betty is a once white stone marker, where the tradition dictates that you must both give and leave a sweet offering for other Coast to Coasters to do the same. This being the middle of a pandemic the pickings were lets say both slim (certainly not fat at all!) and also unappealing. We did however leave a treat or two ourselves, which I assume will be there for some time to come.

Giving our offerings to Fat Betty.

I think this picture sums up how much fun was had today!

The walk through Danby Moor and Glaisdale High Moor were then just ‘head down, let’s get there as soon as we can and dry off’. The waterproofs kept us largely dry, but boots were completely wet through. Eventually we got to Glaisdale (much to Mel’s relief, and mine too I have to say) but found it was at least another mile until our B&B, which turned out to be a pub (The Arncliffe Arms), actually the only one we stayed in on the whole trip. Whilst the room was fine and the beer was pretty good, it I’m afraid left a lot to be desired when it came to Covid precautions, and we both ultimately ranked it in 13th place out of the 13 establishments we stayed in on the walk. It was a high bar though, as apart from this and The Wainstones we had stayed in the previous night, all of the rest went from great to fantastic. The staff were very friendly though it has to be said.

The Arncliffe Arms was also memorable for two other things. One it would be the last place we stayed in before we got to reach the sea at Robin Hoods Bay on the final leg, our twelfth. And secondly it had the most ferocious drying room fuelled very literally by a massive 12 foot square biomass boiler which the owner was very proud of. I was going to place my wet boots on top of it, but thought it might melt them altogether. It was also down a rickety set of dark steps with no light, and was thus almost dungeon like inside. We were glad in any case to be able to leave the next day (which unfortunately was also to be in waterproofs and woolly hats the whole day) in warm and dry clothes. Just 19 miles to go then…….

Coast to Coast Day 10 – Ingleby Arncliffe to Clay Bank Top/Great Broughton

Day 10 was a simply brilliant day in every single aspect. It started from the very charming hamlet of Ingleby Arncliffe and ended in the North York Moors at a village called Great Broughton (or so we thought, see later on!). Only a short stage of 12 or so miles, it was nonetheless full of ups and downs.

Despite the shortness of the stage, we had seen the profile and knew this would be a testing day, described as ‘Difficult’ in the Mac’s Adventures, and with over 3,000 feet of ascent. We’d also get onto the North York Moors for the first time today – we’d seen them looming towards us all of yesterday’s flat stage from Reeth to Richmond. I was really looking forward to getting up there.

Covering an area of about 550 square miles, the North York Moors is one of the largest expanses of heather moorland anywhere, certainly in the UK. I’d been over here just once before, when cycling the Coast to Coast about 4 years ago, and remembered more than anything just how lumpy it was. There are a large number of hills and dales, and we’d cross quite a few of them in the now final three days of our trek.

On our way up to the Moors we passed a house selling these – it would have been rude not to, pandemic or not – they were bloody delicious!

Setting out past the Blue Bell, the pub we’d eaten in the night before, the path turned up through Arncliffe Woods and then quite steeply up before hitting the moorland. We were lucky in that the weather was quite glorious, and en route we passed a “48 miles to Robin Hood’s Bay” sign. Reaching the first moor, Scarth Wood I think, the expanses of heather seemed to stretch on for ever, and almost on cue some wisps of mist rolled in. It was like being on the set of An American Werewolf or the like.

The other notable thing about this day was the fact that at around about Scarth Wood, three paths coincided – The Coast to Coast, The Cleveland Way, and the Lake Wake Walk. We would follow the signs for the Cleveland Way in fact for most of the next two days.

Heading through the woods out of Ingleby Arncliffe, a sign reminded us what we had done so far, and what lay ahead.

The Moors stretch out before us at last, the mist didn’t disappoint one bit!

There followed around four hills, none particularly steep or long, but all ones which got your heart racing a bit. Mid way through the day we also passed a hangliding club at the top of one of the hills, and there were about half a dozen seemingly very happy souls up riding the thermals and enjoying the fine day.

More notably though, we passed and were passed by on this day ‘Biscuit’ and his owner. Now Biscuit was a lovely dog who we had seen as early as day three on our way down to Grasmere, and her owner helped us across a raging stream. We’d seen them a fair few times along the way too, as you do with fellow C2Cers. They were on their way this day to Blakey Ridge, ahead of us. The guy was lovely, and was trying to get back home on the Friday – we hope they made it safely – Biscuit was one of our highlights of the trip and I wish I had a photo to share here for posterity.

Heather, heather, and more glorious heather 🙂
The last hill ahead of us, with The Wainstones at the top.

Climbing through the Wainstones.

And made it!

Not long before we got to the Wainstones themselves at about mile 11, I’d looked at my Macs Adventures map and details, and there was a note on there to say ‘when approaching the Wainstones, phone your hotel who will come and collect you from Clay Bank Top car park’. I thought this a bit odd, but then realised that where the walk finished was about three miles from Great Broughton in the wrong direction, and that furthermore, Great Broughton was not on the Coast to Coast path! It also said that they’d come and bring us back the following day, so therefore it didn’t feel like cheating at all.

Our hotel, The Wainstones, looked from the website like it was a bit grand for us, but it proved I have to say quite the opposite. In fact it was the most tired place we stayed in the whole trip and not a place we’d recommend. Also the temperature in the bedroom was close to that of the surface of the sun, and sleeping was not at all easy. I was determined not to eat there in fact, and damaged to find a brilliant little pub in the village called the Jet Miners – the food (and everything about it) was outrageously good, and the best of the whole trip, so I was prompted (by myself this time!) to write a Tripadvisor review right away:

So we were now down to just two days left – time had flown, and we had walked already about 160 miles. The next day was also right through and over the moors to Glaisdale, and what a totally different (in practically every respect) it would prove to be. But every day is a massive adventure on this walk, and you just have to live every moment and totally embrace them all.