Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Europe Diagonal: Great Britain Coast to Coast

The European long-distance path E8 continues through Great Britain as the Transpennine Way. When I had a close look at this trail preparing this trip I discovered that this is not a very scenic route. Always close to civilization and mostly on concrete. Therefore I decided to hike Wainwright's Coast to Coast instead which is a bit further north but the exact same length. Right from the start this turned out to be the right decision. After a hearty  English breakfast in a traditional B&B I started with a walk along spectacular coastline - alas in rainy weather. The couple in the picture could not believe that I was camping: "Your backpack is so much smaller than ours and we don't camp!" Well, they had not heard about ultralight backpacking yet.

This mostly unmarked trail then continued through the Lake District, a real gem! Despite a lot of rain this stretch was a real highlight and I could not take enough pictures. Unfortunately, in on of the most beautiful places I got so soaked in a cloud burst that I could hardly take any pictures any more. The touchscreen of my smartphone was wet and I did not have any dry cloth to clean it. Plus my fingers were so wet and frozen ... It was still a wonderful day despite the fact that I had to put on soaking wet and cold clothes the following morning. I rewarded myself with a breakfast of champions outside the little supermarket in Grasmere and ate an entire package of chocolate trifle.

Idyllic campsite with unexpected visitors
One night I arrived at a spectacular lake with no one else around. Apparantly this was a popular campsite and as wild camping is usually tolerated in this National Park I set up my tent at this fantastic site despite the fact that there was goose shit all around. I soon regretted this: In the middle of the night I heard some crackling noises right outside my tent and I just see some small animal runnig away. Closer inspection revealed that a fox had dragged a bag of nachos and my trash bag out of the front pocket of my backpack! It was too dark to see what had happened to both but in the morning I had to collect empty wrappers and used toilet paper that was lying around. The nachos of course were completely gone ... A British friend told me later that something similar had happened to him at the exact same spot.

After a sort of connecting day I was in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and had reached the Pennines. More spectacular scenery, a lot of sheep and cattle - but unfortunately only chocolate brown drinking water that slightly tasted of iron but looked colorwise like peach ice tea. There were a lot of industrial remnants in this area which was a mining centre in the 18th and 19th  century. What looks almost like wilderness now was a busy industrial area once. Coast to Coast (C2C) is a popular trail and I came across several churches that offered drinks and snacks at cost price for hikers and there was even some trail magic boxes along the way. Very welcome in the rainy weather!

Drinking chocolate brown swamp water
One morning I was shocked to discover that my charging cable was gone with my phone only 20% charged up! A horror scenario for me whose smartphone is my backup navigational device. I found it half an hour later when packing 10 metres away. It had fallen out of my backpack when setting up the tent in the dark. I had my one and only rest day on the C2C in Richmond where I had booked myself into a rather posh B&B. The owner's husband was more than delighted by German native speaker because he had been forced to apply for a German tax number and could not figure out the application form. I ended up spending almost two hours translating and explaining it to him ... He rewarded my with a very substantial discount on the room price ...

Paragliders in the North York Moors
After another connecting day I arrived at North York Moors National Park where paragliders were taking advantage of the nice weather - which unfortunately turned very bad the next day. In fact so bad, that a lady walking her dog told me that even her dog did not want to go outside this day. I desperately tried to find some kind of accommodation for that night but every place I called was already fully booked. I was so distressed that I even went into a pub and ordered a cup of tea and something to eat. I was the first customer of the day and my backback left a huge puddle on the floor. Eventually I managed to find a room, but the landlady asked me: "When does your luggage arrive?" I had visions of my backpack walking on its own, but she just referred to the fact that most hikers have their luggage transported for them by commercial providers.

The place turned out to be a palace but unfortunately a very dusty one. She only rents out rooms occassionally and therefore the room really smelled as old as the house was. At least weather was a bit better on my last day when I reached the coast at Robin Hood's Bay. I had just reached the little village when I saw the bus rounding the corner - and even caught it. Therefore my hike on the C2C ended kind of abruptly ... Before I left Britain I met up with Colin, an old hiking friend of mine who gave me some new hiking ideas - as if I did not have enough of them already .... Then I had to return to Germany for a brief stint as a best woman at my best friend's wedding before resuming my hike.

Coast to Coast was the real highlight of this hike and I can highly recommend it!!!! I had hiked across Britain before from John O'Groats to Land's End and had not liked it a lot. With that experience I did not have high expectations for the Coast to Coast but I was literally overwhelmed by how great it was. One of the big advantages of the C2C is how easy wild camping is!!! It is tolerated in the three national parks and wasn't a problem in the connecting stretches in between. Although C2C is a popular trail I did not meet a lot of other hikers probably due to the fact that I had started on a Monday and mostly camped wheras most hikers stay in town.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

(Und an Österreich arbeite ich auch noch ...)
Danke Kommst ja Quer 2020 durch Österreich

Erich M.