May 31, 2008
(25.0 km; 9 hrs 22 min; 744 m ascent; 780 m descent)
The last day of the walk! It was a very strange feeling. We were awoken at 7:30 am by the sound of steam engines, but didn’t get up for a while. Breakfast was at 8:30 am, cereal and toast and a cooked English breakfast, which we ate some of. We said our goodbyes to our hosts and walked down to the station, where Neil and Christine were to meet us at 9 am. As we were watching the trains, Neil phoned from Egton Bridge. Their scheduled taxi hadn’t shown up, so he said we should go on without them. We said no, we would watch the trains until they arrived. As we were arguing the point, their taxi arrived, and in ten minutes they were in Grosmont.
The first steam trip was scheduled for 9:30 am, so we watched it puff its way down the track and then we were off. Up the steep main street of Grosmont, to start with. But then it turned steeper, with signs warning of the 33% grade. This went on forever. Finally we were out of the farms and onto Sleight’s Moor.
The weather was sunny with almost no clouds, and from here we had our first real view of the North Sea. Coming down from the moor we dropped quite steeply to Littlebeck, a very beautiful little cluster of houses. We stopped for a rest there, then entered Littlebeck Wood. Our guide book described this as possibly the best part of the Coast-to-Coast, and it certainly didn’t disappoint us. The trail followed the beck through a dappled forest filled with wild garlic and a lot of other flowers.
Our next stop was Falling Foss, where we decided to stop and have lunch. We did that outside Midge Hall, and talked to its new owners, who were planning to bring it back from its previously ruined state. The house and garden already looked liveable, and the owner said they planned to set up a little hydroelectric plant to provide power, and to open a tea garden within the next month. No tea was forthcoming today, however.
So far our last day’s walk was very lovely, but we still had a long way to go. We continued along May Beck, then met a road, which we followed for a while before crossing Sneaton Low Moor and the Graystone Hills. Some parts of the moor were a bit boggy, but nothing compared to what they could have been like if it had been raining. Here we were a bit confused by the book’s directions, but with the help of the GPS waypoints and the Ordnance Survey map, we climbed a gate and carried on. We were lucky with the weather, so we had great views of the North Sea getting closer and closer.
All of us were dreaming of cream tea and toilets, so when we saw a little sign for the York House Hotel in High Hawsker mentioning cream teas, we were in there like a shot. The cream tea was delicious, with lots of double cream and jam on a raisin scone. We would have rated it Number One in our Coast-to-Coast cream tea survey, but in fact it was the only cream tea we had found.
The toilet, on the other hand, was rather eccentric. On the door it said “Temporary Public Toilet.” Inside there was (luckily) a toilet, but besides that there was a bathtub containing a big dolls’ house and a shower stall containing 50 rolls of toilet paper and an unexplained metal box. However, the hotel had only been open for a week and it didn’t seem to have many occupants.
After numerous cups of tea we set off for the final leg of our journey. Our route was through some fields and down through a caravan site, and then it rejoined the Cleveland Way as it ran along the cliff tops. There were great views, with gulls and kittiwakes flying by, and at one place we watched a group of gulls harassing a seal with a fish in its mouth. It seemed to take quite a while, but it was only an hour or so later that we finally arrived in the impossibly quaint village of Robin Hood’s Bay.
We hobbled down the impossibly steep main street and made our way to the beach. Luckily the tide wasn’t too far out. We dipped our boots in the North Sea and then threw in the pebbles we had carried all the way from St Bees. We had done it, we had walked across England! It hadn’t seemed like much when we were doing it, because it just required putting one foot in front of the other. But all those steps did add up to a significant achievement. They also added up to Paul’s sore heels and Rosemary’s sore knees, but those are only temporary.
Back in the town we met up with Neil and Christine, who had by now caught us up. We decided to order a wooden plaque to be made and shipped to us, then we all went to the takeaway to line up for fish and chips, which were very good. Neil and Christine went to get their car, and we walked just a bit farther along the cliff path, to the Boggle Hole youth hostel which was our final destination. It is in an interesting location, down in a narrow valley close to the sea. We checked in and then had showers. There was no Internet terminal for public use, but the manager on duty very kindly let us use their computer to send a couple of e-mails.
Neil and Christine finally arrived, after circling the town looking for petrol, only to find that the Packhorse company had not delivered their bag. Apparently carrying bags down from the parking lot is not in the contract, so they had left it at the taxi company’s office in Robin Hood’s Bay. Neil grumpily headed back to retrieve the bag while Christine had a shower. We sat in the lounge and wrote our journals. Bed time was later tonight, but we would sleep well after our long trip. Tomorrow we will not be walking—a strange concept indeed!