Coast to Coast – Richmond to Great Langton

Date: 16 Mar 2020 Weather: 7’C, partly cloudy, breezy
Height gain: 748 ft Distance: 10.7 miles
Time taken: 4 hrs 40 mins Wainwrights:

Has it really been nearly six months since we last did a Coast to Coast walk?  We haven’t done any since the section from St Bees to Cleator on 20 September – it has been a long time.

The weather has been stuck in rain and gales for most of the winter, especially February which was the wettest on record.  We’re more than ready to do some proper walking and early signs are that the weather could settle by mid March.  We decide that a few days walking from Richmond would be a nice idea around S’s birthday.  I have a look around and find a good holiday cottage on the outskirts of Richmond which is available for that week and also on special offer (added bonus!).

We wait until a few days beforehand to see what the weather forecast is looking like and it’s still looking ok.  We wonder about just how muddy it will be underfoot – should we wait a few more weeks for the ground to dry out a bit more?  We decide the need for long walks outweighs the fear of mud so we take the plunge and book.  We don’t know how lucky our timing is until the week unfolds – the UK goes into lockdown and all holidays are cancelled the day after we get back.

So, off we go on a sunny Saturday taking both our cars to Richmond.  We arrive at the cottage and are greeted and shown round by the owner (unusual these days) – he is a Coast to Coast walk leader himself, taking groups from Richmond to Robin Hood’s Bay.  He’s used to starting out on fresh legs with an already exhausted group of walkers to lead – we all agree we admire those hardy souls who do the whole route in one go.  He gets the need for two cars as soon as we tell him our plans for the week, but does ask us quizzically why we’re choosing to walk in March.

The cottage is very nice, toasty warm and this is the view from the lounge:

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Not bad at all!  Rain is predicted on Sunday so we plan to wait until Monday for our first walk.  In the event there was no rain on Sunday but it was cold and windy so we pootled around Richmond and visited the castle.

We wake up to clear blue skies on Monday morning and decide to start with a section from Richmond to Great Langton as it should be relatively flat.  However, S decides it’s more efficient from a driving perspective if we do it backwards so our plan is to drive one car to Great Langton, walk back to Richmond and then go and pick the car up again.  In fact we relaise it makes no difference to overall driving and we inflict a day walking into a reasonable breeze on oursleves.

We head first for what our research tells us is an award winning bakery in Richmond to pick up provisions for the day.  We arrive to find it closes on Mondays.  We head into the town square and find another bakery which is open and busy and try our luck there.  I find a decent looking sandwich but S has to settle for a cheese & onion pasty and a sausage roll.

The drive to Great Langton is uneventful and we find our parking spot on a patch of land off the road next to a farm.  We get our boots on and rucksacks packed and we’re off at last ….

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We’re not used to fully loaded packs these days and they feel heavy with their two water bottles plus food, etc.  The going is pretty flat, though, and thankfully not too muddy.  I’m actually quite surprised how fast the ground has started to dry out after all the recent, incessant rain.

The path takes us through farms, across fields and on the occasional pleasant wooded path and is all very pleasant in the spring sunshine:

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We reach the pretty village of Ellerton with its picturesque church looking lovely against the blue sky:

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We leave the village and head past a quarry before the path takes us closer to the river Swale which is moving swiftly:

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We’re reaching six miles and are feeling in need of some lunch but we can tell from the sounds around us that we’re on the outskirts of Brompton on Swale and will be crossing the A1 shortly.

We can hear the road thundering near us and the path takes us over a bridge then takes us sharp left to go under the same bridge and onto a path which goes under the A1 – we’ve not done that before, we usually go over major roads on long distance paths and not under them:

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Once under the A1 the path veers sharply upwards to a farm and then out again into fields.  It’s surprising how quickly we leave the road noise behind us.  After less than a mile we spot a couple of good boulders to sit on for lunch.  My sandwich with its freshly baked bread and surprisingly little butter (I hate butter on sandwiches) is quite good but S is very underwhelmed with his pasty.  However, the calories restore us both and we set off again into the wind.

There’s more fields to walk along the edge of before we get to the pretty little village of Colburn:

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We take a quick breather on a nicely placed bench just beyond the pub before setting off up the road and out of the village back into fields.  We’re getting closer to the river again and a section of the walk which Wainwright described as very muddy even in summer.  S says it’s decision time – we can carry on down to the river path which will take us into Richmond or stay on higher ground and pick up one of the steepest roads into the town for a last mile uphill.  Knowing S’s hatred of mud, and it is starting to get much worse underfoot, we opt for the steeper route.

It takes us initially downwards through a wood which gets muddier as we go but doesn’t last long before we reach the road.  We head down the road then have a 200 ft climb back up to the Holly Hill Inn and then a final quarter of a mile down the hill to the house.

We now realise a schoolboy error – I only brought one pair of shoes on holiday with me and they are in S’s car in Great Langton.  I decide walking socks are better for driving than fat muddy walking boots so take them off and leave them on the doorstep before we both hop into my car.  The drive to the cottage is quite challenging at the best of times – sharply downhill at the end and straight out onto a fairly busy road.

My car crunches and screeches and I ground it on the concrete before deciding to engineer a three point turn and go out nose first.  This works better and we’re soon off and back at S’s car for the journey home.  Socks are not good for driving in, though, and from now on I know to leave my shoes in my car and be driven in socks to the start point.

So – we’re finally back in the Coast to Coast saddle.  Today felt harder work than it should have done given there was so little climbing – hopefully we’ll blow the cobwebs away with more walking this week.