Sunday, 25th August 2002
It is Tina’s birthday and not the way she intended to be spending it. Originally she would have been walking with us on her birthday but unfortunately due to an injury to her ankle which meant that she has spent some recent weeks on crutches and is now requiring specialist treatment she is unable to walk any distance and will be spending a fairly lonely birthday although there is one point along the route today where we shall be able to meet up.
We have a splendid breakfast at the Blue Bell Inn and set off at 10 a.m. towards our destination at Clay Bank Top. As appears to be customary on the masochist Wainwright route we start climbing and climbing, this time into the Cleveland Hills and then along the Cleveland Way. The views and scenery are obviously much different from those in the Lake District and certainly less spectacular but it is interesting to see the contours of the land and, as far as I am concerned, having done what we have already done, I am glad that we are not surrounded by hills and mountains that have to be climbed.
Mentally, I think we are all much stronger than when we started on this mad-cap escapade eleven days ago. The walk through the forest on the Cleveland Hills was very calming (just like walking through Burbage Woods at home except for the fact that one is at a height of 1500 feet) and we then came out on to the Yorkshire Moors and a fantastic landscape as far as one could immediately see, of heather clad land. The smell of the heather (a wonderful smell) got stronger and stronger and it could have been a relaxation of the mind which caused us to make a directional error and lost us some time. Nevertheless we recovered our position with the help of a family in Scugdale who were converting a dilapidated farmhouse and we re-joined the Cleveland Way.
The Lyke Wake Walk (LWW) also covers this part of the Coast to Coast walk and we headed on towards Clay Bank Top. Yet another hill to be climbed and this time continuous climbing for what seemed to be an interminable length of time. It took at least two hours before, in the distance, we saw the activities of a Gliding Club on the top of the hill, at the foot of which we knew was the café set in the trees where we were to meet Tina. We eventually arrived there at 3 p.m., much later than anticipated, and had tea and bacon sandwiches. The café was serving a standard Sunday lunch but we still had four miles of walking to do so the basic sandwiches were very welcome. When we were approaching the Gliding Club, Mary shouted out that she could see the sea and sure enough, there on the skyline about 30 miles away was our first glimpse of the North Sea although on the Wainwright Coast to Coast route we still had over 40 miles to do.
It is sometimes disconcerting to know that you have to do quite a lot more than the direct mileage to achieve your objective but as Pat and Mary keep reminding me “No pain; no gain”. This seems to be one of their favourite expressions and I suppose it is very true as there has certainly been plenty of pain. We stayed at the café with Tina for an hour before we set off for the remaining four miles to Clay Bank Top. In the previous few miles the wind had increased considerably and it had changed from a light prevailing wind to a very cold northerly wind. We put on extra protective gear and decided to go on the lower ridge of the three peaks on our way to Clay Bank. This proved to be a good decision and we made excellent progress taking only 1 hr 35 mins to do the remaining few miles and arriving at Clay Bank Top at 5.35 p.m. where Tina was waiting at the car park to meet us.
There is no accommodation at Clay Bank and most people seem to stay at neighbouring Great Broughton which is two miles away but in our planning of the trip we had decided to stay for two nights at The Lion Inn, Blakey Ridge, which is our next destination tomorrow. This meant that Tina had to drive us for twelve miles into the unknown and unfortunately she came to a situation similar to what happened to her en route to Grasmere when the car, this time with a full load, could not get up a very steep, almost vertical, hill. The passengers got out temporarily and I drove for the remaining few miles to Blakey Ridge. We ultimately found our destination; there is no mention of Blakey Ridge on any signpost we could see, at 6.30 p.m. and we were very pleased with what we saw and the accommodation was excellent.
As it was Tina’s birthday we booked an a-la-carte meal for 8 p.m. and we had a surprise when we got to our room when there was a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket for Tina and her walkers, from Sylvia Michael. This was greatly appreciated and we enjoyed its’ contents with an excellent meal.