Sunday, 31 October 2010

Coast to Coast Sept 2010 Day 1

Ready for off - St Bees Head
As a member of Clayton Harriers running club, I once took part in a relay event from the west coast of England to the east. Specifically, my involvement was a 20mile stretch across the North York Moors, finishing in Glaisdale. With Ian as my partner, we took the pebble “baton” from the previous runner, and completed the section in the fastest 20miles I’ve ever run-- . I always said I’d return one day to do the whole route, as a walk, and thirty odd years later, I finally got around to doing it! So here’s the record of that walk.

Ian offered to support and bring the campervan to cut down costs. He didn’t want to do the walk, because after the delights of the Lakes section, the rest of it would be “tedious”. Our mate, Colin, was up to the challenge. Wainwright would have approved. T’owd fella disapproved of groups of walkers, but conceded that if you must take a friend, it ought to be a “silent” one- Colin met this requirement perfectly. As he was to remark on numerous occasions later, I could talk for the both of us!!

Sept 1/ Day 1/Almost the end of the school summer break (so hopefully things would be a lot quieter)

St Bees Head to Ennerdale Bridge- 14.5 miles`2315’ ascent

Weather- bright and sunny- good start

After spending the night at Colin’s, in Lancashire, we set off just after 7am for Whitehaven and St Bees on the west coast of Cumbria. What an out-of-the-way place! You get to the Lakes and then a longer way over to the coast to what feels like a dead-end. Finally arrived at the start for about 10am. Quiet, quaint and unspoilt, a stretch too far for most people to travel to a beach. Pretty village, with St Bees Head promontory towering over the long, grey beach.

Quick cuppa and then off we go, with a very important detour to collect a pebble from the beach, to be thrown into the sea at Robin Hoods Bay 13 days later. The walk hugs the coast, and, similar to the stretch near RHB, it sends you about 3miles in the opposite direction! You don’t mind though. It’s a lovely day, and not a stretch to be rushed. With clear views of the Isle of Man, about 30miles away, and the later views north to the Solway Firth, it is a wonderful start. The sky is blue and it’s exciting to know that we’ll be covering some of the quietest and more remote parts of three busy national parks- the Lakes, the Yorkshire dales and the North York moors.

We pass through the quiet little towns of Sandwith and Cleator, ex-mining towns. On this stretch the C2C is well-marked, but we manage a bit of a wrong turn, but after a bit of a detour, start to ascend Dent, a welcome change from the flat,urban land previously. A steep descent and scramble into Nannycatch Gate, as pretty as its name suggests, a lovely little ravine and stream. We followed the beck for what seemed like ages, but was in fact only a couple of miles. After almost 7hours of walking we arrived at the B&B, Low Cock How Farm, Kinniside, our first stop. Large place with bunkhouse. Very friendly welcome, and a cuppa made for us the minute we arrived. Hearty evening meal, pre-booked, and packed lunch for tomorrow. Only down-side- loo downstairs! No mobile phone signal. Decided to walk to the pub in Ennerdale Bridge, but took a wrong turn at the end of the drive, and after 3miles, gave up and returned thirsty. In view of the loo arrangement, maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing. Hope our map-reading improves!!

At the evening meal, we got a foretaste of the variety of nationalities who undertake this walk. There was a couple from Atlanta, a guy from Melboune, who did n’t seem to be in good health, and spent ages in the bathroom, where he’d made himself right at home with his wash-bag etc .More of that later!! We were told that Bill Bryson was 2 days ahead of us, walking for a cancer charity.

Lovely couple who ran the B&B. They told us about Cleator “Little Ireland”, an iron-mining town. This is quite a poor area, not touristy, totally dependent upon the nuclear power station at Sellafield, which currently employs about 7000 people. Crucial for the town’s economy.

Only Day 1 and thank god for Compeed blister plasters!!!

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