Coast to Coast - East to West 2006

Author: George Tod

This walk is illustrated with photographs. Click on small photo to enlarge in situ, or click caption to enlarge into new window.
Part 3 - Days 3 & 4 - Lion Inn, Blakey to Bolton-on-Swale

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Day 3 - Wednesday 7th June - 20.8 miles - 2,700 ft ascent

The Lion Inn, Blakey to Osmotherley

Breakfast was not until 8.30 so I tried to do as much as I could to get ready to enable me to get off soon afterwards, with over 20 miles to walk. It was another lovely sunny day and it looked like everyone who was having breakfast had come down at the start, trying to set off as soon as they could. There were about a dozen people in the restaurant, most of them I suspected to be Coast to Coast walkers. There was a good selection of fruit juices, cereals etc. and their full breakfast consisted of two sausages, egg, bacon, tomato, fried bread and black pudding plus three rounds of toast. I managed everything except one round of toast, but was feeling rather bloated at the end of it, though I would soon walk it off once I got going.

After picking up my packed lunch, I was off by about 9.10, and about ten minutes behind the couple from Hull I met yesterday going the same way as me. I headed off along the long stretch of old railway track at the head of Farndale, with a fresh, cooling wind blowing, which took off the heat of the sun. There was a bit of heat haze about, but there were lovely views down Farndale nonetheless, as I made my way onwards. Although the railway track walking was rather tedious, this was offset by the lovely weather, and was better walked at the start of the day than at the end of a long day's walk, when it can seem interminable.

After about an hour, I caught up with the couple from Hull, just as they were stopping for a break. It turned out that they were not actually walking the Coast to Coast, but just some of it as part of a walk from Scarborough to Keswick, where they were meeting up with some friends on 24th June. They were following the Coast to Coast as far as the Lake District, and then spending the rest of the time there until it was time to meet the friends. As they were camping, they could break up the route as they wanted.

I was amazed as I walked along the cinder track, at the vast number of centipedes crawling over there, presumably looking for a better life at the far side of the track. There was little difference in the vegetation between one side and the other, so there was no real reason for it, other than the natural desire to explore.

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Head of Farndale from old Rosedale Railway
Head of Farndale
Cringle Moor, Cold Moor and Hasty Bank from Urra Moor
West from Urra Moor

I carried on to the end of the railway track section before stopping for a break at 11.00. The scenery was now just that of the heather moors, with no views of the green valleys lower down. Although the route now no longer followed the railway track, it was still not very interesting. It was only after reaching the summit of Round Hill, the highest point on the Cleveland Hills, that the scenery started to open up. The long line of ridges and dales that constituted the rest of the day's walk could now be seen ahead, as well as views across the valley towards Roseberry Topping - a delightful name for a delightful hill. Captain Cook's Monument was just visible with the naked eye, and the line of the old incline for the Rosedale Railway was clear to see. This is where railway wagons were winched up and down between the valley floor and the high moors. The way ahead, though hard going with its roller coaster of ups and downs, is one of the finest walks in the North Yorkshire Moors, especially on such a beautiful day as this. I dropped down from Urra Moor along Carr Ridge, past the Clay Bank car park, then up the steep ascent of Hasty Bank. At the far end of Hasty Bank are the Wainstones, a collection of rocks with a number of distinctive shapes, where I stopped for a lunch break at 1 p.m.

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Wainstones on Hasty Bank

The huge breakfast I had eaten meant that I was not very hungry, but I ate part of my packed lunch to cut down on some of the weight that I was carrying, though it was a drink that I needed more than anything else to refresh me on this very hot day. There were a number of other walkers about, as this is a very popular area, but not many were walking the Coast to Coast, though there was still time for me to see some more before the day was out. I only stopped for half an hour, as I still had over 10 miles to go and much of that would be quite slow going.

Each hill brought a new view of the moors ahead as well as a view of the ones being left behind, and there were views on either side of the valleys. I passed a few more Coast to Coast walkers, but there didn’t seem to be quite so many as in the past couple of days. Whilst there was a wind, or at least a breeze, the heat was not so bad, but at times when the wind dropped it got very hot indeed. I called at the Lord Stones Café between Cringle End and Carlton Moor and downed a can of Tango straight from the cooler in double quick time, and this refreshed me for a while. I was quite surprised that they were selling a range of draught beers including Old Peculier, but a pint of that would have finished me off half way up Carlton Moor. There were a lot of people in the café as well as several people paragliding nearby.

On top of Carlton Moor the wind dropped completely and the intense heat reflected up from the light coloured, dusty path just like it would from a Mediterranean pavement. However, after a while a breeze came up again to make it more tolerable. All the while, however, there was a craving for cool refreshing drinks, which the lukewarm water I was carrying didn’t satisfy: in fact it tasted quite revolting. I stopped for another rest before starting the steep descent from Live Moor, with 5.5 miles left to go and only one more ascent, that of Scarth Wood Moor, to make. This came in two stages, the first whilst I was skirting round Near Moor in the woods, where there is a steep, straight path that looked quite daunting towards the end of a long day. It helped, however, that the trees gave some shade from the sun for much of the way. Eventually, the route emerged from the woods, which were carpeted with bluebells in many places, and then made a fairly gradual ascent the rest of the way up Scarth Wood Moor.

For the first time in the day, some cloud came across obscuring the sun and, with a cool breeze blowing, I at last managed to cool down. Looking back from here, I had a fine view of the moors I had just traversed as well as Roseberry Topping in the distance. The Cleveland Way and the Lyke Wake Walk share this section of the walk of about 13 miles from Scarth Wood Moor to Urra Moor, arguably the best part, before each one goes off to follow its own route.

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Whorl Hill and Carlton Moor from Scarth Wood Moor, with Roseberry Topping in far distance
E from Scarth Wood Moor

Finally, after passing the trig point at the top of Scarth Wood Moor, start of the Lyke Wake Walk, the path descends through the woods towards Osmotherley. By the edge of the woods, the Coast to Coast doubles back on itself to head towards Ingleby Arncliffe, but my B&B was in Osmotherley so I just continued straight on to the village, then out to its western edge. I was welcomed with a pot of tea before having a much needed shower and then returning into the village for some fish and chips plus a couple of pints at the pub next door. The cloud had again disappeared, so it was a warm, sunny evening and there were lots of people sitting by the village green and outside the nearby pubs.

The landlady of the B&B told of a recent incident when a walker who was staying with her had gone into the village for a drink and had gone a bit too far, being picked up for the police and locked up for the night for disorderly behaviour – I suppose that is one way of getting free accommodation for the night!

Today had been yet another really good day with the benefit of some of the best scenery that the North Yorkshire Moors has to offer. Despite the heat, the long distance and the slow going in some of the steep parts, I managed to reach my destination by 6 p.m., even though I didn’t get as early a start as I would have liked. I was fortunately not having any problems with my feet or legs, the only slight problem being a few aches in my shoulders from carrying my rucksack.

I returned to my B&B for another early night and lay in bed reading part of a book by Hannah Hauxwell, the farming lady who reached celebrity status when she was discovered running a remote farm high up in the Yorkshire Dales, close to the Pennine Way. She ran it single-handed in very primitive conditions, with no electricity or running water, having to get her water from a stream, often having to break through the ice in winter.

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Day 4 - Thursday 8th June - 17.8 miles - 580 ft ascent

Osmotherley to Bolton-on-Swale

Two other chaps were staying at the B&B and they had requested breakfast at 7.30, so I had mine at the same time. It was another sunny day with very little wind, and already the temperature was starting to climb as we set off at 8.30. The other two were Coast to Coast walkers and were heading for Blakey. They were quite young, either in their late teens or early twenties, which was quite unusual as most walkers at this time of year are much older. Despite their youth, however, they were still using a baggage transfer service. I parted company with them in the village as they stopped to take photographs.

I retraced my route of last night back up the road from Osmotherley and along the hillside to meet up with the route at the edge of Arncliffe Wood, about 1.5 miles from my B&B. Some of the sheep were already taking to the shade of the trees as I made my way along, but when I entered the woods there was a pleasant coolness amongst the trees, but it also meant that I was deprived of any view. After about a mile I emerged from the woods, having already met a few Coast to Coast walkers on my way. Passing the fine building of Arncliffe Hall, I joined the road to Ingleby Cross and Ingleby Arncliffe, passing lots of attractive houses and cottages with hosts of flowers blooming in this burst of summer weather. In the process, I had to cross two busy roads, the A172, then the even busier A19 dual carriageway.

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Arncliffe Hall
Arncliffe Hall
Ingleby Cross
Ingleby Cross

Leaving roads behind, the route follows farm tracks and footpaths for a while. Though the landscape is rather flat, on a beautiful summer’s day without a cloud in the sky, with the birds singing, wild flowers blooming by the hedgerows and hawthorn in full blossom, it was a joy to be alive and out in the countryside. Having few hills to climb meant that I wouldn’t get too hot if I just kept up a steady pace without rushing, even though there was not likely to be much wind to cool me down. I stopped for a rest by the River Wiske after about 4.5 miles of walking. It would have been nice to just lay there in the sunshine, but there was a need to press on, even though I didn’t have quite as far to walk as yesterday.

The next few miles were along a mixture of lanes, farm roads and footpaths, with the route very well waymarked. I noticed that at Harlsey Grove Farm the route was diverted down the road for a way. When I had been looking at the OS maps, I had noticed that they didn’t show a right of way along this short stretch of Wainwright’s route, so this is probably yet another instance where he wasn’t very careful at the planning stage of his walk.

I passed the couple from Hull again as they were taking a rest, and was surprised that they had pressed on this far carrying all their camping gear, but they were hoping to get as far as Richmond today if they could, several miles further than my destination of Bolton-on-Swale. Soon the eight mile stretch of road walking would commence, so I took my lunch break just before I reached the road, also sunbathing for half an hour and relaxing my feet with my boots and socks off. The couple from Hull passed by whilst I was there.

It was time now to face the long road trek that even Wainwright had to admit is very boring. The last few miles had not been very interesting, but the road walking was even less so. By now the sun was at its height and there were bubbles of molten tar oozing out of the road surface in places, with no letup from the sun in a cloudless sky. There was nothing else to do but press on and watch the miles pass very slowly by. When Wainwright was planning the route, he tried to keep off roads as much as possible, but he gave up on this section because most of the footpaths in the area were either obstructed in some way or were overgrown with farm crops, so he decided the only option was to stick to minor roads. However, I met some people later in the walk who had managed to use footpaths to avoid most of the roads. Of course, the situation regarding footpaths has improved greatly since Wainwright devised this walk. Far more paths are signposted and kept clear these days, though this does vary a lot from one part of the country to another. The County Councils have a statutory duty to ensure that footpaths are kept open, but sadly some do not put much effort into this, whereas some are very commendable for their diligence.

I was hoping that the pub in Danby Wiske would be open so that I could get a cool, refreshing drink. As I approached it, the couple from Hull called out to me from outside a house nearby where a lady was serving refreshments. The pub was closed and had a notice saying that it would be closed this evening due to a family bereavement. This tended to imply that they weren’t open at lunchtimes anyhow. Being more interested in having a cold drink rather than an alcoholic one, I went back to the house with the refreshments and downed a pint of iced lemonade, which was just what I needed. As we were sitting there, another Coast to Coast walker came by and called in for lemonade. He was a student from Hull and was hoping to get to Robin Hood’s Bay in two days’ time. He was sleeping in a bivvy bag part of the time, so was quite flexible as to where he could stay for the night, although he did like the facilities of a campsite from time to time. He decided that he could make Ingleby Cross tonight, then some miles beyond the Lion Inn at Blakey tomorrow, calling in there for a meal on the way. For the last day he would possibly take a short cut via the road into Robin Hood’s Bay rather than doing the extra five miles to go round the coast, as he had already walked that part along the Cleveland Way.

The couple from Hull seemed to have settled down comfortably and were rethinking their plans for reaching Richmond tonight. They ordered some more drinks, whilst I got on my way again at 3 p.m. with six miles left to go. After three more long, hot miles, I met three Americans who were headed for Danby Wiske for the night. I told them about the pub being closed and they replied that they were supposed to be staying there for the night. Hopefully, some arrangements had been made for them, otherwise they could have been a bit stuck – maybe it was just the bar that was closing and they would still cater for their B&B guests.

After a while the road went through some woodland and there was some shade from the sun for a little way. At last, the road walking came to an end and the route followed a beck for most of the way into Bolton-on-Swale. The walking wasn’t as easy, but it was such a relief to get off the road and to have something different to look at. Even though my legs were stung by nettles, where the path was overgrown in a few places, it was still preferable to walking on the road. It was 5.30 p.m. when I reached Bolton-on-Swale, where I was staying for the night. The village's main claim to fame comes from one of its former residents, Henry Jenkins who, it is said, lived from 1500 to 1670, dying at the age of 169. I have a strong suspicion that this is more likely to be a case of poor record keeping than actual fact, but it adds a bit of interest to the place. A memorial to him is situated in front of St Mary's Church.

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Memorial to Henry Jenkins at St Mary's Church, Bolton-on-Swale
Henry Jenkins Memorial

After a quick look at the memorial, I found my B&B just across the road, where I was able to have a refreshing pot of tea and a shower before heading off to Scroton for something to eat and drink. The couple that run the B&B used to have Layland’s Farm, which I had passed on the way, and where I had stayed 14 years ago. They had retired from farming ten years ago, leaving their son to take on the farm, whilst they moved into the tied cottage. They only let one room at the moment and are considering stopping that soon due to advancing age, and the farm have not done B&B since they left, only camping.

After washing out some of my things and hanging them out in the warm evening sunshine, I walked the half-mile to Scroton, where there was a good choice of pubs. The Farmer’s Arms was the one that had been recommended, and I sat outside to enjoy a very good steak and ale pie, with au gratin potatoes and vegetables, along with a few pints of Black Sheep to replenish my depleted body fluids. There were lots of people sitting outside at this and other places, overlooking the village green, taking advantage of the marvellous weather. I returned to bed and settled down reading the version of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast book that is illustrated with photographs by Derry Brabbs.

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