Well, it was at least five times up and five times down today: to Live Moor, Carlton Moor, Cringle Moor. Cold Moor (in a fierce south wind threatening to blow us off the escarpment), and finally Hasty Bank. The paths up were manageable, but the paths down were terrifying to me: again those stone “steps,” helpfully placed by trailmakers, but treacherous and slippery all the same–and, as always, astonishingly steep. I realized at some point that it was my fear as much as my physical limitations (the knees, the ankles) that made these descents so hard for me: the slightest misstep and I knew I could go tumbling. Jimmy danced on ahead of me as sure-footed as a goat, it seemed, while I struggled and sweated and shook with fear. Yet it was exhilarating each time I made it down or up.
At one point we took a wrong path up Hasty Bank (“only a genius could go wrong” Wainwright had written of the track today Hmm). The Cleveland Way, which we followed most of the day, is a well-travelled and very well-maintained path, almost a highway for walkers — with large stones establishing a wide easy alley. But as we approached the Wainstones at the top of Hasty Bank, a narrow dirt path led off along the embankment on the left. Jimmy thought it was the way, and I followed; but it quickly became clear that this was not at all the “Way.”
What to do? We were out on a very narrow, slippery mud ledge. Jim scrambled up the steep bank and saw the true “Way” at the top. He suggested I walk back as we had come. But I was too terrified to even turn around. So with Jim giving me courage, I more or less crawled forward and up on my hands and knees, grasping onto tufts of grass and heather to steady myself. Once at the top, I began to breathe again: it was thrilling to be there, and the beauty of the ridge was extraordinary.
We were walking along the very northernmost edge of the North York Moors. To our left was a steep drop down into another wide, flat valley leading east to the sea. Although rain had been promised for the entire day, we managed to avoid a thorough soaking; it was raining lightly when we left Ingleby Arncliffe, but it cleared just as finished the climb onto Live Moor: we were greeted by magical views and the sweet scent of heather in bloom. A completely different world opened to us as we left the forest through which we had made the initial ascent: we could see in all directions; the wind was wild and free; the air was fresh and magical. We both had huge grins on our faces as we walked around in wonder.
The rain came back in spurts, but nothing really drenching like two days ago. Low grey clouds flew over us, moving quickly from south to north. At moments the sun emerged and created even more beauty.
David Wray of Dromonby Bridge B&B picked us up at Clay Bank Top (where a road intersects the Cleveland Way), and whisked us to the Black Swan in Kirkby, where we had a quick meal (soup, tuna, vegetables, potatoes); he then brought us to his huge Victorian house where we are in a large room with high ceilings and lovely old paintings on the walls. Astonishing. I’m looking forward to exploring the house and grounds a bit in the morning and to continuing our journey up on the moors. Only nine miles tomorrow (and only one major ascent), to the Lion Inn on Blakey Ridge, the highest point on the North York Moors!