Wednesday, 28th August 2002
We are all “demob happy” as it is our last day’s walking to achieve our objective of walking, climbing and more climbing across the breadth of England from St. Bees in Cumbria on the West Coast to Robin Hood’s Bay, Whitby on the East Coast.
We had a very pleasant, hospitable stay at Lanes Farm and a good breakfast to give us the fortification to continue our journey towards the East Coast. At the team meeting last night we looked at the alternative route of going more direct in the latter stages to Robin Hood’s Bay rather than go the extended route around the cliffs and we decided to take the shorter route.
We left Lanes Farm after a lengthy breakfast to travel to Grosmont where Tina had collected us the previous afternoon. We had travelled less than a mile when Julie Lake came after us; Mary and Pat had left their clothes at the Farm but fortunately they had packed them and they were handed over without causing us any delay.
Today was to be a reunion day as Peter and Melva (the two Australians) had arranged to catch us up. We last saw them three days ago and they were starting from Glaisdale at about 8.45 a.m. with the object of being in Grosmont by about 10.15 a.m. We didn’t see them when we were travelling by car to Grosmont but as we were approaching our starting point we did see two ladies (Christine and her mother) who started their walk at Shap and whom we had seen from time to time during the walk, although they seemed to like to walk by themselves rather than in a group. We arrived at the pub car park in Grosmont where we had walked to yesterday and put on our walking boots for, hopefully, the last time on this trip and we started off at 10.20 a.m.
Christine and her mother were just coming over the level-crossing at Grosmont and we walked with them up the 1 in 3 hill going out of Grosmont. It would have been sacrilege not to have started the day off without a substantial climb and the masochist Wainwright would have been proud of us having planned our final day to start with a hill climb. We looked back when we were part-way up the hill, to see Peter and Melva coming up behind us. We waited for them and we all walked up the hill together. When we eventually got to the top, forty minutes later, I had my drinks break and Christine and her mother carried on.
My physiotherapist in Leicester had given me specific exercises to do in a warm up prior to each day’s walk and had also told me not to dehydrate, and take drinks regularly. I have followed her advice religiously but it is noticeable that I take drinks far more regularly than either Mary or Pat. We walked on the prescribed route on paths and through the moors towards Goathland where we saw what looked like a “coffee stop” on waste ground near the side of the road, with several cars parked nearby. On closer examination, as we got near to the site, we saw that on the side of the van it said “T.V. and Camera crew catering”. We stopped and talked to the crew who were preparing for a day’s filming of Heartbeat in nearby Goathland. This really impressed Peter as, apparently, they get this programme in Australia and it is one of his favourites.
We carried on towards Littlebeck where we had to climb another massive hill, this time only 1 in 4 and I was assured that this would be the last major hill on our epic journey. We successfully climbed it, yet another hill that seemed to go on and on and made our way on our final leg towards Robin Hood’s Bay. It has been a lovely sunny day, probably the best weather we have encountered although yesterday was pleasant, and at 2 p.m. we reached a crucial point in our travels. The decision had to be made as to whether we took the long way round through Hawkser and around the cliff top into Robin Hood’s Bay or the shorter more direct alternative route to the Bay. Understandably, the West Australian Peter, who had conned his wife Melva into this expedition by telling her it was a walk around the Lake District, wanted to go the whole hog and walk the cliff-top whilst the rest of us just wanted to get to Robin Hood’s Bay as quickly as possible. Peter was quite prepared to go on his own knowing that his wife Melva was O.K. with the rest of us but Pat decided he would accompany Peter. Mary, Melva and I went by the more direct route via a public footpath a little further up the road.
We had our last look at the moors and after losing the path across the final field we saw a very welcome sign which said “Robin Hood’s Bay – 2 miles”. We crossed the busy A171 and made our way towards our destination where we finally arrived at 2.55 p.m. As we turned the corner into Robin Hood’s Bay we saw Tina awaiting us on the front of the Victoria Hotel where we shall be staying for the next two nights. We felt surprisingly good, obviously elated and sat down with our customary post-walk drinks whilst awaiting the arrival of Pat and Peter. They subsequently arrived at 4.15 pm. and we all went down into the Bay together to do the time-honoured thing by dipping our boots into the water and leaving the pebbles which we had collected on the West Coast resort of St. Bees, on the East Coast resort of Robin Hood’s Bay.
On the way down to the Bay we had seen a sign which indicated that the total mileage of the Coast to Coast walk is 192 miles (2 miles extra to our own schedules) and that certificates were available to all successful walkers in the Coast to Coast bar. We all duly collected our certificates – mine is No. 7950. We then made our way very slowly up the steep hill back to the Victoria Hotel where all six of us met for dinner and we also consumed two bottles of celebratory champagne – the end of a lengthy successful journey across the breadth of England which contains fabulous memories and many painful moments!