So, sorry if this is going to be a bit of a long one, but it has been 8 days of straight walking, with no real chance to write an update sooner! There are also tons of pictures, I will post some of them here, but most will be on Facebook as always, where I don’t have to worry about storage space! So if you want to see them all, head over there later to check them out!
Well this week has been absolutely spectacular. I am sure some of it was down to the fact that the sun was shining and spring really rolled in. I am sure some it was also down to the fact that I am seriously getting fit now and walking for 15 to 20 miles a day is no longer an issue. But mostly it was down to the fact that Yorkshire is probably one of the best counties of this stunning country. The coastal walks are amazing, with some of the best views I have seen in my life, and the people are open, friendly and very, very helpful. Most of my Yorkshire friends have said that their home county is the best in England, and so far, I’d have to say I whole heartedly agree with them. If you have never been to Yorkshire, go there. Do it soon. Don’t book a holiday abroad, when you got some of the most stunning cliffs, beaches and some of the loveliest seaside villages in the world right at your doorstep. In particular the area between Bridlington and Whitby offers plenty of leisurely day walks with Youth Hostels and great campsites along the way, so there is not even a need to rough it like I did a few times!
Now, let’s get down to the details shall we?
I set off just after 9am on Saturday and it took quite some time to get out of Hull. I was on the western end of the town, so it took me a few hours to pass through the city, the docks and a lot of industry. Finally I made it past a massive BP chemical plant and onto the Humber coastal path. From then on it was great walking along lovely paths on the sea defences. The sun had been out all morning as well, which was great.
Just after lunch I had a call from Gemma and we had a nice long chat, just as the clouds started coming in and the temperature dropped a bit. After the phone call and some lunch I upped the tempo a bit. I was trying to reach a road near Stony Creek so I could potentially meet up with Mark, who had been to Kilnsea with his dad that day. Unfortunately I fell short though and we did not get to meet up. He promised to leave a present in the pub in Kilnsea though!
Once I reached Stony Creek I ran into 3 bird spotters. One of them asked straight away if I was walking around the coast. I thought he might have heard the radio interview, but instead it turned out I was the 9th coastal walker he met! He remembered Nat as well from last year. Was quite cool and we chatted a bit before I headed off again.
I kept walking for about another hour and was on the lookout for a suitable camping spot, and I had almost resigned to just camp directly on the path (I had not met anyone on it since Stony Creek), when I came across probably the best camp spot ever. It was just a little strip of grass heading out into the Humber from the coastal path, with some rocks at the end of it. My tent fit perfectly and it was even ground. I was happy! I set up the tent and set on the river with my book, when 2 cyclists came along. I walked up to them checking if I was on their land. They said I was fine and that it was actually all crown land and nobody would bother me. We chatted a bit and I told them what I was doing and eventually they set off. About 45 minutes later I heard the engine of a car and came out of my tent and saw a land rover coming up the farm path, just opposite of my tent. It turned out to be the same 2 people and they had brought me a care package including some hot Tomato and pasta soup, a refill for my thermos bottle and some flapjacks! I could not believe it! I was so overwhelmed by how nice they were and I did not really know what to say at the time. I really enjoyed the soup and made some tea with the hot water, which was ace.
So I set outside my tent on the river, had tea and watched the biggest moon ever rise blood red over the Humber. With the best camp spot ever. What a great day!
I was up early again on Sunday and packed up quickly. Had some tea, which was still hot! I knew I had a short walk ahead of me, as I only needed to reach a campsite in Kilnsea, about 12 miles away. I think that’s why I had a bit of a leisurely pace. It took me just over 4 hours to reach it, which was probably a bit slow. Nice walk along the Humber and I crossed the Greenwich Meridian for the 5th time I think! There was even a marker for this occasion!
I got the campsite around 11:30 and it was a lovely little place. Just pitched the tent and dropped by bag before heading to the local pub for a quick lunch and then a walk out to Spurn Head! Mark had left me 2 bottles of Yorkshire Ale at the pub – what a lovely present!
The walk to Spurn Head was easy without the bag and I covered the 9 mile round trip in about 2 ½ hours, even with a break at the very tip, the south eastern most part of Yorkshire (I think). Once I was back at the campsite I enjoyed a shower and a change of clothing. I met a nice couple who arrived after me with their campervan and we had a nice chat. Then I headed back to the pub to wait for Chris. The couple from the campsite came in as well and we talked for a while and they bought me a pint, which was very nice indeed! Chris arrived around 9pm and had a pint himself before we set off to the campsite and he pitched his tent with torchlight!
Chris and I set off along the Yorkshire coast, heading north, early on Monday morning. It was Spring! 21st of March! And the weather seemed to agree. The sun was out and it was getting warm quickly. It did not take long for me to realize why I had been told so many good things about the Yorkshire coast. The scenery is stunning. The coastline ahead can be seen for miles and is just beautiful. We walked for a fair bit on the beach initially, to get past a windfarm and a gas terminal, before heading up to the cliff path. Chris obviously was not walking at my pace yet, and we took quite a few breaks, but I did not mind with the sun out so nicely and the view so amazing.
We had a late lunch in Withernsea in a café and I was starving! Lasagne and chips for 3.70 GBP was a reasonable price I thought. We set off again around 3pm and walked for another 2 hours, ending up just north of Tunstall. Along the way we came across some chaps fishing from the cliffs, with the tide fully in, and they were not having any luck. We also came across a wicked chap camping right at the cliff edge. He was trying to get his multifuel stove going but his lighter broke, so I gave him one of my spare ones. Turns out he had been camping there for a year, after he got kicked out of his house, and nobody had ever bothered him about it. Very sound chap and he was extremely happy that I left him my lighter.
Chris and I moved on about half a kilometre and we came across a small field next to the cliff, surrounded by hedges. Perfect camp spot! We had a sip of whisky to celebrate the days walking, then the tents went up. We got some kindling from the hedges and lit the BBQ. Sausages (some of them saved for breakfast), followed by burgers, followed by steaks! A complete feast! We ate over the course of 2 hours and I pulled out the 2 beers that Mark had left me. We also sipped some whisky – it was a grand evening under a clear and starry sky! Had a great chat with Chris about lots of things. It was great having company in the evening and catching up on news from down south. We stayed up talking to about 10pm but then we both were shattered and needed sleep.
The night did not cool down too much either and I was actually quite hot in my sleeping bag with my usual precautions such as bivvy sack, ski mask and thick socks! I slept really well thanks to food and drink!
We were up before 7am on Tuesday and made some tea, ate our left over sausages and some cross buns I had bought. After packing up we set off around 8am.
The going was quite rough for a while. There was no actual footpath, so we walked right on the edges of fields next to the cliffs. The fields were mostly hard dried mud and that made the going tough, particularly for Chris, who had developed a blister the day before. This was followed by some taller grass and lots of brambles as well and it felt like a cross country hike. The views were spectacular though and the weather was amazing. It was getting really warm in the sun!
Around 11am, during a break, I checked my phone and had a message from BBC York that they wanted to do an interview over the phone! We arranged a call for 12 and so an hour later I was chatting to Steve from the BBC and doing a really cool interview, which I enjoyed a lot. Managed to squeeze in my blog address this time – I am getting better at it!
Chris was struggling though, his feet hurt a lot and he was getting de-hydrated. I had only had about 2.5 litres of water with me (which normally is more than enough for a day), Chris only had about 1 litre left and in the sun he went through it quickly. We were out of water by about 1pm, though there was a little village coming up and it was marked as having a pub, so we planned to refill the water there.
On the way there, we crossed into a military range. The sign indicated that access was prohibited when the red flag was flying (meaning the site would be active). There was no flag, so we moved in and kept to the cliffs edge. About halfway through I got a honk from a car and a guy was waving from down the beach. He shouted up that we were in a military area and I said I knew but I thought it was not active. He said we were ok, but it might be dangerous to walk there as it was a bomb disposal site, and there might be stuff lying around. So they had called in a car to pick us up and drive us to the other edge of the site. So Chris and I sat down next to the dirt track and waited for our taxi. I was tempted to decline and tell the driver I could not accept lifts, but was not sure how funny he’d find it!
Turned out the driver and the accompanying RAF bomb disposal chap were really nice though! They did not mind that we were there, just wanted to make sure we left safely. They drove us maybe 400 meters across the rest of the site and dropped us off at the edge of the military range. Turns out the RAF guy had just done a tour in Afghanistan, disarming and disposing of explosives! My hat off to this chap – not a job I’d see myself doing! Takes amazing amount of guts to do this!
From where they dropped us off it was not too far to the pub and we called in for lunch and much needed fluids! At this point Chris and I had a chat and he decided that he had to stop. His feet were in bad shape and he had developed some additional blisters. He had been hobbling badly to the pub and it was best if he would not walk on anymore. He arranged for a pickup with his dad. We said our good byes and I made the last few miles to Hornsea on my own. It was great having him along for 2 days and 2 nights. The chats, the company, seriously made a massive difference to my mental state. It was just good to have someone there. Chris made a massive journey up from London and had re-arranged holidays a d work to fit my advanced schedule. I honestly can’t say how much that meant to me and how much it helped! I seriously hope his feet recover quickly!
On the way to Hornsea I went back down to the beach for the last few miles. And this almost proved the wrong decision, as the tide was coming in and I was almost cut off at one point, having to scramble over some muddy cliff parts. At one point there was no escaping the sea and my boots got soaked. But I eventually made it to Hornsea just after5pm and found a cheap B&B for the night. I would have liked to camp again, but there was no campsite taking tents in Hornsea and I would not have made it much further out of the town that day. In the end, the comfort of a bed and a much needed shower were 2 plus points I could not ignore either.
I had my breakfast early on Wednesday and set off around 8:30. The sun came out yet again and I was on the last stretch of relatively flat coastline up towards Bridlington. It was a pretty uneventful day to be honest. I passed many, many caravan parks and walked straight through a few of them, as they go straight to the coast. Once I reached Bridlington thought I had a big grin on my face. Partially this was down to me eating my first ice cream of the year! But mostly it was because I could see the cliffs rising on the north-east side of the town and the view was truly awe inspiring!
I had lunch in Bridlington, which is a really nice town, with a lovely harbour. It was very busy on this sunny day and lots of people were eating fish and chips around the harbour wall. I was one of them! During my lunch break I checked my emails and found out that the youth hostel in Whitby was booked for the weekend. The reason: it was GOTH WEEKEND! This is typical. The one weekend I pass through Whitby had to coincide with the goth weekend! So a bit of frantic calling around to try and find some cheap accommodation and I finally booked into a decently priced B&B.
So I set off sufficiently nourished and the weekend sorted and I began the climb up to the cliffs. Straight away I knew that the next few days would be special. The scenery was amazing and the views from the high cliffs were absolutely spectacular! I walked out to Flamborough head and as I came around a wall of noise hit me. Massive amounts of birds are nesting in the cliffs on the north side of the head. I spotted Razorbills and Guillemots, but unfortunately no Puffins, which is a shame. The smell of fish was also overpowering – I guess from the stuff the birds feed on.
When I came passed Flamborough I decided to check with the campsite there to see how much they charged. 17 pounds. I think not! I went passed the town, and the campsite in fact, and a few miles on (just over the hills to make sure nobody saw me) I pitched my tent about 4 meters from the cliffs, right next to the path!
Had a wee chat with my mum on the phone and made some noodles before going to sleep early.
Waking up the next day was weird. It took me a while to get my bearings and realize I was that close to the cliff. But then the sun came out behind some clouds and the view was just gorgeous in the early light. I had some cold tea and a light breakfast and set off towards Scarborough.
Because it was quite warm from early in the morning I had strapped my fleece to the back of my pack. About 5 miles into the walk I realized it had fallen off. I walked back a few hundred meters but did not see it, and did not fancy tracking all the way back. So I will have to get a replacement this weekend in Whitby!
Once again the walk was amazing, walking along the cliffs and with the most spectacular views. I stopped often to take pictures. I reached Filey by lunchtime and that again is a gorgeous little seaside town. I went to a shop there and stocked up a little on food, as I was running low, then saw a sign at a pub advertising lasagne. Got a massive portion and a J2O for 5 quid, so I was very happy! They also filled up my water. With the sun out I definitely go through more water now. Need to carry more!
From Filey to Scarborough it was really just a short hike, but that hike involved a lot of hills and a lot of stairs. Even through Scarborough I had to get over quite some hills, including a very large one on the way to the campsite. I decided to camp at a site on Thursday as Alun Nixon was coming to meet up with me, and it would have been a bit hard for him to find me in the sticks!
As I got to the campsite, I was nearly dead. That last hill really had taken it out of me. And I must have looked it, because the chap who owns the place asked where I had walked from. So we ended up chatting a bit and when he found out I was doing a charity walk he decided to let me stay for free!
So I got to spend a night free of charge at the Jacobs Mount Campsite, which is a really lovely place with good facilities and it’s right above Scarborough, so it’s ideally placed!
I had a shower and wrote my diary and then Alun and Thomas came at 7:30 and we went into town for probably the best fish and chips I have ever had. Alun also brought my first care package along, which I had stored with him almost 2 months ago now. I got all my Scotland maps, my shorts (fingers crossed I’ll need them), some socks and a fresh set of baselayers.
Alun dropped me off around 9:30 again and I slept really well, as it was quite warm for the first time.
I got up really early, as I had a photo shoot with the Whitby Evening News at 9:30 in the harbour, which was about 3 miles away, and I did not want to be late. I got there a bit early, so I had a coffee and a slice of banana bread in a coffee shop. Did the photos on the beach and then I set off!
Around the castle I went and then along the north beach, before heading up a steep hill to re-join the Cleveland way.
I did not think the views could get any better, but they did. I was higher up than ever before (which also meant more steep climbs and sharp descents), and I could see for miles! I took quite a few breaks to take pictures, as I was not in a rush. I only had to cover about 15 miles to get to the Youth Hostel in Robin Hood’s bay. As it turned out though it was good I did not plan for a longer distance, because the hills meant my overall pace was a bit slower than usual.
I met a lot of really nice people along the way and I talked to lots of them for quite some time. It’s a great contrast to my experience of the Wash 2 weeks ago. It’s just nice to meet people and have a chat!
Later in the afternoon I came across a sheep on it’s side and in clear distress. I dropped my bag and ran back and across some fields to the nearest house. The women there called the farmer while I walked back to my bag. I sat down and had a snack and waited for the farmer to show up. When he did he lifted the sheep up and said it would be ok – it seemed to struggle a bit, but once he helped it up it seemed to be doing better. Apparently the winter up here had been quite hard and some of the sheep are still struggling to get some strength.
Around 4pm I passed Ravenscar, and once I got through it and over yet another hill I had the most spectacular view yet. Robin Hood’s bay was stretched before me, with the town perched onto the hillside on the far end. Spectacular. There is no other way to describe it.
I actually put my headphones on and listened to some Transatlantic Sessions as I made my way down the winding path from the hill towards Boggle Hole and the Youth Hostel there. I was whistling along and had a big grin on my face as I almost skipped down the path.
The Youth Hostel in Boggle Hole really is in a hole! It’s right at the mouth of a little stream that passes into the bay and is flanked on both sides by steep hills. The facility is brilliant! They got a bar going, they do evening meals and breakfasts! I opted to cook my last reserves for dinner but signed up for a full breakfast. I could see the beach and the ocean from the window in my dorm room! Loved it and can only recommend it to anyone – it’s a great base for some lovely walking in both directions and there is a lot to see in the area as well. There is even a surf school at Sandsend.
Saturday marked the 8th straight day of walking for me. It had been quite some time since my last rest day and I could feel it. Still I got up at 5:45 and headed downstairs to watch the qualifying of the Australian GP (yes I am that fanatic about it).Lewis Hamilton qualified 2nd and it looks like McLaren are on the right track! Can’t wait for the race on Sunday (and yes I will get up early again for it!)
I had breakfast at 8am and packed up my gear shortly after. I had been using the dry room to dry out my tent, as it was still quite wet from a lot of dew from the day before, and it had dried out nicely (saves me unfolding it completely in the B&B hehe). I set off just after 9 and headed through Robin Hoods Bay village, which is just gorgeous. Well worth a visit if you ask me (it goes on my list, which is growing longer and longer) and I can’t recommend the Youth Hostel in Boggle Hole highly enough.
There was a steep hill that led through the village back onto the cliffs and the Cleveland walk, and that got me warmed up, and sweating slightly. I walked for about an hour before I reached sort of the highest point around and it was just around 10:20, so I decided to take a break and wait for the phone call from the BBC tees team for a live interview at 10:20. I had chosen my spot well as it was probably one of the few places I could get connection.
At 10:35 I got the call and was put on hold with some funky music before doing the interview. I was not really nervous anymore, as it was my 3rd BBC interview in 8 days and I had prepared, with Richard Bunting’s help, what I should talk about. The interview was going quite well and I was about to launch into my prepared part about climate change and biodiversity and how the UK is one of the countries in Europe with the least amount of woodlands when my bloody iphone decided it was time to do a re-boot. It’s been doing this on and off for about a month now, usually when I am on the phone to my parents, and it has nothing to do with battery (I was at 90% this morning). I was seriously angry and kicked a fence post – yes I hurt my toe. Of all the times it could do it, it chose the moment of a live interview. ARGH!!
Still nothing to be done about it now. I got a text message from Mike, the chap who interviewed me, saying it was ok and not to worry, so I set off towards Whitby. I let my frustration out by power walking. I had gotten quite cold anyway waiting around for so long, as the weather had turned and the warm sun had gone, so I needed a bit of exercise to warm back up.
I had expected to reach Whitby mid afternoon, but I came around another bend and over a hill and all of a sudden I could see the Abbey, which meant I was about 1 hour away. I sat down and had the rest of my smoked sausage and some cheese for lunch and called ahead to make sure the B&B was ready for me to check in, which they were.
So I headed past the ruins of the Abbey and into town and it could not be missed that it was goth weekend! I saw some weird and wonderful things on my way through the town, and it took me ages as the place was packed! Whitby seems like a gorgeous place, with lots of wee little alleys, coffee shops, little shops and tea rooms. It’ll be good to spend a day here and explore and see the sights and people.
The B&B I am at is ace, and I was lucky they had a cancelation for the single room. I was greeted by the owners, all dressed up for the goth weekend, and got a massive slice of fresh carrot cake and a large cup of tea and we had a bit of a chat before they showed me my room, which is lovely.
I went out in the early afternoon and stopped by the local co-op and Holland&Barrets, so I am all stocked up for food for the next week already and I have started doing the washing. I kind of like to get all the chores out of the way early, so I can then just sit back and relax, write the blog, do the pictures and enjoy the place I am at.
So it’s been a great week for me, both mentally and physically. The weather, the county and the people, as well as seeing Chris and Alun, have boosted my resolve and strengthened my believe in myself. After this week, for the first time really, I think I can actually do this. I know there will be hard times again and some downs, but this week has shown that overall this is all worth it, not just for Trees for Life and the exposure (and hopefully donations) they get, but also for myself and my experiences.
Here is to hoping there will be many more weeks like this!