Coast to Coast 2006

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Final Thoughts


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Footloose Librarians' Coast to Coast Journal
Final Miles and Final Thoughts

Final Day: High Hawkser to RHB
Tuesday 19th September 2006

The last day of our walk dawned crisp and clear. In no hurry to begin the final five miles, we lingered over an excellent breakfast, and started down the road to the sea. We’d planned an extra day for these short few last miles as a kind of celebration. I gave Vicki her rock – the small stone I had picked up for her at the beginning of our trek. It’s hers to take care of now. We crested a small hill, and there was the blue.

We skirted a neatly kept caravan park and turned south on the cliffside path toward Robin Hood’s Bay.

James was eager, but still a little slow on the inclines, so even though he walked ahead he let me catch up with him on the slopes. Vicki lagged a bit, finding not one but two groups she had met in the previous two days, and stayed behind to talk.

The cliff walk is one to treasure, The sea was intensely blue in the bright sunlight – a joy to behold with quick down bursts of wind spilling over the cliffs and fanning out along the surface by the shore. The cries of seabirds. Some final ripe blackberries to pick by the trail.

Robin Hood’s Bay lies hidden until the very last. We entered the lively streets and made our way down to the old town by the water’s edge. The tide was out. A fisherman landed the small boat we had seen out on the bay as we approached, and only then revealed that he needed a wheelchair for transportation when ashore. School children in yellow shirts scoured the tide shallows, looking for who knows what scholarly treasures. James and I picked our way out over the weed covered rocks, and finished the trek with what is by now a tradition: each dipped a toe in the salt, and gave back to the sea the small stone we had carried all the way from the beach at St. Bee’s.

Then back to the shore to sign the book and have a celebratory pint of bitter at the Wainwright Bar.

It is hard to describe the feelings that swept over me with these final acts. Great satisfaction, of course. A sense of accomplishment that will likely never be erased. But also a sadness that the adventure has come to an end.

192 miles across the country, step-by-step, one foot in front of the other, through some of the most appealing countryside I have known. New experiences. New friends. A new spring in my step. A sense of well-being and renewal. A good walk.

The tide was rising fast now, and we watched as the water began to chase people from the shore, and finally to erase the small footsteps we each had left by the water’s edge.

Vicki caught up with us then, breaking the spell for awhile as we looked with newfound enjoyment at the bustling life around us in Robin Hood’s Bay. We peeked in on a few shops, talked to a cabinetmaker putting the finishing touches on a new weaver’s loom, and made arrangements for a cab to take us back to our rented car.

But that’s the beginning of another story.

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