Distance: 12 miles
After the 12 hour flight from San Francisco to Manchester, Leslie (my son’s mother-in-law), my mother and I had a brief visit with an English friend, Jean, and her family in Rufford, a community closer to the Coast to Coast Path’s eastern trailhead on England’s east coast, northeast of Leeds. Quite jetlagged, we did our best to stay awake. After the visit, Jean very kindly drove us to the trailhead in the village of Robin Hood’s Bay , which is an interesting, quaint village. After bidding Jean and my mother good bye, Leslie and I spent an enjoyable afternoon exploring the myriad of small, charming streets winding through this coastal town. During the 18th century, smuggling had been a community activity here and apparently there is a network of tunnels under the community connecting many of the houses and enabling the locals in this “craft”.
We stayed at our first B&B of this trip, The Villa, at the top of the town with the very hospitable Jane as our host and rose early the
The hiking traditions of the C2C include a proper initiation to the path, which requires that the hiker begins the trail at the actual coast by splashing a boot in the North Sea, while collecting a small stone to carry throughout the hike. (The completion of this tradition at the end of the trail requires a similar splash in the Irish Sea on the west coast and a celebratory tossing of this stone back into that sea.) So, in order to follow this tradition, we walked down through Robin Hood’s Bay to a boat ramp which reached into the sea. We touched our boots into the water and collected a tiny stone to carry to the conclusion of the hike at St. Bees, where it would be thrown in the Irish Sea.
The trailhead for the Coast to Coast Path was back up at the top of the village, so our walk back through the rising village streets gave us one last look at this wonderful village, as we prepared to jump on the trail. The first steps onto the trail led us directly into the first of three national parks we would experience on this trip: North York Moors National Park.
And what a day to start a walk – a beautiful, blue bird day! The blue sea and amber gorse made a stunning backdrop for the trail.
Turning to the west, we left the coast behind and quickly were in sheep country (really, most of England seems to be sheep country).
A good portion of the day was spent walking through the Sneaton Low Moor, the first of many moors, which are large areas of open, uncultivated upland. These moors are a little dreary, but still interesting. We came upon a group of people making a board walkway across a wet section covered in underbrush. Just as I took a step, I looked down and, to my horror, I was about to step on an adder, England’s only poisonous snake. I am terrified of snakes and knowing this one was poisonous did not help my state of mind. Once I had regained my composure, one of the workers came up to me and said, “you are so fortunate to have seen one of our adders, they are shy and are rarely seen.” Not so lucky, to my way of thinking! At least, I thought to myself, the odds were slim that I would see another of these creatures.
One of the highlights of the day was Littlebeck Wood, a 65-acre woodland that abounds in flora and fauna. May Beck is the brook that parallels a portion of the path.
A unique manmade formation in the midst of the wood is the Hermitage, a very large boulder with a room carved into it. The initials G.C. 1790 are carved above the entrance. It is believed that the initials are those of George Chubb, an out of work seaman who may have been commissioned to do the carving by a good-hearted philanthropist.
We were delighted to find a cute cottage, Midge Hall, that was serving tea in the midst of the forest. It was perfect timing for a well-earned rest, since Leslie had begun to suffer from foot and knee pain.
Leaving Littlebeck, we climbed the hillside to find our B&B for the evening, Intake Farm. A glance behind us revealed a pleasant view of our morning’s woodland walk.
As we approached this farm, it became clear that their Border Collie was watching us very closely – there was no way that we could sneak up on this home. (I was, of course, reminded me of my Border Collie, “Cowboy,” at home in California. I missed him all the more.)
Judith, our host at Intake Farm, was a delight. At her direction we set our packs down (after taking off our boots, a requirement at all B&Bs) and entered her kitchen, where we sat around her kitchen table. As she chatted and served us tea and cake, Judith made us feel right at home at this most congenial B&B. When dinner was provided, all her guests sat around one large table, enjoying the wonderful fellowship we came to enjoy and anticipate in other B&B’s to come.