Upon Arrival: Coast to Coast Lodgings
Discovering our particular establishments among the small hotels and B&Bs in the villages along the Coast to Coast was like a treasure hunt waiting for us at the end of each day’s walk.
When we arrived at our new place to sleep each night, we were usually greeted like old friends, or even better, warriors fresh from battle. I loved the hosts that made the end of the day feel like a long awaited homecoming.
If we were coming in after dark, we were welcomed with even more enthusiasm than usual.
“We were afraid you weren’t going to make it!”
“I was just about to double check the date of your arrival.”
Or my favorite,
“You poor dears, come in here and rest your weary bones.”
When we walked up to Park Inn B&B in Ingleby Cross, the owner was standing out front, arms outstretched with two glasses of Prosecco to celebrate the end of our longest mileage day.
If I ever run an inn, that will be the way I greet everyone who arrives because Best. Idea. Ever.
After we downed our drinks we were doing a little happy dance up to our room.
Twice we had to be picked up from the trail to reach our room for the night, which was less like a homecoming and more like hitchhiking: waiting on the side of the road for someone to come and pick you up at their convenience. This was, understandably, not always exactly when we finished walking, a time that could not possibly be predicted or planned for, especially for someone who is running an inn with a full service restaurant attached.
Some of the rooms we stayed in were so nice that we never wanted to leave, or we regretted not getting there earlier so we could have enjoyed a few more hours in the comfort of a perfectly arranged sitting room or a well tended garden.
Then of course there was the hot tub in Richmond at Arandale Guest House, and our gorgeous rooms, which our host informed us confidently were the very best along the Coast to Coast, as was his breakfast. He told us everyone regrets having to leave after only one night of soaking in the tub on the back patio with a glass of wine, and besides, there’s so much more to explore in Richmond that’s it is always a terrible shame to leave your favorite guesthouse behind.
But it would be impossible to choose a favorite. Each lodging had its own special touches and each host gave attention to different details.
Diane loved the antique Old Croft House in Kirkby Stephen where our room was at the end of corridor lined with old bookshelves. We relaxed within a soothing palate of blues and browns, where the old and new mixed tastefully. An ancient cabinet held a modern foot bath for massaging our tired feet.
At the Cambridge House in Reeth, we could have stayed a year in their lounge and not have ever finished reading all the offered magazines and guidebooks on the area. Also they would not dream of leaving those small pre-packaged milk cups on the tea trays. A jug of fresh milk was delivered whenever you wanted to have your tea.
In Glaisdale, our host served us our tea herself, in the garden just as we arrived, bringing us biscuits and welcoming us with stories of cows being stuck in the mud in early spring. Red House Farm is still very much a farm, as are many of the guesthouses along the way. In the mornings, we often were served fresh eggs from the chicken house.
Breakfast was included with all our stays, full English breakfast, of course. But we had to back off of the plates piled with sausages, bacon, fried bread and eggs after a couple of days of walking on full stomachs. Soon I returned to my simple yogurt or porridge, while Diane ordered one egg and one piece of bacon every day. We were delighted by any offerings of fruit and we were never without our daily pots of tea.
Since the Coast to Coast is quite a popular walk, we shared our lodgings with other walkers, so that the talk around the breakfast table or in the pub tended toward the walk itself, usually either the day ahead or the one just finished.
In the Old Water View in Patterdale and in Keld Lodge, the owners held court so-to-speak from behind the bar, passing out advice regarding the trail along with pints of ale. I loved sitting at the bar and hearing stories of walkers lost on stormy nights or of what it is like in the winter, when the walking season is over and the villages are quiet.
Diane and I had a sort of childlike joy about discovering the particular offerings of each place we stayed, but actually it was commonalities of the lodgings that made them comforting: a hot water kettle and a tray of tea things, our suitcases magically appearing in each room (courtesy of our luggage transfer service), a predictable morning meal and the warm welcomes on the faces of our hosts. These sweet folks who, for whatever reason, have chosen to live away from major cities in country houses and inns, open their doors and their hearts to a sea of walkers passing through on the long road between St. Bees and Robin Hood’s Bay.
Our Coast to Coast walk was made possible in part by the good folks at Macs Adventure, who arranged all our accommodations and luggage transfers and who should in no way be held responsible for our tendency to get lost or our ridiculous YouTube videos.