This year’s long distance walk is England’s Coast to Coast path. The unofficial path was stitched together by Alfred Wainwright in the 1970s. It starts in St. Bees on the Irish Sea and ends in Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea. The Coast to Coast path — or C2C (sea to sea, har, har) — covers 300 km of England’s north, winding through the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North Yorkshire Moors.
In the spirit of Wainwright — who frankly made the path up — Julian is adding a 100 km detour that allows him to visit our friends Stu and Debs. At Grasmere he drops south and east then heads north again to return to the standard route at Kirby Stephen.
No one we know is mad enough to walk the entire length of the C2C with him. So we are accompanying him in chunks. Stu signed on for three days in the Lake District. Fiona and Ray, who we met in Morocco, are coming along for a bit near Richmond. And I’m filling in where and when I can. Those who follow this blog will know that I had trouble with my feet last year that makes me wary about strapping on the hiking boots again.
Ancestrally speaking, the C2C is Julian’s stomping ground (no hiking pun intended). One side of his family came from areas directly on the C2C path, where they worked as gamekeepers and lead miners. The other side lived just north of St. Bees in Maryport.
Maryport is a faded port town. Back in the day, Julian’s great-great grandfather oversaw the building of a railway line from here to the city of Carlisle, 30 km to the north. For a treat, I booked him into the Golden Lion Hotel, which my research told me was where the town burghers met to plan the railway. Sadly for Julian, the Lion is no longer the splendid hotel it once was. He swears he was awoken — twice — by the sound of the man in the next room farting.
The harbour at Maryport
More pleasantly, he also photographed Lake Buttermere. Julian’s homesick great-grandfather wrote a poem about the lake when the family moved to Peru to build more railways.
Julian has spent the first few days walking alone, and he seems to have had an inordinate number of strange experiences with dogs. The first was in Maryport in the pub where he ate lunch. One dog was lying peacefully at his person’s feet, snatching up peas as they dropped onto the floor, when another dog entered on a lead attached to his person’s baby stroller. Apparently it took everyone in the pub to sort out the result.
Later there was the dog that ate rocks.
But by far the strangest encounter began with a dog hurtling toward him as his person shrieked, “Help! Catch him! But don’t pick him up, he bites!” Not the least inclined to pick him up, Julian noticed that the snapping, snarling dervish had a strange habit of fixing him with an evil eye then leaping into the air to perform a piroutte. As the two drew closer, Julian realized that the dog was blind in his left eye. The piroutte helped him keep his good eye fixed on his prey.
Another strange thing I’ve noticed. The longer Julian walks the C2C, the less he looks like a cowboy, and the more he resembles the farmer in Babe.