05 Aug 20

Wild adventure on England’s Coast to Coast Path

Stuart Holland United Kingdom

Every step I took towards Robin Hood’s Bay became slower and slower; I didn’t want this walk to ever end! “Someone, please turn me around at Robin Hood’s Bay so I can walk back”, I kept asking on the last day. Everyone in my escorted group also felt sad that their journey was about to end. We were all amazed and proud of our achievement in walking the most beautiful 303km ever put together in the UK.

As we crossed the North of England we often talked about the challenges and incredible beauty of the walk and one word kept recurring, ADVENTURE. One of the finest walks on Earth had offered us this epic adventure and we were delighted and grateful to be walking every step of the way. Through the stunning beauty of three national parks – the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors – we happily clambered over small mountains; we especially enjoyed the stunning views from Haystacks, one of Alfred Wainwright’s favourite Lake District peaks and where his ashes are scattered at Innominate Tarn, a reverent quiet spot with a special tangible feeling of peace and quiet. And now here we were on the shores of the North Sea about to fling the stones we carried with us from St Bees into the water. There was a band playing (I can’t guarantee this experience for everyone finishing) but there was definitely music! We were happy with our success.

We loved ​the mystery of the Nine Standards Rigg, whose purpose today is still not known but marks the boundary between Cumbria and North Yorkshire in the Pennine Hills.

On the other side of the hills it was time to unleash our inner 5-year-old and jump puddles … of BOG! This was one of my favourite days, I loved it. There was no way we could avoid the bog and no way to keep clean. In the end we just went with it and ​splished, and sploshed our way through as many puddles of mud and ooze and bog water as possible!

The reward (if you are very, very lucky) is cream tea with Amanda Owen The Yorkshire Shepherdess at the remote and isolated Ravenseat farm or in the charming village of Muker (highly recommended).

What I loved most and have ever since I first walked the Coast to Coast is the North York Moors. Perhaps the romance of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights lingers from my school days, but this year the magnificence of the flowering heather was everywhere! Locals said it was the best flowering season they could remember. The light floral scent was divine, but it was the spectacle of the miles and miles of wonderful carpeted open endless spaces that once again made this section my favourite.

Highlights of our walk included Sarah Neslon’s Gingerbread in Grasmere. This is no ordinary gingerbread, this is gingery and sticky and crumbly and SO addictive we contemplated hiring a taxi to bring us gingerbread from Grasmere to Patterdale when our supplies ran out! And why don’t people ever talk about the amazing pub food in the UK! Oh my! It’s amazing and GENEROUS and brought back serious childhood memories. There’s nothing better than being allowed to eat ‘pudding’ (dessert) at the ​end of every meal. We LOVED our welcoming B&Bs and small village hotels; everyone is so friendly and helpful, and all the rooms are delightful, and ever so comfortable.

At the end of our walk, we did throw our pebbles into the North Sea, put our feet ​up ​at Wainwright’s Bar and raised our glasses to how amazing we were that we managed to navigate ourselves across a whole country, even though it’s only a little one!

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