Saturday, 11 April 2015

Hiking the - Cleveland Way Day 1

The Cleveland Way
The Cleveland Way is a national trail based in Yorkshire, England. It is 110 miles or 177 km in length running from Helmsley to Filey whilst following the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors.

Basic Facts:
Distance: 110 miles or 177 km
Officially opened: 24th of May 1969
Located in North Yorkshire, England
Highest Point: Urra Moor, 1,489 ft (454 m)
Lowest Point: Sea level
Trailer Markers: Acorn
The second National Trail to be opened in England and Wales.
Speed Record: The fastest official completion time is 21 hours and 3 minutes, set by Neil Ridsdale on 25th September 2010 as part of the Hardmoors 110 Ultrarun.
Trail Passport: collect stamps along the way to send off for a certificate

It was originally proposed in the 1930s when the Teesside Ramblers Association desired a long distance path in the north-east of Yorkshire. So in 1953 a formal proposal for the route was sent to the North Riding of Yorkshire Council by the National Parks Commission. Under 20 years later the plans were fulfilled and the trail was opened officially on the 24th of May in 1969.

Follow the Acorn!
So in preparation for the Pacific Crest Trail (a long distance trail in America starting at the Mexican border and ending at the Canadian border with a total milage of 2650 miles!) I decided I’d tackle a more local trail to see how my feet and I took to thru-hiking. I prayed I do well as I’d already paid for my American Visa and had my interview on the 6th of May, only 2 weeks away. If all goes well then I would book a flight to the West Coast and get walking. That was a tad late considering people start hiking around the 26th of April but I was bright eyed and optimistic and thought nothing of starting 3 week after the crowd.

A long-distance hike as known as a thru-hike is defined as taking longer than a day to complete and usually being at least 31 miles or 50 km.
151 long-distance hikes exist in America & 16 long distance footpaths in England and Wales; these are defined by being maintained by the National Trust. Another 26 trails are registered in Scotland.  
Back in the UK thru-hiking isn’t as popular as in America since 1. we are a very small country and 2. wild camping is illegal in England and Wales so people normally choose to stay at B&Bs and use a day pack rather than carry everything as they go. My aim was to hike 20 miles a day and carry everything I would need on my back hoping it would prepare me to hike the PCT in three weeks time….

Starting Location
Ending Location
Day 0
Helmsley  >>
Spring Bank Wood
Day 1
Spring Bank Wood >>
Over Silton Moor
Day 2
Campsite 02 >>
Kildale Train Station
Day 3
Kildale Train Station >>
Train Track by Sea
Day 4
Train Track by Sea >>
Outside Whitby
Day 5
Outside Whitby >>
Day 6
Scarborough >>


The Beginning - 1.89mi or 3.04km
Helmsley >> Spring Bank Wood
Helmsley Castle

I’d spent days researching, planning and collecting all the items I would need for my next endeavour. I made an extensive map using google maps plotting the trail, campsites, their prices, places we could buy food, pubs, points of interest and so on. Having done my Duke of Edinburgh's (DOE) all the way up Gold level I felt reasonably confident that I would be able to make my way around the Cleveland Way and follow it up with the Wolds Way - a further 80 miles to Hessle. I’d attempted the Wolds Way with little planning the year before with my brother and his girlfriend who had not done any expedition hiking and we called it a day after walking 23 miles in a day.  Absolutely determined not to let that happen again I mapped out the route, lightened my pack and started off with a new hiking partner. I asked my friend Joe if he fancied A Walk in the Woods of our own. He’d also completed his DOE so I felt confident that I could rely on his walking skill and knowledge of map reading. Two brains are better than one ay?

We’d chosen to complete the trail in 6 days meaning we’d have to cover 21.6 miles a day. We gave ourselves a slight lead hiking 2 miles the eve of our trip but walking almost 22 miles from the get-go was still a challenge.  

My brother, Tom and his girlfriend had kindly offered to drive us to the start - Helmsley. We’d chosen to have all have a little walk around Helmsley castle and have a pub meal together as a mini send off. So after buying our food, double checking our gear we piled into Tom’s car and off we went. For the moment the weather looked to be in our favour - light winds, no rain, pleasantly mild for April which pleased me and my - one season sleeping bag. I wanted to be as lightweight as possible and was fond my sleeping bag having used it for several ventures above and below ground. I was however slightly foolish to think that it would be warm enough to use in April in England. Pulling up in Helmsley we headed to the castle. Sadly they didn’t have the trail passport, which offers a 25% discount to hikers on the Cleveland Way so we had to pay full price to enter alas it wasn’t that much.

The castle itself still had a lot of structure remaining and even had a roof over parts. It was originally built in wood in 1120 then in 1186 was converted to stone. We were the only visitors which was refreshing and were able to wander freely at our leisure. The wind was annoying ever present and blew every which way around the hill top ruin.  

We had our last supper in a nearby pub savouring the last decent for perhaps few days and the warm shelter of a solid structure as we would be sleeping outside for the next 6 nights and myself a further 4 nights.
This way looks interesting.
We bid goodbye to our ride here and headed to the starting point. Dark clouds loomed at us from above the direction we were going and seemed to be sitting there stagnant. We made our way through the side streets and came up beside a wooden post with direction signs to the Cleveland Way. Cleveland Way Rievaulx 2.5mls Filey 109mls Public Footpath. Then we start it. A stone pillar etched with the town names on the route with their distance in miles. The soon to be familiar acorn symbol outlined in the pillar. I sat down on it mentally preparing myself for the task ahead and the even bigger one I had let myself in for in a few weeks time. We took a few photos, swapping places and repeating.

“Ready to go?” Joe murmured. I nodded

109 miles to go.  

Like most things you start them optimistically and with expectations. All we had to do was walk 21 miles a day, not get lost and hope the weather played fair. To save time getting there in the morning we’d chosen to give ourselves a mini head start. We wanted to visit Rievaulx abbey in the morning so didn’t want to hike more than the 2.5 miles distance and were also going to wild camp discretely in the woods. The first miles of our hike were a gentle amble through peaceful woodland. It was 6pm and dull due to the unhappy weather. The outlook from the weather person was in our favour, only the first few days would be any supposed bothered. After walking for 45 minutes we came across a little wood called Spring Bank Wood. We turned off the trail and wandered down into a valley of trees. It was practically impossibly to find a flat spot as everywhere was on a slight incline. We found the best spot we could and set up shop. Least the ground was soft and springy due to the leaves. Tracks from tractors and other motor vehicles spread through the trees, some sort of forest control in action. Joe had fun camouflaging his blue two men tent further. It was a Saturday evening leading into Sunday tomorrow so hopefully no one would be taking an early morning wander through the woods.

We were in the tent by 9pm.

 The stone where it all begins
Day 1 - 16.68mi or 26.84km
Spring Bank Wood >> Over Silton Moor
From the beginning we only hiked 2.5 miles and decided to wander down into a valley of tree to pitch the tent. We were asleep by 9pm.

Set my alarm for half 5 but we were lazy and slept in till half 7. Brew some water for a tea and coffee and had beans and sausages. We were away for 9am which was quite late but since we were planning on visiting Rievaulx Abbey which opened for 10am we had time to bimble along. We were early so chilled in the carpark as it started to rain, waterproofs on!

 Rievaulx Abbey was founded in 1132 by twelve monks from Clairvaux Abbey as a mission for the colonisation of the north of England and Scotland. It was the first Cistercian abbey in the north.

We used to free audio guide and wandered around the historic site imagining Monks going about their daily routines as the rain pattered down - the kind of rain that isn't exactly fast but the kind that gets you soaked.

We soon returned to the trail eager to make progress with our aim of doing around 20miles a day our target.

We followed the road back to the trail and headed into wet woodland and onto farmers land. It was still raining constantly, now the slanting kind that hits you in the face. Through Moorland we arrived at Suttonbank and were able to pick up our Cleveland Way Passports.

Onwards we joined a walkway overlooking a town and soon we were overcome with misty clouds dragging the already cool temperature down.

Since wild camping is technically illegal in England we wandered into a forest and set up camp. Out stuff was pretty wet so we hung what we could and ate a calorie-loaded meal before bed.

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