13th – 19th April 2014
A ski season in the Dolomites had come to an end and after 5 months of snow, ski and many many people, I was craving green grass, gravelled paths and English weather. Luckily for me, my good friend Harriet shared this desire and so we set off on a different kind of adventure together. Originally entitled ‘Cottage to Coast’ we were disappointed to find out that H’s family owned cottage was all booked up for this particular weekend and so denied a nights stay in a bed the evening before setting off, we waved to the occupants from the outside as we wandered through Keld and began our 7 day trundle to the beautiful north-east bay of Robin Hood.
Starting the first day with a mere 12 miles was a nice way to relax back into long distance walking. By the end my shoulders were screaming and my feet throbbing – it was good to be back. We had agreed that wild camping would be a fun option and as the first rain hit my forehead it was time to find a decent spot.
Hello sheep, may we share your field?
They didn’t seem to mind. Harriet was a little on edge however and their gentle yet intimidating approach to the tent sent us both into a panic and swiftly inside. We hoped they wouldn’t tell the farmer. A dog came sniffing at around 9pm as I lay in dreamland and Harriet lay there in further panic. Come sunrise we left no trace and trundled on just as the farmer pulled up by the gate.
Waking up, packing up and walking – no idea who you’ll meet, what you’ll see, what you’ll find to eat and where you’ll sleep. Not even a care for how much you stink. These ‘no ideas’ became new memories each day and brought with them many giggles. For one thing, we timed the walk perfectly – how often do you experience blue skies 3 days in one week in the North of England?
We nodded off in a posh hotel lobby, escaped the chase of an enraged cow, were robbed of £17 at a promised FREE camping site, enjoyed food swapping with strangers, walked through the blister pain, hopped the hundreds of stiles (albeit at granny speed) and met one very persistent Yorkshire man.
Let me tell you about him. He has no name bar Yorkshire man; a positive blur of yellow plodding my way from the distance.
I stood to the side to let him past, a smile on my face as an expected acknowledgment escaped my lips. He stopped to converse and I accepted to allow Harriet and her poor feet to catch up. Actually, I didn’t have much of a choice. Yorkshire man is the kind who talks at you, nods at your words and carries on regardless. The kind of man that hears we’re walking the Coast to Coast (which runs somewhere near here, he says) and continues to offer good eating places for the Cleveland Way walk – don’t go eating the fish and chips in the Bay, they’re awful, he says. A funny kind of conversation that I am happy to walk away from by the end of it.
But that is not the end of it; evening comes around and our retreat is invaded by the sound “Girls from Yorkshire and Essex!”
He has come to the doorway of our tent to bring us plasters. We sit and listen to his tales, thank him again and watch him walk away.
A typical windy, damp day on the North York Moors follows and we relish in the tiny spot hidden between two high grass banks. A perfect spot for lunch! My legs re-deliver blood to my toes and I enjoy a silent moment between friends as we dig out our hot cross buns.
“Fancy seeing you two here!”
“You’re reading the wrong book there for your walk” are the words I hear as I peer up from ‘Coast to Coast’ by Henry Stedman.
It’s a shame we didn’t have enough time to walk the entire 2 week walk from St.Bee’s, I can’t help but wonder what other characters we might have bumped into along the way.