The breakfast itself was great, and Graeme made sure we had enough tea/toast/everything! There was an unfortunate incident involving an egg however. I can't believe for the third time I was to spill breakfast on me - I never do that! We chatted with the owners about last night, and what a great night it was for both us and them. They had obviously enjoyed the fruit of a crowd of hungry and thirsty party people, and we had enjoyed the hospitality and pleasantness of the relatively new pub owners. It was great that as we were eating a couple came in and asked to book a table for the night, apparently they had seen how busy and wanted a part of it! We finished our brekkie off and as I went to pay was told it was free of charge as a thanks for the great night, and what's more, they gave a donation to the Brain Research Trust. Great people - if you're out towards Whitby, make sure you call in at The Plough in Sleights and mention the ukulele night - I can't guarantee you will get a free breakfast, but I can guarantee a big smile and a warm welcome!
Anyway, back to the walk! We set off from Sleights and we immediately confronted with a series of hills which we took in our stride. We could see Whitby Abbey in the distance and the North Sea, ah the glorious sight of the North Sea. We were also pleased to the periodic road signs 'Robin Hood's Bay 9 miles', 'Robin Hood's Bay 7 miles', etc. We knew RHB (Robin Hood's Bay) was in touching distance, and there would be a crowd gathering to meet us.
We walked through a quirky little place called Ugglebarnby, there really was no stopping us today. We powered on past a track way and heard a bit of barking from behind us....great, just what we need. "Don't run" were the wise words from Dad, as he shot into the distance faster than Usain Bolt. Fortunately for us they got cold feet and stopped before they were in attacking distance.
It wasn't the only encounter of the day we had with dogs, the second being two seemingly out of control dogs in a garden we passed, only kept at bay by a flimsy fence (I was convinced they could have jumped it if they really wanted to...). To be fair, I thought we would have had a lot more problems with dogs, maybe it was the influence of Dr Doolittle which kept them at bay, who knows.
It was early afternoon when we reached High Hawsker. This was only 3 or 4 miles away from RHB so we waited there and timed it so that everybody who was meeting us would be in RHB for us arriving. It was quite an eventful stop off, we got to meet George Stephenson - the local barfly, he told us tales about how he used to run faster than horses, and about the time he was offered the chance to buy Red Rum and declined. It was funny because when he left his seat to go to the toilet there was a plaque entitled 'Bullshit Corner', well, if the cap fits! We also met a guy who was 93 year old who was still getting out for his regular drink, good on him. We had a pint (or two) and then set off on the home straight, oh after nipping back to the pub for forgetting my trusty trekking pole!
As we headed towards the cliffs we spotted Stacey & John and the gang driving past, reality was kicking in, we were almost done, people were actually coming to meet us at the end. We headed onto the cinder track (thanks for the tip off Mark), and then dropped down to walk along the cliff edge, it was a fantastic feeling, we could see RHB approaching. We had a few little ups and down, and a few more stiles before we rested on a bench just above the bay. At that I got a text, it was an unknown number congratulating us - it was Mr Angola himself - Chris on his 'holiday phone'.
It was time for the last push, we wandered into RHB at the top end, feeling like heroes. We were buzzing, we almost bounced down the hill with a spring in our step, 12 days of aches and pains totally forgotten about. RHB was busy, it was a glorious Saturday afternoon, why shouldn't it be? We had notched our 11th mile of the day and so it had took us 12 days, and 193 miles to be here to join them, and we were loving it! As we turned the corner we could see everyone, it took a few seconds until they clocked us - we heard a "THERE THEY ARE", and at that the loudest cheer went up, probably the loudest cheer RHB has ever heard! Hairs stood up on the back of my neck, in fact, my newly grown beard stood proud too! Even writing this 1 month later brings back fantastic memories of that moment and a tear to my eye. All faces were a blur for a few seconds before I could get my bearings. I went to Nat, Dad to Mam, and Ged straight into the sea!
Congratulations were flying left, right and centre. Nat had produced some celebratory posters and Joe & Isaac had made a welcome back poster (all by themselves I think!). It was a who's who of the greatest gang of people on Earth, all people we love. There were a handful of people who couldn't make it, but we would catch up with them all at a later date. I bounced from person to person like a pinball soaking up the praise (well it was my barmy arsed idea in the first place!). From Nat, then onto Mam, Matthew & Emma had brought Joe and Isaac, Stacey and John were also there with Ruby, Billy and baby Alice. Amy, Philly, Janet, Emily, Mark and Jackie who had all met us over the past 12 days were there. Frank and Sonia had come with Nat to be there. It was brilliant to see Uncle Peter and Peter who had promised to try and get there. Shifty and Hayley had even re-arranged their train back from Leeds to meet us, that meant a lot. Sue, who helped to care for Granda in his final weeks, from Ward 24 at North Tees was there, and she got a great big hug! And last but by no means least, Josie, Jayne, Steph and Hayley were there, I was really so happy to see them all - so much so that I got so filled up with emotion I lost the ability to talk, and that's only ever happened once before, at Granda's funeral. Still, words didn't need saying, a great bear hug got the message across well enough.
Suddenly I had a pint of lager in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other, I could get the hang of this! Of course, we then had the formalities to do, they were as follows:
- Sign the Coast to Coast book in The Bay Hotel
- Dip your boots into the sea
- Throw your stone, carried from the Irish Sea, into the North Sea
- Sit under the C2C plaque for a photo opportunity
We did all of them then sat and enjoyed the weather while recalling stories from the walk. It wasn't long before fish and chip time came, and the hike back up the hill to the car.
We had done it. 193 miles from Coast to Coast in 12 days. Nobody could ever take it away from us now. When I suggested it in August last year I am sure people scoffed at the idea, maybe it was crazy, but did people really think I wouldn't do it?
The walk would not have been such a success if it wasn't for a number of people. For the people who helped along the walk, to Don, Fr Damian, Mrs G, Guy, and Graeme & Sharon at The Plough, thanks. For the people who came and joined us for a day's walking, helped with support or turned out on a night to meet us, it was a logistical challenge, so thanks to Paul, Amy, Phil, Les, Mark, Jackie, Janet, Emily, Shifty, Hayley, Pam, Graeme, Stan, Gaye, Frank, Trish, Emily, Jack, Cameron, Foster, Kath and Martin. For those who turned up at RHB on that glorious Saturday thanks to Matthew, Emma, Joe, Isaac, Uncle Peter, Peter, Stacey, John, Ruby, Billy, Alice, Sue, Sonia, Josie, Jayne, Steph and Hayley. For putting themselves out on a Friday night and making sure the whole of Sleights knew we were there, thanks to Graham and Roz. For one of the three musketeers who crazily signed up to do the walk with me, and for the bloody good cups of tea and breakfasts, thanks to Ged. For being the best long distance fan, for spreading the word in the far flung regions of Angola, and for kitting me out good and proper on our many jollies to Go Outdoors, thanks to Chris. For the millions of food parcels, and the stream of clean clothes, as well as the eternal support both on and off the walk, thanks to Mam. For being the second musketeer, for joining me in practising the long walks prior to the Coast to Coast and for showing there's life in the old dog yet, thanks to Collo. And then finally, the biggest thanks of all to the number one support driver, having clocked up more miles than anyone on the trip, who is always there to assist us with murder drills or infinite knowledge of escaping tricky situations (mountain lion attack, surviving a falling elevator etc), who is ALWAYS supportive of every crazy idea have, thanks to the best wife in the world, Nat.
Sorry for the exhaustive list of thank you's, but it needs to be said. When I get chance I will transfer all of this to my Coast to Coast tab for ease of viewing, and hopefully add more pics from John and Ged.
Day 12 over, no more to go! 193 miles clocked up in total. All in the memory of Granda.