Day 11 was by far the toughest day on the Coast to Coast walk On the previous day, my feet were nice and tenderised by the 24 mile walk from Richmond. Today’s series of sharp ascents, jagged descents and long slog through the moors pretty much finished me off.
On the whole, the itinerary I followed for the trip was great. However, if you are reading this and planning on doing a Coast to Coast walk, then my advice is to break this day up. It is possible to get transport from Clay Bank Top, which is about two thirds of the way through the day. Even if you don’t want to add any extra day, I would suggest stopping at Clay Bank Top and then the following day walking from there to Grosmont. What was Day 12 in my itinerary is an easy walk, and I think doing it that way is a much better combination. Your feet will thank me.
The initial climb out of Ingleby Cross, through woods and up to the moorland is bloody hard work. But the real killer is a series of four hills that you climb and then descend in quick succession. The paths here, whilst perfectly good, make going downhill very hard on the feet. The paths are mostly made up of thin slab-like stones, which are barely wide enough for you to put your boots on. It just makes for very slow going.
By the time I got to the fourth hill in this sequence, I was pretty much out on my feet. I just didn’t feel like I had the puff to get up to the top, nor enough non-painful parts of my feet to get down again. I noticed on the map that there was a forest track that skirted to the side of the hill, and I went for it. Evidently, not many people make this decision! In places it was extremely overgrown and boggy.
By the time I made it out, and re-joined the main path, I was thoroughly miserable. Mostly this can be put down to the fact that it was 3pm and I hadn’t eaten my lunch yet. But also the prospect of the hardest climb of the day still to come, and then a six mile walk on the moors before reaching the Lion Inn. I saw a whole group of people, lying exhausted on the floor, waiting to be picked up at Clay Bank Top. Lucky people!
One good thing: I choose a great time of year to do the walk, and the heather was in full bloom. It made walking through the discomfort that little bit easier. This is grouse hunting country too, and there was lots of evidence of gamekeeper activity. I saw a few grouse on the path as well.
There was total and utter joy when I saw the Lion Inn appearing into view at around 18:30. This was the latest finish of any of my days on the walk, and it was a result of making such slow progress on the descents. The Lion Inn is supposed to be the most remote pub in the country. I am sure that when I arrived there, I looked very worse for wear. The food and beer there were amazing, and place was absolutely heaving.