Well what a finale that was! My earlier speculation, about the probable state of my dress by the time I reached the slipway at Robin Hood's Bay, turned out to be pretty accurate. Having spent most of our two week trek basking in sunshine, with only the occasional shower to test the Paramo (the worst section being Patterdale up to Kidsty Pike where the clag and rain prevented any appreciation of the wonderful views we were assured lay just below), we arrived caked in mud, battered by hailstones, sopping wet to the skin and cold.
The shoes that had successfully avoided peat bogs, clay, slime, mud, fast-flowing water and a variety of animal poo across the entire 194 miles, are now drying out in a corner, and may be so for some time, thanks to a hearty Yorkshire hailstorm which battered us throughout the final hour and a half of coastal path. Topped up by sea water (tradition dictates you get your feet wet on both sides of the country, apparently. Hmmm. I'm not convinced...)
And, as Belinda so delicately put it on Facebook: 'You looked knackered!' Thanks cuzz!
And thanks also for the mega chunk of homemade Millionaire's Shortbread magicked from the bag along with a bottle of pink fizzy stuff!
What a day it was! We set off from Grosmont at quite a lick, in the company of five Scarborough team members: Helen, Roger, Shane, Paul and Russ (our excellent companion and guide from Friday). Strangely, my fellow Twirlie and I had woken with a definite spring in our step (demob happy!) the aches and pains of the last few days' slogging a thing of the past. Although, I must say Gail now appears to be spot-welded to her walking poles! Hope she managed to prise them off to lift the beer last night!
But who put that flippin hill there? So late in the journey. Wainwright certainly knew how to mix his terrain! Quite a steep haul up the road from the B&B... on and on, up and up, then - just as the road levelled out and we thought we could relax: 'It's this way,' says Roger, pointing right. Up another steep incline!! We're good at this now though - head down, assume your pace and just keep going - and it helps to have a bunch of walking companions to chat to, too.
Up over the moors for a bit - tantalising glimpses of sea on the horizon - then down we dropped into pretty woodland walks, not dissimilar to the paths around my home patch. Disaster swiftly averted at one point when I turned in my Bambi on Ice impression, slipping on some wet clay. Legs slithering in all directions, I felt my rucksack grabbed firmly from behind me, steadying me long enough to find a foot hold. Thanks Roger!!
In fact, through this particular stretch, at Falling Foss, runs a little beck (not as full yesterday as I'm sure it can be) which must be negotiated via stepping stones. This, we heard was the scene of a previous rescue for the team, involving an unfortunate Coast to Coaster, now only a few short miles from his final destination, who slipped into the stream, fracturing his femur in the process. Ouch!!!
Clay slides, stepping stones and 'black spot' successfully navigated, it was down to Midge Hall for tea and scones with jam and cream, or fresh made carrot cake, whichever took your fancy. And, despite a full cooked breakfast, somehow, somewhere, there's always room for that! Cue one of many appearances along the way of two mountain rescue vehicles, with Andy, Dave (who I mistakenly named Richard the other evening, on the blog - apologies to him) and Chris, who seem, between them, to have an inordinate number of cameras at the ready!!
It was here, at Midge Hall, we encountered the Pebble Police. 'Now then,' he boomed, standing sternly over our table and blocking out the sun, 'have you all got your pebbles?'
Well, thank God the answer was 'Yes', as only the night before, I'd had to empty out the entire contents of my suitcase and my rucksack in a frantic search for said pebble, convinced I'd lost it somewhere along the way. 'Didn't you zip it into your trouser leg pocket?' asked Gail. Although she couldn't remember which trousers I'd been wearing at the time. Ah yes, the penny dropped! It was in the caving trousers, not worn since our evening down Crackpot.
Back to Mr Pebble Police, faced with two ayes and a bunch of nays: 'Right!' he said. 'You two can go on. The rest of you, BACK to St Bees!!' Gulp!
On now, through the woods to our next stop: the pub, at Hawser! But not before a surprise encounter on the path with our walking pal Helen (honorary Twirlie) and her partner Gary, who'd kept their planned trip to Robin Hood's Bay for our final day's walk very quiet indeed! Great to see them!
From here, in the warmth and shelter of the pub, we witnessed our first spot of hail, harbinger of what was to come. Paramo on, then we're off again. Closer and closer to the sea.
On from our rain-soaked meander round the cliff tops, to the steeply stepped approach to the sea, past pretty mews and terraces, the street narrowing ever more before us. And there, a full tide lapping at the slipway, stood two mountain rescue vehicles, a bunch of familiar faces and a Mountain Rescue England and Wales banner. As the cameras flashed, a cork rang out above our heads, and a bottle of pink fizzy stuff found its way into my very cold hands. Big swig each, straight from the bottle, before Sally produced a couple of genteel glasses from her rucksack. (Oh well. If we must!)
That said, the fizz was lovely, but the cup of hot chocolate, thoughtfully handed to me by Sally, was even more welcome. Once the euphoria of actually achieving our goal began to subside, and we'd stood around chatting for a while with all our pals, the reality of cold wet undies started to sink in! So, pebbles dutifully thrown back in the sea and goodbye hugs all round, it was off to the B&B for a quick shower before hotfooting back across the country to catch up with Secret Boyfriend, recently returned from his own adventure on the hill.
More in a while, just need to gather some more thoughts!