Last day, and a long one: 16 miles. Again it is a misty start. In the mist, we make our most serious navigational error yet: a path taking a shortcut between two roads comes out further up the second road than expected and we miss the next path. The GPS confirms that we have gone too far, and although the remedy is easy and safe, it adds yet another mile to the day. It's a bummer to make our first real error this late in the trip, but overall we've been extremely lucky. We've also been extremely careful, knowing that the crew would rather be held up by a 15 minute debate (which has happened many times) rather than take any extra paces. The navigators brace themselves for the wrath of the crew, but there's none forthcoming. In fact, Claudia and I get a 10 minute lead over the others when they stop to strip a rich vein of plumb blackberries.
We pick up the trail again and head up through a narrow valley filled with trees. It's a rain forest with near 100% humidity, and by the time we reach the top, the sweat is dripping off us. Near the top, an old hermit's cave is carved out of a solid rock. The boys take off their backpacks while we "take 5." Their backs are steaming. Cool, but no photo (nor, unfortunately, of the hermits cave). We did capture the waterfall just before it though.
People are in reasonable spirits and we are all aware of how much fitter we must be to be able to get to the 12-mile mark by lunchtime.
Soon after lunch, we reach the home straight: the cliffs north of Robin Hood's Bay. The mist is all but cleared finally, but it has prevented us from being toyed with a sea view for the whole morning. Perhaps this is a good thing. As they were in St Bees, the cliff walks are spectacular, and as a result we are joined by throngs of day-trippers. And as before we have several miles to savor it.
Any thoughts of just damping ones boots are lost when a wave crashes over our ankles while we wait to have our picture taken.
The final Youth Hostel is perfect: approached from the beach, and, because of the high tide, we wade through knee-high water around the headland which separates the hostel from the beach. We walk back to town again for a celebratory meal. Wayne has been looking forward to fish and chips, and in the end, everyone does the same. They are so good many of us go back for a second helping (I've never seen that done before.)
While the others take advantage of the last of the light to make their way back up the beach, Wayne and I have a final couple of beers in "Wainwright's Pub." It is the last building before the sea. There's a log book. As we look at the recent entries, we realize that though we've met, talked, advised, and been advised by several dozen other walkers, we know none of their names. We can still recognize many of them, though.
Finally, since Claudia has threatened to throw my 10-year old boots in the
trash after this trip, I took them down to the beach and gave them a decent
burial. I stuck a flat stone in the sand as a headstone. The following morning
there was seaweed wrapped around it, and the boots were still resting.