Distance: 15.4 miles
This was the final day of this wonderful Coast to Coast adventure and we had a beautiful, sunny day in which to enjoy it! Paul, our B&B host, drove us back to the Shepherd’s Arms Pub to resume our trek.
We walked a pleasant trail alongside Nannycatch Beck, a name that sounds as if it came from a Beatrix Potter children’s book.
This lovely little trail wound through various hills before getting into some rather steep climbs. In fact, the climb up to Raven Crag is considered about the steepest on the C2C.
Once at the top, the effort was worth the view. The distant Lakeland fells were peeking out of the clouds as we took in this mountaintop experience.
Before heading toward the sea, we walked up Dent Hill and sat on the enormous cairn built by hikers over the years, as they contributed a stone to the pile upon reaching the top.
From this vantage point, we had our first view of the Irish Sea in the far distance. Descending through Blackhow Wood we came out at Blackhow Farm. A very helpful older gentleman noticed our confusion around the myriad of twists and turns through the farm buildings, gates and small lanes facing us, guiding us through this area and on our way to Moor Row. Along the way we passed a sculpture dedicated to Alfred Wainwright, the originator of the Coast to Coast Path.
Yesterday we were cold and wet, but today we were hot and very relieved to see the Dog and Partridge Pub in Sandwitch where we could get a cold drink. We soon saw our first sign pointing us in the direction of St. Bees, as we realized that our wonderful trek was about at its end.
We marched on toward the sea.
Pressing on, we walked through rolling farmland and were passed by a snappy horse cart. The driver assured us that we were just moments away from the coast.
And then suddenly, there before us was the beautiful, blue Irish Sea.
A fellow hiker offered to take a group picture to commemorate our arrival at the west coast of England.
The St. Bees Lighthouse stood watching over the coastline as we walked by.
The red rock, emerald green grass and azure blue sea made quite a lovely scene to enjoy as we walked our last few miles.
The trail was a series of undulations as it followed the coast.
Then, there it was, St. Bees! We had made it across England to our destination. Or almost. We had to get to the beach to complete the traditional, closing ritual.
Once at the beach, we began the ceremony of the toe tapping/dunking. As you will recall, we could not begin the Coast to Coast Path at the eastern terminus in Robin Hood’s Bay until we connected with the North Sea by stepping in it and selected a small stone from that beach. Similarly, we could not finish at the western end of the trek until we stepped into the waves at this beach and threw that stone as far as we could into the Irish Sea. A few of us were surprised by a larger wave and the toe tapping became a boot dunking. (The smart ones went in barefoot.)
The official start/finish of the Coast to Coast Path is at the St. Bee’s Beach Park.
Deb and the girls boarded the train to return to the real world and their home in Vermont and the good-byes were difficult. Their conversation, friendship and companionship during the final ten of the seventeen days on the trail rescued me from what could have been a long, lonely hike when, at four days into the walk, my original hiking buddy was unable to continue.