To Robin Hood's Bay

Breakfast is excellent, the Edwardian dining room elegant. Six other Coast-to-Coasters have beaten me to it. They are picking off the route in long weekends. We exchange views about this and other walks, and we agree to look out for each other at the finish. I’ll be there first, despite my later start, because I’m riding to Littlebeck by taxi.

From yesterday’s end point, the way begins with an easy downhill plod to the woods, followed by a lovely stroll through dappled sunlight to the waterfall of Falling Foss. All that remains is to exit the valley, cross the moor, and finish along the cliffs. I’m impatient now, and when the ladies text me, saying they are on the beach, I know I’d better get my skates on!

The walk has one little sting in its tail: the moor is the muckiest stretch of all. It doesn’t matter, because the tide will be high and I can wash my legs at the finish. A short rest and a snack outside Hawsker, and then I’m marching through the caravan site, past shell suits and bull terriers, onto the cliff path.

There are crowds of people! The last time I saw so many walkers was on Haystacks. This time it’s families, not pensioners, making the most of a warm and sunny Saturday. I see no sign of other long-distance walkers, so there’s nobody I want to talk to, and anyway I’m building up to my customary sprint finish. A conversing group parts to let me through, and they give me an encouraging word. I feel like a marathon runner on the final straight. Now I’m into the outskirts of Robin Hood’s Bay and onto tarmac, trotting to the top of Bay Bank to sigh at the special view that has always been magic to me. This is why I’ve done the walk.

I hit the level ground by the bridge over the beck, trying to look cool and walking businesslike but not too quickly to the Wayfoot. My reception committee have secured sunny seats against the wall of the Bay Hotel, and as I take my last few steps to the water’s edge they advise that their sampling programme has shown that Theakstons is the best ale.

I stand by the sea for photographs as the waves gently swish across the concrete and stone setts. The headland of Ravenscar stands sentinel to the south. Visitors wander to the water’s edge, wrinkle their noses because the waves prevent access to the beach, and wonder what to do next. As for me, I’m in no doubt. I take a seat and shed my boots and socks; the sun dries my feet and fills me with a sense of wellbeing; the pleasant process of sinking a large number of pints begins. All feels right with the world.

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