Walking

Monday. Our last day and we woke in the cotton-sheet, fluffy-towel, feather-pillow luxury of Grosmont House to a day already hot. Breakfast was served by the lovely Selma and her sidekick, Mary, the perfect understudy for Mrs Overall and a purveyor of morning cabaret - curt, grumpy and graceless meets...

I've found myself checking the symptoms of fatigue, trying to find out whether climbing too many hills and walking in the worst of weathers can bring it on! This year it all seems so much harder than last. A year older, of course, but the difference feels greater than that....

Two days blog to catch up. Last night I was in a state of near shock, so getting something written was beyond me. No, not the Election results, although the exit poll did play its part. No, the shock was from the day we spent out on the Lakeland hills,...

Today we reached Grasmere. Chocolate-box Lakeland, a village full of country hotels, letting cottages and, thus, tourists. We never really want to tarry here, but Coast to Coasters, it seems, often take a rest day here especially the ones from Oz or the USA. They have a day off, perhaps...

Well! Looks like Noah is hereabouts. Last night as we walked the short distance from the Fox and Hounds pub, where we had dinner and exchanged raucous stories with fellow travellers (mostly Aussies with a smattering of Yanks), rainwater was streaming down the road, rivulets forming in the tiny ridges...

The thing about the C2C is that you walk no matter what the weather. There's no choice unless, perhaps, you chicken out and take a taxi to the next overnight stop. As if! The forecasters had warned of dire weather and, as we woke in our grim room at the...

Back at St Bee's. Back again at the start of the famous walk across England, the Coast to Coast (aka C2C or even 2C2 which, if you say it out loud and quickly, trips nicely off the tongue). This is our fourth time. I love it and keep wanting to...

Just when you thought I'd gone again for a while, I'm back. Sitting in Teddington musing over my recent musings I discovered that the blog record is incomplete. Lovely Patterdale has been left out thanks, I think, to the vagaries of the Patterdale YHA internet connection and the failure of...

Reaching the end of the C2C you feel relieved and bereft all at once; a strange mingling of mirth and melancholy. A bit like finishing a really long novel that’s engrossed you completely, you close the book and feel a sense of loss. It’s been a part of your life...

On our last morning we awoke to fog as thick as parsnip soup. It wasn’t raining but it was dull and damp, like a curtain had been drawn low across the land. After 15 days of dry, often sunny weather, this was a shock. It was as if the end...

In the rich lexicon of place names that has guided and amused us, two standout entries sit alongside one another on the way from Blakey to Glaisdale. Our penultimate day, we've covered 170 of the 200 miles so more silly names to add to the already long list (Gobble Hall...

After crossing the heather-clad expanse of Urra the trail meets the disused Rosedale Ironstone Railway at Bloworth Crossing - more fabulous names. Four miles of walking along the cinder-lined track takes you past Farndale Moor to Blakey. Sweeping right and left in long, soft curves and with barely a gradient,...

Another great name - Urra. Earthy, primitive, rolls wonderfully off the tongue. We looked across to Urra when we came down off the hills on Sunday. That night we stayed in the rather dated and drab Wainstone Hotel in Great Broughton, about 2.5 miles off the trail. We discovered (rather too...

It's interesting what you learn about your fellow hikers as you pass them and are passed by them over the days. Sometimes these short exchanges by the trail are filled out by longer conversations over a meal in the pub or a breakfast at a shared B&B. There are so...

We saw the North Sea again today, off in the distance as we looked out from high ground towards Hartlepool and Teeside. Within reach of the eye but still three days away on foot. Distances become times when you're walking - how many days or hours will it take? Yesterday...

On Day 12 we have left the Swale and are heading towards the Cleveland Hills and the North York Moors. It's been the least interesting and enjoyable day despite (or maybe because of?) walking over flat terrain. On top of that, to use the eloquent Scottish vernacular, it was a...

Here we are on Day 11 and for four of those days we've had the burbling company of the River Swale. As we came down off the bleak Pennine ridge, we picked up this sublime river at Keld and we have meandered on or near its banks ever since. Overnighting...

There's great representation from the colonies. I've counted 22 Australians (4+4+14) keeping pace with us on the C2C - or perhaps more accurately, we're managing to keep pace with them! The first 4 were Aussie-cum-Kiwis; they took a rest day in Patterdale so we've left them behind, sadly. We liked...

The contrasts could not be greater. 24 hours after walking across the great emptiness up on the Pennines, we spent today following gentle grassy trails through meadows of buttercups and clover along the north bank of the River Swale, following it as it chatters and murmurs its way east through...

They call this the backbone of England, here, just east of Kirkby Stephen, where our C2C route crosses the great watershed of England, the west/east divide, the Pennines. Hmmm - this is one soft, spongy, spine. England's backbone is a great big bog. Believe me, I'm a Scot, and we...

To walk the C2C is to travel through a world of miraculous stone walls. Timeless reminders of man's impact on the landscape, the scale of these incredible structures takes your breath away. Hundreds of years old, they have outlived generation after generation of shepherds, farmers, landowners and labourers. Some have...

Here's what I would have written yesterday had the spirit and the flesh been equal to the task and the atmosphere in the Crown Inn's most raucous of bars been conducive to creative thought! Tranquil Patterdale, tucked away and somehow still untarnished by the tourist mob that regularly colonises its bigger...

Sitting in the Crown Inn in Shap at the end of Day 5 having a taste of Cumbrian life! It's a real 'boozer' filled with locals out for a few on a Saturday night. Two widescreen TVs blare from either corner, one showing football, the other motor racing, and there's...

Sitting by Grisedale Tarn, reflections of sky and hillside, even of sheep moving along one of their trails on the far side of the tarn their movement echoed perfectly in the still surface of the dark water. Some cloud and patches of blue are reflected too, but this bit of...

26 May and Day 3 dawned overcast and cool but dry. A day of adventure when I realised that memory is extremely episodic - well mine is anyway. You see, it's just 9 miles from Rosthwaite to Grasmere, today's destination. Not a breeze but our recollection was of a steady...

Day 2 and it's a welcome surprise, on waking up in the comfy king size at the Fox and Hounds, that all my body's moving parts are still moving. There are some distinctly reluctant limbs here and there and some tetchy reaction from muscles preferring to continue sleeping rather than...

24th May 2016 You forget how tough this is. You forget how sore you feel at the end of each of the first few days. 14 miles is no walk in the park but it's not a marathon either. And being the first day somehow it always feels like much much...

23rd May 2016 We're about to do one of the great walks crossing the north of England from the west coast to the east. Coast to Coast. Shorthand for this is C2C - the only short thing about it, frankly, as it's 200 miles not counting any detours, planned, unplanned or...

You didn’t misread that – yesterday we walked to Tenerife! At 394 metres (that’s 1292 feet and towering over Box Hill!), Cerro Tenerife (‘Hill’ Tenerife – ‘Mount’ would be overstating it) is the highest point of the Sierra Almagrera, a rocky spur that runs northeast to southwest close enough to the...

Today was a ‘big walk’ day. This is to distinguish it from the ‘regular walk’ days that are every day – except on the big walk days – OK clear? So the routine is this. Get up in the morning, have breakfast and then head out onto the sierras and up...

The hills are alive with ...