Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Channel Islands - Guernsey Day1

Its been several months since I completed my UK mainland coast walk and I had a feeling that there was something missing in my life and that something was a good long walk!. 
              I always had it in my mind to carry on my long distance walking in some way once I had finished so I thought the best place to start was walking around the UK islands. As there are a lot of islands around the UK I decided to start with the most populated first and then maybe one day I may walk the uninhabited islands.

Day 1 St Peter Port to Grand Rocques 27miles

Guernsey from the Air

St Peter Port
I have been visiting Guernsey since 1980, there has been a lot of changes on the island but the one thing that always seems to stay the same is the lovely port.  As the weather was nice I decided to walk up to the lighthouse at the end of the pier, this was a first for me as I tend to give these a wide birth but I had plenty of time to take a leisurely amble today, it also allowed me to get a good picture of the castle.


Sunday, 11 September 2016

Walk 234

Whitby to Scarborough 22miles

So this was the last day of my journey, it had taken 6 years and 10 months to get this far. I had stayed in 150+ bed and breakfasts, I bought and wore 8 pairs of boots/shoes but only worn out 2 of those pairs (the rest are still going or have been binned due to blisters!), 3 different backpacks, numerous pairs of socks/hats/gloves/sunglasses and countless Ice Creams!!!!! A lot has happened in nearly 7 years, relatives have passed away, old friends have come back into my life and then promptly reversed back out of my life, my daughter was in secondary school when I started and then 6th form college and now University.

                     Suprisingly I woke up with the usual feeling that today was just another days walk, I had expected something else I guess, but what I had expected who knows?
                     I made my way out of Whitby at 8.30am and it was a completely different place on this quiet Sunday morning, just lovely.
Whitby Abbey
The weather was fantastic I couldn't have ordered a better forecast for the day.
                I chose what I thought was the correct route out of town but then it turned into a dead end!! lost again,  I thought somethings don't change!!, eventually I managed to find my way to the top of the hill and what a view! The magnificent Whitby Abbey was sitting proudly at the top.
                I had been warned that the walking was going to be tough today as there are a lot of hills and valleys between here and Scarborough. I stopped/got lost again! at the lighthouse at Beacon Hill.

The walking was still pretty easy at this point and as I made my way along to Robin Hood's Bay I did start to think what all the fuss was about......but then it happened......I looked at my map to find the route out of Robin Hood's Bay and then I realised that I had to go down the hill to the sea!!! If you haven't been to Robin Hoods Bay before, then you need to brace yourself for a steep climb/decent, its a real doozy!!! Once I had reached the bottom I walked along the front and started to climb back up the other end of the bay....what goes down must come back up!!!
Robin Hood's Bay

I stopped at the top to take a breather and a photo at the same time.  Very soon Boggle Hole reared its head and once again I was plunged downwards to sea level and then back out the other side.  This happened a couple of more times (there are 6 between Whitby and Ravenscar!) until I arrived at the bottom of a ludicrously big hill just before Ravenscar, by the time I got to the summit of the hill I was very hungry and I have to say there isn't much in Ravenscar other than a hotel and a NT café, so I chose the Hotel which did me a very nice sandwich indeed!!

The walking became a bit easier after Ravenscar in so much that the hills/valleys were a lot less steep!! I carried on past Hayburn Wyke and onto Rodger Trod.  My eyes were firmly fixed on the horizon constantly scanning it for any sign on the Castle at Scarborough, finally the path took a bit of a dip and I caught sight of it amongst the trees in front of me, I was nearly finished after a little under 7 years I couldn't quite believe it!!.  I carried on past Cloughton Wyke, Hundale Point and Sailors Grave before I made the final decent onto the flat promenade at Scalby Mills, I stopped at the pub in Scalby Mills for a drink just (I think) to eek out the end of the walk for the last few minutes as it was less than a mile to go! 
                The North Bay promenade was busy on this fine Sunday afternoon and I walked purposely on to my finish point at the Corner Café. There was no one at the end to congratulate me which is exactly how I wanted it to be and how it was at the start of my walk on 18th November 2009 when I slipped out of the house on that wet Wednesday morning, I sat down on a bench at the Corner Café in between 2 elderly ladies and they paid me no heed, little did they know that I had just walked 5000 miles :)

                                             THE END

Thank you to my family and friends who all supported me during this journey and especially to my wife who let me disappear for many weeks on end.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Walk 233

Skinningrove to Whitby  23miles

I could of binned my maps now that I was on the well signposted Cleveland Way, this long distance path would take me all the way to my finish at Scarborough in 2 days time.
Runswick Bay
 The hills and valleys came thick and fast and my first stop of the day was at Staithes. Staithes was holding its annual arts festival where over 60 houses open their front doors to let people wander around them looking at the art that they have created, I find it amazing that in such a small place there are so many artists.  I unfortunately didn't stop to browse at any of the artwork, again, maybe another day.

Staithes itself is one of the most stunning little coastal villages I have walked through, it reminded me very much of Cornwall.
               The path continued up and down through Port Mulgrave, Rushwick Bay and Scratch Alley before arriving at the aptly named village of Sandsend. Sandsend is aptly named due to the fact that the beach from Whitby finishes at Sandsend!  I now had the opportunity to walk along the 3 mile beach all the way to Whitby which I relished as the tide was well on its way out.  Once I reached Whitby I had a real shock as I turned the corner to walk down the high street, there were people everywhere!! its a real shock to the system when day in day out you hardly see a soul and then you are faced with a Wall of people!!!! I had arrived in Whitby during "pirate weekend" hence the reason it was so busy.
Accommodation: Air Bnb. I had a whole house to myself so I put my feet up and relaxed!!!! £38.00 RO

Friday, 9 September 2016

Walk 232

Seaton Carew to Skinningrove 23miles

After a very average nights sleep I went in search of a place in Seaton Carew to have breakfast as the hotel I was stopping in was bed only, I walked along the seafront and there was nothing open I fortunately had an "emergency banana".  I glumly ate my banana as I walked out of Seaton Carew, the wind had got up overnight and this was significant to me as I would be crossing the River Tees today via the transporter bridge, if the wind was too strong then the bridge couldn't operate and I would be faced with a very long walk into Middlesborough and back out again.
              There is only one road from Seaton Carew to Middlesborough and its a fast one! There is a path for about a mile and then its a case of diving in the bushes when the lorries come past.  Middlesborough is very industrial and you can smell it before you actually arrive such is the concentration of Steel Works/Chemical Works.
                As I walked along the busy road towards the Transporter Bridge I kept squinting to see if the  gondola was running along the top of the bridge, eventually I saw something move and my heart lifted! I picked up the pace and made my way around to the departure point.
Transporter Bridge
This was my second Transporter Bridge of my journey, the first one was in Newport in Wales. I love the whole concept of the bridge and it was a shame that I was the only passenger on the journey across the Tees, but it was 60p well spent! I chatted to one of the men who operate the gondola and he informed me that there are 6 transporter bridges in the world so maybe another project for me in the future would be to visit all of them!
                      Not long after the bridge I picked up the Teesside way Path, this runs from Dufton in Cumbria to South Gare on the north sea coast a total distance of 92 miles.  This part of Teesside way I found myself on ran parallel with the railway line most of the way to the sea, however there was a problem when I reached a fence barring the way.
You shall not pass!

 I had been warned by 2 different people that the route was blocked but I decided to ignore both of them! I ducked under the fence to the right of the blockage and walked along side the path until I found a way over the fence, it was pretty easy in the end and the path was clear all the way to the road.  At the junction of the road/path there was a council sign saying why the path was closed, obviously the sign at the end I entered the path on had been removed.
             I carried on along the Teesside way until I reached the signpost that marks the start/finish of the walk.
Teesside Way Start/finish
Its a nice start/finish point because the post is sprayed silver and so are the walking shoes/seat and backpack a good place for a rest :)
                      I continued on towards Redcar and I must say I was pleasantly supprised on how nice the seafront was, here are a few pictures.

I was able to take the beach route to Saltburn,  I had arranged with some family friends to meet me on the way, this was another first for me as I had company(other than coast walkers!) for one of my walks!


 I had been looking forward to Saltburn and its superb funicular railway.  I stopped for an hour and drank tea with my friends, but all too soon I had to wave them goodbye. I had now picked up the Cleveland Way and the first hill was a big un! I huffed and puffed my way to the top of the hill and then carried on along the cliff tops before dropping down into the lovely bay at Skinningrove. A very varied and rollercoaster days walking.

Accommodation: Moonfleet, 1 The Square. Skinningrove. £60.00 BnB. A really nice place to stay and the host was fantastic. Like I always say " you get what you pay for"

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Walk 231

Sunderland to Seaton Carew 29miles

A day that started with what I thought was 23miles but turned into a leg busting 29 miles, at least this would be the last of the big cock up days!
As I walked across the bridge over the river Wear I noticed some new signage and that was the ECP.  The English Coast Path has been in the planning stages for many years and at last some progress is being made to way mark all of the English Coast, the section I was walking along goes from Sunderland to Middlesborough.

The coast became a lot more rugged as my made my way towards Seaham, the ECP signage was doing a good job so far. I stopped in Seaham for my second breakfast just as a little rain was starting to fall, this had been my first (and as it turned out last) rain of the journey so far. I thought I had managed to dodge the rain but alas a big shower had me dashing for the trees and trying to get my brolley out!  The ECP winds its way along the coast but then suddenly you have to take a right turn and cross over the railway line, I guess just like The Wales Coast Path a few farmers still don't want you on their land.

At Horden point I was able to scramble down the hill and make contact with a beach for the first time today,  the tide was going out so I had 9 miles of glorious beach to walk, this would take me eventually to Hartlepool.  The only down side of beach walking sometimes is when you have a pier to focus on in the distance, it all looks a lot closer than it actually is!  So, 2.5hrs later I walked past the pier and followed the road around the Heugh Battery this then took me along through the surprisingly nice marina in Hartlepool and finally onto my bed for the evening in Seaton Carew.

Accommodation: The Norton Hotel, 1 The Green. Seaton Carew. £30.00 RO.  This really is one to avoid, its basically a "contactors" hotel, its grubby and just awful.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Walk 230

Blyth To Sunderland 22miles

The end of the walk was fast approaching and as I walked out of Blyth on a hot September day I thought that I'd be sorry when it was all over, its such a nice pastime walking in this sort of weather I couldn't think of a better way of spending a day.
Blyth Beach
 I had to slap on a lot of suntan lotion before the walk as the sun was already strong.  I headed along the beach towards Seaton Sluice and then followed the NCN 1 along the cliffs to St Marys Island.
St Marys Island
Soon enough I was back on another beach striding across the sand towards Whitley Bay, I couldn't get the Dire Straits song Tunnel of Love out of my head mainly because it gives a big mention to the Spanish City which is located next to the sea at Whitley Bay.  The Spanish City was having a refurb in an attempt to try and re capture its glory days I guess.
                I passed through Tynemouth and its lovely castle on my way to the last ferry of my journey.
Tynemouth Castle
I managed to have a lunch break whilst on the ferry from North Shields to South Shields which was nice,  once off the ferry I made my way around to the seafront at South Shields, as I walked along the front the sun was glistening off the sand and I thought it looked like Miami Beach, it didn't take long to realise that it wasn't, just a quick glance to my right and one again the word "Dump" came to mind.

As I come to the end of my blog you the reader will notice that I tend not to hold back on my opinions of certain places, but in the case of South Shields I have just cause to call it a dump as my father/mother in law moved here 12 years ago and I have been visiting them at least once a year and I have to say its just awful, no words can explain how terrible it is, so there you have it.

The coast path hugs the coast all the way from South Shields to Sunderland and the highlight is the Souter Lighthouse which is magnificent with its traditional red and white stripes.
Souter Lighthouse
By now the temperature was a balmy 27 deg and I was burning quite quickly so I was happy to see the last beach of the day at Whitburn Bay.  Overall a great days walk and only 4 more days to go.

Accommodation: Father in laws house!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Walk 229

Amble to Blyth 23miles

A day of many beach walks starting with a small one that turned into a 9 mile trek along Druridge Bay. I stopped at the start of my walk to take a photo of Coquet Island which is the main island of the Farne Islands it looked very picturesque in the shimmering morning sunlight.

Coquet Island
As I was walking along the main stretch of sand at Druridge Bay I noticed up ahead some tents in the dunes to my right,  but these were no ordinary tents these were the type you would normally see on the film set of a film about medieval times, very strange and then the people on horses arrived and just rode around in circles! even after I was way in the distance I could still see them riding around in circles!!

Druridge Bay horses and tents
At the end of Druridge Bay is the village of Cresswell and this marks the end of the Northumberland Coast Path.
the end or beginning of the Northumberland Coast Path
I stopped in Creswell for a celebratory Ice Cream (raspberry ripple).  The coast path now turned to coast road and just after Lynemouth the road headed inland due to the proximity of a large power station by the coast. It was on this road that I spotted a woman coming towards me on the other side of the road pulling a 2 wheel cart, she stopped to rearrange her stuff and then went past me, neither of us made eye contact ( I figured that she was a bit stressed with the cart!) so we just passed,  I did look round afterwards (as she had stopped again) and noticed a flag on the back of here cart saying " Anna's World Walk" I looked her up on the web later on that day and Anna is walking around the world to raise awareness of people who do not have clean running water.  That brief encounter with Anna certainly put my walk into perspective....5000 miles PAH! that's just a walk to the shops compared with what Anna's trying to complete.
                 The road wound in and out of Woodham eventually arriving in Newbiggin- by- the - sea. Once passed Newbiggin I managed to get onto the beach at Spital Point, after yesterday's disappointment at not being able to cross the river at Alnmouth I decided to have a go at crossing the river just before Cambois, and I was lucky as it was low tide! I took off my boots and socks and went for it! The river was reasonably fast and deep in the middle but I ploughed on regardless and made it across safely :).
                Just before North Blyth I headed inland and the rest of today's walk was along busy roads and very forgettable.

Accommodation: I stopped with a family member in Whitley Bay