Ingleby Cross to Blakey Ridge (19.9 miles / 161.3 miles)
There are no shops in Ingleby Cross, the Blue Bell Inn only serve campers breakfast if they pre-book (which, apparently, is at an undisclosed point before the previous evening) and I was down to my last flapjack. I was going to starve on this 20 mile and remotest of sections of the Coast to Coast and this played on my mind throughout the night meaning I didn’t get a great deal of sleep. The destination of the Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge was exciting me today, but I was so worried I would be ill prepared, I decided to meet Alicia and Linda at Osmotherly’s shop a couple of miles out of my way rather than at the telecom towers on the edge of Arncliffe Wood.
I texted Linda with details of my new plan and she, being brilliant, rang me back and said that she would pick up what I wanted: obviously pasty, flapjacks and Lucozade (not Caribbean Crush). Alicia, being all motherly in Osmotherly, called me to take orders for the Germans.
I had arranged my own Packhorse delivery today as Andy, Di and Molly and Hugh and Mark were now on different schedules with a shorter day’s walk planned, and so, as I wouldn’t be seeing them on the trail again, I said my goodbyes and embarked on what would be a stage of two halves: a hilly section of six climbs mostly walking with Alicia and Linda and a flat stage across desolate moors, alone, navigating werewolf country by myself. Me, the Germans and Jessie, the gang’s newest recruit joining just last night, set off in to the North Yorkshire Moors National Park for the first time, up a ‘relentlessly’ steep hill towards our rendezvous with breakfast. Unfortunately, as it turned out, Osmotherly was a no pasty town, so I had to settle for a home made steak pie: Tim may have laughed at my breakfast choice, but did I mention I was eating I was eating steak pie?
Breakfast over, we said goodbye to the Germans for the last time too and headed off, following the path of the Cleveland Way. We had done our first climb and, in Scarth Wood, were also on our first moor of the day which proved disappointingly short lived as we lost all the height we had paid for through sweat and swearing by dropping in to the valley and Huthwaite Green. Here, a lovely old local woman wearing sandals, told us many, many things, without us being able to get a word in edgeways, including the fact that there was a dead sheep on the trail and an old lamb (which, I believe would make it a hogget), with only three legs. We couldn’t confirm the latter, but there was indeed a deceased sheep after our second climb up on to, ironically, Live Moor, however, it wasn’t the most decomposed animial of its type we had seen on this trip and subsequently, although I didn’t hang around too long to get an accurate reading, it wasn’t the smelliest either.
The weather from the west was looking a little on the dodgy side and it was evident by the time we reached Carlton Moor (still on the second climb) that rain heavier than the spitting we had been experiencing so far would soon be upon us. That or it was simply going to be irritatingly on and off as Mother Nature was enjoying making us waterproof up and down every five minutes. Carlton Moor itself was being a little friendlier and offered us our first indication that we were closing in on our target quicker than perhaps we would like: we could see the North Sea for the first time with industrial Teaside and beyond identifiable through the haze.
At least the second descent of the day was greeted by more than just tales of dead livestock as we came across the Lord Stones Café, bar, shop, campsite, oasis, illusion and realisation that all my worrying about not being able to get supplies on the trail today were unfounded. I stocked up on Hobgoblin flavoured crisps, chilli chocolate and obviously flapjacks before settling down to a cream tea and Victoria sponge. Alicia also gave me a iced ginger bread cow for my role in protecting her against the multitudes of dangerous cows over the last 10 days. If you could keep it quiet that I had no response to the charging herds yesterday, other than perhaps trying to run faster than at least the slowest of us, I would be grateful.
Time for the third climb and on to Cringle Moor where a Belgian Coast to Coaster, who could navigate by the sun when not in cloudy North Yorkshire, offered to take a photo of us on the Alec Falconer memorial seat. After that, our time together was nearly at an end and after a very steep descent we said our goodbyes as Alicia and Linda were heading off to Breakhills to stay the night and so, for the first time since Shap, I was walking alone once more.
I had 11.5 miles remaining and it was around 2 o’clock. I was worried that this was going to take me until 7pm and the day wasn’t getting any hotter, but off I set, flying up the first of my remaining three climbs overtaking, just before the top, an Israeli couple who had stayed at the Blue Bell last night and, then, on the descent, I met up with the Germans again who had gone passed us at the café stop. The fifth climb saw me getting lost around the Wain Stones (where was Linda when I needed her?) and had to ask some climbers how I could get around them. They not only told me, but walked me round and showed me the best scrambling points.
And so, up on to Hasty Bank where Mother Nature had given up toying with the rain and went for it with a torrential downpour: flashbacks of Kidsty aside, I was now proficient in weatherproofing myself at a moment’s notice and protecting my precious guidebook. The exposed path seemed to go on for days until I finally reached descent down to Clay Bank Top, and although I understand having paved steps to protect the landscape from erosion is important, do they seriously have to be so treacherous?
The final climb took me on to a very bleak and grey Carr Ridge and Urra Moor before I joined the path of a disused railway line, subsequently leaving the Cleveland Way at Bloworth Crossing, 6 miles from the Lion Inn. In the 1989 series of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk, Alfred said that you can get a good speed up, which he considered to be five miles an hour, over this terrain. He was right, and I pretty much nailed it covering the distance in an hour and a quarter arriving at the Lion Inn at around 5pm at the same time as a Coast to Coast couple who I had spotted on previous days and who had also made the trip from the Blue Bell Inn (they stayed in the B&B: I bet they got breakfast).
It felt dark outside, despite there being around four hours of light left in the day and after the downpour it was cold. Coming in to a warm pub, it felt as if I had found respite on a winter’s day rather than just a welcomed summer’s watering hole. It was also a little strange that, having seen so few people over the moors, there were so many eating their tea in the pub. I was beginning to worry that I had checked in to the Hotel California. Ah, never mind, the ability to check out and leave can be for a future Timothy to worry about!
Jessie was already there having arrived around 30 minutes before me, as was another familiar face from the New Ing Lodge in Shap and fellow Kidsty Pike survivor who I will have to call ‘Stockport’ on account of the fact that, even though I know he’s from Stockport and that his parents live close to Grosmont, I have no idea what his name might be.
So a quick pitch of the tent followed by a monstrously carbolicious chilli-con-carne with rice AND chips, I let the evening slip by in the warmth and comfort of my new prison. Richard and the boys arrived for a brief pint whilst waiting for a lift to their over night stay and shortly afterwards the Tim and Thobi walked in which was all very awkward as we had already said our final goodbyes. After copious cups of tea, Theakston Old Peculiars and Thwaites Wainwright’s I called it a night at 10pm and retired to my freezing tent!