Day 15: Grosmont to Robin Hoods Bay: 15.5 Miles
Surprise! Surprise! This is the first day that my back doesn’t hurt. The sun is shining , pigeons are cooing, and…wait a minute….
I just realize that we heard doves at dawning. Was it that way yesterday? That seems strange because through most of this hike, we’ve been awakened by sheep baaaing beside the windows. At what point in the geography did our alarm clocks change?. The ubiquitous sheep have disappeared. Even the grouse song is gone—replaced by common birds and a few gulls.
The first step outside of Grosmont treks uphill and continues upward at a heart-knocking slant. We make good time to Little Beck, another stream, dancing through a forest. It seems Wainright has a penchant for wooded glens so muddy it requires big stones to tread through it.
As we slip and slide from stone to stone, I notice when we’d started hiking two weeks ago, the Elderflowers in the woods had been creamy-white and fragrant . Now most of the blooms have dried up and are brown. Even the blackberries which hadn’t opened their flowers when we started at the Irish Sea, now have knobby green fruits on the vines. It makes me a bit melancholy to see evidence that time has kept rolling along, but while we were wrapped in this adventure…it had seemed to us that it had stopped.
It’s best not to look at a map at this point. The trail meanders far south, only to amble off to the far north again, and I’m wondering why we don’t just head straight for the sea. At Falling Foss Waterfall, we step over several dogs in order to sit in the tea tents. At almost every pub, there are dogs. Big and little. They are all welcome. The well-behaved canines thump their tails a couple of times if we talk to them. Mostly they curl up and ignore the world.
Dallas Cowboy Fan and I are tired. We’re mustering ourselves for the last push. At the Tea tents several people wish us well and luck to the end of the journey. At this point, I suppose we look like well-worn travelers.
As we continue ambling, I’m grumping about the trail’s incessant meandering. After a bit of road walking, the trail cuts across…MORE MOORS. Hooo Boy! Low, soggy moors. The path fans out in fifteen directions due to hikers trying to find a way across the bogs. There are duckboards floating on top of one of the swamps. There are stones for long-legged jumpers on other bogs. I’m doing my elf-hop across tufts of grass through the worst of it.
And KER-SPLASH…I go down. One leg—knee deep in swampy water. I had almost made it through. I have a few choice words for Mr. Wainright.
We range through cow paths and finally exit from the moors through a drainage ditch. A honkin’ DRAINAGE DITCH!! slippery and choked with weeds. Now, I’m really cursing the trail’s ignoble passage into the final stage. Eventually we come out on a road called “Back Lane” and a sign that says Robin Hood’s Bay is only 2 and a half miles. Whew! Hooray!
Following the official C2C along the Back Lane (and through a trailer park) we find signs that indicate we’re now THREE miles away from Robin Hood’s Bay.
Whaaaat??!! THE TRAIL IS GETTING LONGER THE MORE WE WALK ????? I’m really using some choice vocabulary now. At this point, I suspect Wainright was simply roaming around because he didn’t want to go home.
Finally, we reach the sea. Though beautiful, the cliff walk goes on until my feet are numb. This last day has thrown everything at us, bogs, hills, mud, and steep stone steps up and down, UP and DOWN, the cliffs.
We arrive in Robin Hood’s Bay. We suffer culture shock. The streets, alleyways, sidewalks, beaches, and restaurants are crammed with people. So many people—too many people—after days and days of quietness. (And maybe that was why Wainright wandered around and took his time getting here.)
WE toss the pebbles we’d picked up on the west coast into the North Sea, and then go to the Bay Bar. Two C2Cers are already there. Four others arrive, and it is a quiet, but satisfying celebration.
By tomorrow morning, before the town and the tourists awaken, we’ll be waiting on the sidewalk for Bus 49 to take us to the train at Scarborough and a plane to take us across the ocean to plumbing problems that “are kinda fixed.” (“I snaked the lines and put off-brand Drano down them,” Scout says. “They drain…most of the time.”) We won’t think about what lies ahead. I’m sure that as the sun comes up over Robin Hood Bay, we’ll be thinking about the other hikers across the C2C, lacing on boots and beginning their day.
Of the 26 people that we started with, 9 made it to the end. 13 dropped out. 4 persons we lost track of. We hope they make it.
And we expect all of our paths to cross again someday because that’s one of the things we’ve learned on the amazing C2C: You never know who you’ll meet around the next bend in the trail.
We’ll be taking home more than memories. (I’m taking home the Little Magic Pillow!) We were shown many kindnesses: encouraging words from locals, extra flapjacks or candy bars in our lunch sacks from good-hearted hosts, and I fondly think about the wizened fella who dresses in his tweeds and sits outside his cottage each morning so he can help hikers through a tricky passage, calling out, “Compt this a-way. The trail’s be passin’ behind that barn.” I experienced what hospitality means to a weary traveler. My hope is to carry that graciousness with me into my regular life.
But for tonight…we’re headed to the pub. Dallas Cowboy Fan needs to lighten his pockets of those heavy, heavy British coins.
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