Leg Two – Urra Moor, North York Moors to Richmond
32 miles and 1529 feet ascent approx
The next morning we expected to feel extremely sore from the previous days hike and were to a degree dreading the next leg and arguably toughest mentally of our C2C.
As it happened we felt OK after plenty of food and a good nights sleep – bar my big blister on the ball of my left foot.
The route now involved us following the Cleveland Way in places and then pushing on through a rural landscape to Richmond. The challenge involved us wild camping the whole route and so from Richmond the route was to take us further into the Yorkshire Dales and pitch up high on a moor. This proved problematic in the planning stages due to the large areas of MOD land around Richmond never mind having to walk extra miles on an otherwise tough leg distance-wise.
But we figured with some perseverance we’d make it or damn well near to our planned pitch. Though to keep spirits high the following day involved only 10 miles and a visit to Britain’s Highest Pub – The Tan Hill Inn.
We woke to clag all around us but no rain and given the journey ahead it did not matter. It was the day we knew was coming and were dreading it nonetheless.
We set off early and as we plodded on the cloud lifted to give sneaky views of the lands around. I have to say the Cleveland Hills are distinctive and certainly a place to head to for a wander. I’ll definitely be heading back there some day. But on this day they were morale sapping!
It was in the area of Cringle Moor where not only was I starting to complain about sore heels but my left knee cap decided to snap!
I gently fell in absolute agony and wasn’t doing anything particularly strenuous. We sat by a rocky outcrop and thought through our circumstance and decided to head down to Swainby instead of Ingleby Cross. Then from there head for Richmond where I hoped (if still in pain) to locate a hospital.
Thankfully I had brought my walking poles for the trip and they were useful to a degree but once we hit the flat lands – thats where the pain really kicked in.
The route down proved to be scenic and we passed an enchanting ruined castle but none of this could distract me from the pain I was in. Nevertheless, we plodded on and on and on thorough the flat countryside and after what seemed like an eternity we finally reached the scenic town of Richmond.
Memories of that afternoon are a bit of a blur really but we approached the town’s beautiful market place overlooked by the nearby castle at around 6pm.
Placing my rear on a bench Eion wandered off to see if we could get to a hospital. As it turned out there wasn’t one and the nearest such place was in Darlington several miles away!
A kindly gentleman who was concerned for me offered us a lift into Swaledale. We explained what our aims and route were and as it happened he was en route to the Tan Hill. He was working a shift there for the night and was awaiting for the landlady Tracy to pick him up.
Eventually, she turned up and very kindly offered to give us a lift to the Tan Hill. She even offered us the use of the pub’s private shower facilities and tipped us off on potential wild camp spots nearby!
But we declined here offer and explained we were due to visit her pub the following day.
Some time later she dropped is off in what felt like the middle of nowhere for us to head off into the hills and wild camp. She persisted in taking us all the way to her pub but we politely declined nonetheless.
By this point the sky had become overcast and there was a real chill in the air. I took some more pain killers and we headed up near to our planned route to pitch for the night.
However, this proved problematic, too. We were unable to locate a tarn we were seeking and furthermore the winds were really picking up in chill and speed. After some a couple of hours wandering around the peaty moors we found a sheltered pitch with a trickle of a stream nearby for water.
It wasn’t long after pitching and a little port (Eion picked some up on the cheap in Richmond) that we settled down for the night. My sleep was a little restless due to the colder than normal temperatures and more so from my throbbing knee. I hoped it would heal somehow and be OK for the rest of the trip – otherwise we seriously considered giving up the whole adventure.
Leg Three – Brownsey Moor to Tan Hill Inn
8 miles and 1475 feet approx
But come the morning I felt reasonably well to walk and off we went. We headed back down Swaledale to pick up our route where we would’ve originally been setting off for the Tan Hill Inn. The ground was soft underfoot and not too rough so any negative effects on my injured knee were that great.
However, peculiarly after a few hours the pain subsided. It was still there and I did walk with a bit of a limp and gait but I could keep ploughing on and so after reaching the summit of Rogan’s Seat ( a bland and featureless place) we took a bee line for the Pennine Way and on to the pub.
We reached the Tan Hill Inn at around 3pm had a couple of pints and then wandered off on to the nearby moors to pitch for the night.
We found a nice sheltered spot out of the bitingly cold winds amongst some ruined mines. They were all overgrown now and only had rabbits for company.
We sat and recollected out trek so far and considered ourselves lucky given the weather an what I had been through. Sure, we were still sore and absolutely exhausted but we had made it to the Tan Hill – a real morale booster!
So, after some time we headed back to the pub to soak up it’s wonderful and unique atmosphere!
There happened to be a music festival on that weekend and the place was teeming with people from all corners of the UK. Campervans, tents, marquees with BBQ’s were dotted all around. I suspect most folk figured it would be another sunny May Bank Holiday – instead it was windy, cold and there were the odd flurries of snow.
Nonetheless we had a good time socialising with folk drinking the local ale and even had fun with the pub’s lambs! Tame and inquisitive they were! Very cute, mind but a bit of a pain when they wanted to munch on my rucksack (little did they know I had some Lamb Pilaf in there for the night)
The sun began to set over the distant hills and so we reluctantly made our way back to our tents for a good night’s kip – in truth Eion had to force me to leave the pub as I kept persisting in having “one more pint”.
Leg Four – Tan Hill Inn to Wild Boar Fell
19 miles and 2900 feet ascent approx
We slept well that night despite waking up to some snow – which soon melted from the rising sun – and again set off early out onto the moors aiming for Nine Standards Rigg.
The weather was superb this morning and so feeling stronger with our packs being a bit lighter we chose to make a bit of a detour to Nine Standards Rigg and go for a wander out on the moors. I admit this was a bit of dubious thing to do given our physical states but….I don’t know….we just did. It seemed a good idea at the time!
We walked over to Sleightholme Moor and then back (the right direction) to Kaber Fell and Burnber Edge all the while enjoying the sunshine and fine views over the Eden Valley to Cross Fell – we even discovered a very well kept shooting lodge that doubled-up as a bothy.
But on the approach to Nine Standards Rigg the going got rough and hard. Limbs started to feel weaker and morale started to sink again. We were concious that we planned to meet a friend in the village of Nateby in the Mallerstrang Valley. From there were going to head on up Wild Boar Fell to give a guiding hand on our friend’s first night in the outdoors.
However, upon reaching the summit of Nine Standards Rigg our spirits lifted higher than the clouds!!!
The views were stupendous!! We could now catch glimpses of the Irish Sea, the Howgills and the Lake District mountains!! We could’ve punched the air if we weren’t so tired but instead we effed and blinded and grinned from cheek to cheek.
It was only 90 mins from that point that we reached Nateby and met our friend in the village pub.
By this point we were now truly exhausted but a couple of pints and bags of pork scratchings later, some friendly banter with the locals and more we headed off to spend the rest of the day and night on higher ground.
We enjoyed a pleasant and very “English” walk in some limestone countryside on our way to Wild Boar Fell including passing by a Norman manor (we believe….though we could be wrong) called Wharton Hall.
Again, those layers of history were pushing through again on our walk and only added more interest to the lands around.
But once out on the open ground heading higher and higher we began to slow and slow, while Yuri our friend walked on up without a care in the world! His fresh legs and stamina were a bit of a killer to my weary body I have to admit. But seeing him walking up ahead kept me focused to the way forward.
And what a way forward it was. The Nab is a ridge cutting up to the summit plateau of Wild Boar Fell and though steep it gave a real sense of exhilaration and achievement. The views in all directions had opened up and gave insight into the varied landscapes around in this area.
The cliffs of Mallerstrang with the delightful Settle to Carlisle railway line down below – the distinctive peaks of Ingleborough and Whernside – the soft and gentle giants that are the Howgills and then on the horizon the craggy humps of rock that were the Lake District fells.
It was fantastic and there really are not enough superlatives to describe the view.
This in itself became an energy boost for myself and on we walked to explore the many strange and unique cairns that line the edges of the plateau.
With only a couple of hours to sunset, we made our way off the fell slightly to Sandy Tarn to pitch for the night. It’s a tarn that certainly lives up to it’s name! It even had a sandy beach! A helluva picnic spot eh?
Tents were soon pitched, water sourced, food ate and some wine on the go – and we enjoyed our first proper decent sunset on a wild camp of the trip.
It was brilliant and definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me.
The air was a little breezy and cold but the air was clear and the colours being thrown onto the surrounding hills by the sinking sun were quite simply a humbling joy to see.
But not long after twilight we headed to bed for the night. The next day was going to be the only so called “rest day” for me and Eion (7 miles). But given some extra mileage we wanted to make up and feeling that bit more stronger we decided on a longer and more challenging route.
We had planned to drop of Wild Boar Fell and then pitch on the Howgills. But instead we picked an alternative of which put our first two legs of the trip to shame – mentally and physically speaking….