Coast to Coast part 2: a bit owchier

In part 1, I had a lovely time joined with lots of lovely people and had lots of tasty food. I was running really well through the Vale of Mowbray (the flat bit) at the end of day four and my legs felt great…

Fairly suddenly, my lower right quad sort of seized up with an accompanying Big Pain – as if someone was gripping my leg above my knee very very tightly. Stretching the quad did absolutely nothing and my yelps of pain made me conclude it was Walking Time. I was gutted – it would take almost double the expected time til the end of the day, longer til I saw Sam and could stop! So the first Sad Tears and swearing began, albeit whilst keeping quite a stomp on because I reeeeally wanted it to be over soon. We couldn’t do anything with massage/lying in a layby waving my leg about in the air. It wasn’t all painful darkness though; I saw a grey lump in the middle of the road, which then escaped into a tree. “A little owl?” I suggested as a pigeon flew out of the same tree, but when we drew level with the branch, we did see a Little Owl, who seemed to look us up and down, checking we were ok, then disappeared into its hole.

Andy knew how to cheer me up; rapping and singing along to Hamilton was a great distraction (“I am not throwing away my shot” was appropriate: cue determined tears) and we were still ticking off the miles, soon passing Danby Wiske (the lowest point on the route away from the seas). A last-minute change of route to Lovesome Hill (overnight stop) caused me to laugh at the ridiculousness of how overgrown the path was, and how uncomfortably uneven the fields were, then we saw my parents and Sam coming towards us. The end was in sight! And they’d brought my poles!

A super painful massage gun session and a shower alternating hot and cold later, I was almost walking normally. Surprisingly having to go outside and down some stairs to the toilet wasn’t too bad twice in the night! The next day was shorter so the first sort-of lie in.

Day 5: One day more

Lovesome Hill-Lion Inn (Blakey Ridge)

45km, 1240m climb

Birds: millions of dinosaurs (pheasants),

six circly red kites, possibly a yellowhammer

Pacers: Sam (second ever run together),

Andy, Mum and Dad

Last bit of flat road (sorry Sam) in the morning, mainly walked it with poles, but there was a surprise for her – was crossing my fingers it’d still be there. “Are we at Wray House yet?” So glad it was still there, dubbed “the best ever stile”, it’s a Halloween themed fence crossing complete with sound effects. The level crossing was pretty exciting too and we even got to see a train after we crossed.

I really didn’t want to eat any more but Sam outdid herself bringing new and interesting snacks: highlights include vegan macaroons and tiny jammy dodgers. She also introduced the rule of “you can have paracetamol when you’ve had food and a drink” (in fairness I’d not needed/wanted paracetamol until that point!). It was a very good day to have someone with me that’s known me for so long – Sam cheerfully explained to Caitlin the next day that we’ve had several near death experiences together, and she was there on both my mountain rescue incidents! Buying a packet of skips at the petrol station had always been part of my game plan; the queue for the toilet was worth it was well. Crossing the A19 marked the most dangerous part of the journey and the end of the boring flat/Vale of Mowbray.

Andy was waiting for us in Ingleby Cross where we replenished water, then it was time for the stomp up the forest track into the Cleveland Hills. There was an alarming amount of pheasants, who seemed to want to be chased up the hill, and we sang the Jurassic Park themetune a lot. Saw my first person with a big rucksack for a long time and a sad inaccessible trig before the woods cleared for a lovely view of the North York Moors plateau.

I’d definitely simplified the route in my head – didn’t remember that many ups and downs, and it was a strange reversal of my usual preferences: ups were great and fast, downs were slow and painful, bit limpy and sidesteppy on the steep ones. Andy ran with us for a little bit, I was able to pick up the pace on the flat and the ups now, which came in handy when there were lots of big horrible flies on one of the summits: head down, run as fast as you can. The views were still stunning though: lovely to see it with the vibrant heather, and we even had a little feast of bilberries! Sam was very good at distracting me from the owchy (and the increasing frustration of slow descents), we talked future plans and reminisced about our mountaineering days.

Mum and Dad met us a couple of hills away from Clay Bank Top where the car was. As I efficiently sidestepped down some steep steps I heard the first “Aren’t you supposed to be running?” from another C2Cer who’d been talking to my parents. PSA: never ever say this to a runner if you don’t want the runner to moan about you for the next mile or more!! There were definitely more descents than I would have liked but we made it to the van, where we discovered the magic concoction of deep heat and ibuprofen gel, which actually managed to relax my still-very-tight quad. I felt really great from then, dragging Mum and Dad up the next climb (having caught up after Dad was having a terrible time with his new exploding shoes) and soon leaving them behind.

It was all flat from there: Sam did a wee detour to a trigpoint and we had a strong Les Mis singsong, at one point getting our running and breathing so in sync that we were huffing/sighing at the same time and realised we needed a little walk! The old railway track went a lot quicker than I remembered and we were quite jolly when overtaking some coast to coasters trudging towards the Lion Inn. Different degrees of chattiness/cheerfulness from each party: one had done C2C in 7 days and got a bit competitive, asking us our marathon PBs?! We were with the cheeriest of parties when we saw six red kites all circling quite close, some below us in the valley.

Andy met us at the pub, laid in wait in the heather – it was weird being in the car for the first time in a few days – Les Mis’ “One Day More” blasting through the speakers…

We stayed in Guisborough in a lovely town house and had more delicious foods, which my stomach didn’t complain about too much. I proudly showed everyone how I could go up and down the stairs “like a normal person” and removed twelve pieces of KT in the shower. Dad showed me a message from Damian Hall saying “make sure she doesn’t get too leany”.

Day 6: completed it

Lion Inn-Robin Hood’s Bay

46km, 859m climb (basically downhill)

Bird: grey wagtail

Pacers: Sam, Caitlin, Mum, Dad, Andy

Contemplating taking an extra layer for day 6

After what felt (to me?) like some complex logistics planning in the evening, Andy drove Sam and me to meet Caitlin at the Lion Inn in the morning. I was pretty coated in KT by this point, including on my knee, and Caitlin brought the requested more deep heat and ibuprofen gel! She also had more tasty snacks obv and I got a bit teary seeing her – she was so excited, we’ve done so much fun long stuff together, plus the plan since 2019 has been for her to do the last section with me, so her presence was also symbolic!

The friendly C2Cers left the Lion Inn at the same time as us which was nice. We went past a couple more on the road section, and missed some when going the “tortuous” way (calm down Martin Wainwright, it’s just a bit of bog), and had a lovely trot (running was ok still! Hurrah!) and chat along more flat than I remembered, round the lovely Great Fryupdale (Sam had done her homework on the origins of the name, bravo). We also missed a turning because I was so sure it wasn’t right (aha should have heeded Mum’s warning not to fully trust me!), not a big detour. At the top we got our first glimpse of the suggestion of Whitby Abbey, and therefore, the coast!!

The descent wasn’t completely plain sailing, bit owchy, and the others were more than happy to take a few walking breaks (another small trigpoint detour for Sam!) but we made really good progress into Glaisdale, where Andy was waiting with supplies and we said goodbye to Sam.

I got a bit giddy showing off, sprinting up some steps out of Glaisdale then paid for it immediately, but we kept up a great pace heading out of Egton Bridge – bit more walking now, so the perfect opportunity to do Fran’s homework: the Six Days of Coast to Coast:

On the first day of coast to coast, Wainwright gave to me: a small shiny pebble from Saint Bees

On the second day of coast to coast, Wainwright gave to me: ooh Kidsty Pike and a small shiny pebble from Saint Bees

On the third day of coast to coast, Wainwright gave to me: lots of gossip, ooh Kidsty Pike and a small shiny pebble from Saint Bees

On the fourth day of coast to coast, Wainwright gave to me: moderate quad pain, lots of gossip, ooh Kidsty Pike and a small shiny pebble from Saint Bees

On the fifth day of coast to coast, Wainwright gave to me: tasty bilberries, moderate quad pain, lots of gossip, ooh Kidsty Pike and a small shiny pebble from Saint Bees

The climb out of Grosmont was just as long and steep as I recalled from the recce, but I only counted two benches of the remembered five, and succeeded in not sitting on any of them! (Beware the chair…) At the top we saw Whitby Abbey properly (“I CAN SEE THE SEA!”), had a lovely short path across the moor then had to run along the left verge of a busy road for a bit. I said I was feeling a bit wobbly then Caitlin was relieved when I got her to run on my right! The descent into Littlebeck wasn’t as steep as I remembered, though I didn’t sprint it. The woods were gorgeous, though it dragged a little as we were due to meet Mum and Dad. Some people asked us directions and didn’t bat an eyelid when Caitlin told them I’d run 170 miles; they were more concerned that they’d walked several miles in the wrong direction.

Mum and Dad fortuitously met us just as I was deciding which path to take, meaning they got to see the Hermitage, and we went through the throng of tourists at Falling Foss together. Soon we were at the van, where I demolished some vegan jerky and cola while Caitlin made her infamous “shit trail mix” (Andy’s words) with a bit of everything including rainbow drops, mini pretzels and various sweets. Final application of magic creams and we were off! I was buzzing.

Foot faff: perfect time for a photo

The next section, a bit of a country road onto some moorland then a few houses leading into Hawsker, felt a lot longer than I remembered, but I kept reminding myself it would all be over very soon. Some loud smelly motorbikes plagued us for a little while and it was somewhere around there that my right ankle decided it had had enough. Andy met us in High Hawsker which meant that it was only about 3 miles left!! We passed a sign that said Robin Hood’s Bay was only 2.5 miles along the road, but of course we had to take Wainwright’s scenic route along the coast.

The last few bits are a bit hazy… Andy took my bag and I changed into a vest which felt like absolute luxury. I felt less injured than I had on the recce (same damn ankle – in Jan 2020’s picture you can see me favouring that side), it was sunny, Mum and Dad appeared with more goodwill messages, I ran plenty and we saw a few walkers.

We rounded the corner into the town and I braced myself for the steepest hill in the world (even steeper than Grosmont), but the adrenaline was very high. Our watches thought it was over at the roundabout but I absolutely pegged it all the way down to the sea, braking as it looked hella slippy. The overwhelming emotion as I dipped my toe, and then our pebbles, was disbelief – and still is, a couple of weeks on.

Lakeland 100 was always my big impressive thing that I’ve done, that I was so proud of, that I worked hard for and secretly sometimes wonder if it was a fluke. It’s nice to have another one now.

(Update: my quad, ankle and knee were absolutely fine once I stopped, and I’ve since seen a physio who says there’s no lasting damage, phew! Time to get stronger!)

On the last day of coast to coast, Wainwright gave to me: a downhill sprint, tasty bilberries, moderate quad pain, lots of gossip, ooh Kidsty Pike and a small shiny pebble from Saint Bees

Thank you so so much to everyone who ran with me, fed me, sponsored me and believed in me, especially when I wasn’t so sure. I feel so lucky to have such wonderful people around me, and hope I can repay the favours. What a great holiday! It went so much better and smoother than I could ever have hoped for – I’m sure that Wainwright, who ostensibly wasn’t a fan of rushing or women walkers, definitely wouldn’t have approved.

Days: 6

Distance: 302km/187.6 miles (Wainwright said

190)

Elevation: 8344m/27,375ft

Runners: 14

Vehicles: 2

Air BnBs: 3

Wild swims: 2

Bags of crisps: approx 20

Tubs of peach ice tea drink: 1.5

National parks: 3

Blisters: 0

Standards: 9

Owls seen: 2

Songs created: 1

Falls: 0

Coasts run between: 2

Thanks for reading! There are more tales of my ultras on this site so have a look around. If you feel so inclined, my donation page is still live and the link is here.

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