Monday, June 20, 2011


So its been a little over a week since I finished my Coast to Coast. My feet feel great, my back loves me again, and its strange to wake up each morning and NOT have to face at least 8 miles of walking.

I do however, wake up around the same time though, which makes Tom happy because I usually have the kettle on whilst he is in the shower getting ready for work. For all the ladies out there: key to a British boy's heart: the teapot :)

I even spent the last weekend in Poole, meaning in three weeks I have visited England's three coastlines. I am amazed how diverse they all are from each other, with rolling beaches to staggering cliff lines. All of them though are breathtakingly gorgeous.

My favorite part of the Coast to Coast: The Lake District

I am sure this is most people's favorite part of the walk. It is just full of huffing and puffing and your reward is exhilarating views of Fells (hills) and Tarns (lakes). Most of the towns were tiny and of course everyone friendly. If I did the walk again I would spend more days in the Lake District, ticking off a bit more peaks like Helvellyn and Scarfell Pike.

My worst part of the Coast to Coast: The flats

I hate to say the 'worst' because I found the entire walk enjoyable. However the Vales of Mowbray were just so... flat. And after the Lake District I thought the flats would be a welcome change. However, my feet did NOT enjoy the monotony of it, and therefore made it the most painful part. It also got a bit tedious seeing nothing but fields of wheat and whatnot.

My suggestions:

  • Be talkative - There were so many different varieties of people on the walk. Retired people, singles, couples, large groups, young students on holiday. See the walk from another person's perspective!
  • Go local - go to the local pub rather than a chain restaurant, and be sure to try a beer you never would have seen if not for being in the area. Also the pubs source food from the local area, like Cumbrian Sausages, or Yorkshire Chicken Parmesan (nothing like its Italian cousin!)
  • Be respectful - If the sign says do not traipse on the Moors, don't do it. These areas are home to lotsa critters, be nice to mother earth, just this once :) Also, don't be loud and obnoxious, especially if staying in a hostel, your fellow bunk mates will appreciate it
  • Check your map! - Do not trust the people walking ahead of you to be going the right way! Near Kidsty Pike a lot of walkers got lost as they went on the High Road (old Roman Road) which eventually got a walker near the end of the Haweswater Resevoir, however it was not obvious at some junctions. Without a map, people got lost and frustrated, and many ended up turning around and going the Kidtsy Pike route (which they DID have mapped)
  • That being said, I strongly suggest having a map with the surrounding area and contour lines as well as having a guide book. This way if you get a bit sidetracked, you can still figure out where you are and then which way you need to go to get back on track
  • Compass. Duh.
  • Keep it in perspective - Try not to think about the 20 miler you gotta do, think of it in sections. Take a lunch break at 8 or 10 miles in, giving you and your feet a well needed rest.
  • Think happy thoughts - It IS a long trip, sometimes after walking in the rain or after stepping in a bog its hard to keep positive outlook every moment of the walk. However, it is worth every penny in terms of memories and experiences for next trip. Also, it is always great to commiserate with other walkers at the pub in the evening :)

Saturday: Glaisdale to ROBIN HOOD'S BAY

Miles: 19

DONE. Wow. It is so strange to say that.

When I saw Whitby Abbey (of Count Dracula fame) I just put pedal to the metal. I finally could see boats on the sea. I thought I was going to cry I was so excited. I probably did not give Little Beck the look around it deserved, however I did stop at Falling Foss for lunch-- but I was just so excited to finally get to the sea.

I also walked thru Grosmont, home of the North York Moors Railway. This train was made famous in Harry Potter, however it has always been a hotspot for train enthusiasts.

Getting to the Coast was-- one of the greatest moment of my life. To finally step out onto the coast line to feel the wind on my face was exhilarating. And, what a coast line!

Wainwright, the cheeky bastard he is, gave us about a 2 mile victory entry into Robin Hood's Bay, with the destination not even in sight until the very end. I was so nervous about getting there I refused to trust my compass and asked people multiple times if I was going the right way.

As promised, when I hit the High Street which ends at the Sea, I turned on the Indiana Jones Theme Tune on my iPod and took the headphones off. I am sure passerbys thought I was a bit mad, but all the walkers I have seen a long the way who finished completely understood my jubilation and congratulated me.

Tom and Laura were at the bottom to greet me. Poor Laura was made to run to the bottom as Tom was worried I was going to beat them (that being said I got in around 2:30-3, I blazed 19 miles). After hugs and kisses, I went to dip my boots into the North Sea and chuck my stone, which made the sometimes arduous, but always breath-taking trip with me into its new home in the Sea.....

My Coast to Coast Walk. Done.

Friday: Chop Gate to Glaisdale

Miles: 20
Beer: The Captain Cook Brewery - Slipway

Another flat day of flat walking mostly. My feet were so unhappy today- I even (finally) got a blister (which went away after the bath)! The Wain Stones and Chop Gate because it was a bit of climb, but then to Blakey Ridge it was all flat. If the heather would be in bloom it would have been absolutely beautiful. Sadly this was not the case so it was a bit bleak along the Moors. The saving grace was The White Lion.

Perched alone on the top of the Moors on Blakey Ridge, it is the 4th highest pub in England (the highest being Tan Hill Inn near Keld). I (finally) had my packed lunch from Osmotherley as well as a pint of Theakston's Old Peculiar.

After that though it was back to the road walking. At least the sun popped its head out for a bit to say hello.

Staying at the Red House Farm today. The lady convinced me to stay for a 0730 breakfast so I guess I am heading off at 0800. Another 19 miler into Robin Hood's Bay and I am hoping to get in by 4pm, we shall see!

Its kind of bittersweet to almost be done with with this walk. Its been almost 2 weeks, and now its so close to the end. I have had such great adventures, I do not know if I am happy to be finished or sad my trip is coming to a close.

Thursday: Osmotherley to Chop Gate

Miles Traveled: 8

Man! It was a great day for walking! Was a shame it was again a short day. Blue skies, puffy (happy) clouds, NO RAIN, and best of all... it was clear enough to see the North Sea! Destination in sight!

Today also brought the return of uphill, which was lovely after walking flat bits for so long. The North Yorkshire Moors are covered in Heather. I bet in August when they are in bloom is beautiful. There is a walk here called the Cleveland Way, which is 100 miles which winds throughout the Moors, I bet that is quite a sight!

Scarth Wood Moor, Carlton Moor and Cringle Moor were crossed today. Amazing views of nearby Moors as well as the villages below. Also got a nice view of the iconic Roseberry Topping, the Matterhorn of England!

Tomorrow is about 20 miles, to include the Wain Stones, the 4th highest pub in Britain, and a couple more Moors before I find myself to Glaisdale for my last B&B. Then onto Robin Hood's Bay!

Tonight I am at BeakHill Farm, which to be honest from the outside kind of scared me, but inside it painted quite a different picture. The hosts are really nice and lovely, but it is a working farm so its a bit rough around the edges. However, any ill thoughts are dispelled with the warm cuppa poured for you and the great conversation from the farmer and his great wife. The dinner (which was included) definitely hit the spot, and a nice change from pub grub. Beef, peas, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower... and ice cream for dessert! Pure heaven let me tell you.

The other people staying here are good fun as well, played Gin Rummy and a game called Sevens with them... and some chatting continuing onto late in the evening. I have never seen them doing the walk until today, which is quite strange. I am very glad to have met them!

No beer tonight, but I did try Dandelion & Burdock Soda at lunch. Apparently the drink has been imbibed since the 13th Century!

Wednesday: Danby Wiske to Osmotherley

Miles Traveled: 8

Another easy day today. Not as tedious yesterday thankfully! Got to use my calves for a bit, a nice reprieve from all that flat walking! Once again today was farmland. It was nice that some people left out food for walkers via an honesty box. I grabbed a banana from a farm for 30p!

I am in Osmotherely tonight staying at 4 Belle Vue Cottages . Christine is here as well, so thats nice. Went to dinner at 3 Tuns, where I had an asparagus and pea mint soup and a small portion of linguine. Of course I had a local ale: Wells County Town Brewery- Summer Gold (so local I could not find a web page). Lovely!

Crossing A19 was not nearly as exciting as I'd hoped, but it was a bit of fun to dash across!

Tomorrow is the return of the hills as I enter the Yorkshire Moors. If I am lucky I may see the North Sea tomorrow!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tuesday: Richmond to Danby Wiske

Miles Traveled: 15.5
Food: Pizza :)

Well today was a weird weather day. Rain, sun, clouds, and hail! It would rain for like 5 minutes then be super sunny. No rainbows sadly.

I am not sure what Wainwright was thinking on the route today, passing by a swear plant and then walking on about 10 miles of road. A humdrum photo day to be sure.

Staying at Lovesome Hill Farm outside Danby Wiske, seems ok. A bit strange because I got in early and no one was ready for us. We have to do some mountaineering to get up to the rooms, but now we are in a cosy (after I turned the heater on), waiting for our rooms to be ready. The lady when she came back brought in fresh fruit bread for us and milk for our tea. Lovely :)

I think tomorrow is blissfully short ( less than 10 miles) so it will make the road walking a bit more tolerable.

Getting a takeaway with two girls who are also staying here for the night. They were going to camp but after seeing the hail decided against it. This is their THIRD time doing the Coast to Coast, and they just turned 21. Amazing!

Monday: Reeth to Richmond

Miles Traveled: 12
Food: Amantola Tandoori
Beer: Matfen Magic

Today might have been the best walking day weather wise on the trip so far. Sunny with some clouds and breeze, good short's and long sleeve weather.

The journey out of Reeth was not hard and in fact not once did I use my compass! Traveled thru more fields and over some fields and we even got a nice wooded area (White Cliffe Wood). And what was our reward for the days hike? Richmond. The largest city we go thru on the Coast to Coast.

I had a hard time waiting for 5pm to show up so I could eat at the Amantola Tandoori restaurant. Glad I did though, joined two other Coast to Coasters in there and had some lamb Rogan Josh. Perfect meal in preparation for the longish walking day tomorrow to Danby Wiske. I also had a mango ice cream... two ice creams in one day!

I am staying at the Old Brewery and it seems pleasant enough. I spend the rest of my day around town, checking out the castle, contemplating the waterfalls whilst having an ice cream cone, as well as taking a snooze soaking up the the last few rays of the sun :)

After that we went to the Georgian Theater for 'Pints & Poetry'. Was a bit strange but there were some interesting presenters, including one very old man who read a poem... but kept telling stories. He definitely went on rambling for about 5 minutes, hilarious and awkward at the same time.

Sunday: Keld to Reeth

Miles Traveled: 12
Beer Consumed: Ringwood Brewery Boondoggle
Pub: Bridge Inn

Another wet day. I took the Valley route instead of going up to the lead mines above Keld. Although it was nice, was still chilly-- wonder what it was like up top!

Got lost (again) around Kearton. Luckily I got down to the B6270 to get into Healaugh, getting me back on track. One of the joys of valley walks I suppose-- if you start going up you are probably going the wrong way :)

The river Swale was the focus of the walk today. It was a good point of reference for the entire walk, as it meandered around the valley. Plenty of farmland around, with fat and happy sheep in abundance.

Staying at Dales Bike Center right outside Reeth in Fremington, I have the room to myself and did a bit of washing as well. I need to figure out breakfast, the guy was gone when I headed down to check. Luckily another bunch of guys staying helped to sort me out. They are mountain bikers enjoying a long weekend in the Dales. Got a quick jaunt to Richmond tomorrow, 12 miles.

Apparently there is a concert going on so the pub I am eating at is very busy. I think I need to investigate.

:: time passes ::

Ok there is an Elizabethan concert at St. Andrew's Church (right across the street). I guess I am heading there after this.

:: more time passes ::

So I just came back from the concert, it was again another random event. I walked over and a queue (a line to my American friends) had already formed. I asked the people at the end of the line what the deal was, ie do we need tickets etc. They replied yes you do need tickets, and they so happened to have an extra ticket! Sehr glucklich!

So the group was called Fretwork (a viol group: stringed musical instruments from the 15th century), with guests Iestyn Davies (singer) and Jacob Heringman (lute-- and an American to boot!). The music they played was from Byrd, Dowland, and Purcell. It was all part of the Swaledale Festival which was I think a 2 week long festival along the Yorkshire Dales.

If you like classical music, I highly suggest you give the Fretworks a go... you can go to their jukebox and listen. I recommend Purcell's One Fantazia in One Part. Just magnificent.

A great evening for sure!

church pic from:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Saturday: Kirkby Stephen to Keld

Miles walked: 11

What a day of differences! Yesterday I would have killed for some wind-- today that was almost all I got. It was brutal heading up to Nine Standards today, so windy it was hard to move in any direction! It was sad because it would have been nice to stay up there and photograph, but the weather was just so brutal I could not be bothered.

The neat thing about Nine Standards, like most ancient structures, the actual intent of its creation is still unknown. Some think it was part of an old boundary line, or it was supposed to look like a camp to invading groups. Thats half the interest in them.

Another really exciting thing about passing the Nine Standards is that I crossed the watershed of Britain. This means all rivers and lakes I pass empty out to the North Sea instead of the Irish Sea. 95 miles! Hooray! It is a great accomplishment and I am quite proud of myself.

Since the last two days were so dry, the moors were not so bad. We have been very lucky with the weather, not too bad but not always too good either.

The Three Musketeers are done (they were only doing half) which I found sad-they are three good guys and always good for a laugh. Have to head back to the pub after dinner for a goodbye pint.

I am staying at the Keld Bunkhouse, which is very nice. I am sharing a room with someone I know, I am eating Quorn chili, which will be good for tomorrow, something to stick to my bones to the 12 mile journey ahead.

Friday: Shap to Kirkby Stephen

Miles Traveled: 22
Beer: Shandy (too hot for an ale)

Hot. That is how I describe today. It was hard to really enjoy the scenery when you feel your skin baking away. Sometimes you felt on the moon with just moorland as far as the eye can see (and no tree in sight!)

I did however get to stop at Scar Side Bed & Breakfast at Margaret's suggestion for some cold lemonade and have my lunch. The owner was very friendly and the shade felt lovely.

I was only supposed to do 20 miles today, but I went to Orton by mistake. Which is fine except it was an extra 2 miles on an already long day! My feet are a bit worse for wear but I bought some ibuprofen and I am sure that is a god send.

Kirkby Stephen hostel is definitely not as nice as the other hostels. It's overly warm and there are blankets and towels strewn about. Its a place to stay though, so that works.

I went with Kristine (she is doing the walk for charity) to The Kings Arms for dinner. For starter I had a black pudding tower, which was three of the puddings covered in a peppercorn sauce. For a main I went for Hawaiian Salmon, which besides for the pineapple I do not know was Hawaiian about it but it was fantastic. The fish was moist and paired lovely with the fruit (surprisingly)

Tomorrow is luckily at 14.5 miles- should be a breeze after today!

Thursday: Patterdale to Shap

Angle Tarn
Miles Traveled: 17
Beer: Derwent Brewery - Springtime

What a lovely day! Not once did I don my raincoat and waterproof pants. I actually wore my tank top and switched to shorts! A perfect walking day. I think I even got a SUNBURN!

Angle Tarn has to be one of the loveliest lakes I have ever seen. It was nestled on Angle Tarn Pike with an amazing view overlooking the Lake District. Was not too much wind so you could get a reflection in the waters. With only hints of clouds and a bright blue sky-- it made for quite a picture.

Around Satura Crag I had a mishap, one foot got fully submerged in boggy mud. I quickly switched socks for fear of too much moisture causing blisters. Still- was pretty funny! Good thing a I had an extra pair of socks.

It was bittersweet leaving the Lakes, but I knew I must press on. This next bit seems a bit nice and flat, a change of pace for sure. Some people may take that as 'boring' but when you are doing high mileage days you welcome flats.

Kidsty Pike was a nice easy clamber (for a change!) with lovely views leading down to Haweswater. The reservoir was actually more difficult than I imagined, but lunch was quite lovely along the lake.

Margaret at Brookfield House is lovely. I got offered scones and tea when I first arrived. However as soon as I saw the bath I knew that was first on the agenda! After a lovely soak I had a cuppa with the other people staying in the B&B. A large group of people walking, using Sherpa Vans to lug their stuff (I wish I thought of that!). Seemed very friendly-- actually everyone I met has been!

I am eating at The Greyhound and I must say, this is the best dinner yet! Warm goat cheese salad with roasted red pepper tossed in a lovely vinaigrette. Then fresh out of the oven lasagna with toasted garlic bread. Washed down with another local ale-- and thats all she wrote!

20 miles tomorrow... ugh! I have breakfast at 0730 and I hope to be out by 0800, arriving in Kirkby (pronounced Kirby) Stephen by 5pm.

120 miles to go!

Wednesday: Grasmere to Patterdale

Miles Traveled: 7.5

Blah. I woke up having such high hopes for today. mistyIt was obvious as soon as I set foot outside Helvellyn was not really an option. The weather report said 50mph gusts on summits... ick! Still I was hoping the clouds would lift enough to tackle St. Sunday crag. I huffed and puffed up Great Tongue only to see... more clouds :(

Looking up at St. Sunday I knew there was no way I'd get the killer views like I wanted. Deflated, I chose the Grisdale Valley route, deciding not to waste my energy wandering thru a cloud and seeing nothing. I kept stopping, hoping the clouds would break like they have done most days. No such luck. That did not stop some people from making their own way up Helvellyn, avoiding Striding Edge (they are stupid, but not idiotic!)

I even contemplated going back up St. Sunday via Patterdale, sans pack. The YH is always openn, so I could check in, drop off all unessential stuff, then head up-- such a cinch! However, as I got to the hostel, reception still only opens at 5pm... and I do not feel comfortable leaving my bag for such a long time in an open (and unlocked) area. :: sigh :: I suppose its laundry day for me.

Probably eating at White Lion tonight, I got a 16-miler tomorrow as my swan song to the Lake District, so I better be ready!

What I have learned so far:

  • Call your bank (ahem... BofA) to let them know you are traveling, thus to avoid a 40 minute phone call from a public telephone booth which slightly smells of piss
  • Waterproof eq GODSEND
  • iPhone GPS & compass will die. Go the old fashioned way
  • Have a detailed map, so when you do get lost you can compare with someone elses to figure out where it all went wrong
  • People are friendly... sometimes sheep are not
  • Stop and enjoy the view- be it from a high peak or a low valley

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tuesday: Honister to Grasmere

Miles Traveled: 11
Beer Consumed: Hawkshead Lakeland Gold

The Lakes keep continuing to surprise me. Today I got proper lost. I went too far south from Lining Crag, completely missing Greenup Edge and ending up on High Raise. Luckily I had my other maps with me (see previous post:) and with the help from some passerby I was well back on my way to at least getting to Grasmere by nightfall. I got to a fell with Easdale Tarn at the bottom-- now all I needed to do was get down... I forged my own way and was triumphant in the end, however I suffered a major casualty. I lost my Trailblazer Coast to Coast Book. It was quite a crazy day and I managed to get into town and buy another one so it was not too much of a setback. Still quite funny, as that is my 1st navigation guide and my OS maps second. So if you are ever hiking up in the Fells and see a Coast to Coast book in a location which is not even mentioned on the route itself... well now you know how it got there :)

Bangry sheepefore all that nonsense, I am pretty sure I got chased by angry sheep in Rosthwaite. I was just moseying thru a field (like you are allowed to) and suddenly I hear this angry bleating. I turn to my right and there is this big sheep, who looks angry.... or as angry as a sheep can possibly make themselves. So I say "Hallo sheep. Just passing thru!" and keep moving. I turn around and its still bleating and following me. I go a bit faster... it starts going faster. Then it gets the whole gang involved and when I turn around again right before hitting the gate there are like 7 sheep after me! It might of been a proper lynching!

Unlike the other hostels the one in Grasmere is quite busy and I have others in my room. Most are older ladies, and one who is shocked and in awe with women hiking alone. Me and other girl are doing just that-- she is from Poland studying in London. She was very bubbly and friendly and we got along just fine talking about school holidays and where we have hiked,.

I wanted to eat at The Jumble Room, but of course it is closed on Tuesdays. So right now I am at The Rowan Tree having antipasti and a salmon penne in a creme sauce. And of course a local beer!
Dove Cottage Dove Cottage
Grasmere seems to be known for three things: Wordsworth, gingerbread, and tourists. I swear they just stand there in the middle of the pavement to you have to walk in the road... move! I can't wait to get to a smaller town, although on the plus side there are more food choices rather than just hostel food. The gingerbread, I must say, was pretty delicious, with like a sugary brown sugar topping. It almost melted in your mouth and had a bit of a brownie-like texture. For someone who does not like gingerbread, I would say it was pretty tasty!

Tonight there is a storyteller hour at the hostel, where people will weave their lyrical masterpieces to wow the crowds and win their hearts with spoken adventures. Or something like that. Its free-- there's tea. I am there.

So in theory I failed the Coast to Coast, about half of today was ad libbed, still I saw some beautiful stuff so I think in the end Wainwright would have been OK with it.

Monday: Ennerdale to Honister

Miles Traveled: 14
Beer Consumed: Hesket Newmarket Brewery - Hay Stacks

Wow. Another interesting day in the Lake District. I decided to try my luck at Red Pike (755m). To be fair I took my sweet time getting up there, I figured it was a light day and I did not want to get to the Youth Hostel too early (they 'open' at 5pm). Anyways, by the time I got to the summit the clouds had rolled in and you could barely see a thing! All I can say is if there are two things you MUST bring on your trip to the lakes: its raingear and a compass. And when I say compass I do not mean your iPhone. Although that is perfectly lovely for most occasions, relying on a piece of electrical equipment when stuck on a mountain is a very dangerous thing. Especially when it is that same device you want to use to call Mountain Rescue when you are properly lost and its dark and you do not want to die.

I say this because I ran into two girls while bumbling around towards High Stile (807m, highest summit on C2C) who were using their iPhone as a GPS (read: no real map) and compass. They looked drenched and completely unprepared for the inclement weather. Useful tip-- going up in the mountains it will always be colder at the tip than at the bottom.... jackets are helpful. I was nervous for them when I pointed them in the right direction and off they disappeared into the mist-- and then it started to hail and I had to focus on my own problems.

It is scary being in a cloud. Its even scarier when you run the risk of being blown over the side or breaking an ankle and you do not know if anyone is around. I have my whistle, and as I found out it is rare to not come across someone in the area I am in.

On my ridge walk I also ticked off High Crag (755m) and Hay Stacks (597m), the latter being in near one of Wainwrights favorite places, Innominate Tarn. This is subsequently where his ashes were scattered by his late widow.

The Honister Youth Hostel is pretty nice, situated near the Honister Slate Mine, which even has a via ferrata route to tackle if you are up to it! Right now it is pretty quiet, which is nice when you have had a decent day of walking. Again, like Ennerdale, the food and hospitality are excellent!

My feet and legs feel pretty good, and with an easy day tomorrow (scraping 10 miles) I think I will be ready for Helvellyn in a few days. I would be lying if I said I am not curious to taste this famous gingerbread in Grasmere tomorrow!