We arrived at Robin Hood’s Bay around 4:30 p.m., just as black clouds were gathering overhead. The landlady at “The Villa” hurried us off for the ritual boot-dipping and pebble-dropping in the North Sea, but as we headed down the steep streets of this beautiful little seaside village the skies opened and the rain came down. We had left our packs at The Villa, so neither of us had rain gear (funny after all these days of carting it around with us); within moments we were drenched. When we got down to the bottom of the village, we found a very steep, slippery stone “slip” that gives access to the water; one of our guidebooks had advised against going down that way, warning of dire accidents and drownings, recommending instead continuing on to the beach. But by now it had started thundering and lightning, and I didn’t want to go on any further to the beach just around the bend. So Jimmy went down the slip and dipped his toes; I’ll wait till tomorrow–perhaps in that way postponing the “end.” Maybe I won’t dip my toes at all, so that the journey indeed does not conclude . . . . much better that way, I’d say.
On the way down the hill we ran into Rose and Ann, the two Australian sisters who had been with us last night at Intake Farm. Spontaneously I hugged Ann; we had talked about the Brontes and shared two wonderful meals with them at the Farm (bean cassoulet, chicken pot pie, cauliflower, potatoes, broccoli and cabbage, and “Pavlova” for dinner, all cooked by Judith; the usual breakfast array of cereals, fruit, porridge, eggs, etc.), and it felt as if I was meeting an old friend. But the rain was just beginning, so we quickly parted ways . . . .
Before leaving Intake Farm, I got to watch an amazing ritual–the herding of two bulls into a trailer, to be taken off to market. I had asked Judith yesterday about the cattle that we saw in a barn as we approached the farm; there had been a much larger group in the field. “Those are the bulls,” she told me. “Two of them are going tomorrow. We have to keep them apart because they are so dangerous.” In the morning, it took three men and a dog to corral the two bulls; the men had sticks and formed a line around the animals; Judith watched anxiously from near the house and I was mesmerized, looking down from our bedroom window. A cow had calved during the night. “One dead, one live,” Robert reported. “So we’re losing two and gaining one.”
The walk today was calm and quiet: down from the farm, through lush woods along Littlebeck and May Beck, back up onto a boggy moor where we actually managed to lose our way all while within sight of the sea and two busy roads. We ended up walking for what seemed an eternity along one of the roads until we reached Hawsker and found our way back to the path, rejoining the Cleveland Way along the cliffs. I wanted that part of our walk to last forever: the sun was out, the sea was sparkling, gulls cried above us; we could smell the salt air.
I noted earlier that Wainwright says he concluded this walk “with regret,” and I feel absolutely the same way. Here already? Done? No more miles to cover? It’s hard to believe that just a few days ago we were struggling up and down Cold Moor and Hasty Bank, that two weeks ago I was climbing up Loft Beck and Lining Crag. The only remaining challenge is to get to the Manchester Airport for my early morning flight back home on Thursday. I’m looking forward to my return home, and yet very sad that there are now more steps along this particular way. Time to find another one!