Coast to Coast day 11: Osmotherly to Blakey

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A great day, especially after the boredom of the previous day. Great views from the edge of the moors across the moors and valleys, particularly fine views across to Roseberry Topping, and Cook’s monument was also visible. The moors were quite bleak, but I like this. The heather was brown but will explode into purple during Autumn – this area protects the largest expanse of heather moorland in Europe.

From Osmotherly, rather than tracking back to Arncliffe Wood to meet the official c2c track, we took a slightly different route along the road that leads north out of Osmotherly, past the Cod Beck reservoir, eventually picking up the official path as it crosses this road and enters Clain Wood. If staying in Osmotherly, this variation can be recommended.

The path follows the high ground for most of the rest of the day with continual good views if the weather allows. The Lord Stones cafe can be recommended as a good spot for morning tea or an early lunch.

The final part of the day, along a disused railway alignment, did start to drag towards the end – moors very bleak at this point and the weather had become very dark and grey, threatening to rain although it never did (that would come tomorrow). Thankfully, Blakey provided both an excellent B&B, with magnificent views from its en-suite room across the moors, and a lovely old pub where I had a nice curry (actually that’s all Blakey is, a pub and a B&B).

(Total distance approx. 19 miles)

Link to Coast to Coast Summary

Coast to Coast day 10: Catterick Bridge to Osmotherly

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A very long day of over 21 miles, and the most boring of the walk – an endless series of roads, tracks and footpaths through fields. Also included a particularly unattractive but mercifully brief section along the A167, and a dangerous crossing of the A19. To top it off, the pub at Danby Wiske was shut, and there were no other options for lunch.

It was a relief to enter the Arncliffe woods and the final part of the walk with the promise of a more interesting route over the last few days.

We stayed just off the path in Osmotherly, an attractive little village at the edge of the North York Moors National Park. Some people break this stage into two, but I was very pleased to get it over with in one hit.

(Total distance approx. 21.5 miles)

Link to Coast to Coast Summary

Coast to Coast day 9: Marrick to Catterick Bridge

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The final day of the Yorkshire Dales, before reaching the very attractive market town of Richmond.

This was a relatively short and undemanding day. Overall, I’d describe it as ‘pleasant’, mainly field walking but some good views and surroundings; there was a nice spot underneath Applegarth Scar to stop for a morning cuppa. Lunch we had in Richmond, we also had a look around the castle as we had plenty of time.

Rather than stay in Richmond, we walked on to St Giles farm near Catterick Bridge to reduce the mileage for the following day. There we had an enjoyable dinner, cooked by our hosts, with a couple doing the c2c and also staying at the farm.

(Total distance approx. 10.5 miles)

Link to Coast to Coast Summary

Coast to Coast day 8: Keld to Marrick

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A lovely day above Swaledale with classic Yorkshire countryside – moors, dales, drystone walls and barns.

James Herriot’s Yorkshire, a pictorial book authored by the late English vet many years ago and with photos by Derry Brabbs (who subsequently went on to take the photos for many books produced with Alfred Wainwright) gives a very good overview of this area. He calls Swaledale “the most beautiful part of England”; at the risk of being a traitor to my county of birth I’m not sure I’d go quite that far, but it is undeniably attractive. Herriott also describes, in the “Youth Hostels” chapter of the book, a walk that visits Keld, where he stayed at the Keld Lodge (then a Youth Hostel) and then continues along the current c2c route past Crackpot Hall, a former shooting lodge, and the Swinner Gill Lead Mines through to Melbecks Moor, at which point he turns to Gunnerside and eventually reaches Reeth.

At Melbecks Moor we continued east across the top of the moors and suddenly found ourselves joined by many others – but runners not walkers – it being the day of the Swaledale Marathon, and when we reached Reeth it was packed with runners recuperating in the various pubs which were also filled with spectators and supporters.

Because of the marathon, Reeth’s accomodations were fully booked, so we continued on to a small village called Marrick for the evening.

(Total distance approx. 15 miles)

Link to Coast to Coast Summary

Coast to Coast day 7: Kirkby Stephen to Keld

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Entering the final part of Cumbria and walking into the Yorkshire Dales National Park provided for a more interesting day today. Nice views and lovely weather again.

The path cuts east from Kirkby Stephen to Hartley and then starts to climb slowly, first on a road that passes a large quarry and eventually along a vehicular track. As it enters moorland the track starts to climb quite steeply. We took a quick rest before tackling this last section up to Nine Standards Rigg and a farmer who was loading a couple of sheep into a trailer being towed by his quad bike asked with a smile on his face whether we’d like to hop in with the sheep for a lift to the top!

The origin of the Nine Standards (nine stone cairns) is not known. They do provide an excellent spot for an early lunch and there are very good views in all directions. From here the path traverses the open moorland until it reaches Ravenseat, where it’s a pleasant walk by the side of the beck into Keld, which is the half-way point of the walk. The path over the moors changes depending on the month to try and control erosion (of which there was significant evidence); this part was enjoyable in fine weather but would be trying in mist.

We arrived in Keld to find that our accommodations were the recently opened Keld Lodge (originally a shooter’s lodge). There was good beer on tap and a nice lounge area, where we had an enjoyable evening talking to other c2c’ers who were staying there – as far as I could tell, everyone there was doing the walk, including a handful who were escaping the midges at the campsite.

(Total distance approx. 12 miles)

Coast to Coast day 6: Shap to Kirkby Stephen

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This was not a particularly interesting day and a bit of a slog at around 21 miles – it’s basically the link between the Lakes and the Yorkshire Dales and there was a fair amount of road bashing and field walking.

We were staying right at the bottom end of Shap, so rather than walking back up the main road, we took a short cut and met the official path just as it crosses over the M6. From here the path leads by a working quarry which was blasting the morning we passed.

The way improves from this point, travelling through moorland and very quiet once you are away from the quarry and the motorway. The middle part of the walk was a fairly tedious succession of roads and field paths, but it improved towards the end of the day as the path went through Smardale with good views of the impressive Smardalegill viaduct, before again entering another series of fields for the last pull into Kirkby Stephen.

At Kirkby Stephen we had another good B&B and an excellent dinner at the local Chinese, which was a welcome change from pub grub.

(Total distance approx. 21 miles)

Link to Coast to Coast Summary

Coast to Coast day 5: Patterdale to Shap

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A long day through a lesser visited part of the lakes. The day started with yet another long, slow climb, this time south-east past Angletarn Pikes, Angle Tarn and the Knott, before turning east towards Kidsty Pike.

At this point the landscape was clearly changing to the more rounded hills of Yorkshire. From Kidsty Pike there were good views of High Street, but we didn’t hang around too long as the weather was starting to close in. After Kidsty Pike the path drops fairly steeply to the banks of Haweswater and the path beside Haweswater seemed to go on forever – we also got our first rain of the trip. This cleared in less than an hour though and eventually we reached Brimbank, a village that was originally set up for the navvies working to build Haweswater (which is a reservoir).

The village has been re-developed into modern housing, with a handful of the original houses being retained and renovated and the development was fairly attractive, with a refurbished red phone box sitting on the small village green. There won’t be any labourers living there now however; there were a couple of houses still left selling for 300,000 quid.

Leaving Brimbank we entered another attractive wooded section before navigating numerous fields to reach Shap Abbey for a quick look and then a brief road bash in to Shap. At Shap we received a warm welcome from Mrs Brunskill at Brookfield House and then had an excellent dinner (best so far) at the Greyhound pub. Don’t be fooled by the unprepossessing exterior – it was very large and comfortable inside and clearly very popular.

(Total distance approx. 16 miles)

Link to Coast to Coast Summary