London and home

I'm at Heathrow airport hiding scones from the First Class Lounge (I am not travelling first class - I was smuggled in).

I'm expecting my structural edit for In at the Deep End on Monday morning - I'll have a very busy two weeks after that! I'm really looking forward to the editorial process - my only regret is that I'll have to leave the characters from the novel I'm working on now to languish for a while…..

The Australian Romance Writer's Conference is on from 18 to 21 August. It will be great to spend a few days in Adelaide attending sessions, catching up with old friends, and meeting some new ones.

In keeping with my diary of the Coast to Coast walk, here are a few London photos. I'm posting horse ones because…why not! We had a great couple of days in London. The weather was great, and it was lovely to walk through the parks for hours at a time. 




Day 16: End of the Road

AW Wainwright in his A Coast to Coast walk, writes:

Every walker who plans a cross-country expedition refers to his maps, looks for the footpaths and the bridleways and the areas of open access, links them together by quiet roads and lanes that avoid roads and busy traffic arteries, and so devises a pleasant route to his objective that he is free to walk...without fear of trespass or restriction.

This is pretty much what we have done on our Coast to Coast walk but having said that...

The route is not an easy one. If you look through the photos you will see that many shots are taken from the tops of hills and mountains, and the way we got up there was to climb them! There are also pastures and paddocks and fields and moors and bogs. We walked across these to get from one side of England to the other. And the animals? It was an unusual day when we didn't eat lunch with the scent of cow or sheep adding an extra layer of flavour to our meals!


My original intention was to rate the accommodation as we did the walk, but there were all sorts of problems with this such as the differences in the types of accommodation (hotel, inn, B&B) and the price we paid each night. And our party often had different views depending on their personal preferences for things like soft eggs and hard beds (or hard eggs and soft beds). 

You might recall that in an introductory post, I told you that our daily commitment was to "Rise early each morning and have breakfast. Walk purposefully and jauntily, in an animated, determined, and energetic manner, to our destination." After walking around 320km in 14 days, with one rest day, I could also add "Don't slur speech (tiredness, not alcohol) when checking in, don't swear when directed to hoist heavy bag up a narrow staircase, don't inadvertently deposit filth on the bed, wash favourite socks immediately or they won't be dry by tomorrow morning."

Night 1

St Bees: Fairladies Barn. Two nights. Our room was so small we couldn't open our bag. Excellent internet (only in the dining room, but the lady let us sit there all morning on the day before our departure so we could finish off our work commitments). Awful sheets (fluffy yet not flannelette). Reasonable shower. Lady offended Coconut Water by saying "I don't serve fried eggs, only scrambled eggs -  and anyway, scrambled eggs are better for your figure."

We ate at a local pub where we discovered the "The Large Glass of Wine." This is a 250ml glass and is apparently equivalent to two standard glasses of wine - a fact that was quickly forgotten because a large glass of wine is only one glass

Night 2

Ennerdale Bridge: Shepherd's Arms. Wonderful pub. Good dining room - we ate at the pub. Poached eggs for breakfast so Coconut Water was happy. Rubbish internet. Bath glorious (even though only one of our party's rooms had a bath, I was lucky enough to get it). Bags had to be lifted up the stairs - the beginning of two weeks of climbing stairs with bags.

Night 3

Stonethwaite: Knott's View Guest House. Lovely little house that was hundreds of years old. Nice breakfast. Rob gave us a lift to the pub. But…..he also told us "Grasmere is only a little walk over the hill away. It'll take you two and a half hours, three hours at most, to get there…." Six hours later we arrived after a very challenging climb, and a long descent. From that time whenever our walks were more difficult than expected we called them 'Rob distances' ' (or more colourfully, Rob bullshit distances). In other words, we learnt that the walks were always much harder than people said they were going to be (maybe they were worried we wouldn't leave their establishments if they told the truth).

Note: Rob was a fell runner in his youth.

Knott's View Guest House

Knott's View Guest House

Night 4

Grasmere: Thorney How Independent Hostel. We had to wait half an hour to get into our rooms. Pretty ordinary bunks (considering the price paid). Very ordinary breakfast. Great location, clean and tidy. Internet dodgy.

Night 5

Patterdale: Old Water Inn Guest House. This is the Guest House that was favoured by AW Wainwright himself. Sherbet Lemon and Acid Drop got his room. Butterscotch Keeper and Coconut Water suspect they got his original bed. Very helpful host with a bog phobia (long story). Great location.

Night 6

Shap: The Hermitage Guest House. This house was one of our favourites. Dated from early 1800s and everything was set up beautifully by a very nice owner. Great breakfast that got us set on a tinned grapefruit and prune odyssey. Ordinary meal in the pub down the road (half way through The Large Glass of Wine we didn't care). 

The Hermitage

The Hermitage

Night 7

Kirby Stephen: The Black Bull Hotel. Ordinary pub in good location. Sherbet Lemon fell down the stairs (not too seriously). Coconut Water didn't like her eggs. There were Jelly Beans in the rooms (but not in Sherbet Lemon's room - maybe that's why he fell down the stairs).

Night 8

Keld: Butt House Guest House. Very nice guest house with lovely owners. Excellent breakfast (and we had dinner there the night before). No Large Glass of Wine - disappointing.

Night 9

Reeth: Hackney House B & B. This was very nice. Excellent lemon syrup cake on arrival.  Sherbet Lemon bumped his head on a low beam that ran between his bed, and Acid Drop's bed (with the benefit of hindsight, and all the Epsom salts (for muscle fatigue) he was consuming, he should have taken the bed closest to the bathroom).

Days 10 and 11

Richmond: King's Head Hotel for two nights. Window overlooked the old town square and the hotel was a lovely old building. This was the heat wave day and it was very hot in the room, but it gave us an excellent opportunity to wash and dry our clothes. The rest of our party stayed at Castle View, a luxury Georgian B & B. Coconut Water liked her eggs.

Day 12

Ingleby Arncliffe: Somerset House Guest House. Being well aware of the law of defamation I will be factual. This was the worst place we stayed in (subjective statement of opinion). It had an extraordinary number of five star reviews on TripAdvisor (balance of views). 

The hosts were pleasant and brought us a glass of wine on arrival. Nice touch (even though it wasn't The Large Glass of Wine). But the advertised 'close to Coast to Coast route' meant it was situated a few metres away from A MAIN ROAD THAT WAS ONE OF THE HANDFUL OF ROADS TO BE CROSSED IN 320KM OF WALKING. Butterscotch Keeper's toilet wouldn't flush. Sherbet Lemon's taps didn't work. Internet useless. Ugly wall mounted animal heads stared at us through breakfast. They could have eaten the breakfast and we wouldn't have cared.

Day 13

Chop Gate: Buck Inn Guest House. Nice pub with a very friendly host who served good German sausages and a range of beers. Tiny rooms. Loose toilet seat (a common concern). 

Day 14

Blakey Ridge: Lion Inn Hotel. The pub sits on the moors in the middle of nowhere, and the position was brilliant. Rooms were small but clean, and all had a bath. The pub is a popular spot for tourist buses so was very busy. Perhaps our dislike for the busyness was linked to our increased intolerance in dealing with animals other than sheep, cows and the occasional pony.

Day 15

Grosmont: The Gallery B & B. Excellent location and lodgings, including access to a common area where we cooked dinner (the pub was full so it was lucky we had an alternative). Access to The Large Glass of Wine was assured. 

Day 16

Robin Hood's Bay. Excellent if pricey (and no bath!). Breakfast not served until 8.30am which felt rather odd because we are generally on the road by then!

View from our balcony at Victoria Hotel

View from our balcony at Victoria Hotel

Advice for Coast to Coasters 

Socks and Vaseline

Some people buy expensive woollen socks for walking (The Water Tank). Others buy support stocking types of long black socks (Acid Drop). Some swear by merino socks (Butterscotch Keeper has merino socks, long white surgical socks and a merino vest). Some insist on smearing Vaseline on their feet (Acid Drop again).  Aside from giving you smooth moisturised feet, Vaseline is supposed to minimise the chances of getting blisters.

And please don’t think blisters only happen when your boots are new, or don’t fit properly. One day they'll fit perfectly and the next day…it is hotter than usual, the path is steeply downhill (or uphill), the ground is hard, the ground is soft, wet, or boggy (or you had a big lunch, or the stars are out of alignment). Whatever the cause, suddenly there is a sore bit and if it’s not treated immediately there is a blister. And after that there are a host of decisions to be made about popping (or not), band aids, taping, and the amount of complaining that others in your party will tolerate about a tiny little red thing underneath your toe that is AGONISING.

And finally…

Thank you to my fellow travellers for their excellent humour (and photographic submissions). And thank you to everyone else who has read one, or multiple, posts. You are welcome to continue to visit my blog any time you like. I genuinely hope that you do!

Animals spotted on the Coast to Coast - and a few Scottish cows as well!


Day 15: Grosmont to Robin Hood's Bay

We walked twenty-five km today. There was a steep incline early on, and a steady climb throughout the morning period, but it was glorious (to use a common Wainwright adjective) walking thereafter. We have been very lucky with the weather. Even in the Lakes District, notorious for rain and mists, we had mostly fine weather. 

Wild cotton plants growing on the moors. Pastures in the background.

Wild cotton plants growing on the moors. Pastures in the background.

Falling Floss Waterfall

Falling Floss Waterfall

We saw ancient burial mounds, another moorland, the hamlet of Littlebeck, and the Falling Floss waterfall. There were many locals out and about today and it was strange to see so many people (and dogs) roaming in the small wooded section of national park near the falls.

We finally came across the magnificent coastline that leads to Robin Hood's Bay. The Bay (as it's known by the locals) was used by smugglers in years gone by, hence the name. 

Robin Hood's Bay

Robin Hood's Bay

John Keats wrote a poem called ‘Robin Hood,' and the final stanza is reproduced below.

So it is: yet let us sing,
Honour to the old bow-string!
Honour to the bugle-horn!
Honour to the woods unshorn!
Honour to the Lincoln green!
Honour to the archer keen!
Honour to tight little John,
And the horse he rode upon!
Honour to bold Robin Hood,
Sleeping in the underwood!
Honour to maid Marian,
And to all the Sherwood-clan!
Though their days have hurried by
Let us two a burden try. 

And here are a few (less literary) quotes from our party.. 

  • The Butterscotch Keeper to Coconut Water (as he pushed her up a steep incline): "Don't lean backwards or we'll both fall to our deaths."
  • The Water Tank to Tea Bag: "Stop typing in the middle of the night!"
  • Sherbet Lemon to Acid Drop: "Quit fussing. I've already told you I don't need medical attention."

Here is a map of our walk, and a photo of  the view (at sunset) from the room we are staying in this evening - having a view of the North Sea is a perfect finish to our adventure. Tomorrow I will post about some practical things. Like what socks and vaseline have in common, tips for pole craft, and how much water to take on a hike. I'll also give you some insights into the places we have stayed at.

Robin Hood's Bay at Sunset

Robin Hood's Bay at Sunset

Day 14: Blakey Ridge to Grosmont

Today we had a 20km hike in perfect walking weather. There was a breeze and it was overcast, with the occasional glimpse of sunshine. We encountered a few kilometres of tarmac (we had very little yesterday). Most of the roadway we walked along was through the North York Moors but as you can see from the photo to the right, there was very little traffic.  This Wordsworth poem (while referring to Grasmere), nicely sums up how we have felt at various times during our journey across England:

William Wordsworth, in Extract from Poems on the Naming of Places: IV:

A NARROW girdle of rough stones and crags,
A rude and natural causeway, interposed
Between the water and a winding slope
Of copse and thicket, leaves the eastern shore
Of Grasmere safe in its own privacy
And there myself and two beloved Friends,
One calm September morning, ere the mist
Had altogether yielded to the sun,
Sauntered on this retired and difficult way. 

Heather, and a Butt, on the North York Moor

Heather, and a Butt, on the North York Moor

Eventually we left the heather and moors behind us. But before this post says goodbye to them, here are another couple of photos. This one is of a butt, a stone shelter used by grouse shooters to shoot…grouse. They are also a convenient location to shelter sheep, and to sit around to have morning tea.

We came across three farm dogs, Ben, Skye and Merc, when walking on the moors. These dogs are used to round up the sheep (with the assistance of a quad bike). The sheep in these parts are used purely for lamb breeding - there is no wool worth keeping, and they are self shedding so they don't need to be shorn.

Ben, Skye and Merc (sorry - forgot to ask the farmer his name….)

Ben, Skye and Merc (sorry - forgot to ask the farmer his name….)

We left the moor to walk through the woods of Grosmont, which is a very pretty railway town. There are many steam engines which still operate in the midlands. Some of the earliest railroads were constructed here in the early 1820's. 

Advice for Coast to Coasters

Firstly, an apology to anyone who read the early version of this post. I was typing in the dark and fell asleep mid way through, but managed to press the publish button anyway!

Dinner: There aren't so many walkers on the trail, but if one is staying in a small tourist village like Grosmont (which caters to local people with a fondness for steam engines), ensure you book ahead if you wish to eat at the only pub for miles. We arrived at 3pm today to find there was no room at the inn, and the small co-op closed at five pm. Luckily our lovely B & B had cooking facilities and we managed to buy a few frozen pizzas, and cheese and biscuits, before the establishment closed. Otherwise we would have been pooling our resources and sharing muesli bars, nuts, sultanas, and Acid Drop's last bottle of beer (she bought three bottles 'on special' and has been dragging them around ever since).

Pub food ranges from excellent to ordinary. Two nights out of three Sherbet Lemon eats fish and chips. There is always a pie on the menu. It is difficult to get a salad. Then again, Wainwright stays away from towns (which is our preference too) so a pub or two is always a welcome sight after a day of walking, and mostly we fall asleep at the table anyway.

Breakfast: Everywhere we have stayed has provided 'A full English Breakfast.' Some have been more welcomely received than others. Coconut Water, for example, has given up on eggs because a few miles into the first incline she feels like throwing up. Now she eats porridge (and feels like throwing that up instead). The Water Tank ate kippers once. They looked like they'd been smoked a century ago and preserved in a bog. Tea Bag has a penchant for baked beans on toast, and bacon. The good thing about eating a big breakfast is that you don't need much lunch. Which brings me to...

Lunch: Some establishments offer a packed lunch. At most all that is needed is a sandwich between two people (if there is a co-op shop it is more cost effective to buy the sandwich there), and a piece of fruit. Digestive biscuits are excellent. And tea is a welcome addition. In other words, carrying the thermos is worth the  effort.

Heather coming into flower

Heather coming into flower

A Cautionary Tale:

Besides footsoreness and blisters, occasional (huh!) muscle aches, and stiff joints (particularly knees), our party has maintained excellent (physical) health. There is always the potential to come to grief however, particularly when clambering over rocks and through streams (particularly in the Lakes District), walking through fields (Butterscotch Keeper's rash is a testament to this) and walking along uneven and treacherous paths.

Yesterday we saw two walkers with far heavier loads than ours (they were camping so carrying all their gear). The man was striding up ahead when his companion tripped, and fell over backwards. She couldn't get up! Her legs and arms were flailing in the air as she tried to flip herself over. She was like Kafka's cockroach Gregor in Metamorphosis!

The walker managed to right herself before her partner looked around (and before we could reach her). What happened next was a testament to the courage and endurance of the Coast to Coast breed. The woman, disheveled and limping, her pack strapped to her back, was compelled to catch up with her partner (who still hadn't noticed she had fallen). Quasimodo-like, she hobbled over the hill and disappeared from view...

Now it is 4.30am so I'd better rest up before breakfast. Our last day of walking! The time has flown by and I can't believe we are nearing the end of our adventure. Robin Hood's Bay awaits!








Day 13: Clay Bank Top to Blakey Ridge

We had a very pleasant 14km walk today over the moors to Blakey Ridge's Lion Inn. The pub is the fourth 'highest' pub in England in terms of elevation, and has stood in this spot, miles from anywhere, for over 400 years. We will sample its beers and wines shortly!

The short upward incline at the beginning of our hike led us to many miles of mostly level ground. The navigation was relatively straightforward and we only had to resort to our maps occasionally…..

We are very much in Wuthering Heights territory now, so I'll start with a quote from Emily Brontë's novel (Chapter 34):

I sought, and soon discovered, the three headstones on the slope next the moor: the middle one grey, and half buried in the heath; Edgar Linton's only harmonised by the turf and moss creeping up its foot; Heathcliff's still bare.

I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.

We kept mostly to the paths, but saw our old friends the marshes, bogs and craggy rocks. From Chapter 18 of Wuthering Heights, here is another quote. It applies to anybody clambering on the moors.

I walked as if for a wager, mile after mile, till a turn brought me in view of the Heights; but no Catherine could I detect, far or near. The Crags lie about a mile and a half beyond Mr. Heathcliff's place, and that is four from the Grange, so I began to fear night would fall ere I could reach them. 'And what if she should have slipped in clambering among them,' I reflected, 'and been killed, or broken some of her bones?

A sheep on the Moor

A sheep on the Moor

There are sheep dotted over the Moors, even though we are in the North York National Park. Per mile there aren't many sheep at all, but today every sheep we saw wanted to be photographed. We found this fellow balanced on the top of a wall, not sure whether to go backwards or forwards….

What we were supposed to be looking for was grouse. At first we were excited to spot them! By the end of the walk we were contemplating chasing them out of the heather, picking them up by their stumpy little legs, throwing them over our shoulders, and walking into the Lion Inn with them - demanding they be plucked and cooked for our dinner (after being stuffed with partridges, chickens and quails). In other words, there were quite a number of grouse on the Moor. They don't fly terribly well, so must be easy pickings for grouse shooters.

The Famous Grouse

The Famous Grouse

Advice for Coast to Coasters


Acid Drop and Sherbet Lemon carry Polly Pocket Backpacks (and eat very light lunches comprising pumpkin seeds and boiled sweets).

The Water Tank and Tea Bag are a two-thermos team. They are a reservoir of liquids - the camels of the desert.

Coconut Water carries a defibrillator, ultrasound machine, full sized stretcher, and surgical equipment (including gastroscope).

Butterscotch Keeper carries a map (thank goodness(.


Acid Drop's boots are the Louis Vuitton of footwear. Classical in design, stylish, and costly. So why do they leak? If you want to survive the wet, I suggest you wear sturdy sensible ugly boots. And also on boots…. sometimes B & B establishments want you to leave them at the front door.  Inns and pubs don't care - and often have a drying room if you need one. The only time our  boots have been washed (by a kindly proprietor) it was a disaster. In the evening we left our boots at the front door. They were muddy on the outside, but dry on the inside. In the morning they were clean on the outside, but wet on the inside. 

Moorish Vegetation….and sheep

Moorish Vegetation….and sheep


Goodnight from the moors

Goodnight from the moors

We read up on gaiters before we left, and thought they may be something only weirdos wore. Wrong! We love our gaiters. You need the ones that clip onto your laces. They give you the confidence to stride through brooks and becks and wiskes. And if you do happen to step knee deep into a bog, the gaiters will keep your boots and legs dry. Equally importantly, walking through long grasses and crops will not be a problem wearing gaiters. Without gaiters, particularly if you are wearing shorts (another blog post altogether!) you risk grass ticks, grass allergies and nettle stings. In short, gaiters are an excellent investment. Having said that, buy them in England because my $80 Aus ones are no better than the £12 ones The Water Tank purchased locally.




Day 12: Ingleby Arncliffe to Clay Bank Top

We left the Georgian buildings of mid 18th century Ingleby behind today. A cottage we passed on the way...

A lovely trek of 19km over the North York Moors followed. This was a 7 hour 19km trek - a welcome break after yesterday's marathon. It was still a significant walk though, with beautiful scenery and challenging peaks.

Mr. Wainwright's way is 'the high way.' Meaning we climb the hills, drop down to the valleys, and climb another hill. A walk along a ridge is a welcome respite. The photograph below was taken just before we reached The Wainstones (the fluffy white mounds are sheep). In his book Wainwright says, 'You will enjoy the Wain Stones.' Some of us enjoyed them more than others. Sherbet Lemon misplaced Acid Drop and had to backtrack to search for her. Her response to his distress and admonitions when he finally caught up with her? "The Americans said I should keep going."

The Water Tank took the rest of us on a diversion up a treacherous slope. Coconut Water almost curdled at one point. 

We were picked up by our inn keeper and driven to Chop Gate (because there is no accommodation on route) and will be driven back to where we left off tomorrow morning. As you will have noticed, the flat route of yesterday was laid out in a wonderful patchwork of colourful fields. Great weather again - sunshine and a light breeze.

In tomorrow's blog I will give some equipment advice for aspiring walkers (hats and thermi (plural of thermos?), boots, socks and backpacks). For now, here is another scenery shot. 


We didn't see Emily Brontë's Heathcliff striding on the moor today, but Yorkshire has brought to mind many of the characters created by the Brontë sisters. Here is a quote from Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. Her first impression of Mr. Rochester...

Something of daylight still lingered, and the moon was waxing bright:  I could see him plainly.  His figure was enveloped in a riding cloak, fur collared and steel clasped; its details were not apparent, but I traced the general points of middle height and considerable breadth of chest.  He had a dark face, with stern features and a heavy brow; his eyes and gathered eyebrows looked ireful and thwarted just now; he was past youth, but had not reached middle-age; perhaps he might be thirty-five.  I felt no fear of him, and but little shyness.  Had he been a handsome, heroic-looking young gentleman, I should not have dared to stand thus questioning him against his will, and offering my services unasked.  I had hardly ever seen a handsome youth; never in my life spoken to one. I had a theoretical reverence and homage for beauty, elegance, gallantry, fascination; but had I met those qualities incarnate in masculine shape, I should have known instinctively that they neither had nor could have sympathy with anything in me, and should have shunned them as one would fire, lightning, or anything else that is bright but antipathetic….


Day 11: Richmond to Ingleby Arncliffe

Nurofen, blisters and rashes

In respect to things you may need to know about the medical consequences of walking across England, I’ll focus on three members of our party, Tea Bag, Sherbet Lemon, and Butterscotch Keeper.

For medicinal purposes...

For medicinal purposes...

Tea Bag: The good news is that, after a 35.5km hike today, all that hurts are Tea Bag's feet and left shin (and her knee, but only when she bends it). I attach a photo of her pre-dinner cocktail.

Sherbet Lemon: Things were looking up for Sherbet Lemon today. Four days ago he tumbled down the stairs while carrying a suitcase and skinned his side. Two days ago he banged his head on a low beam in the bedroom while making his way to the bathroom (head wound). Shortly afterwards, he fell asleep in bed while reading his laptop. The laptop fell on his mouth (fat lip). He also has a blister at the back of his heel that’s as large as a sixth toe. Today he has a heat rash. But this little malady is nothing compared to…

The Butterscotch Keeper. The Keeper has a stride that is twice as long as most other walkers. He glides over bogs like a bog dweller (he’s almost as fast as The Queen of the Bog). He crosses rivers (almost as well as Gollum). He strides up hills in a purposeful (Darcyish) manner. But today (to the delight of the rest of us) he developed a rash. A crimson shiny tide of dots, stains his calves and thighs. But he walks on…

Wheat fields en route

Wheat fields en route

The Route:

Today was a Wainwright route where it was impossible to avoid roads, so we spent quite a lot of time on them. Most were country laneways however so not too bad. We walked through barley and wheat fields as well. There weren’t any hills, and the properties were much larger than those in the dales. At first I thought the cow in the image below was called Lotte (Charlotte - how delightful!).  It was later pointed out to me that her tag, in fact, said 'Lot.' 

Cows at the gate on the way to Ingleby Arncliffe

Cows at the gate on the way to Ingleby Arncliffe

Signage (the Coast to Coast sign led around a corner)

Signage (the Coast to Coast sign led around a corner)

Our night’s accommodation at Ingleby Arncliffe is at the foot of the Cleveland Hills, a range of mountains that runs from North to South. When we get to the pinnacles we should be able to view the North Sea (another three days of hiking away). According to Wainwright, 'only a genius could get lost in the Cleveland Hills.' We shall see!

And speaking of signage. I spoke to someone on a guided tour today and she said, 'I just follow the leader.' There is a difference of opinion from many hikers. Some want no signs at all. At the beginning of the walk I would have believed them to be demented. But now…. it is fun to navigate! (or to watch those who navigate while some in our party search for little yellow dots or camouflaged signs or (and lets face it, this is a woman thing) ask for directions - which will then be scrupulously checked for accuracy by our navigators). 

So a combination of an occasional sign and a series of guidebooks is a wonderful compromise. I would not want to 'follow the leader' (particularly over a bog). The sight of The Water Tank (finding his own way) stuck thigh deep in a bog has been a highlight of our walk!

What crop is this?

What crop is this?

Penultimately…..we walked through a field today and were unable to identify the bean like crop. We did identify the thistle. Incidentally, is thistle a weed, or not?

 If anyone can identify the crop, please let me know.


Finally…what type of horse is in the photo below? It was like a mini shire horse with regard to mane and feathers, but much much smaller. All the horses in the herd were brown and white. You can comment at the end of this post!

What breed of horse is this?

What breed of horse is this?

Day 10: Richmond

Richmond Castle, and the River Swale

Richmond Castle, and the River Swale

It is around 30 degrees in Richmond today. Lots of English people are taking advantage of the warm weather by sitting in the sun and going increasingly pink. 

We walkers are still focussed on walking….we were advised by our Dutch friends that storms are forecast for tomorrow (on our 33km hike to Ingleby Arncliffe). This means that poles may be a problem (in terms of them becoming lightning rods). What to do? Butterscotch Keeper and Coconut Milk are particularly attached to their poles. They have the pole equivalents of Harry Potter's Thunderbolt 1,000. Meaning their poles are constructed from finely tempered lightweight titanium. They are fitted with shock absorbers, reflector clips, state of the art grips and bionic tips (not that any of these things are going to be of any use at all should lightning strike).

We will leave the Yorkshire Dales early tomorrow morning, and by tomorrow evening we'll be on the fringes of the North York Moors. Ingleby Arncliffe has a pub (likely to become an increasingly important focus as the kilometre count increases). Happily there is also a stop on the way, the attractively named Danby Wiske. Leading me to another note of advice to other walkers (touched on earlier with reference to shops).

Places to stop on the way

The Coast to Coast walk is not a walk. It is, in fact, a hike. On only a handful of occasions in nine days of walking have we come across a tea room or shop that is directly on the route (and believe me, the route is long enough without going off it). One very welcome stop was on the way to Keld. After traversing the bog we had tea and a scone at a farmhouse. En route to Reeth there was a tea room, but other walkers had found it before us. So….

Only Butterscotch Keeper got a fruit scone. The rest of us watched on helplessly (and ultimately, fruitlessly), waiting to be served. Not that everything went Butterscotch's way: an American woman (with a bottom the width of a Yorkshire Barn) sat on his table (literally) and sighed (in a 'let's let it all hang out' sort of way). He was horrified. We all had to walk very quickly until he'd cooled down.

If there really are thousands of walkers on this route, we haven't seen them...

A simple stile (breathe in and hoist that pack!)

A simple stile (breathe in and hoist that pack!)

Mostly the route, besides our own little group, is deserted. And so far as road (in a tarmac sense) goes, there continues to be very little of it. Sometimes there are no roads at all. At other times there may be a stretch of a kilometre or two. Tomorrow's route was one in which (a few years ago) there was an element of road walking, but public access ways have opened up in the last few years so we will be up and down the stiles as usual. The photo depicts one of the narrower stiles. Some have little gates with deadly springs!












And just a couple of photos to finish. The first depicts the Ladies Bathroom at the Black Bull Hotel in Reeth. Please note the sign that is stuck to the left hand side of the mirror (the mirror is directly outside the cubicle).

Please feel free to use these toiletries while you are here, but do not remove them...We do have CCTV footage in place! Thank you! 

Any visitor to the Ladies Bathroom is at risk of whiplash as soon as they read the sign. Where - exactly - does the CCTV camera point?

Apparently the Gentleman's Bathroom has a large jar of boiled sweets near the sinks (hopefully the sweets are individually wrapped). 

Finally from Richmond, a Shire Horse who missed an earlier posting.

A shire horse

A shire horse

Day 9: Reeth to Richmond

The weather today was wonderful - around 24 degrees and sunny all day. It was hot in the sunshine - the mist and rain from earlier in the walk would have been welcome at the top of the hills. We walked up hill and down dale for around 17km, and then another kilometre or so into town. Note that I have expressed the distance in kilometres, a far more accurate measure than miles. The following applies to the mile signs in England (in real time walking):

  • "1/4 mile" really means "1, 2 or 3 kilometres."
  • "3/4 mile" really means "anything from 6 to 8 kilometres."

People we've met along the way...


We have passed a few cyclists on our route. The first was on day one (St Bees to Ennerdale) when a cyclist emerged from the mists carrying his bicycle on his shoulders. This was shortly after we had seen Heathcliff (of the windswept hair and open necked shirt). Being early in our adventurer we were not quick enough with our cameras. We're better prepared now - here is a shot taken yesterday.







We came across our friends, The Canadian Cavalry, at lunch time today. They had taken all the best seats at the side of the road, so we had to settle for a paddock close by. We squatted in a field (being careful to avoid the manure) only to be faced with a farmer in a tractor. He was fertilising his fields with cow excrement he'd saved from earlier. 

A Charge of Canadians

A Charge of Canadians

An Embarrassment of Navigators and a map

An Embarrassment of Navigators and a map

Other navigators:

The challenges of navigation referred to in previous posts are best illustrated by a visual representation of the difficulties. The first photo is of a crossroads encounter of navigator men (the women were well on their way when the photo was taken).

The second photo records a typical example of a guide book (Paul Hannon's Coast to Coast Walk, Hillside Publications, 2010, and Coast to Coast Walk A-Z, Geographer's Company Limited, 2013). We also have Wainwright's original book, and another guide book. As you will note, things can get complicated!


Quote of the Day

Lewis Carroll attended Richmond School. ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1872) has some amusing moments that resonate with our walk:

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

 "The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,
"Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!"
"No hurry!" said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

Finally, another picture of the YorkshireDales.

Fat Yorkshire Dales Cows

Fat Yorkshire Dales Cows


We arrived in Richmond at 2.30pm. This busy town was founded in 1071 (but dates from much earlier) and it flourished in the Georgian era (the 1700s through to the early 1800s). There are some wonderful examples of Georgian architecture including The King's Head Hotel, the Town Hall, and the Theatre.We have a rest day tomorrow. In tomorrow's post I'll be commenting on our accommodation to date, 

Day 8: Keld to Reeth

We left Keld behind at 9am. As AW Wainwright said - at Keld, 'a sundial records the hours but time is measured in centuries.' Mr Wainwright could also have warned us that the first few hundred metres of our walk was a steep downhill track. The following comments were heard:

Coconut Milk: Are we there yet?
Butterscotch Keeper: Swing those poles!
Tea Bag: Ouch
The Water Tank: Stop complaining, my pack is heavier than yours
Sherbet Lemon: Things are looking up. At least I didn't fall down the stairs this morning.
Acid Drop: Hurry up, you are walking too slowly

We passed a guided group at morning tea time (more later on 'guided tours and getting stuck with Roma'). The guide had a dog called Woody. In his pack he carried water, poo bags, a spare lead, water proof trousers (for his owner), and food.

It was an 18km walk to Reeth, a town in the district of Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales. The sun was shining and there was a light breeze. The scenery was magnificent. The Brontë sisters lived south of the Yorkshire Dales, and they set many of their novels in this district. Who can resist an extract from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847)?

There are great moors behind and on each hand of me; there are waves of mountains far beyond that deep valley at my feet. The population here must be thin, and I see no passengers on these roads: they stretch out east, west, north, and south--white, broad, lonely; they are all cut in the moor, and the heather grows deep and wild to their very verge… Not a tie holds me to human society at this moment--not a charm or hope calls me where my fellow-creatures are—none that saw me would have a kind thought or a good wish for me.  I have no relative but the universal mother, Nature:  I will seek her breast and ask repose.

I struck straight into the heath; I held on to a hollow I saw deeply furrowing the brown moorside; I waded knee-deep in its dark growth; I turned with its turnings, and finding a moss-blackened granite crag in a hidden angle, I sat down under it.  High banks of moor were about me; the crag protected my head: the sky was over that.

I touched the heath, it was dry, and yet warm with the beat of the summer day.  I looked at the sky; it was pure: a kindly star twinkled just above the chasm ridge.  The dew fell, but with propitious softness; no breeze whispered.  Nature seemed to me benign and good; I thought she loved me, outcast as I was; and I, who from man could anticipate only mistrust, rejection, insult, clung to her with filial fondness. Tonight, at least, I would be her guest, as I was her child: my mother would lodge me without money and without price…

Beside the crag the heath was very deep: when I lay down my feet were buried in it; rising high on each side, it left only a narrow space for the night-air to invade.  I folded my shawl double, and spread it over me for a coverlet; a low, mossy swell was my pillow. Thus lodged, I was not, at least--at the commencement of the night, cold…

But next day, Want came to me pale and bare. Long after the little birds had left their nests; long after bees had come in the sweet prime of day to gather the heath honey before the dew was dried-- when the long morning shadows were curtailed, and the sun filled earth and sky--I got up, and I looked round me.

What a still, hot, perfect day!  What a golden desert this spreading moor!  Everywhere sunshine.  I wished I could live in it and on it. I saw a lizard run over the crag; I saw a bee busy among the sweet bilberries.  I would fain at the moment have become bee or lizard, that I might have found fitting nutriment, permanent shelter here. But I was a human being, and had a human being's wants: I must not linger where there was nothing to supply them.” (Chapter 28)

As you will see from this photo, the Yorkshire Dales are renowned for barns. They house cows, sheep, and hay, and there seems to be one in every paddock.


Some further advice for Coast to Coasters. Cooked breakfasts are all very well but now we are onto Day 8 the smell of bacon, eggs, baked beans, black pudding, sausage, warm tomatoes - and fried bread - are sometimes not as welcome as they were a few days ago. Coconut Milk, in particular, has expressed a recent wish for porridge in the mornings. We're not sure why this is, when she is looking so well.

Finally, a photo of a village we passed on our walk today. The cream rose climbing up the trellis is a Yorkshire Rose. This garden was erected to commemorate the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Dianna Spencer. The union, as everyone knows, was not a success, but the flowers live on. Tomorrow a stroll of 18km into Richmond.

Day 7: Kirkby Stephen to Keld

Today we walked 19km to Keld, a village on the Yorkshire (eastern) side of the Pennines (a group of mountains known as the spine of England (they run down the middle). It was a beautiful day, sunshine with a brisk breeze, and we walked for around six hours. 

In the middle of the Pennine Way is an extended stretch of black and sticky bog. Stick to the grass and you may survive. If you miss the grass and land on the bright green moss, you may never be seen again. Some people, like Butterscotch Keeper, took the safer route over the bog, carefully feeling their way over the difficult terrain. Others, like The Water Tank, took the calculated risk (mud up to his thighs) alternative route. Sherbet Lemon simply followed a woman wearing Crocs. He had no hope of keeping up. She was fast and furious, a veritable Queen of the Bog. 

The Pennine Way, the moors between the Lake lands, and Yorkshire

The Pennine Way, the moors between the Lake lands, and Yorkshire

Indecipherable yellow dot sign post

Indecipherable yellow dot sign post

And now a few postscripts to yesterday's blog post.


I've included examples of signage for the Coast to Coast route. Sometimes the signs are (relatively) frequent and appear every mile or two. At other times there are 10 mile gaps between signs (or are we lost?) 

Coast to Coast sign post

Coast to Coast sign post




Footpath sign post

Footpath sign post




Forget it. Men wander slightly off track and show particular interest in the grey slate walls. Or limestone walls. Or sandstone walls. Or any walls at all. They return with a bounce in their steps. Women scamper into forests, potential victims of a) other walkers b) thistles c) grass ticks d) all of the above. Note women have to squat (not easy after many hours walking) and then, pulling up their trousers, return to their party. All of said party are either drinking gallons of fluids without fear of future complications, exclaiming loudly that "the hour is late and we'd better hurry up before the sun goes down,' or (for better or worse) tiny specks in the distance. 



Just to wind up, it is lovely to be in the Yorkshire Dales, and we're looking forward to our walk to Reeth tomorrow. It is only seventeen kilometres so not too strenuous, and we'll see beautiful scenery along the way. We had a taster today as we walked into Keld..

Day 6: Shap to Kirkby Stephen

Kirkby Stephen, our destination of today, has a ‘Poetry Path’, containing a series of twelve poems by Meg Peacocke, the renowned English poet. Each poem represents a month in the farming year. July’s verse is a little uninspiring, but since we’ve walked 31km through farmland today, it may be totally appropriate. 

Silage. Tractor incises the first green furrow.
Skillful geometrician, the driver judges an arc of weather.

Tonight we are staying at the Black Bull Hotel (i.e. pub) at Kirkby Stephen. The internet is excellent, so I will tell you about some important matters that anyone contemplating the Coast to Coast route of AW Wainwright may wish to consider.

Are we there, yet?

It is actually quite difficult to walk many kilometres per day through long grassy fields, across bogs, up inclines that look okay from a distance but go on for miles (literally), down river courses, and over rocky mountains (and that's just the topography encountered before morning tea). We thought there may be 'boring lane ways of bitumen' from time to time, but in 5 days walking (over 100km) we have probably only walked on tarmac for around 3 km. And whenever it has happened (notwithstanding the need to dive into thistles so the cars don't run you down in the lane ways) we have been delighted. So flat! So smooth! So decisive in destination! Which brings me to another matter….

Field walking en route to Kirkby Stephen

Field walking en route to Kirkby Stephen


Mr. Wainwright wrote a lovely little book (A Coast to Coast Walk). He called it 'A' Coast to Coast rather than 'The' Coast to Coast because he was of the belief that there were many ways to cross England. This is all very well, but when it comes down to it, the walker has over 300km to traverse. Abseiling aside, if you want to get from one side of Kidsty Pike to the other (see yesterday's post) you have to climb up a mountain and scrabble down again - and for directions on how to achieve this you use Mr. Wainwright's book  (and a few spin off maps and other guides). Which leads me to...


There are two types of signs we have seen on the Coast to Coast walk. Firstly, there are finely engraved (aged and bleached) timber markers. Some are marked 'Coast to Coast' (in tiny letters). Some are so narrow that only a minimal number of letters can be included - they are marked 'C to C'. Since these posts are the same colour as the rock walls, the houses, the tree trunks and various other things they are often difficult to spot. Secondly, there are tiny yellow dots (that blend in nicely with the ten thousand buttercups found in every field). These tiny yellow dots have arrow indicators that point to a) the moon b) a stile c) a cow pat d) sheep. So…. one must rely on maps. Of our party we have Butterscotch Keeper (reputedly a surgeon of reasonable intelligence), Lemon Sherbet (reputedly a naval officer of senior rank), and The Water Tank (reputedly a lawyer with a modicum of sense). We also have Coconut Milk, Acid Drop, and Tea Bag (charged with spotting signs and yellow dots). Yet….. each day, we get lost at least twice. This is what is known on the Coast to Coast as 'A Navigational Embarrassment.' It is a common occurrence.


Variable. It is the middle of summer. The hottest day we have experienced is 22 degrees (in the sun), and the coolest around 13 degrees (at the warmest five minutes of the day). Luckily, we are sweating with exertion and/or trepidation whatever the weather.

Food and backpacks

Yes it is nice to eat and drink, but do remember that whatever you eat and drink will be carried on your back for the duration of the day. So while a tuna and cucumber sandwich, an apple, orange, punnet of juicy strawberries, digestive biscuits, wine gums, water, and a thermos of tea, may seem like a good idea while shopping at the co-op the night before, they are HEAVY. Also...

In view of possible inclement weather (i.e. daily inclement weather), it is also necessary to carry a waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers (though these are so uncomfortable to wear that they rarely make it out of the backpack), a jumper or fleece, and an umbrella (surprisingly useful). Other essential items (that sit at the bottom of the backpack and weigh a ton) are pen knife, medical kit, spare socks, and wallet. Wallet totally useless because...


There are no shops! Or very rarely is there a shop. And at best the shop is at end of the walk when feeling nauseous and/or footsore (see above - numerous causes) so it is impossible to stomach anything. Which brings to mind...


We are staying in B&Bs, guesthouses, and pubs, and the occasional hostel. At best they have been sensational. At worst, a lively topic of conversation. And even then nothing is ever all bad - for example, good internet, excellent toilet flush, and interesting artwork will be juxtaposed with dirty sheets and eggs of dubious heritage. A lift to the pub and a happily situated house will be juxtaposed with dodgy directions and an inadequate flush in a shared toilet (yes, it was Acid Drop). Note (particularly to Butterscotch Keeper) lovely old houses have low door jams, and wall lights.

Stone walls….

Stone walls….

A leg at each corner

A leg at each corner

Tomorrow I will take some photos of signage. We are walking (uphill) to Keld which is 23km away (not counting getting lost). By the way, todays walk was long at 31km, but easier than yesterday because we walked through the fields. It was quite chilly but rained rarely - excellent walking weather. We saw many cows, and even more sheep. There are many breeds of sheep. Most are charming, but we stumbled into a field late in the day and found Possibly The Ugliest Sheep in the World.

In my next post I will cover pharmaceuticals, field latrines (ha!), and what 3/4 of a mile really means. 

Finally, I'd like to know whether my newly activated comment button works, so any feedback (on the sheep or anything else) is welcome.

And an interesting face...

And an interesting face...

Day 5: Patterdale to Shap

Tarn on the way to Kidsky Pike from Patterdale

Tarn on the way to Kidsky Pike from Patterdale

Today we walked 24km, much of it uphill. We scaled Kidsty Pike, the highest mountain on our route. It took three hours to get up there from Patterdale, and over an hour to climb down. Jelly legs for all of us so…. early to bed this evening in anticipation of our 32km hike tomorrow. Yes, yes… ridiculous. Shap is on the very fringe of the Lakes District, and we will venture into Yorkshire territory in the next few days. We got a taste of the 'up hill and down dales' today while walking through the meadows and woods in the 10km trek from the base of Kidsty Pike, to Shap.

Here is a Kelpie cross called Albie. No problem walking dogs in National Parks in England, so long as they are on the lead (though hardly any are!)

Haweswater was on today’s route. This lake (flooded in the 1900's to create a fresh water dam) is beautifully described in Anthony Trollope’s novel Can You Forgive Her? (1864-1865). Trollope's description is pertinent to many of the lakes (or tarns as the locals call them) that we saw today:

A lake should, I think, be small, and should be seen from above, to be seen in all its glory. The distance should be such that the shadows of the mountains on its surface may just be traced, and that some faint idea of the ripple on the waters may be present to the eye. And the form of the lake should be irregular, curving round from its base among the lower hills, deeper and still deeper into some close nook up among the mountains from which its head waters spring. It is thus that a lake should be seen, and it was thus that Hawes Water was seen by them from the flat stone on the side of Swindale Fell. The basin of the lake has formed itself into the shape of the figure of 3, and the top section of the figure lies embosomed among the very wildest of the Westmoreland mountains. Altogether it is not above three miles long, and every point of it was to be seen from the spot on which the girls sat themselves down. The water beneath was still as death, and as dark — and looked almost as cold. But the slow clouds were passing over it, and the shades of darkness on its surface changed themselves with gradual changes. And though no movement was visible, there was ever and again in places a slight sheen upon the lake, which indicated the ripple made by the breeze.



A couple of characters to add to my list. Two fell runners separately came into view. These athletes are hardy (some might say demented) people who specialise in running fells (in other words, up mountains). In Rossthwaite there was an honour board in the pub recording remarkable times for fell running.  Not sure the red and blue lycra clad men we saw training today will make it onto the board, though they did seem to take their running seriously.

Blue lycra Bill

Blue lycra Bill

Red Lycra Reginald

Red Lycra Reginald


Day 4: Grasmere to Patterdale

We had a pleasant walk today (probably our easiest so far) from Grasmere (Wordsworth territory) to Patterdale. Tonight we are staying at Old Water View, an excellent guesthouse where AW Wainwright, who is credited with making the Coast to Coast walk a well loved adventure trail for hardy folk willing to tolerate blisters and stiff muscles (at best) lodged on many occasions.

On the road from Grasmere to Patterdale

On the road from Grasmere to Patterdale

William Wordsworth, in Extract from Poems on the Naming of Places: IV, wrote:

A narrow girdle of rough stones and crags,
A rude and natural causeway, interposed
Between the water and a winding slope
Of copse and thicket, leaves the eastern short
Of Grasmere safe in its own privacy:
And there my self and two beloved Friends
One calm September morning, ere the mist
Had altogether yielded to the sun,
Sauntered on this retired and difficult way.

The opening stanza of Sir Walter Scott’s poem ‘Helvellyn' is reproduced below. The tarn on one side of Hervellyn is portrayed in the photo.

At the base of Hervellyn

At the base of Hervellyn

I climbed the dark brow of the mighty Helvellyn,
Lakes and mountains beneath me gleamed misty and wide;
All was still, save by fits, when the eagle was yelling,
And starting around me the echoes replied.
On the right, Striden-edge round the Red-tarn was bending,
And Catchedicam its left verge was defending,
One huge, nameless rock in the front was ascending,
When I marked the sad spot where the wanderer had died.

Thankfully, the dead wanderer was not one of our party!

And penultimately, a photo taken on our arrival at Patterdale. Tomorrow we embark on one of our most challenging walks, Patterdale to Shap.


Two of our party, The Lactic Acid Drop and Coconut Milk, are leaving at first light to travel upstream on a steamer, and then walking the next 16km to Shap. The rest of our party (Butterscotch Stayer, Lemon Sherbet, The Water Tank, and Tea Bag), are taking an alternative 23km route up a mountain (or two). 

Soon I will be letting you know about our accommodation (sheets, eggs, and advice on (non) realistic timeframes for walks) and people we have met along the way (Heathcliff, Mountain Man with mountain bike, The Canadians, the Viking, the Duke of Eds, and the Octogenarians).

Day 3: Rosthwaite to Grasmere

Too exhausted to type. Long walk. Lovely. Here are better words than mine…

Thomas Gray, ‘Journal in the Lakes’, 1769, October 8th said:

“…now begin to see Helm-crag distinguished from its rugged neighbours not so much by its height, as by the strange broken outline of its top, like some gigantic building demolished, and the stones that composed it flung across each other in wild confusion. Just beyond it opens one of the sweetest landscapes that art ever attempted to imitate.

The opening three stanzas of William Wordsworth’s, ‘Lines written at Grasmere On Tidings of the Approaching Death of Charles James Fox’ are also worth reciting:

LOUD is the Vale! the voice is up     

With which she speaks when storms are gone

A mighty unison of streams!  

Of all her Voices, One!          


Loud is the Vale;—this inland Depth     

In peace is roaring like the sea;         

Yon star upon the mountain-top         

Is listening quietly.     

 Sad was I, even to pain deprest,        

Importunate and heavy load!

The Comforter hath found me here,   

Upon this lonely road;           



Day 2: Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite

Our journey was 23km today. The scenery was magnificent and varied. We walked many kilometres along the shores of Ennerdale Lake, and then through the fells to Moses Trod. Then we followed cairn upon cairn to Honister Pass, and walked down the hill to Seatoller. Longthwaite, Rossthwaite and Stonethwaite (where we are staying tonight – in a 500 year old house) are delightful. Tomorrow we walk to Grasmere.

There was a plinth made of Honister slate (at Honister Pass) on our route, which is inscribed with Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’ (1910). This is an extract:


If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,  

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’


This pretty much sums up Day 2. A difficult walk (partly because we were still recovering from the Day 1 effort) but the scenery was wonderful. Nothing tastes better than a cup of tea and a digestive biscuit on a stone bench when your feet are tired!



Day 1: St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge

We walked 22km today (egads!) plus another kilometre or so because we were staying slightly off route. Lovely countryside and challenging walking but delightful dinner and accommodation at the Shepherd Arm’s Hotel. A memorable moment (of many that will be recorded when the internet is more reliable) is the image of (as we called him) Heathcliff emerging from the mists. A young man, tall and well built with wild black hair, walked past us. We had been climbing up a fell for over an hour (through bog and low lying cloud) when Heathcliff emerged from the mists. He had no bag or hat. He was wearing a cotton shirt, rolled up to the elbows, jeans and leather shoes. He gave us a smile (unHeathcliff like, admittedly) so we assumed he was en route to see Cathy in the early stages of their relationship…..

Over the fells

Over the fells

Some thoughts from writers of the region are:

Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean!) Attended St Bees School. He said,

 The older you get, the more you realise how happenstance... has helped to determine your path through life.

We left the Irish Sea behind at Saint Bees’ Head. Here is an extract from William Wordsworth’s ‘Stanzas Suggested in a Steamboat off Saint Bees.’

…no one plucks the rose, 
Whose proffered beauty in safe shelter blows
'Mid a trim garden's summer luxuries, 
With joy like his who climbs, on hands and knees, 
For some rare plant, yon Headland of St. Bees. 

…Up, Spirit of the storm! 
That Courage may find something to perform; 
That Fortitude, whose blood disdains to freeze
At Danger's bidding, may confront the seas, 
Firm as the towering Headlands of St. Bees. 

At the base of the rise to the top of the fell

At the base of the rise to the top of the fell

Shire horses in Ennerdale

A Coast to Coast walk...

I’ll post most days about the route and the adventures we have along the way. Some wonderful authors have lived, written about, or set novels in the districts we’re visiting, so I’ll draw on them for inspiration.

Firstly, some details about our walk!

Walking Days: 15 days walking, 16 nights accommodation.

Daily Commitment: Rise early each morning and have breakfast. Walk purposefully and jauntily, in an animated, determined, and energetic manner, to our destination.

Day 1 St Bees: Stay at Fairladies Barn; walk from St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge (22km)

Day 2 Ennerdale Bridge: Stay at Shepherd’s Arms; walk from Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite (23km)

Day 3 Rosthwaite (Stonethwaite): Stay at Knotts View Guest House; walk from Rosthwaite to Grasmere (23km)

Day 4 Grasmere: Stay at Thorney How Independent Hostel; walk from Grasmere to Patterdale (12km)

Day 5 Patterdale: Stay at Old Water Inn Guest House; walk from Patterdale to Shap (24km)

Day 6 Shap: Stay at The Hermitage Guest House; walk from Shap to Kirkby Stephen (31km)

Day 7 Kirkby Stephen: Stay at Black Bull Hotel; walk from Kirkby Stephen to Keld (24km)

Day 8 Keld: Stay at Butt House Guest House; walk from Keld to Reeth (17km)

Day 9 Reeth: Stay at Hackney House B & B; walk from Reeth to Richmond (18km)

Day 10 Richmond; Stay at the King’s Head Pub (rest day)

Day 11 Richmond: walk from Richmond to Ingleby Arncliffe (32km)

Day 12 Ingleby Arncliffe: Stay at Somerset House Guest House; walk from Ingleby Arncliffe to Clay Bank Top (Chop Gate) (19km)

Day 13 Chop Gate: Stay at Buck Inn Guest House; walk from Chop Gate to Blakey Ridge (13km)

Day 14 Blakey Ridge: Stay at Lion Inn Pub; walk from Blakey Ridge to Grosmont (20km)

Day 15 Grosmont: Stay at The Gallery B&B; walk from Grosmont to Robin Hood’s Bay (25km)

Day 16 Robin Hood’s Bay: Stay at Victoria Hotel. Party party party….

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.  Robert Louis Stevenson

What our six member travelling party hopes to do is to keep moving…. Here is our 16 day itinerary for the coast to coast walk from St Bees on the West Coast of England, to Robin Hood’s Bay in the East. We’re planning to walk from the Irish Sea to the North Sea.

A pathway at St Bees, our starting point on the irish sea

A pathway at St Bees, our starting point on the irish sea

Plotting and Pantsing


The Scottish novelist and playwright, and creator of Peter Pan, JM Barrie wrote:

The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.

This brings to mind writing generally. Some novelists are 'plotters' who plan (sometimes to the last detail!) what is going to happen in their stories. Others are 'pantsers' who 'fly by the seats of their pants.' They start with the characters in their novels, and a basic plot (if it is a romance the hero and heroine will enjoy a 'happily ever after'), but the journey the characters take will depend largely on them….

I am a panster. Which can lead to a certain amount of anxiety as the writing progresses. I want my characters to have a happily ever after, but sometimes I'm not sure how they are going to achieve this!

Todays pictures were taken at the Crinan Canal, a 10 mile stretch of canal on the West Coast of Scotland. Numerous photos were taken (not by me…) of the way the locks operated, and how the water levels changed as a boat moved from lock to lock in the canal. What did I find interesting? The houses along the way. I imagined who had lived there in the past. And who could live there in the future….. 

Is blogging the modern form of diarising?

Walter Scott, one of the great Scottish writers, said:

What is a diary as a rule? A document useful to the person who keeps it. Dull to the contemporary who reads it and invaluable to the student, centuries afterwards, who treasures it.

At the risk of sounding dull to the contemporary reader, this is what happened today….

We had a flat tyre, and it cost an exorbitant amount of money, time and effort to get it fixed.  We found out the hard way that Hertz doesn't provide spare tyres in many of its hire vehicles (who would have known?)

On a happier note, we stopped the car next to a paddock and a herd of curious cows joined us as we cursed. I spotted this calf just before we drove away. The calf's wonderful heart shaped marking just had to be recorded….