Coast to Coast: Part 5 (the end)

Okay, final push. We wake up on Day 21and fall into our well worn routines. Breakfast, pack, boots, and step off with only 12 miles ahead of us until we dip our toes in the North Sea. For the past 20 days, the focus always seemed ahead of us. Today however, we were often struck by how little we had left in front of us and even caught ourselves longing for more. More time together. More adventures in front of us. Maybe the best way to harness this feeling is to press on but remember the feeling when prioritizing time on the calendar and be purposeful about how we spend our most precious of resources: time.

Stepping off on Map 89 of 95, we left Littlebeck (look for the bench next to the Village Hall) and worked our way through the paths in Little Beck Wood. Meredith found quite a bit of enjoyment in the woods testing out a couple of tree swings along the way. Part of the plan from the get go was to stop at the Falling Foss Tea Garden in the morning for a little snack and a coffee (at least for Phil who, in clinging to his inner American patriot, remains an ardent, anti-tea man – the Sons of Liberty would be proud). All feelings of guilt about such an early stop on the hike evaporated when we saw the offerings. If you ever find yourself in the middle of Little Beck Wood, it’s a must visit.

We climb out of the woods and into the rolling hills that will bring us to the coast. After the New May Beck Farmhouse we take our turn east and make our way towards the solitary pine that is on one of the maps but not the other which proves to be a great conversation starter. Finishing Map 90, it’s off to Sneaton Low Moor then Graystone Hills on Map 91 where the North Sea comes into view and will remain for the rest of the hike. Next we walk through Low Hawsker (Map 92) and into High Hawsker (Map 93) where we enjoy the last bag lunch of the trip. Within 15 minutes of lunch, we make it to the coast! Lots of smiles, hugs, and pictures then we turn south and follow the path along the cliffs and towards Robin Hood’s Bay.

So along the cliffs we go. Up and down the gentle hills and onto Map 94 of 95. Past some cattle (they didn’t charge us… but I think they gave chase to some folks a quarter mile behind us!) and by plenty of sheep. Around every turn, the question was “can you see Robin Hood’s Bay yet!?” and the answer was always “….no” until we finally rounded Ness Point and then it suddenly popped into view! As we continued on the path and made our way into the city (population maybe 1,300), we soaked in the moment. Map 95! From the top of the hill we descend down into the old town (ironically on “New Road”) and wound our way through the city until the street turned into a slip and descended into the sea.

We made it.

After 202 miles of walking including 34,413 vertical feet of climbing, we dipped our feet into the water and gave to the North Sea four stones from the Irish Sea. There were equal parts on-lookers that knew of the journey we had just finished and those who asked us why we were standing in the water with big smiles and rocks in our hand. “And if you don’t know..” Someone once wrote a song about that. After we offloaded stones of varying weights and snapped a few pictures, we turned to the last official activity of the C2C, best described by A.W. himself.

“Now you can rest on your laurels in the Bay Hotel with a pint, but (let there be no misunderstanding about this) you do so at your own expense. It’s no use saying ‘charge it to Wainwright’ as you could in days gone by at the Border Hotel, Kirk Yetholm. No, sonny, that game won’t work here. Pay for your own. I’m skint.”

We closed the evening of Day 21 with a fantastic celebratory dinner – dual purposed as it was our anniversary that day as well! The following day was spent strolling through the city, exploring all the winding back alleys and the inescapable hills all with big smiles on our face. It was remarkable to see how different the North Sea looked at low tide and be reminded that such high latitudes come with massive tide swings. We finished our final dinner on the trip together, woke up the next morning, and parted ways. It’s impossible to sum up the trip so I won’t try. Rather, I’ll close with: