Coast to Coast 2006

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Final Thoughts

 

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Footloose Librarians' Coast to Coast Journal
Day 14

Day 14: Glaisdale to High Hawkser
Monday 18th September 2006

In the cool of the morning we began with a visit to Beggar's Bridge, that arched stone monument to lovers separated by flood. Then on through a wooded valley, warming quickly with the exertion, beside the River Esk to join the road to Egton Bridge.

Here Vicki joined us to walk the scenic bridleway along the Esk into Grosmont, where she left us by the train station, planning to take a steam train excursion and join us later in Hawsker.

The road out of Grosmont is cruelly steep at first - a 33% grade - and we climbed it to the music of steam whistles in the town below. The road continues upward, though not at so steep and angle, onto Sleights Moor, where we detoured briefly to visit the Bride Stones, an ancient stone circle south of the road.

Like a two-handed economist, a walker with two guide books sometimes can't decide which path to choose. We entered the heather at the top of Sleights Moor and headed northeast to find a road. One guide had followed an obvious trail; the other had apparently used a nearly invisible track. Both paths reach the road by a stile, but about 200 yards apart. The result for us was some confusion in finding the crossing point on the other side of the road, almost hidden by tall heather and 200 yards in the opposite direction from where we expected it to be. A stile admitted us to a path, which became a horse track, which became a road leading us down the hill and into the village of Little Beck.

About this point we began to see and feel for ourselves the reluctance to end the walk that Wainwright must have felt. The path begins to zig and zag, north and south, ignoring easier and shorter paths to the North Sea as if bent on stretching out and savoring the last few miles of the adventure.

James and I ate our lunch of apples, cheese and biscuits in Little Beck on a bench above the stream, checked our maps, and headed south-southeast along the beck through a wood filled with wonders. Most curious is the Hermitage, a single large boulder laboriously hollowed out by a local resident, beginning in the year 1790, to form a cave large enough for several people, ringed inside by a stone ledge perfect for contemplation. Farther upstream is an abandoned millhouse by the refreshingly beautiful waterfall that originally provided power to the mill.

The path continues up to a car park and picnic area, and then reverses direction to the north-northeast along a paved road, up and around a bend, to leave the road and cross the heather of Sneaton Low Moor. There's a short stretch east along the B1416 before again heading across the heather to the northeast, following signposts staked out across the low moor like sentinels on the staked plains.

The older C2C path had used the unpleasantly busy A171 north to Hawsker, and the now broken signpost is still there to offer a chance at confusion. James and I had long since decided that any navigation error that didn't cost us more than a hundred yards could charitably be considered not an error at all, but here we were left looking for clues. Ultimately we used map and compass to identify the overgrown hedgerows that lined a muddy bridleway, which joins the road into High Hawsker. Vicki caught up with us a little while later, full of her day's adventures.

Our profound thanks go to our hosts at York House for solving a booking confusion and finding us an extra bed for the night. A good meal at the Hare and Hounds, and off to bed on the last night of our walk. Tomorrow, the North Sea and on to Robin Hood's Bay.
 

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