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Deborah and Gwen's
Coast to Coast Diary
DAY 14 – Fat Betty, a Steam Engine and some very pretty calves
Sunday 30th July
Blakey Ridge to Littlebeck – 17 miles
Breakfast at the Lion Inn is served between 8.30 and 9.30. That may be civilized for a Sunday but it was far too late for us. We came down at 7.30 and helped ourselves to cereal and yoghurt. Eventually someone appeared and we got some tea and toast. We packed up some extra toast, butter and jam to act as an emergency packed lunch and were away by 8.40. This was the first day of the trip that didn’t start from a valley position so unusually the morning consisted of a high level moorland traverse before dropping down into Glaisdale for lunch. At last it was perfect walking weather – sunny but with a fresh breeze. As we rounded the head of Rosedale, high above the old railway track we encountered ‘Fat Betty’, an ancient stone cross now half painted white, apparently dating from the 17th century. We had walked nearly 3 miles and the Lion Inn was still visible on the horizon but soon the route took us down a little and around the head of Great Fryup Dale. The name reminding us of all those breakfasts we could have eaten but gladly didn’t. The well signposted path took us over the moor to Glaisdale Rigg from where we could see down into the Glaisdale valley. Near the trig point we met a couple who were out on a day walk reliving part of their own C2C from eight years ago. We walked and talked with them for a while as they were very interested in our experiences but soon we pulled away as our pace was a little faster. By now we had found a comfortable rhythm and it was surprisingly difficult to artificially slow down.
We were aiming for the pub marked on the map in the village of Glaisdale but it never materialised so we were forced to walk the extra ˝ mile to Carr End and we ate in the Arncliffe Arms. The hot roast beef and horseradish sandwich was lip smackingly good and it was swilled down with lashings of ginger beer – oh dear I sound like someone out of an Enid Blyton book – they do say that things can get a bit surreal at the end of a challenge. Back to reality, we still had 8 miles left but we were both getting a bit giddy thinking about the end in sight.
We stopped to photograph the famous Beggar’s Bridge, a medieval packhorse bridge built with diverging sides to allow the passage of a horse laden with bulging panniers. We followed the gentle River Esk all the way to Grosmont via the delightful village of Egton Bridge which had a much nicer looking pub than the Arnciffe Arms – perhaps we should have been more patient. Along the old toll road to Grosmont we saw lots of an unusual looking plant; we later discovered it to be ‘Marestail’ a rampant weed in these parts. We also met our first westbound Coast to Coast walker, he was backpacking and had a look of eager anticipation about him; we wished him well, hoping he would enjoy his crossing as much as we have ours.
During the final mile to Grosmont we kept hearing the sound of a steam train and its distinctive whistle, as we came into the village I had to race up the main street to hurriedly take a photo of the engine as it passed over the level crossing. We stopped for a pot of tea in a jazz café / gallery right next to the over busy tea gardens. The café was cool, airy and had large comfy leather sofas to sit in, maybe that was not such a good idea as we had a 1 in 3 climb to get out of Grosmont. As we were leaving, the steam train returned so I needn’t have rushed for that photo. We waited for the crossing gates to open and were met by a large group of ladies out for a days ramble. Mum commented on their ages saying “it was nice to see so many mature ladies enjoying a walk” it made me chuckle – had she forgotten how old she was and what it was she was doing!
On the steep pull out of Grosmont there were lots of interesting properties to look at, this helped to take our minds off the gradient. On the way up to Sleights Moor we encountered two more westbound C2Cers eager to pick up tips for a blister free crossing – ‘lots of paddling, a touch of vaseline and a change of socks each day’ was our only advice. Then at last, over to our left, the sea came into view. This was our first sight of the eastern coast as it had been too hazy to see it from the top of the North Yorkshire Moors yesterday. It was Whitby and we could see the Abbey perched high on the cliff top. A great sense of achievement washed over both of us and for me it was tinged with a little sadness knowing that our adventure was nearing its end.
After crossing the Whitby to Pickering road we headed towards Littlebeck. A shortcut over farmland led us along less well used footpaths to reach Intake Farm. This avoided dropping all the way into the village and approached the farm through a field of the prettiest calves ever. We walked into the farmyard at exactly 6 p.m. We received the most genuine welcome of the whole trip from Judith and Robert and then we were served tea and scones in the garden. The farm has belonged to the Ventress family for generations but the house has recently been extended and renovated to provide superb accommodation for both the family and guests. Our room was huge and very comfortably furnished; the hot water system was amazing – the best water pressure of the whole trip. We went into the sitting room before dinner and who should be there but Henny and Albert. It was so lovely to share our last evening together after bumping into each other so many times during the last two weeks. We also met Jeanie and her brother Bob who were completing an aborted C2C crossing from last year. I popped outside and watched the farm cat catch and devour a racing pigeon – she had not long had kittens so I guess she needed a good feed. I returned to the dining room for our excellent feed! Judith brought out homemade pies, Steak & Ale and Chicken & Ham with lots of vegetables fresh from her garden and a raspberry pavlova to finish. What a fantastic meal to share with our fellow walkers it had quite a celebratory feel. After dinner we watched the sheep being brought in for market tomorrow and then headed off to bed. I had two days worth of diary writing to catch up with so didn’t get to sleep until gone 11 p.m.
Thought for the day:
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