Day 7 – Shap to Kirkby Stephen – 13th August 2013

Oh yeah pant time!

Today apparently we walked 20.19 miles, gained 5008′ in height, took us 7 hours and fifty minutes and earned 3357 beer and pie points.

Today was a long long day. After yesterday’s walk, probably the last thing we needed was a 20 mile trek. The breakfast at Margaret’s was superb. I had fruit salad and smoked haddock with a poached egg which made a nice change. Kieran had another full English and said it was probably the best yet. The pack up was also fantastic, it’ll probably last for days.

The day didn’t start too well though. We needed an early start but I had to make a call to work and then Sherpa turned up for the bags before I’d finished packing and in the rush, forgot my cheque book was in the bag so couldn’t pay Margaret. She said I could send it on.

We got off at about 9.45 and crossed the first 2 north/south communication routes, the West Coast Railway and the M6. We waved to a motorist who kindly waved back.

The route took us over moorland, round Odendale towards Orton. We passed the Geordie couple who were walking to Orton and the 4 American ladies who really struggled yesterday but were only walking to Orton so they should be ok and looking forward to Kennedy’s tea room and chocolate shop. They did say that they got the steam boat yesterday down Ulswater to Pooley Bridge and walked from there. I reckon that’s a cheat.

Anyway, we pressed on. Passed a tea opportunity at a farm as I had no cash and had lunch a bit further on. We passed loads of sheep, cows and horses which was nice. By the time we reached Sunbiggin Tarn we were starting to flag and the trek across the moorland was a bit of a drag. We had a Mars Bar stop on the road where me and Dale broke off last time to Newbiggin on Lune. From there it was a case of just getting through it. We reached Smardale Bridge and took the only photos of the day and we continued the up and down trek.

As we reached the bit where me and Dale went off route on the old disused railway, we knew we were nearly there. A short time later we entered Kirkby Stephen and our digs, Fletcher House where tea and cake welcomed us.

Looks like Chinese tonight which will make a change from pub food. Tomorrow we cross the border into Yorkshire so Kieran says he’ll wear his Yorkshire CC shirt for the Yorkshire moment on the top of Nine Standards. Also will see Janine and Sadie the dog in Keld tomorrow although the forecast for Thursday is a bit poo.

Also, coming into Kirkby Stephen, there’s a sign post with the distance in furlongs. Not many of those left. 8 furlongs in a mile for you youngsters.

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Day 8 – Kirkby Stephen to Keld – 14th August 2013

Nice day today and we are now half way to Robin Hood’s Bay. The weather was kind to us but that looks like changing tomorrow.

Apparently we did 12.33 miles, gained over 3000′ in height ( I find this hard to believe but that’s what it says), took us 5.29 hours and we earned 2119 beer and pie points.

Great B & B last night. Can recommend Fletcher House. The room was big, free tea and cakes when we got in yesterday and the best breakfast yet. Kieran got his longed for black pudding at last and there was loads.

A bit of a panic when we set off again as Sherpa arrived early for the bags but managed to rescue the cheque book to pay. We went to the bakery for provisions and Kieran opted for a steak pasty and iced finger. Unfortunately they hadn’t got any caramel short bread so we couldn’t rate it. I still had enough rations from Margaret’s pack up yesterday. We got some toe compeed as Kieran has a blister on his little toe and set off.

We passed a sign that said we had come 82 miles and had 108 to go so nearly half way.

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Just after this Kieran realised he didn’t have his sunglasses so he went back to find them but didn’t. So that put us back a bit but we were soon on our way.

We started the climb at Hartley, up past the quarry towards Nine Standards. Kieran as usual setting the pace and me lagging behind. We passed another couple ( rapid) and came across a field with 2 alpacas in. Not your normal dales farm animal.

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We continued towards the summit past the resting place where Kieran looked like King of the Mountains.

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The track turned into a normal moorland track and we passed too more people (oh yeah rapid). We soon arrived at the summit and the line of large stone cairns. Nobody knows how or why these are here despite a number of theories. We saw David, who we last saw in Shap, who was taking a well earned breather and he took our Barrett Steel moment. At the summit cairn I took Kirean’s Yorkshire moment as everything East is God’s own County. Also, this is the watershed where every river from here runs East.

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From the summit there are a number of routes down depending on the time of year to help the erosion of the delicate peat bogs. As it was August, we followed the blue route. The descent from Nine Standards is notorious for thigh deep bogs but luckily with it being relatively dry this year our descent was thigh bog free. One or two interesting moment but nothing too alarming. As we entered a nice valley we stopped for lunch with David and we discussed the cream tea at Ravenseat farm we were looking forward to.

After lunch we pressed on and after about 45 mins came to Ravenseat farm. We could see people there and passed a sign saying cream teas £3. Lovely. As we got closer we could see that the group there were our friends The Bertie’s but to our horror there was a sign saying “closed today”. Nooooo. How disappointing. There was a nice dog and a peacock but no cream tea. We had a chat with The Bertie’s who seem to be on the same schedule as us, and pressed on.

We eventually hit the road and came across a small group in wet suits who we planning to jump into a waterfall. It looked great fun but Kieran said I’d probably chicken out which is probably true.

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Day 9 – Keld to Reeth – 15th August 2013

Today we walked 12.98 miles, height gain of 3513′ ( I really find this hard to believe), and earned 2209 beer and pie points.

Last night Janine and Sadie the dog joined us and everyone at Keld lodge were very helpful. Sadie was super excited but eventually calmed down. The meal was excellent as was the Black Sheep. Kieran decided to spend the night with the dog rather than listen to my snoring.

In the morning I couldn’t believe that Kieran chose the Keld breakfast which was the full English but bigger. It had 2 of everything. I had kippers which was very nice.

Today we had a choice. We could do the high route via Gunnerside Gill and the old lead mines. I’ve done this part many times as has Kieran and it is fascinating or we could do the low route down the valley to Gunnerside then up the top of the valley then down to Reeth.

Even though the weather forecast was better than it had been, it was raining and we had the dog with us of course so we decided on option 2. We arranged to meet Janine at the pub in Gunnerside and set off.

Kieran reprised the photo he had taken (aged 9) when he did this leg with Dale and me at the waterfall. The dog was a bit lively at first as she had all these new sights and smells. She did calm down as she got tired. We came across a group of cows with calves which was a worry but Kieran took a very wide berth with the dog while I went close to the cows which seemed to work. It was an easy womble down the valley as we by-passed Muker and continued to Ivelet Bridge which was being repaired so had scaffolding all round it which was a shame as it is a pretty bridge. Just before Gunnerside, we came across another group of cows but using the same tactics we negotiated them safely.

We arrived in Gunnerside just before 12.00 to find that the pub had closed but thankfully the tea room was open. Janine was there to meet us so we had a fresh lemonade, tea and Kieran had cake and an Ice cream. I still had some tea bread and fruit cake left from Margaret’s pack up a couple of days ago.

The weather was really nice now as we set off for Reeth. The Stedman “low” route now took us up the valley side. To avoid doubt this bit is not the low route. If you want to follow the low route, use an OS map not the guide book. There is a path that continues to follow the Swale down river. Anyway, we knew this but the top of the valley route does mean that there are some rewarding views back along Swaledale which really is a very pretty valley, my second favourite after Dentdale. Once up there, the route is easy until you then drop down the road to Healeagh. It is then an easy 1 mile bimble to Reeth.

As we were entering Reeth, who should we meet coming the other way but Janine who was just setting off for a walk in her new boots!!! What had she been doing for 2 hours? She obviously underestimated our rapidness. So she joined us and we found our way to our digs, Hackney House

Now after Gunnerside, Kieran realised that he didn’t have his phone and hoped that he left it in the tea room and Janine had picked it up. If not then the only other option was that it dropped out of his flowery shorts when he tied his boot laces. So when we saw Janine unfortunately she didn’t have it, so they took the car back to Gunnerside. The phone is only a £5 one but of course it has all his contacts on. I was left at the B & B with tea and cake. When they came back, thankfully the phone was at the tea room.

So Janine and the dog have left us to pant time. We may see Janine and one of Kieran’s friends Rob and his girlfriend in Richmond. Tonight we are having a posh meal at Orchard Cafe which was recommended by my brother. Apparently the chef is ex-Savoy so should be good.

Tomorrow is another easier day, although we’ve extended it beyond Richmond to just before Catterick to shorten the next day. Also, looking forward to staying at St. Giles Farm which comes highly recommend.

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Day 10 – Reeth to Colburn – 16th August 2013

Today we did 16.03 miles and earned 2720 beer and pie points. The height gain apparently was 4068′ which is quite frankly very silly.

Last night we had a lovely meal at Orchard Cafe in Reeth. Highly recommended. It’s only small so if you plan to go, book.

The B & B Hackney House was very good. Breakfast OK. The Bertie’s were also staying there so we had a catch up. We went to the store next door to stock up but I still had some rations from previous pack ups so didn’t need much especially as Janine was meeting us in Richmond with Kieran’s friend Rob and his girlfriend Sophie.

We set off at 9.30, which is good for us but Kieran had boot issues which held us up a bit. It was a fairly easy day today but we’d decided to push on past Richmond to shorten the next day.

The weather was great as we left Reeth and headed towards Marrick. We went passed the Priory, now an outward bound centre and ascended the nuns steps.

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We carried on over farm land past lots of sheep and cows with calves. As we went down the hill to Marske we passed a group of women who were on a cycling trip and were struggling up a very long, steep hill. I was thankful we were walking down but brought to mind some of the hills we’d walked up. We stopped in Marske for a quick bite and shared the bench with the couple from Wakefield who were also in the Restaurant last night.

We pushed on and climbed Applegarth Scar and soon after entered Whitcliffe Wood. Just before the wood The Bertie’s were having a lunch break in a lovely spot with great views down to the Swale which we had been following since Keld and would continue to follow into tomorrow.

Soon after leaving the wood, we entered Richmond, the biggest town so far.

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We found Janine, Rob, Sophie, Donna ( Rob’s mum) and Catherine ( Middlebrook) in the Cross View tea room so we had a brew and Lemon merangue pie. It would take us about an hour and a half to reach Colburn so we arranged to meet Janine at about 4pm at St Giles Farm where we were staying.

Rob and Sophie joined us as we left Richmond and headed into the country again.

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We arrived in good time to be greeted by Jane with tea and a freshly baked cake. As time past, we wondered where Janine and co were. Now timing is not Janine’s strong point and Catherine and Donna also. It was about 5.30 before they polled up as they got lost! In the 4 miles from Richmond!

Anyway, Kieran and me had to make our excuses at 6.00 as we had to get ready for dinner at 7.00. So no pant time tonight.

Jane had done a lovely dinner but unfortunately Kieran felt unwell so missed out. Hope he’s ok in the morning as it’s a long day.

Day 11 – Colburn to Ingleby Arncliffe – 17th August 2013

Today we walked 19.19 miles at the fastest pace we’ve done yet at 22.10 minutes per mile, mainly because it was flat (although it said we had over 4000′ of height gain which again is silly). We also earned 3113 beer and pie points i.e. calories used.

After feeling ill last night, Kieran was feeling a bit better but not well enough to manage a full breakfast. So he hasn’t achieved his goal of having a full English every day. He managed some toast and jam.

Given the disruption with everyone descending last night and Kieran not been well, Jane at St Giles Farm was great (and Monty the dog).

Kieran is determined to finish now and is not going to let a tummy upset stop him. We set off in good time, just after 9 as we knew today was a long day and the forecast was for rain later so the sooner we got going the better.

It certainly pays to go that bit further than Richmond and that 4 miles less we would have today perked us up. We were soon going under the A1, the first of the three north/south transport routes we would cross today. Through Catterick and across fields and meadows though much of this first part was on the road, which is hard on the feet but means you can get a move on. It didn’t seem too long before we entered Danby Wiske and a lunch stop. The pub was open so we could have a lemonade (honest) with our lunch. The pub sign said it was 60 miles to Robin Hood’s Bay which was a great lift and makes you realise how far we had come.

We thought we were the first Coasters to get to Danby Wiske but there were 2 other guys in there and they set off before us. We got Mars Bars for a break later on and set off for the second half. We crossed the East Coast main line and continued up the road until our turn off. The scenery was much the same, fields of wheat, barley and rape seed waiting to be harvested or fields of cows and sheep. Although not as spectacular as the lakes, these are working farms and in there own way interesting.

We passed the 2 guys we saw in the pub (yeah rapid), and had our Mars Bar break at a farm where the farmer had put lots of signs pointing the way, probably fed up with folk walking into his garden. He had also provided a bench and refreshments and honesty box. We paid for a couple of drinks, ate our Mars Bars and moved on.

More of the same countryside but it started to rain as the weather caught us up. As the rain got heavier, our thoughts turned to crossing the A19, the only main route that we had to cross without the benefit of a bridge or underpass. When we reached the A19 the task that awaited us became apparent. We watched as cars flashed past at 80 mph and when there was a gap we legged it across the 2 lanes. The southbound seemed quieter and we legged it across successfully. As Kieran said, it certainly gets the heart rate up.

So we were nearly home if not exactly dry. As I’d stopped in the B & B before I was looking forward to the scones, jam, clotted cream, home made bread, foot spa etc but when we arrived there had been a mix up with the booking and we had been moved to next door. Devastated. Our new place is nice and we got scones but no jam and cream. Still, could have been worse. There is also a fair walk to the pub tonight down a steep hill which of course means a a steep hill back. Ho hum.

Should be a good day tomorrow, up on the moors to Clay Bank Top. The weather is set fair so it should be a nice day. Only 50 miles to go.

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Day 12 – Ingleby Arncliffe to Clay Bank Top – 18th August 2013

Today was probably my favourite day so far. The weather was perfect, the views were superb, the heather splendid and the walk offered enough challenge without over doing it.

We walked 12.90 miles in just under 6 hours, height gain apparently 4500′ and we earned 2231 beer and pie points.

Last night we dined at the Bluebell with The Bertie’s who told us their names but I’m ashamed to say I’ve forgotten. Talking to them, made me realise again how wise we were to start East of Richmond. We caught the last 10 mins of the rain last night but they were caught in it longer. It was probably the last time we’ll bump into them as after today we’re on different schedules. They are nice people and I hope they finish ok.

There was a surprise last night, when as we got back from the pub, a guy turned up at our B & B in army fatigues, a big pack and very wet and he seemed thankful of a place.

At breakfast when we talked to him, he said he was trying to complete the Coast to Coast walk in under 10 days. Basically, he walks for as long as he can then sleeps in a bivey bag. He’d got to Ingleby in 5 days but the weather and lack of a water source had driven him to seek out a B & B. He said he would go to Clay Bank stop and push on from there. He was doing this as his mate said he couldn’t. More of him later.

Back to us. We had our breaky, and got off for about 9.20. We walked past the Bluebell and into Arncliffe wood. There was a herd of sheep looking at us over a cattle grid which looked quite funny. Here it was a steady climb on a good track until we joined the Cleveland Way and continued on up past the relay station.

We were now following The Cleveland Way and the Lyke Wake Walk. It continued through woodland before climbing steeply to Huthwaite Green and eventually up onto Live Moor. This continued onto Carlton Moor but I couldn’t see the gliding club that was there last time but we did have magnificent views towards Middlesbrough and our first view of the North Sea. Also Roseberry Topping and Cook’s monument could be seen. Kieran kept reminding me how he ran up Roseberry Topping twice while competing in the Geoffrey Gordon cup.

We dropped down towards where Lord’s Stone Cafe was. It was a welcome watering hole last time but today it was a building site, not sure what they were doing. Still we stopped for lunch and there seemed to be some mountain bike competition on and we watched them wheel their bikes to the top Kirby bank. We saw the 2 guys we saw yesterday and gave them a wave. After lunch we made our way up Kirby Bank and watched as the bikes careered down the other path. At the top there’s a bench where me and Dale had lunch last time but it was really windy up there so glad we didn’t this time. There was another steep descent to be followed by another steep climb to be followed by another steep descent to be followed by, you guessed it, a steep ascent up towards The Wainstones a distinctive outcrop of rock. There’s a bit of a scramble over the rocks which resulted in my remaining Leki pole snapping. Glad now I got the 2 bargain ones. At the top we had another Barrett Steel moment and Kieran looking “epic”. Also by the Wainstones was a herd of Belted Galloways with calves who were really cute. I rang the hotel to pick us up at Clay Bank Top and we had a steady walk until we reached the road.

We waited in the lay by until our lift came. While there we saw the army guy who had passed us a little earlier and told us he was planning to push on to the end without stopping, getting to RHB by 15.00 tomorrow. He must be crackers.

We have the luxury of a bath in our B & B so intend to soak away the aches.

It’s a long day tomorrow but we’ve already seen the sea and we are less than 40 miles from our destination. We are nearing the end of our amazing adventure.

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Day 13 – Clay Bank Top to Glaisdale – 19th August 2013

Pooped. We walked 19.56 miles at our fastest pace yet and earned 3104 beer and pie points.

The Wainstones Hotel was very comfortable last night with a nice meal and Black Sheep bitter. We were very naughty and had a pudding. My second and Kieran’s third of the trip. Couldn’t resist the chocolate brownie.

Breakfast was ok. Had kippers for a change. We knew today was a long day so we were off for 9.15 with a lift back to the footpath. The day started with a stiff climb onto Urra Moor, the penultimate steep climb of the walk so only one more to do. Once on the top it was easy walking on a good track marked by boundary stones. One had a hand carved on it, another a smiley face, although Kieran thought it was a sad face.

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We motored on still following The Cleveland Way until Bloworth Crossing or Blowers Crossing as we called it so we had a chorus “my dear old thing” before leaving The Cleveland Way as it turned north and we continued east along the old Rosedale railway line which supported the iron workings. This meant we could walk at a fair pace as the path contoured around the head of Farndale giving us fine views. The aim was to reach the Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge for lunch time and we managed to catch up and over take 2 groups (we are soooo rapid). We reached the pub just after 12, just as a coach load of pensioners arrived. I rushed to the bar for drinks (soft) and ate our pack up outside in peace. Noticed some coasters finishing there. If they had come from Clay Bank that is one easy day.

After lunch we followed the road for some time until we came to Fat Betty a distinctive boundary stone.

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The tradition is to leave some food  and pick some up but there was nothing there so we didn’t leave anything. We ploughed on again on a good track and road so we made good time. We reached a Glaisdale 6 miles sign which made us both happy and sad as 6 miles is some way with tired legs.

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I got a text from Dale which helped spur us on and we had been able to see the North Sea for some time which helped put a spring in our step. Also we had some lovely views of Fryup Dale which deserves a mention just for the name.

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We continued on the road until we reached Glaisdale Rig, a wide track that would lead us to Glaisdale.

We dropped down into the top of the village past someone displaying a Yorkshire flag.

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The village is spilt into 2 so we dropped down further until we reached The Arncliffe Arms where we are staying in good time for pant time.

So only one day to go. Always a bitter sweet day. It is another long one so not an easy finish but my brother is meeting us at Grosmont to walk the last 15 miles with us which will be good.

Day 14 – Glaisdale to Robin Hood’s Bay – 20th August 2013

Done it! 201.38 miles in 13 days.

Today we did 20 miles, in 7.58 hours and earned 3368 beer and pie points.

We had a good night in the pub talking to another Father and Son doing the walk so we were swapping war stories.

We got a good start this morning knowing we had 20 miles to cover. My brother had contacted me and said he would meet us in Grosmont which was nice. Also Janine was planning to meet in RHB which was good.

As we went down the hill towards the station we came across Beggars Bridge

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Apparently, the bridge was built by a guy who before going to sea was unable to get to see his love of his life as the river was swollen by rain. On his return after making his fortune he married his love and built the bridge so nobody would have the same problem. Nice story.

We continued through a wooded stretch before going through the lovely village of Egton Bridge. We turned off to follow a track through the Estate which still had the toll prices on from a long time ago.

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As we entered Grosmont, my brother was waiting by the car park and just as we arrived at the crossing, a train was about leave. Oh the joy.

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We called at the co-op to get lunch and they had caramel shortbread we could rate.

The road out of Grosmont is long and steep, 33% in places. It’s a long old haul up there until you reach a path that takes across Sleights moor to the main A169 Whitby to Pickering road. A path off right brings you down into Littlebeck, another lovely village, and into Littlebeck wood. It is a really nice woodland walk which takes you past a Hermitage carved out of rock.

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The path eventually winds round to Falling Foss a very pretty waterfall.

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And a tea room where Janine was. We had our lunch on the picnic tables and had a natter. As far as the caramel shortbread went it was :

1. Proportion – 7

2. Caramel – 8

3. Shortbread – 6

4. Choc – 5 (milk so too sweet)

We said goodbye to Janine and set off for the second half. Up out of the wood, onto the road and onto the moors again. My brother said last year this section was virtually impassable with bogs but it was bone dry which made for easy walking. We got to the part where we got lost 7 years ago but made through ok this time due to Kieran’s map reading so didn’t need the magic hedge (see previous blog).

After Hawkser, we turned into the caravan park and a cup of tea and ice cream before setting off on the last 3 miles round the cliffs. It was good to be so close now and it put a spring in our step. Janine had walked a couple of miles down the path to meet us and we continued along the Cleveland way which we had now rejoined.

Soon Robin Hood’s Bay was in sight

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Which made us walk quicker. We soon joined the families enjoying a day out and reached the sea. Thankfully, the tide was in so we didn’t have to go far to dip our boots and throw our pebbles.

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We had our final Barrett Steel moment

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And went into the Bay Hotel to sign the book and have a glass of lemonade.

After that it was back up the hill for something to eat and home via Grosmont to drop my brother off.

It will be very strange not putting my boots on tomorrow and in some ways a relief but in others quite sad.

This is a lovely walk and I’d happily do it again. But not yet. More reflections later.

Accomodation Review

Just a quick few words on the accomodation we stayed in which may help others who are planning a trip.

St.Bees – Abbey House Farm – Great B & B and a fine start to the walk. Lovely rooms, fluffy dressing gowns, nice breakfast, nice owners.

Ennerdale – Cloggers – Basic, traditional B & B. Comfortable, shared bathroom, owners used to walkers.

Stonethwaite – Knotts View – Same as Cloggers, breakfast not great but landlady lovely so not going to criticise.

Grasmere – Glenthorne – Interesting. Expensive but rooms good, en suite and free tea and cake at 4.30. Quaker philosophy makes for a different experience.

Patterdale – White Lion Inn – Typical pub. Room quite small but comfy. En-suite and good breakfast. Can be noisey if you want an early night.

Shap – Brookfield – What can I say. Margaret is a legend on the walk. At 70, she’s been doing this for some time and you can tell. Dirty clothes washed, tea and still warm freshly baked scones and tarts when you arrive, all served in chintzy china tea cups, great breakfast and pack up. Rooms en-suite.

Kirkby Stephen – Fletcher House – Another good stay, nice rooms, en-suite. Cake and tea on arrival and good breakfast.

Keld – Keld Lodge – A vast improvement on the old YHA. On the expensive side but rooms good, meal good and they were very good with the dog. Breakfast huge if you go for the Keld Breakfast. Even Kieran struggled.

Reeth – Hackney House – Another good B & B, en-suite, nice welcome (tea and cake always welcome), landlady very helpful.

Colburn – St.Giles Farm – Recommended. It is worth going past Richmond to make the next day shorter. If you do this place is perfect. Lovely room, en suite, great dinner, freshly baked, still warm jam sponge cake when we arrived and nice dog (Monty). A working farm and lovely people.

Ingleby Arncliffe – Can’t remember the name as basically we were booked into Estavale but we were double booked so went next door. Nice enough but again basic B & B but with ensuite. We had tele issues as it’s placed high up so you can’t see it when lying on the bed.

Clay Bank Top – Wainstones Hotel – Says in the book a bit extravagent but we didn’t think so. We quite liked it. A bit dated but what the heck.

Glaisdale – Arncliffe Arms – Decent pub stop. Nothing special but not bad either.

Final Reflections

It is over a week now since we finished the walk which has given time for reflection.

The first thing to say is, that I’d forgotten what a fabulous walk this is. We were blessed with ideal weather most of the way, with only a few showers in the Lakes and the final 10 minutes into Ingelby Arncliffe. Our rain coats stayed most of the time in the rucksacks. The temperature was also perfect, not too hot but not cold and because of the dry summer, the boggy bits were not very boggy. Even coming down from Nine Standards.

The time I spent with Kieran was very very special. I doubt he realises yet what it actually meant for me, maybe he will when he’s older. Coming down the hill into Robin Hood’s Bay, walking behind him (I couldn’t keep up), I felt emotional as I knew a special time was coming to an end and one that is unlikely to be repeated. I couldn’t help but shed a tear or two which thankfully he didn’t see and I managed to compose myself by the time I reached the sea. I’m very proud of him for doing this and the money we’ve managed to raise.

For anyone thinking about doing the walk, it is very doable but please remember that in parts it is very hard and make sure you are prepared for all evantualities. Do your research so you know what to expect and make sure your equipment, especially boots and socks are up to it. Blisters can end the walk prematurely, love your feet. Take as long as you need. We did it in 13 days which is OK but take longer if you wish. It’s not a race or a competition. You don’t have to be super fit but a decent level of fitness is needed. Even a fit 16 year old was feeling it and saying his legs hurt so again don’t underestmate how hard it is in places.

I would like to say a big thank you to all those who have sponsored us. It really does help when the going gets tough.

I would also like to give a plug for Altberg boots. Made in Richmond which is on the route, they are that rare thing, a British boot maker. If you go to the site in Richmond, they will measure your feet (like Clarkes when the kids were small) to make sure you get the right size, both length and width. Both Kieran and me have extra wide feet so getting boots that fit is difficult and Altberg were brilliant. If you need boots, go get them.

Finally, I was going to thank Barrett Steel for their generous sponsorship and the Tshirts for our Barrett Steel moments, however, while obviously thanking them for the sponsor money, 2 days after I got back to work I was told my job was at risk of redundnacy which brought me back to earth with a bump. From one extreme, probably one of the best 2 weeks I’ve had in my life, to the other extreme. Oh well, life is set to challenge us so perhaps this is another Loft Beck!