Coast To Coast Walk 2 – Keld, Yorkshire Dales To Robin Hood’s Bay
At the beginning of April 2004 we started the Coast To Coast Walk 2. As it was too early in the season for the Packhorse baggage service we used the Sherpa Van Project instead. This week we would be walking the 99½ miles of the Coast To Coast Walk 2 from Keld in the Yorkshire Dales to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire.
Day 1 – Keld to Reeth (12.5 miles) We stayed overnight at the excellent Butt House in Keld, run by Doreen and Ernest Whitehead. Doreen also produces the Coast To Coast Walk Accommodation Guide a useful publication for anyone contemplating the walk.
After a lovely full english breakfast we were packed and off on the road. First we crossed the footbridge over the River Swale, then climbed to have great views of the Swaledale Valley. We carried on to the start of the disused lead mines at the top of Swinner Gill and then over the moors to more workings before reaching Gunnerside Gill.
Down we went across the Gill and climbed again to pass further workings for the next 4 miles until Surrender Bridge at a narrow moorland road. The scenery around the old lead mines isn’t the best on the Coast To Coast Walk 2. From here, with mainly farmland to cross, the scenery improved and we reached our accommodation for the night at a farmhouse half a mile outside Reeth.
The accommodation was excellent and the owner offered to pick us up after we had dined and drank in Reeth. Fortunately, as a jazz fan, I was delighted to hear that the Reeth Jazz Festival was in progress, so for me at least, that made the night even more special.
Day 2 – Reeth to Richmond (10.5 miles) For the second day running another great breakfast was served and we were soon heading back into Reeth for the journey to Richmond.
The days walk started on the B road to Richmond for just under a mile to Low Fremmingto. Then for the next two miles we closely followed the River Swale past the remains of Marrick Priory until heading north east to Marrick.
Although the ground was wet underfoot, it was a nice change to travel through good farmland after the previous days ‘delights’ of the disused lead mines. Marske was the next target, then through the wooded areas of Applegarth, Whitcliffe Scar and Whitcliffe Wood with the River Swale close by down below.
Richmond soon came into view and after depositing the rucksacks in our bedrooms we took a tour of the town. It was early afternoon and with the ladies more interested in window shopping, my pal and I took ourselves off to the nearest pub to taste the local offering of Draught Guinness. After an hour or so the ladies extracted us from the pub and after a shower and change of clothes we dined in the local Indian restaurant where we were served the biggest nan bread I have ever seen. It must have been 15″ in diameter. We stayed in the B&B run by the same people who owned the Sherpa Van project and I have to say the baggage service on the Coast To Coast Walk was better than the hospitality.
Day 3 – Richmond to Ingleby Cross (23 miles) This was to be the longest days walk of the week. Our destination at the Blue Bell Inn at Ingleby Cross boasted ‘Wainwright stayed here, real ales and real fires’.
This was to be a day of mainly flat walking and the route soon passed the delights of a sewerage works by the riverside. Through the woods, past the ruins of Hagg Farm and into the village of Colburn, then under the busy A1 road over Catterick Bridge.
The track followed alongside the River Swale for a mile before joining a minor road, then on into the village of Bolton-on-Swale. Next was a short stretch along Bolton Beck before 3 miles of minor road walking to Streetlam. A welcome mile across farmland followed, then half a mile of road again to Danby Wiske.
We had a half hour stop for refreshments at the White Swan in Danby Wiske, then it was road walking again for 2 miles. Next was 6 miles of farmland to the busy A19 and a quick crossing dodging the traffic.
First Ingleby Arncliffe, then in a few minutes Ingleby Cross and the prospect of ‘real ales and real fires’. The first disappointment was the accommodation, we were billeted in a bunkhouse that had certainly seen better days. After 23 miles of walking we were in no mood to look elsewhere. The food was average pub grub but they did serve real ale, so we drowned our sorrows and hoped tomorrow would see an improvement in the hiking on the Coast To Coast walk 2 and also the class of accommodation.
Day 4 – Ingleby Cross to Clay Bank Top (13.5 miles) After the previous evenings disappointment we had a shorter walk today and would be entering the North York Moors National Park. Also we would be gaining higher ground.
South Wood was the first objective, then Beacon Hill with it’s grotesque television transmitters, although it is a good viewpoint. Next came the route through Clain Wood and the hamlet of Huthwaite Green, then the climb to Round Hill at 1,025 ft.
It was then a slight climb to the ridge of Carlton Moor, where there is now a landing strip for a gliding club. The summit at 1,338 ft was another good viewpoint. We descended to cross a minor road and then ascended the summit of Cringle Moor. At 1,427 ft, this was the highest point of the day.
From here it was a steep descent to Garfit Gap, then a climb to pass the Wainstones and the flat top of Hasty Bank. It was a splendid days hill walking to finally reach Clay Bank Top and our self contained apartment for the night along the B1257 at Urra. We were made extremely welcome and wined and dined whilst watching the Champions League semi-final.
Day 5 – Clay Bank Top to Blakey Ridge (11 miles) A good nights sleep, an excellent breakfast and we were off in a biting early April wind.
Round Hill at 1,489 ft is the highest point on the North York Moors. We were now on the track which once carried a railway line, and a mile and a half later we reached Bloworth Crossing where it meets the Cleveland Way. We followed the curves of the line of the old railway, which is part of the Lyke Wake Walk, for a flat 5 miles to reach our destination at the Lion Inn at Blakey.
The landscape is bleak here and photographs at the Lion Inn show snow up to the roof in parts, it’s certainly not a place to be caught in a blizzard. We arrived early afternoon and after being shown to our rooms the ladies left us to enjoy the bar offerings. An excellent meal in the evening and a couple of drinks later and we called it a day.
Day 6 – Blakey Ridge to Grosmont (12.5 miles) We were now only two days walking from our final destination at Robin Hood’s Bay.
From here a muddy footpath over the moor above Great Fryup Dale brought us to another minor road above Glaisdale Rigg. After a mile we turned right on a track to pass a trig point and continued over Glaisdale Moor. In under 3 miles we reached the village of Glaisdale where we stopped for refreshments in the local pub.
After Glaisdale we walked by the River Esk and through East Arncliffe Wood, then along the road to the beautiful Egton Bridge where we crossed the river and followed the track by the river for a mile and a half to reach Grosmont. Grosmont has a railway station where enthusiasts have kept the line to Goathland open. We dined in the Station Tavern next to the railway station and had a good evening despite our accommodation only being average.
Day 7 – Grosmont to Robin Hood’s Bay (16.5 miles) After two weeks walking and many miles covered, this was the final trek to our destination, Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea coast.
With spirits high we set off to finish a two year project of completing the Coast To Coast Walk. The mile walk east out of Grosmont was steep until we headed off left to pass the old quarries at Black Brow.
With no distinct path it was then a question of picking our way through the heather at Flat Howe to the A169 Whitby road.
Next was a path descending to the hamlet of Littlebeck, after which we headed along May Beck, in the woods, to the Falling Foss waterfall. Continuing through the woods brought us to a road, where after heading uphill for half a mile we took the track across Sneaton Low Moor. The track soon disappeared and eventually the ground became very boggy.
We soon reached another road which after half a mile we left to cross Graystone Hills. This 2 mile trek across peaty moorland was a case of picking our way through the peat bogs.
Onward past a caravan site, then over the track of a disused railway line, past another caravan site and we were heading down to the cliff top path from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay.
We were now on the last two and a half miles of the walk and from here we had spectacular cliff top views over the North Sea.
We rounded the headland of Ness Point and Robin Hood’s Bay came into view. The descent continued past the coastguard station, bed and breakfast establishments and down the steep narrow street leading to the slipway on the bay.
We had done it and we dipped our feet in the North Sea, as we had done at St Bees. We celebrated with a pint or three at the Bay Hotel, as many thousands had done before us.
So what were the overall impressions of the Coast To Coast Walk? Well, I would say out of all the long distance paths and national trails that I have completed, it would have to be in the top three. Highly recommended, with the highlight being the traverse of the Lake District. It has been suggested that the next time we hike the Coast To Coast Walk, we will travel from East to West.
Coast To Coast Walk Part 1