Afterwards

There is a big difference between the way I walked on the crumbling cliffs of the Northeast Coast of England at the beginning and at the end of my solo-hike.

When I started my hike and encountered cliff edges that had partly crashed into the sea, I would walk on it, a bit anxious and think: ‘If this goes down, I will go down with it. So be it.’

At the end of my hike, when confronted with a crumbling cliff face I had to pass, I would think: ‘If this goes down, I don’t want to go down with it. So I better stay away from the edge as far as possible.’

The difference being, that at first I didn’t value my life enough to be careful and not take unnecessary risks. At the last stage I appreciated my life as a precious gift, I didn’t want to jeopardise.

During that hike I experienced a huge change, internally. That’s what being in nature, close to the sea does to me. It gives me insights in my life, clears the rubble in my head, connects me to God, changes me and makes me more appreciative to everything that is given to me. And that is very very much.

The end

When I started this ECP walk, almost two weeks ago, I was hoping to reach the Yorkshire coast, because I love this rugged part of the UK. Now that I’ve reached it, I feel somewhat aimless. So I decide to set Scarborough as my end goal. From there I will return by train to Newcastle to catch the ferry back to Holland.

Robin Hood’s Bay

I love Robin Hood’s Bay. We’ve been here before when the boys were smaller, walking along the beach, searching for fossils and ammonites. And the village has so much charm, its crooked houses with mullioned windows almost stacked against the steep cliffs; The cobblestone steps with black metal railing and steep road down to the slipway where the ships are launched. It’s all very quaint and lovely looking.

Bypasses

Although I decided I had enough of the coast path, I can’t just sit still and stay put. Not in the least, because the Airbnb in Whitby is like a ghost house where you can’t meet other people, which gives me a lonely feeling. Via texts and telephone I got directions how to get to my room and that was about the extend of human contact. I hope to find a warmer welcome in Robin Hood’s Bay (RHB).

Enough

Although the day begins beautiful and hopeful, it turns out to be a rather discouraging enterprise. The sun is out when I catch the bus from Whitby to Staithes. I love the fact we’re riding across the moors. They are so vast and empty and stunning. I’d love to go walking there one day.

Start Cleveland Coast

With renewed energy I start this new day. I’m looking forward to a challenging and exciting cliff walk to Staithes. Coming down from Saltburn town to sea level, the England Coast Path is joined by the Cleveland Way. Right from the start it’s a steep climb up to about 150 metres. On a very muddy path. This turns out to be the theme of the day.

Moving on

Today I have to leave my wonderful B&B in Hartlepool. With pain in my heart, because it was such a nice, warm, welcoming place. I decide not to walk along the river Tees, because of all the heavy industry and only paved paths probably, which is bad for my foot. So I go by train back to the coast path at the coastal town of Redcar.

Hartlepool

Hartlepool is a lovely town with distinct Dutch influences, which struck me immediately when I arrived here on Friday. The buildings of the Royal Navy Museum could have been relocated houses from Amsterdam, Delft or Leiden.

Royal Navy Museum Hartlepool

Ups and downs

I start off on the wrong foot thinking it’s a little less cold than yesterday, so I don’t put on my extra legging, underneath my trousers. That’s a misjudgment because it’s even colder. Many roads and paths are still covered with a thin layer of white frost, which gives it a beautiful, but also slippy look. Apart from that, I miss bus 23 to Easington (long story), so I take bus 24 to Horden to start the coast path from there. Well that’s the plan anyway.

On the edge

Just before sunrise, during rush hour I’m back on the road. First I have to make my way through the more deprived areas and industrial estates of Sunderland. The council made an effort to create a pretty look along the river banks, but up here in the southern part of the city it’s a very bleak picture of wonky garden gates, peeling paint and weeds growing everywhere. Fortunately I have to keep my eyes peeled to the ground, because most pavements have become ice tracks and I also have to slalom around many dog poo heaps. But I don’t pay enough attention to the ECP signs and so I miss one.