Let’s go for a walk – along the Cleveland Way

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This week I have been walking along the coastal section of the Cleveland Way in Yorkshire. The whole Way is 109 miles, and starts in Helmsley. The first part of the route crosses the North Yorkshire moors, and my walking friends Steve and Michelle had already completed that part by the time I joined them in Whitby for the second section – 53 miles along the coast to Filey.

Based in Whitby, in a comfortable self catering cottage with stunning views across the river Esk to the famous Whitby Abbey, we have used the very reliable coastal bus service to get to and from the start or finish of each day’s walk.

Day One: Saltburn-by-the-Sea to Staithes (walked approximately 18km/ 11 miles)

Perfect walking weather – sunny, blue skies, and only a moderate breeze!

This sculpture Charm Bracelet is part of a series by artist Richard Farrington.
The scenery is really beautiful, and the weather was pretty much perfect.
This interesting sculpture was at the site of the Boulby potash mine, and represents a miner sitting at the ‘bait’ table which could be moved around to different parts of the mine. Bait is a local word for a miner’s packed meal.
Descending into the very picturesque village of Staithes, where we had a very good coffee and delicious cake by the harbour wall.

Day Two: Staithes to Whitby (walked approximately 21km/13 miles)

We got the bus back to Staithes, and then walked home! It was quite a bit further than we thought! It was very windy, but blowing from the west so not too cold. There were a lot of steep hills – up and down – something we were going to encounter quite a bit on the Cleveland Way.

Looking down at Staithes.
Runswick Bay. Luckily the tide was out so we could walk along the beach. At the hotel here we had the most disgusting ‘coffee’ I have had for a long time – a sachet of sweetened ‘latte’. You couldn’t really call it coffee! But we did meet a lovely lady running to Robin Hoods Bay as part of her training to run a 100 mile ultra!
Fields of rapeseed – the yellow contrast so wonderfully with the sky and the grass.
Walking into Whitby – two miles along the beach from Sandsend. The wind was strong!
The whalebone arch at Whitby – the lower jaw of a bowhead whale commemorates the history of whaling in Whitby.

Day Three: Whitby to Robin Hoods Bay (walked approximately 15km/ 9 miles)

I think everyone knows about coastal erosion, and periodically we all read about this or that dramatic cliff fall, but when you are walking along the cliffs and see the fences literally hanging over fresh air it is quite sobering. And just a little scary.

199 steps out of Whitby to the famous Abbey. Whitby Abbey was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The town makes the most of this link as you can imagine.
The dark clouds made a perfect backdrop.
Yikes!
Slogging up and down the steep paths is so much easier when these beautiful spring flowers are peeking out at you! And taking a photo is a chance to catch your breath.
Robin Hoods Bay was famous for its smugglers back in the day. Now it is a very pretty village with steep streets and alley ways going every which way (but mostly up it seems). It is also the final point of the Coast to Coast long distance path (293km/ 190 miles) which starts at St Bees in Cumbria. Normally this is a walking route, but over the last few days some 150 very determined people have run it. The first person made it in just over 44 hours!

Day Four: Robin Hoods Bay to Scarborough (walked approximately 26 km/ 16miles)

Well if we thought the ‘ups and downs’ couldn’t get any steeper we certainly had to think again today! It was a tough day, with some rain in the afternoon. But you can’t have rainbows without rain and we were lucky enough to see some beautiful rainbows over the sea. Coming into Scarborough the tide was out, and we walked along the North Sands into town.

We saw (or heard) many birds today including buzzards, curlews, lapwings and oystercatchers. And then caught a glimpse of an adder before it shot away into the undergrowth!

Leaving Robin Hoods Bay in the distance.
It’s a long way down.
And what goes down has to then come up again!
Not such great weather in the afternoon, but by this time we could just see Scarborough castle in the distance.
A photo cannot capture the effect of this shimmering rainbow on the horizon.
And then another!
North Sands beach at Scarborough
Rows and rows of jewel coloured beach huts!

Day Five: REST DAY! (Walked approximately 6km/ 3.7 miles)

We had a welcome rest for our legs today and caught a steam train to Pickering. The weather had turned, and was a lot colder and wetter, so it was nice not to be up on the cliff tops. The steam train passes through Goathland station, the location for Hogsmeade station in the first Harry Potter film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It was also used as a location in the video for Simply Red’s Holding Back the Years. Once in Pickering we visited the Beck Isle Museum, which is an interesting local museum. Then through the powers of the internet I found the blue plaque on 3 Hungate for Francis Nicholson, an artist who developed the art of watercolour landscape painting in the 19th century. He was also my four times great grandfather! I also visited the church of St. Peter and St. Paul where there are amazing medieval wall paintings, covered up in the Reformation and restored in the 19th century.

Steaming into Pickering station
St. George slaying the dragon
It was quite exciting to find this blue plaque for one of my ancestors

Day Six: Scarborough to Filey (walked approximately 18km/ 11miles)

The day started with an hour’s bus ride from Whitby to Scarborough. It was freezing cold, but nobody told the locals this, and there were plenty of people young and old breezing about in shorts and t shirts. Meanwhile we were wrapped up in at least 4 layers, hats and gloves! (Soft southerners – you could almost hear them saying this out loud 😉).

Scarborough is a big town and we walked from the north beach round the headland to the south beach along Marine Drive which gave fantastic views of the crashing waves. Scarborough was the first seaside resort of the 19thC, and its popularity increased with the coming of the railways, and the introduction of Bank Holidays in 1871.

Scarborough – photo from this website
Leaving Scarborough

The walk was, for the most part, easier than some of the previous days because there was less ascent and descent. But there were still spectacular views across the bays and cliffs. There are some really beautiful beaches along this coast.

A lovely woodland section with the sea in the distance.
Wide sandy beaches are a feature of this part of the coast
And so are very precipitous cliff edges!
Filey beach. We walked all along the beach from almost the end of the headland in the far distance. There was a brisk north west wind blowing!

Arriving in Filey along the sandy beach felt like a fitting end to a coast walk. Michelle and Steve have walked the whole of the Cleveland Way (109 miles) and I have done the coastal section. Sixty miles altogether, which is a bit more than the official distance. This takes into account walking to and from the bus stops!

Ice cream to celebrate!

I will miss the sound of the sea in my left ear, and the sound of the larks in the right; the sight of the blue sky, and the white (or sometimes grey) clouds. I will miss the cheery primroses and daffodils everywhere, and the friendly greetings of fellow walkers. I will even miss the climbs up and paths down! Most of all I will miss the very fact of the walk itself.

Let’s go for a walk – in Cornwall

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I have been lucky enough to spend the last few days in Cornwall, and I have done a bit of walking. As today is St Pirin’s day (the patron saint of Cornwall) I though it would be nice to share some photos of the beautiful countryside and coastline around Port Isaac and nearby places.

Herringbone slate walls with liverwort growing from them. Liverworts are very ancient simple plants that have their origins 400 million years ago.

On Wednesday I walked from Wadebridge along the Camel estuary before turning inland to the church of St Breock which dates from the 13th century. The weather in the days before had been very rainy and the ground was muddy. But luckily for me the rain mainly held off.

The Camel estuary. You can cycle along the old railway path all the way to Padstow.
The lichens on the trees were beautiful. Because the leaves aren’t out yet the eye is drawn to these ancient plants.
St Breock’s nestled in the valley. A stream ran past the church at the bottom of the steps.
Mud!

On Thursday I walked from Polzeath to St Enodoc church. This church dates from the 12th century and is now located in the middle of a golf course. It is close to the sea, and over the centuries became almost buried in sand. In order to collect tithes, and remain effectively ‘open for business’ it had to hold at least one service a year. The vicar and congregation entered through a hole in the roof until in the 19th century the church was restored. The church spire is not quite straight. Sir John Betjeman is buried in the churchyard.

It was a bit grey, but again – no rain!
Look at these amazing stripy rocks! For more information about slate you can follow this link. Slate was produced in great quantities in Cornwall, especially nearby Delabole.
Betjeman’s slate headstone in the churchyard at St Enodoc.
The crooked spire of St Enodoc’s; buried in sand for 300 years!

On Friday I walked from Port Isaac to Polzeath (and then got the bus back). I have done the first bit of this walk before – to Port Quin – so I was aware of the reason behind the nickname the ‘rollercoaster’. However I had forgotten just how tough this part of the coast path is. My goodness me the ascents and descents are tough on your legs! There was a quite a wind blowing but no rain.

Looking over Port Isaac
Pasty for lunch at Port Quin
The Rumps

On Saturday I walked from Boscastle to Minster (St Merthiana’s) Church. This church dates back to 1150, although it is on a site which has been there since Celtic times, and there is a Holy Well in the churchyard which was likely a sacred Celtic spring.

Daffodils in ancient woodland along the river Valency
The river Valency. In 2004 terrible flash floods swept through Boscastle causing huge amounts of damage.
The pretty church of St Merthiana, also called St Materiana, Madryn or Madrun. She was from Wales originally, as many Cornish saints were.
Spot the scissors! Nobody seems to know why they are there…
The little harbour at Boscastle (photo by Simon Bishop)
Another Cornish speciality – saffron cake.

Apart from the walk to Polzeath from Port Isaac all the walks were circular. I downloaded a brilliant app called I-walk Cornwall which I can thoroughly recommend. It meant that I felt quite secure walking without a map, which I wouldn’t necessarily recommend for all terrain, but here felt perfectly ok. Most of these walks I just wouldn’t have done without this app. If you are thinking of a holiday in Cornwall definitely consider getting it!

So – happy St Piran’s Day to all Cornish people! Maybe my next baking post will be about making pasties – or saffron buns!

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Let’s go for a walk – Isle of Arran Coastal Way

Arriving in Brodick from Ardrossan to start our walk

Two weeks ago I was on holiday! A holiday that was booked way back in 2019 and should have happened in 2020 except we all know what happened then.

It was organised by the brilliant people at Mickledore who I can highly recommend having been on four of their walks now. My friend Michelle and I walked 65 miles (102km) around the Arran Coastal Way.

Ready to go!
Walking through shoulder high grass and bracken. We had to be on the lookout for deer ticks.

The weather was good, the scenery was amazing. The people were lovely and we stayed in some very comfortable hotels and B and B’s.

The walking was quite tough on some days, clambering over the rocks, and climbing up steep hills. One day we walked 18 miles, which is a lot for us, and the final kilometre was on soft sand. Wow, that was a killer.

Harebells in the rain.

Another day I slightly misunderstood the tide times, and we almost didn’t make it round the southernmost headland Bennan Head. That made for a scary scramble clinging to the rocks above the incoming tide. To be honest if I’d slipped and gone in I would have got very wet, but I wouldn’t have drowned!

One of the highlights of the holiday was learning about the geology of the island. The Isle of Arran is known throughout Europe for its geological diversity. We happened upon a QR code on a post on the second evening of our holiday and were introduced to the brilliant Arran Geopark website. It was a fascinating introduction to the geology of this small island. We saw fossil footprints of a giant millipede which we would never have seen otherwise. And I began to get my head around just how the earth has changed over millions of years. It’s a bit mind boggling to think that at one time the Isle of Arran was 30’ south of the equator…. And that we can see the sand dunes from that time… 😳

Red sandstone ‘dunes’
Hutton’s Unconformity – the different angles of the rocks led Hutton in the 18th century to understand that the world was a lot older than 6000 years, which is what people believed.
Can you see the footprints of the giant millipede?

Another highlight was the wildlife and we were lucky enough to see plenty of birds, deer and a few seals. Michelle’s camera is far better than my phone so the wildlife shots are thanks to her!

I love oystercatchers- they’re very funny birds. We also saw (and heard) curlews, another fabulous bird. Sadly we didn’t see a golden eagle although they are on the island.
The deer were just outside our hotel up in Lochranza.
Seals basking in the sun

We walked for 6 days, and then sadly had to come home, so we didn’t really get to see the interior of the island except from a distance. There are so many more walks to do, and more to see, so I think we may very well be back!

The weather was sunny and hot – yes actually hot! For a couple of days anyway!
Final view from the ferry of Goat Fell

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Not running – walking!

Long before I started running I walked; I think that’s what you’re supposed to do isn’t it?!

So many berries!
And some mushrooms..

On Sunday I met a friend for a walk, since we now can’t meet inside anymore, and she lives two hours drive away. So we met half way between our homes which happens to be in Bedfordshire. We started in a town called Sandy – which is sandy! Millions of years ago it was under water, an ocean full of prehistoric sea creatures. The surrounding plains were carved and flattened by slow moving glaciers, leaving the river Ivel to wind its way north to join the Great River Ouse.

Wide landscapes of Bedfordshire

As this area is not one that either of us know we followed a walk in a book. We have often done this, and almost always we go wrong somewhere and end up walking further than planned. We’ve been lost on Exmoor (thank goodness it was a sunny day), lost in the Quantocks ( it was raining and we got quite wet), and Sunday in Sandy was no exception. I wouldn’t say we were exactly lost, just that we missed a path somewhere and ended up doing 10 miles rather than 8 in the book-walk!

This area was an airfield (Tempsfield) in WW2, used by the Special Operations Executive

However it didn’t matter at all because it was such a beautiful day. It was a joyous walk really, with blue skies, fluffy clouds, sunshine, green fields, autumn colours in the hedgerows, muddy puddles, grand houses, horses and of course a great friend to share it all with.

It rained a lot on Saturday, but such fabulous weather on Sunday!
Tetworth Hall, built in 1710. If we had followed the route properly we would never have seen this lovely Queen Anne style house.
Looking down from Greensand Ridge
At the top of the Pinnacle, an Iron Age fort, also used by the Romans. It was so sandy it was like being at the seaside!

I would never have really thought about walking in this area if it wasn’t for the situation we find ourselves in this year. So out of every cloud there are some silver linings – we must just remember to look for them.

Some very sour wild crab apples. Cooked and puréed with a little sugar they were delicious.

Delayed onset muscle soreness – aka DOMS

I have frequently found myself gingerly coming downstairs and getting up slowly from a chair for a day or two after a particularly long or hard run. The most recent case of sore legs – and arms – and stomach – was after a very hard session of circuits with Quit the Gym. Pretty much every muscle in my body felt stretched, squeezed and exercised to (and beyond) the limits.

Why does this happen? Once it was thought it was caused by a build up of lactic acid, but that isn’t the full picture. Although the cause isn’t known for certain it’s widely accepted that it is a combination of mechanical and chemical stress. Mechanical stress from stretching and exertion causes micro damage to the muscle fibres. Chemical stress is caused by a combination of chemical products that build up in muscles when they are working beyond the usual level. There is also some evidence that inflammation does not cause the pain felt, and is actually a response to the damage. The inflammatory response is the body’s way of tackling damage, and can actually prevent the next bout of DOMS from being so bad. For more detail click here for a super website by Paul Ingraham all about pain.

Eccentric contractions cause worse DOMS than concentric contractions. Maybe the lengthening of the fibres causes more damage? Purely my conjecture…

Is there a cure? In essence – NO! Time is the only true and proven healer. Although NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatories) may help a bit with pain reduction they do not actually change the rate of healing. And they definitely cannot prevent DOMS, so there is no point in taking them before a run or exercise session in the hope of being able to step lightly down the stairs the day after running a marathon! In fact Paul Ingraham writes that ibuprofen can make the inflammation worse, even though many runners and athletes swear by them prior to exercise.

Massage therapy may possibly make you feel a bit better at the time, although very deep tissue massage may actually make it worse. And interestingly neurology plays a part too – nerves can carry the pain from the stressed muscles to other areas around it, which means that some people are going to feel more pain than others. Which feels a bit unfair somehow!

This (admittedly short) post has taken a long time to write. Mostly it’s because I have been feeling very tired! After the last run I’ve had a couple of busy weeks at work, and also I just haven’t felt quite my usual energetic self 😉. I have to remind myself sometimes that REST is important! Muscles need recovery time. Good food, good sleep and some relaxation is really important to prevent total burn out and subsequent illness.

Looking out from the cliffs with Port Isaac in the distance.

Today I am feeling good again. I walked 10 miles (16km) along the beautiful Cornish coast path between Port Isaac and Tintagel. It’s hilly! But the views are fantastic. I expect tomorrow my calf muscles and Achilles’ tendons will be complaining, but I don’t care!

There were a lot of ups and downs!