Cod Beck Reservoir to Clay Bank Top

   
We left Warrington at midnight.  I’d decided to take Maggie, my Jack Russell, as well.  She would walk the first and last sections with me, but miss out the middle parts over access land.     The roads were wonderful to drive on and two hours later we were entering Osmotherley.  An owl had just made a kill and watched us as we passed on the other side of the road.  We drove past the reservoir and stopped in the first car park we came too.  It was busy and there were already half a dozen cars parked with a dozen or so people getting out and putting their boots on.  It didn’t look as though I’d have the walk to myself, but I was told that, after I’d left, the crowd went in the opposite direction, I guess on one of the other challenge walks in the area.  The car park was so busy that one car just stopped on the road.  Two men got out and started to get ready to walk.  These fellows would be doing the LWW.  I said hello to them as I set off.  Checking my watch it was 2:15.  It was still dark, but looking east the sky was marginally lighter.  I prefer to walk without a torch if possible, but the next stage, after crossing the cattle grid and entering the Coalmire plantation did need one.  I followed the Cleveland Way signs and dropped down the steps to the left.  I then turned right, just before leaving the woods to skirt along it’s edge.  I had followed this route only weeks before, but this time it seemed to go on further and with trees on both sides and the path seemingly climbing I began to worry that I’d missed the stile to the left out of the woods.  I rechecked my map and continued on still not convinced I was right, but all was well I came first to the field then the stile.  All this time I could see a torch a little distance behind me and hear voices.

I crossed the field, passing sleeping sheep to join the lane up to Huthwaite Green, where a path continued to the steps leading the way up through the trees to Live Moor. The way was obvious and although not rushing at this stage I was soon at the top.  Once out of the trees the path continued climbing but more gently.  It was pathed and there was little chance of straying. 

When I finally stopped for a drink the voices behind caught up.  We exchanged pleasantries and they set off ahead of me.  I followed about 20-30 yards behind trying not to catch up leaving them their own space.  This is surprisingly difficult, when you’re natural instinct is to catch up!  I was still 30 yards behind when we descended down to Lords’ Stones.  A minibus with a trailer was just driving off along the road. There was one car waiting and a lad jumped out in expectation, but it wasn’t me nor the Other Voices he were there for.  We carried on up to Cringle Moor.  I was in two minds about climbing this hill but in the end I did so and it was a very good decision.  As I walked along the top the sun was starting to emerge above the horizon, in my mind over Whitby!  I don’t watch sunrise often, I don’t intend making it a habit, but it was wonderful to see and it set me up for the rest of the day.  I descended Cringle Moor full of enthusiasm and although I then bypassed Live Moor, I couldn’t resist Hasty Bank and the Wain Stones.  From the plantation road the climb didn’t look that bad, so I carefully picked my way through some cows and calves, and climbed to the top.  Again it was an excellent choice, full of life with grouse and other birds and the occasional sleeping sheep.  It was now becoming quite bright and the valleys emerged covered in mist.  Almost with reluctance I started to climb down to Clay Bank, where Chris and Ollie would be waiting. 

Back at the plantation road I fell in behind the Other Voices and followed them down to the road.  They continued on up to Round Hill.  I wandered down the road to the lay-by and a cup of tea.  25 years ago I would have fancied a bacon butty and there was a group near a while minibus being served just that.  Today I was looking forward to and enjoyed a bowl of muesli!