Coast to Coast

C2C: day 13, Orton to Ravenseat Farm

You need special shoes for hiking — and a bit of a special soul as well.

Terri Guillemets
Kirby Stephen, boot fungus Capitol of the world.

The alicoop is up, the midges are out on cue, dinner is cooking on one of the myriad picnic tables at Ravenseat Farm and the sunset is giving the swell of the Pennines an orange hue. It was quite the day. To get myself a few miles more ahead of where I thought I should be camping last night in order to finish this thing, I set my sights on Keld, about a 25 mile walk from Orton. It was along the way that I noticed a more pleasurable stop at a farm with camping on the lawn next to a stone bridge marking the exact halfway point of the walk.

The day began much cooler than yesterday, which proved to be absolutely enervating, so I was thrilled to get underway, the trail leaving the charming village by road at first, then straight onto the heather-clad moor. Birdsong followed me everywhere, complex and foreign to my ears from yellow wagtail and linnet as well as one of my favs, the lapwing with its dog-toy squeak. Coming over the rise, birds filled the spare trees reminding me briefly of the Drakensberg in South Africa and it’s haunting long views.

The wild and lonely moors.

Likewise most days, I passed through gates and over stiles, each having its own distinct character. Sometimes I’d come across a spiffy affair with a long, easy-to-reach metal latch that was equally easy to move and a gate evenly hung on its hinges would simply open wide for me to pass through. Even better would be a spring in the gate so I can simply let the door close with a pleasing slam on my way past. But more often than not, the gates hang askew in their hinges, have awkward to open latches or have one extra little clip that seems totally unnecessary. Then there’s the gate in a kind of pass through, where you push it open, put your body into the space and squeeze the gate in front of you. All well and good, unless you’re carrying a backpack, and then things get a little tight. I often stood up on the edges of the fence to hoist myself beyond the gate. Not pretty, but sufficed. Stiles can be ladders or strategically placed rocks, some built right into the wall a bit like the Incas. I got up, over, and through all of them, and was sure to close the gate once past.

The moors are wonderful places, high, mysterious, full of life, even if seemingly monochromatic. Once in the middle, all that surround – fell and dale – disappear, as if being far out on the ocean. It’s no wonder that this area is full of prehistoric sites, rock cairns, circles and settlements. One in particular is said to be the most important in Britain, but its remains are mostly seen from outer space, so I moved right on by.

No one knows who they were. No one knows what they were doing.

It was in this place of big sky that I saw my first backpacker, another woman on her own from Holland. She sauntered in the way backpackers do, but I was hoofing on past where she planned to stop for the night, so moved right on by again. That is one thing that has surprised me on this walk, that I have not run into many walkers. I am wild camping for one, so not doing the usual stages and meeting up with the groups who have their bags carried between B&B’s, and I also added dozens of miles in the Lakes and missed Coast-to-Coasters while off on my own, but still, this may not be as populated a walk as it ought to be.

Soon, the final pull on the moors reached its apex and Kirkby (with a silent k) Stephen opened below. It’s one of one larger towns on the hike, and greeted walkers with a little town theme of worn out boots filled with flowers. Densely spaced row houses lined the main thoroughfare as I marched along looking for a place to get water before the big push into the Pennines. The Black Bull has an inviting seat right on the sidewalk, and within earshot of the local color, already working on their second or even third pints at 2 in the afternoon.

Stepping stones across peat bog.

I took a look at the 13th century church built of sandstone from the local quarry I’d pass up the hill, crossed Frank’s Bridge over Eden Beck and I was off. Five miles winding up and up, past Fell House with guanaco in their yard, past bleating sheep and their soft wooly white lambs in black face and long silky black legs, onto the peat bog of this new range of hills in beautiful Swaledale.

At the top is Nine Standards Rigg, a series of huge carefully stacked rock cairns guarding the summit. I didn’t quite ascertain why they are there or who built them, but I found the place in the late afternoon particularly special, imagining my own stories of the peoples who went before.

Lonely cairn where I should have turned.

The standards mark the beginning of the infamous bogs, ones that can steal a boot, a trekking pole and one’s dignity. I am incredibly lucky in that the rains have stayed away for months since a very wet spring, so mostly the walking was spongy dirt, and where it wasn’t, the park service has placed huge rock slabs, I barely got a toe wet.

Though I did manage to miss my turn and found myself taking a long and circuitous route to the farm. Wondering if I was on the right trail and having just about enough after 20 odd miles, a nice couple came around the bend in the nick of time and drove me the last 1/4 mile to the farm where I’m sleeping tonight.

Is that cheating?

These boots were not made for walking.
Coast to Coast

Coast-to-Coast + aliloop-of-the-lakes, England – June, 2018

I want to encourage in others the ambition to devise with the aid of maps their own cross-country marathons and not be merely followers of other people’s routes.

Alfred Wainwright

check out my gear list for the C2C!


England’s Coast to Coast was designed by Fell Walker Arthur Wainwright and is roughly 192 miles from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. He suggests we all find our own routes, which I did by adding another 50 miles peak bagging in the Lake District.
England’s Coast to Coast is roughly 192 miles from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, but I added another 50 miles peak bagging in the Lake District.

I want to encourage in others the ambition to devise with the aid of maps their own cross-country marathons and
Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious. - Ruth Reichl With England's
It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. Ernest
Everywhere is within walking distance, if you have the time.Steven Wright And so, it begins. But not so fast. It
You were made to soar, to crash to earth, then to rise and soar again.Alfred Wainwright It's half past nine
I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.Susan Sontag The morning began with the sound of birds and breakfast
Nothing is as close to magic as nature.Anastasia Bolinder It’s happened again. I’ve found myself in a pub, talked into
There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as
Mountains have a way of dealing with overconfidence.Hermann Buhl The crag gods tested me, but they must have had a
Walking: the most ancient exercise and still the best modern exercise.Carrie Latet There are five good reasons to hike in
Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to
It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on
There are two kinds of climbers, those who climb because their heart sings when they’re in the mountains, and all
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and
I have two doctors, my left leg and my right.G.M. Trevelyan What a sight to see beautiful Orton over the
You need special shoes for hiking — and a bit of a special soul as well.Terri Guillemets The alicoop is
I like being near the top of a mountain. One can’t get lost here.Wislawa Szymborska I broke two cardinal rules
Travel far enough, you meet yourself.David Mitchell Another stunningly beautiful, bright, sunny day completely out of the norm for this
Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.Frank Lloyd Wright Today was the day I
Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.Henry David Thoreau Rain fell in
Desert, jungle, mountains or coast; I don’t have a preference. If I’m out in the wilderness with everything I need
Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came
Returning home is the most difficult part of long-distance hiking; You have grown outside the puzzle and your piece no
I shall be telling this with a sighSomewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —I

Created by the illustrious fell walker Alfred Wainwright, the Coast to Coast is an unofficial and often unsigned path that passes through three contrasting national parks: the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, and the North York Moors.

The last time in Yorkshire, I ran.
The last time in Yorkshire, I ran.

Which pretty well describes my plan of no plan aside from ‘wild camping’ and catching a bus and two trains from Robin Hood’s Bay back to the airport and home mid-June.

My mantra…

To experience the countryside on fair days and never foul is to understand only half its story.

Melissa Harrison

<bang sticks for luck!>