Day 9 - Thursday, June 21
Blakey Ridge to Grosmont - I can see the sea, I can see it!
Sarah: Our day typically begins around 6:30 a.m., with English tea for one particular Blister Sister. We check the weather, repack our cases (yet again), pack our rucksacks with essentials for the day - enough layers for whatever happens, waterproof pants, winter hat and gloves, maps and our ‘Bible’
Steadman’s “Coast to Coast,” 1.5. litres of water, first aid kit, pen knife, rubber bands, duck tape, blister dressings, athletic tape, change of socks, etc. After 80 miles, everything but the duck tape and the first aid kit have been used repeatedly.
Today was our last up on the moors - that rugged, quilted landscape of heathers, bobbing wild flowers, rock cairns and silent, ancient standing stones. Runnels of trickling water find their way into tiny streams stained a reddish ochre from all the remains of now invisible and disused lead mines pockmarking the landscape, long since heather covered. Bright green mossy lichens glow in the rising and setting sun. We can walk for hours up here seeing no one, or suddenly encounter others hiking the C2C in the next dip. Skies are enormous, constantly on the move in the layers of breezes, gusts and winds.
"Fat Betty" where hikers leave offerings of no longer needed granola bars- the end is in sight!
But when we began today, all we saw was swirling mist shrouding the land, rain stinging our faces as we were blown and buffeted by the winds. All very Gothic and so pleased we got to experience the moors when the going got really rough - it felt more complete somehow.
Within two hours, winds, sun and clouds were playing hide and seek and there, way off in the distance, I could see the thinnest line of azure on the horizon. The kaleidoscope of the valley floor below was completely different - patterns formed by rich grazing and agricultural land and we began to descend into a whole new area rich in farmland, small hamlets, an occasional pub! But not before that azure line had become a wide band of lavender clearly signifying we were nearly there - the North Sea and Robin Hood’s Bay - over 100 miles from where we began our Blister Sisters Trek.
Tomorrow is a rest day for bones, backs and blisters. They all need it, then our last day.
Sisters: 93 miles
and a glimpse of the sea!
Blisters: "counting 1, 2,
3 -ow- 4, 5, all healing slowly"
Day 10 - Friday, June 22
Rest day in Grosmont
Erica: We needed this. Eight days on the trail and Sarah's feet were hurting and my back was starting to spasm. We had planned an extra day here because of the railway steam train that passes through the town. We had a Thomas-the-Tank-Engine morning! After a fun ride, we did a bit of shopping in the "Big Town" of Pickering. This was for Tylenol and blister remedies, in the biggest grocery store we'd seen since London.
But we still couldn't stop ourselves from walking. On the return trip we got off the trail a few miles from Grosmont and walked back through the green Esk River valley. The weather is turning sunny and I'm starting to fret about how much I'll miss walking through this countryside.
Sisters: 97 miles;
Blisters: aw, who cares now, we're so close!
Day 11 - Saturday, June 23
Grosmont/Whitby to Robin Hood's Bay
WE DID IT!
Erica: This last day, we changed the usual route to the end of the trail to include a short bus ride to Whitby and then a seven mile hike down the cliffs south to Robin Hood's Bay. It was a warm, sunny day and we pulled off all of the warm layers that had kept us through the previous week. The cliffs are circled by seabirds and topped with perfect, bright green fields manicured into perfect lawns by perfect cloud-like sheep.
The trail dips and climbs over the headlands and suddenly turns a corner and there's Robin Hood's Bay. Besides being the end of the Coast to Coast Trail, the town is famous for smuggling and press gangs (thugs who kidnapped people to serve in the Navy). After ten days on the trail, we were disreputable enough to feel right at home.
The custom is to dip your boots in the Irish Sea at the start of the trail at St. Bees, and then again in the North Sea at Robin Hood's Bay. I stood in the water at St, Bees five years ago and here we are today! Different trip, different companion, even different boots. But we've stitched the country together, step by step, from edge to edge.
I can't hold it all in my head at once, although every single day's memories are vivid. I can't hold all of the colors of fields, heather and sea and the textures of stone, grass and wood. Villages, roads, farms, churches are all distinct but then blur together again. But everything is tied together with the steady rhythm of walking.
Now we start home, and should be in London by evening. I know it'll be a strange day. Part is going back into the city and home/work life. But most of it will be that we won't be shouldering our packs and walking out across the fields, We've looked forward to this trip for many months, walked it for many days, and now, very simply, it's done.
Sarah: So this magical journey is coming to its natural end; in the sheer physical sense our work is done. But my memories are of our footsteps traveling across the ridges and valley folds of a diverse and rich landscape that is eons old. It will take me some time to let it all assimilate, but for now there is a deep joy in having accomplished our goal. So many thanks to all our supporters far and wide - you were with us on this adventure all the way!
(And every one worth it.)
If you'd like to celebrate our adventure with a donation to the Lyons Library, please check out our GoFundMe site.