Coast to Coast: The hilarious and amazing adventures of Glenton Palmer General Manager, Lisa Palmer (aka The Wife), her significant other, Andy and their intrepid hounds, Meg and Fizz!
By Andy Palmer
England’s Coast to Coast is one of the world’s greatest long distance walks and was created by Alfred Wainwright. The route takes in two coasts, three national parks and two hundred miles of footpaths. The brave walkers enjoy a special camaraderie with their fellow ramblers as they eat up the miles whilst feasting their eyes on chocolate box panoramas of lakes and mountains, picture postcard villages, rolling fields and, of course, welcoming pubs. Here’s how me and The Wife got on...
Friday 16 June: D Day minus one - the adventure begins, sort of…
Arrived at the quaint little village of St Bees, Cumbria with The Wife, Lisa and our faithful mutts, Meg and Fizz then checked into nice accommodation close to the hub of the town. I say town but, to be truthful, I mean the two pubs that were not just open but heaving! Here we enjoyed some lively banter with a raucous rugby team along with a refreshment or two then got talking to couples who had flown all the way from Perth, Australia and Philadelphia, USA to take part in the coast to coast walk. Just a perfect day, it can't last!
Saturday 17 June: Day One – St Bees to Ennerdale (15 miles)
Hiking boots tightly secured, dogs bouncing with excitement, then a cracking day’s walking - cool and overcast to start with then a nice breeze while we tabbed along the high cliffs of the headland. Turned East and inland towards the sparkling Lakes. Weather got better so we stopped to eat lunch and watch a little cricket. This is the life. Afterwards, time to head for the hills, tackling a decent climb with an even steeper descent. Simply stunning views were a fitting reward for our efforts. Bumped into fellow walkers from all over the world - New Zealand, Australia, Netherlands, even a bloke from Sunderland! Oh, and a good looking, single young lady from Southern California… Walked into Ennerdale with the sun blazing so into first beer garden for a cold one as we cooled our feet in the beck. Fantastic first day, will the rest be the same?
Sunday 18 June: Day Two, Ennerdale to Rosthwaite (15 miles)
Ever so slightly more of a challenge today as the initial excitement had waned a little only to be replaced with a nagging reality of the miles ahead! Still, we had a nice start strolling around the edge of Ennerdale water, then onwards through the forest trail to Black Sail Hut - the most remote youth Hostel in U.K. Route was long and hot so decided against going up Red Pike as The Wife didn't fancy it and put her foot down firmly. Had to do my knight in shining armour charging after the American lass who set off on completely the wrong track straight onto a 2000ft accent. Apparently, she doesn't like map reading...bless. As the sun blazed, Lisa and I worked up a right sweat as we headed towards Honister slate mine then the Lakeland town of Rosthwaite and to our hotel. Bodies feeling the strain today and even a little sunburnt (not complaining!) Early tea and a couple of pints then straight to bed. Shorter day tomorrow, heading to Grasmere, not far, distance wise, but a decent climb! Going up isn't too bad, coming down is, as The Wife puts it "sh*t!” Dogs are loving the adventure and don't make a murmur once we've stopped for the night.
Monday 19 June: Day Three, Rosthwaite to Grasmere (10 Miles)
Set off feeling a lot better after we’d decided to massage each other's feet last night (Good call). Was a little worried about Meg as she started to limp a little, but think it was just walking on dodgy stones. Once we got onto the trail she was fine and bounding along. We powered upwards to Lining Crag, a steep incline of 2000ft which certainly gave the muscles a workout! Impressive Eagle Crag loomed over us on the way up. Once at the top, we took in the beautiful vistas back down to Rosthwaite before continuing to Greenup Edge Pass. Bit random, but the view changed somewhat as a bloke came walking down the hill with absolutely no clothes on. The Wife needed a moment. The shock played havoc with my compass and we went slightly off course, waded through a few bogs but then we were back on track. Anyway, we had two options for our route down the valley to Grasmere – easy or hard. I said to The Wife, "Well, we’re on a similar level to the hard route down, so let's give that a go." So, off we trekked, across Calf Crag, Pike of Carrs, Moment Crag and Gibson Knott then down to Grasmere. Well, Lisa Palmer went off her rocker half way! Seriously not happy and nearly fell over her bottom lip a couple of times. To add to the woes it was very hot and not ideal for the dogs as no streams for them to cool down so had to push on and get them – and The Wife down. Got into Grasmere and checked into our hotel for tonight. Once The Wife could sulk no more, we ended up having a drink with Southern California lass who had cheated and got a taxi! How could she? Chilled watching the sun go down. Onwards to Patterdale tomorrow which should be an easier, shorter day...
Tuesday 20 June: Day Four, Grasmere to Patterdale (9 miles)
Set off a little later than usual as only doing nine miles. Although short there was still a 2000 foot climb up along Great Tongue to Grisedale Tarn. Weather overcast at start and cool which was nice, however the low cloud covering took away the option of walking over Helvellyn and Striding Edge. I must say that The Wife took a sudden interest in map reading at this point and declared through gritted teeth: "If you take me over there, it will be a flippin divorce.” I did get the impression she meant it. Anyway, we headed down the valley and weather got warmer. Arrived at hotel in good time to wash clothes although The Wife hanging a bra straight above the entrance to hotel looked a little odd. Got news of the Aussie couple we met on the first night. The woman had fallen and broke her ankle triggering a mountain rescue and is now awaiting surgery in Carlisle. Bed early tonight as big day tomorrow - about seventeen miles but with a 2500ft climb straight away to get the lungs and legs screaming. The weather is about to turn though, which is worrying as tomorrow is National Naked Hike day – hoping to avoid frostbite on any extremities that might be exposed.
Wednesday 21 June: Day Five, Patterdale to Shap (12 miles)
CASUALTY! Sadly, Meg has had to retire from the adventure. In spite of massaging the dogs’ paws every night, Meg is starting to struggle. Called my dad to come and collect her - going to miss her. Heavy thunder storm and chucking it down while having breakfast but as we stepped out it stopped although still gloomy clouds. Decided against the naked hike due to trip hazard concerns... Straight from the off, a long climb to Angle Tarn - about 1500ft -then we headed up to Kidsty Pike which just seemed to keep going up forever to 2500ft. Covered in cloud at the top so a little nippy but cooled us down after the climb. We then headed down to Kidsty Howes and Haweswater Reservoir. NOW THAT DID BURN THE OLD LEGS! At Burnbanks, weather was hot. We found a young lad called Thomas had set up an honesty box fully stocked with ice cold cans of pop, chocolate bars and other little gems. I could have kissed him! Met a bloke called Donny from Arizona US and walked the last six miles with him. He used to be US Army so we had a natter... said he was in the "Intelligence Battalion" REALLY? He was doing the walk in a pair of dodgy trainers and ankle socks! Nothing intelligent there, son! His feet were hurting so I said stop, put them in the river for five minutes and we'll have a look. He had blisters on his blisters and most were bleeding... silly man! Anyway gave him some plasters. Good, but hard today, tomorrow's a steady one as we head out of the lakes.
Thursday 22 June: Day Six, Shap to Orton (8 miles)
Been sort of a rest day - nice rolling hills instead of steep inclines. Bumped into Pete from Wolverhampton, 76 years young and doing the Coast to Coast for the second time! Arrived in Orton pretty early so we had lunch on the village bench then went to the chocolate factory for a coffee. Naturally, The Wife had to try the caramel & honeycomb ice cream. Still early, so had to go to the village pub so I could try Wainwrights real ale. Saying at Primrose Cottage, a fantastic place where the owners Jim & Tina love dogs. They asked if we wanted to leave Fizz so she could rest her paws (nothing wrong, just precaution). We did but then came back to digs and found that Vicky their daughter had been pampering Fizz all day! Rang home and nurses Ashley & Leah Palmer (our daughters) have been spoiling Meg and she seems to be fine and dandy now (think Meg is a drama queen)! Getting ready to go to pub when The wife says "’ere look what I've done with my Toffee Vodka - mixed it with apple juice and made Toffee Apple Vodka!"
Friday 23 June: Day Seven, Orton to Kirkby Stephen (15 miles)
Shocking weather but nearly half-way now - and we’re in Yorkshire! Rain was coming sideways and boy did it soak us through... had all the wet weather gear on but you get just as wet from the inside out with sweat. Still, we have to embrace and enjoy whatever the adventure throws at us. Nonetheless, The wife lost it a little today... a hissy fit started and boy, did Lisa come out with a belter!
"This Alfred Wainwright fella must have been drunk when he walked this route,” says The Wife.
"Why's that, pet?" I ask.
"Because he never seems to walk in a straight line - we are walking all over the place!"
Saturday 24 June: Day Eight, Kirkby Stephen To Keld (15 miles)
A steady climb, up 2250 feet to Nine Standings. Stayed dry but very cold on top, probably down to about two degrees! Fizz was having a ball but The Wife got tetchy and said can't we get the train home from Kirkby Stephen. I promised her a Prosecco and all was well. First time had to use GPS as the route was virtually non-existent. Had a bit of a natter with The Wife smugly saying that my feet were dry today. Two minutes later and I was up to my knees sunk in a bog! Lisa just stood laughing her head off and could offer no assistance due to involuntary snorting. Made it to Keld then sat in the hotel bar sharing a bottle of Rioja - here's to tomorrow!
Sunday 25 June: Day Nine, Keld to Reeth (15 miles)
Weather turned into a scorcher and got a little sunburn! Joined the Pennine Way for a short time and then up to Gunnerside Moor - really interesting as it was a 19th century lead mining area and the old building with equipment was just left. On to Melbecks Moor and a long walk towards Reeth with cracking scenery as we dropped into the valley to walk along the River Swale. Entered Reeth to a brass band playing on the village green which was uplifting and nostalgic. Similar walk tomorrow to Richmond but not so high so should be a pleasant section.
Monday 26 June: Day Ten, Reeth to Richmond ( 13 miles)
I had to download Steve Wrights Sunday Love Songs today which The Wife listens to every week – no signal yesterday while on the Moors. I had written in a few weeks ago asking for a request, hoping to be lucky enough to get a shout “on't wireless”! Well, half way through a field it came on and her face lit up – The Wife was chuffed to bits so a very agreeable walk to Richmond - a fortified market town built around a castle. We arrived with plenty of time to have a mooch about. Weather great again and while sat on the green with The Wife applying sun cream, she turns to me and says, "Oh, this smells like being on holiday!"
So I reply, “We are on holiday?”
"Yeah, but I mean a proper holiday with sun beds."
Tuesday 27 June: Day Eleven, Richmond to Danby Wiske. (15 mile)
Weather was poor at start of day and continued until just after midday. Walked through woodland breathing in the fantastic smell of wild garlic then had to take a detour due to road works but it was good to cross at Catterick race course heading into the Cleveland Hills and Yorkshire Moors! Five miles down country roads however took its toll and I suffered first blister so paused to sort before it got worse. Arrived in tiny village and early to bed. Steady ten mile tomorrow so like a rest day. Meeting our daughters, Ashley and Leah, which will be lovely as missed them both - and they’re bringing Meg back to finish the walk with us. Fizz will be thrilled!
Wednesday 28 June: Day Twelve, Danby Wiske to Ingleby Cross (11 miles)
Breakfast came in on a little hostess trolley from the 1960s – how quaint! Then it was eleven miles of rain...not what The Wife had in mind when we booked up. Probably got an hour into the walk and even before coffee time Lisa is saying, “I'm going to have a pint of lager & lime at the pub!” Anyway she did, and a large white wine oh and then a bottle of red – only because we couldn't check in until 4pm, you understand. Just waiting for Ashley and Leah bringing Meg then we’re all going out for dinner. Longer day tomorrow, hope the rain holds off.
Thursday 29 June: Day Thirteen, Ingleby Cross to Clay Bank (14 miles)
Left this morning all chipper and chilled, waving the girls off, as the rain waned slightly. Headed up a very long steep drag to Scarth Wood Moor. Started getting foggy as we went higher, not just your ordinary fog, thick as "pea soup" and very wet so soaking from the outset! Across to Carlton moor, where the map and book says "fantastic views of Middlesbrough and the North Sea?" Then onwards to Cringle Moor & Kirby bank, up Wain Stones and eventually to Clay Bank again fantastic views? All day we couldn’t see as far as thirty yards. Heavy, wet fog, hills, HILLS & more hills with no view. There have been tears and tantrums today, but that's just me. The question was asked "why on Earth are we doing this?" But after a few hugs and some positivity we cracked on and finished the leg. The Wife's photo at the end says it all!
Friday 30 June: Day Fourteen, Clay Bank to Glaisdale, (20 miles)
Twenty miles of fog! Met Office said it was going to clear. IT DIDN'T! More rotten weather with zero visibility, only bonus being a lot less hills. Penultimate day though. My feet are in bits, the foot treatment had been going okay but last couple of days took its toll. Lisa is fine, must be all the piggy backs I'm doing. Steep climb to begin but then stayed on top. Had to keep dogs on the lead as late nesting season for the grouse on the moors. We stopped half way at a pub in the middle of the moors to try and get dry and a drink. First time I’ve ever ordered COFFEE in a pub. The Wife didn't let the side down though, opting for an Irish coffee! Headed off again into the mist checking map and compass, stopped at a sort of trig point called "Fat Betty's". Tradition says you have to leave a food offering and then take one. I left a fresh banana and took an apple that someone had left. Lots of road and track work which isn't good, you can feel every stone and knocks lumps out of your feet! Struggling these last couple of days, it’s starting to take its toll. The Wife is knackered and requested bed early. Dogs too, were spooning in the lounge. Made a mental note to have a word with the person who said it would be easy. Still, final day tomorrow so nothing going to stop the push. A few friends and family are meeting us tomorrow at Falling Foss to do the last few miles with us which will be wonderful. Hopefully weather will pick up for the last twenty-two miles of this fantastic, epic trip!
Saturday 1st July: Day 15, Glaisdale to Robin Hoods Bay (22 miles)
Well the last day arrived and the weather was cracking. Started from Glaisdale to Robin Hoods Bay. The Wife and I got a trot on climbing out of Grosmont, heading to Falling Foss tea gardens where we were met by a posse of friends to finish the last ten miles with us. The feet were giving some serious grief now, but we ploughed on and finished our marathon around 5pm. Time to chill, play ball with the dogs, celebrate with a few beers. Don't know what our next adventure is going to be? But for now, it’s OVER & OUT!