Since we are not traveling at the moment, I thought I would dig into the archives and write about a walking trip that we took in May 2018. Looking back, I was not blogging in 2018 so this trip went undocumented except for the daily travel posts to my sister, Leslie. The posts started out as a quick email on our first evening in York to let her know we were ok and turned into a journal of our travels.
Regardless of my state of mind (or feet as you will read), I sat down every night to tell Leslie about our day. I learned, after a day or two, that she was reading the posts to her husband and they looked forward to each update. About midway through the trip, John realized what I was doing and we included his mother on the email list. I found I enjoyed telling the story to family interested in reading. Looking back, I am glad I did.
Before I get into the story, I want to provide a little explanation about the what, why and how of the Cleveland Way. The following posts will be my daily correspondence with some additional explanation where needed.
What is the Cleveland Way
The Cleveland Way is a national footpath in northern England, which runs for 109 miles. It begins in Helmsley and runs around North York Moors National Park until it reaches the coast at Saltburn-by-the-Sea, then the path heads south-east along the North Sea. The termination point is the old, slightly rundown sea town of Filey.
The path is one of the oldest and most popular in England. It was opened in 1969 shortly after the Pennine Way. The route has two distinct sections, 56.5 miles in the moors and 52 miles along the sea. A number of small British towns or villages are located along the path so a walker can lodge in a B&B each night. Another 48 miles can be added on at Filey to return the walker to Helmsley. We did not do this the Filey to Helmsley section.
Why the Cleveland Way
Europe has a number of interesting and historical walking paths. By the time I approached John about a walking vacation I had narrowed the options down to the above four trails and the Cleveland Way. Wainwright’s Coast to Coast across England was ruled out because of the length, 200 miles. We were both working and this was not a practical length for us. The Cotswold Way at 100 miles was ruled out because much of it is on paved roads and cobblestones.
As you can see from two books, we seriously considered the West Highland Way but as my ever practical husband said “you really don’t want to walk 17 miles in one day, do you? I know I don’t.” And Tour of Mont Blanc, well, I am still working on him to do that one. So the Cleveland Way it was.
How We Did the Cleveland Way
Early on we agreed to stay in B&B’s every night and to transport our luggage. While we are backpackers, we did not feel compelled to carry our belongings on our back everyday. Our goal for this trip was a relaxing (?) hike from one village to the next. I will confess that we totally overpacked our transport suitcases and learned a BIG packing lesson dragging those suitcases up and down steps everyday. And this was a lesson I thought we had already learned 😦 .
The next thing I did was research companies to book our accommodations, provide luggage transport and other information necessary along the way. Much of this information is available on-line but researching and vetting 11 B&B’s in 11 different villages was not something my working self wanted to do. So I vetted travel companies who specialized in UK walks (and other places) and selected Absolute Escapes https://www.absoluteescapes.com/ , not the cheapest but a decision I never regretted.
So now it was time to travel…
We left Knoxville at 2:26 pm on Friday, May 4th and arrived at London Heathrow on Saturday, May 5th at 6:45 am. Ouch! Our final destination for the day was York so we grabbed a train at the King Crossing station and dozed off and on for the 2.5 hour ride.
On a previous visit to York in 2000, John and I stayed at a cute little B&B about 15 minutes walk from town but this trip I was glad we were booked at the Hilton York in town. After settling in (luckily a room was ready at our early arrival hour) we headed out to see a few of the sights we remembered from our previous trip. The York Minister Cathedral brought back lovely memories as did high tea at Bettys Café Tea Room.
But this journal really isn’t about York so I will spare most of the photos. We were exhausted by bedtime and I paused to write a quick note to my sister:
Hey Leslie, we are in York. It’s about 9:45 pm here and we are exhausted! In bed shortly and hopefully better in the am! Tomorrow we are on to Helmsley.
In the morning I received this post from her , which I found quite interesting. Note these are her in-law’s from Italy:
It’s Sunday at 6:40. I hope you all are are enjoying your trip so far. We went to Morristown yesterday to meet some of Mike’s newly discovered family. Larry is the son of Mike’s grandfather’s youngest brother. The grandfather and his 4 sibs were placed in an orphanage and they all went in different directions. Larry didn’t know he had any cousins. It would be like finding out Daddy’s had a half brother or sister.
Keep me posted on your trip when you can.
We woke rested and ready to go and so it was on to Helmsley to begin our adventure.