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Ancient Feet: 68 - Robin Hood's Bay At Last!

...We had set off twelve days earlier from the west coast to travel to the east, but the first part of the walk had taken us west and then north around St Bees Head before finally settling for the correct easterly direction, and this final section was almost a mirror image taking us round another headland, travelling south eastwards at first before turning to the south west and then entering Robin Hood's Bay...

Alan Nolan and his fellow trekkers reach journey's end.

To purchase a copy of Ancient Feet visit
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ancient-Feet-Alan-Nolan/dp/1906510970/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1258967135&sr=1-1

Signed copies of the book are available from Alan http://apn.thelea@yahoo.co.uk

After eleven days walking, the final section from Grosmont to Robin Hood's Bay seemed little more than a hop, skip and jump but the day started with a long and steep climb along the road out of Grosmont before, eventually, the path turned across moorland making for the Whitby to Pickering road (Al69). This is a busy road and, as we waited for the opportunity to cross, a VW Golf or little Peugeot something or other passed at speed with a youth hanging from the window shouting something which, as usual, we could not hear. Once again, I wondered why these youths do this. Can they possibly enjoy any satisfaction from shouting at a few old gimmers who can't hear what they are saying anyway?

We walked on and soon came to the lovely little hamlet of Littlebeck from where the path climbed to the waterfall known as Falling Foss. I couldn't help thinking that whoever gave the waterfall its name didn't give the matter too much thought. To call a waterfall Falling anything is not very original in my view. Cascading Canopy or Plunging Pleasance would sound more romantic, but perhaps they didn't appeal to Mr Foss when he named the falls after himself. After visiting the waterfall, we followed the path through the woods and, after emerging, we continued through disappointingly bland countryside for several miles to the village of Hawsker where, fortuitously, we found a pub, where we had the final break of our twelve day adventure.

'Nearly there, Tom,' Paul said as we quenched our thirsts,'but why did you want to do it so many times?'

'I don't know really,'Tom replied, 'I didn't set out with the intention of doing it more than once. I walked by myself the first time and followed Wainwright's route to the letter and took fourteen days over it, but then other people started saying they wanted to do it and asked whether I'd do it with them, so it became a habit. Strangely enough, I enjoyed it more the second time. It's as though you are more relaxed the second time and
notice more. Then it's even better the third time and the fourth
time...and so it goes on. After three or four times, it became sort
of addictive and I wanted to do it each year and there was always someone who wanted to come with me. When I got to eight times, I just had to get up to ten. It was a big disappointment when the foot and mouth outbreak stopped me and I thought that was it; I'd never do it a tenth time, but it's nagged at me ever since, so I had to do it again one more, definitely final, time.'

'What made you decide to arrange it over twelve days this time?'

'Well, after the first time, I decided that fourteen days was too long and that twelve was about ideal. The problem always is fitting it in to the time available, so I've done it in eleven days a few times.'

'But didn't you do it in less than that with Andy?'

'Oh, yes, and there's a story behind that,'Tom said. 'The first time, we did it in ten days because I had to get back for something, but that was all right because Andy's very fit and I was younger and fitter then.'

Tom was being rather modest here as this was something of an achievement. After all, we were taking twelve days which works out at an average of about sixteen miles a day, which is a manageable distance each day for a reasonably fit walker, despite the rough terrain. Over ten days, the average increases to nineteen miles each day, which is pushing it a bit even for a good walker. When they reached Robin Hood's Bay, they were justifiably proud of their achievement and were in good spirits after their celebratory drink, but understandably hungry after their epic journey.

'Anyway,'Tom continued,'Andy decided to visit the fish and chip shop and the proprietor, realising he was a Coast to Coast walker chatted to him and asked how long it had taken. Of course, Andy had to brag that this outstanding feat had been achieved in an awe-inspiring ten days. There was a young girl immediately ahead of Andy in the queue, with her boyfriend, and she turned and said: 'Well done. We've just done it in nine!'

When he came out of the chippy a few minutes later, he came stomping over to me, almost foaming at the mouth.

'You'll never guess,' he said, 'there was a young lass in the chippy and she's just done the Coast to Coast in nine days.'

'Right,' I said in a stupidly determined way.

'Right,' Andy said, even more resolutely and stupidly.

'Next year, we'll do it in eight.'

Anyone else would have told me not to be so bloody daft, but not Andy.

'Right,' he said.

For the next twelve months, I hoped he would come to his senses and back down and I'm sure he was thinking the same about me, but neither of us would give in. You know what he's like I'd never have heard the last of it if I'd admitted I couldn't care less about some young girl having done it in nine days and called the thing off.'

'What you mean is you'd rather suffer the pain of walking a hundred and ninety miles in eight days than have to put up with Andy's niggling for the rest of your life.'

'Precisely. At least I'd only have to put up with the pain for eight days.'

So, twelve months on, they undertook their eight day journey, a challenge of walking almost twenty-four miles a day on average which, in practice, meant that one or two days must have been in excess of thirty miles. They were determined to prove that if a young girl could cross from Coast to Coast in nine days, two alpha males (well, possibly beta) could do it in eight. They strained every sinew and, eight days later, they arrived in Robin Hood's Bay, well and truly shattered, but they had proved their point!

Unfortunately, neither of them has ever been able to explain to me how they think their female antagonist would learn of their achievement. In any event, she could have been lying.

Following the short break at the pub, we set off for the final four and a quarter miles of the Coast to Coast Walk and within a few minutes we were on the cliff path looking out over the North Sea, our epic journey nearing its end. We had set off twelve days earlier from the west coast to travel to the east, but the first part of the walk had taken us west and then north around St Bees Head before finally settling for the correct easterly direction, and this final section was almost a mirror image taking us round another headland, travelling south eastwards at first before turning to the south west and then entering Robin Hood's Bay.

We were hoping that Trevor had not forgotten that he was due to pick us up and it was a relief to see him sitting on the wall outside the Victoria Hotel waiting for us.

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