Long Distance Paths Archives

A Walk Along the Valley of the Creuse

Studying the maps back at the gite, we noticed an interesting looking long distance path that performed several large loops around the valley- the Grand Randonee of the Valley of the Creuse. This path starts at Argenton-sur-Creuse and winds its way around the river down to Crozant, so walking part of it seemed like a plan for today.

We parked at the viewpoint looking over the Boucle de Pin- a large bend in the river- before dropping steeply down to the shore. The first part of the walk followed the river closely along a narrow rocky path that rollercoastered its way along the wooded shore, stepping over tree roots and at one point utilising a wooden staircase.

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Coast to Coast- Equipment List

Equipment Carried

  • Osprey Rucksack (borrowed!)
  • 2 litre bladder
  • Pair of Komperdell trekking poles
  • GPS unit
  • Canon DSLR

Clothes

  • Merrell Capra Gore Tex Womens boots (I asked my sister to bring my walking shoes with them to Kirkby Stephen to give me the option of changing but decided to stick with the boots)
  • 4 pairs of Bridgdale walking socks, exchanged for another 4 at Kirkby Stephen
  • 2 pairs of Go Outdoors convertible walking trousers, exchanged for another 2 at Kirkby Stephen

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Coast to Coast- Thoughts in Conclusion

The Walk
… was fantastic. It was so varied- I walked across mountains, moorland, flat farm land, through pretty villages, past ancient monuments and along the coast. There was something of interest or some superb scenery every day. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone but with a caveat- doing the Coast to Coast as your first long distance walk may raise your expectations so that your enjoyment of other walks is slightly spoilt!

I never realised just how many lovely areas there are for walking in the north of England and would love to go back to places like the Howgills, Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales to explore them further.

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Once again I woke to rain, and hoped it would clear. I had breakfast with the other couple round the big farm table and we discussed the price of wool with Judith, as you do; it appears that imports of cheap foreign wool have hit UK sheep farmers hard and some years that are lucky to break even after shearing costs. I also learnt that it takes approximately five minutes to shear each sheep- the actual shearing can be done in around one and a half minutes, catching and ‘setting up’ the sheep takes the rest of the time. Judith described stuffing the boots of blistered walkers with wool to get them to Robin Hood’s Bay and we felt that there could well be a market for this!

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I woke to the depressing sound of rain against my window and as I gathered my stuff together and went down for breakfast felt really tired, and my feet were aching again. I had fresh blisters which I dressed with compeed; although I had a shorter day today I still had 18 miles to cover and wasn’t particularly relishing it. In fact walking was the last thing I felt like doing!

Everyone at breakfast was a Coast to Coaster, mainly Australian, and it was good to have people to chat with again. I reluctantly left the pub and walked up the road in the rain towards Fat Betty, a squat stone round topped cross half painted white. It is a tradition that walkers leave and take a food offering so I swapped some flapack for a packet of crisps.

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I woke feeling better than I had for a few days, and although I had a 21 mile day ahead of me it was nice to linger over breakfast with Helen. She walked the first bit of the route with me towards Arncliffe Woods, then, purchasing a large flapjack from an honesty box, I disappeared into the woods whilst she made her way back to the inn and her motorbike.

After the first steep climb to there is a wide-reaching view back across the Vale of Mowbray towards Richmond, the hazy blue outline of the Dales just visible beyond.

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I awoke feeling really tired and my feet were aching already. I definitely wasn’t feeling up to tackling today’s longest stage at 23 miles, although it is also the flattest day. I don’t think it helped that I wasn’t particularly relishing the walk as I felt that it would be the least interesting day- a trudge across flat fields, farmlands and roads across the Vale of Mowbray. But the Vale must be crossed to reach the rolling Cleveland Hills so after a rather strange continental breakfast- with no croissants in sight- it was time to don the boots and descent Richmond’s cobbled streets to the river with the castle standing sentinel.

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I was rather apprehensive about today’s walk as it was a long one. Most people take two days to walk from Keld to Richmond- overnight in Reeth- but I had decided to attempt the 21 miles in one day.

I had breakfast early and was on the road just after eight. Reaching the junction of the Coast to Coast and the Pennine Way near an impressive waterfall, I was then faced with a choice of taking either the higher route through the remains of lead mines or the lower route along the River Swale.

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After a hearty breakfast I set off and bumped into Cathy and Dan in Kirkby Stephen’s main square so we walked together which was lovely. Dan had woken with a swollen and sore ankle so they had stopped at a chemist to purchase a support bandage; I had noticed that he seemed to stumble quite a lot so lent him one of my poles for the day.

The route climbs past a quarry before turning off the road onto a track leading to Nine Standards Rigg. There are three routes over the Rigg and the one you take depends on the time of year. As it was July we were recommended to take the ‘Red Route’, which is the original Coast to Coast route, but the guidebook advised to take the ‘Green Route’ which doesn’t actually go over the summit, if visibility is poor.

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Margaret had prepared a lovely fresh fruit salad for breakfast and as I ate I chatted with Kathy, Dan, Carrie and Ed. Carrie and Ed told us they were planning on taking the 1 ½ mile detour to Orton for lunch. This was seriously tempting- mainly as Orton has a chocolate factory- but my sister and brother-in-law were meeting me at Kirkby Stephen and as today was to be 21 miles I wasn’t sure I would have time.

There is another route to the bridge crossing the M6 from Brookfields to save walking back through Shap, and as I crossed the motorway I caught up with an elderly couple, who I remembered Kathy and Dan mentioning. Kathy was amused at the fact they were bickering constantly; as I drew nearer I could hear them arguing and the lady told me that they had been together for 50 years and this was usual for them!

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