Alas, Day 8 – the final day of our epic voyage – right back to where it all started! We had our usual healthy breakfast… Fry Up and headed into Keswick. I had a spring in my step… well not really I was still really sore but it was like a spring with a kink which made each step make me look like I was stepping on a brick!
On our way out of Keswick and walking towards Braithwaite and UP towards Whinlatter Pass Aidy had a fantastic idea. I told Angela and family that we were arriving via Whitehaven and taking the main road towards St Bees caravan site via the village. Aidy suggested that when we get to Whitehaven we instead take the Coast 2 Coast path around the heads and surprise them. So when they are waiting for us on the promenade coming from the main road we’ll instead surprise them last minute with LOOK UP AT ST BEES HEAD! Aidy what a GENIUS idea!
So we travelled past Braithwaite in good time and started to scale the steep roads of Whinlatter Pass. The steep road wasn’t too bad compared to the road we initially took on the other side when we cycled up. The views over Keswick were immense! I did a few Go Pro videos remembering that I did hardly any videos the last couple of days. I found a large branch on the road, pretending I was Gandalf and that it was my staff, screaming as loud as I could “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!… Whinlatter Pass”…. Yep I was a bit daft at this stage.
We arrived at the Whinlatter Forest visitor centre, had a little break here including a wee stop and started to descend Whinlatter towards the other side towards the West Coast. At this stage my feet were really sore again and started to think will my ignorance just get me through this final stage?
At this stage I was pretty miffed that we had only done 7 miles. I think the scale of Whinlatter made it feel more like it was an achievement plus my legs were as sore as a 30 mile walk.
We headed on towards Whitehaven but took a different route other than the Coast 2 Coast route. We passed High Lorton as we did on day one but then at mile 11 near Mosser we went South West between Mockerin and Branthwaite. The small paths were absolutely beautiful and the weather was beautiful. We started talking about the possibility of running past everyone at the bottom of St Bees Head and just running straight into the sea…. or running into the sea anyway and after a short discussion we decided against this.
We arrived at Whitehaven around 4pm and took a break here ready for the final leg of our 8 day challenge. The path back over the heads towards St Bees was the exact start of the Coast 2 Coast walk and in a way it felt quite fitting to end it in this way. But the going wasn’t easy, sometimes going down steep paths and hugging sheer cliff edges. I thought that this final stage would only take around 2 hours based on our normal walking pace but the going was slow work, but absolutely beautiful – again a fitting end to our challenge. To be fair I was just looking forward to getting back and stopping, not having to move anymore and staying still lol.
We passed the lighthouse and then passed down and out of Fleswick Bay. I’ve walked here many times, we were close now.
After 30 minutes at last we could just see St Bees promenade… where was everyone?? I called Angela to make sure they were waiting at the promenade as agreed and as our plan depending on…. they weren’t! They were instead all in their own caravans and they were preparing a BBQ! So I said to her so after all of this I’m just supposed to knock on the caravan door and say I’ve finished! Lol she said that my dad was having a kip but will wake him up!
At this stage I was just impatient and asked her to look up at the Head and asked if she could see a guy waving!… She said no…. What an anticlimax…. 10 long seconds later she said “OH WAIT I CAN SEE IS THAT YOU???” Awwww awesome feeling! Luckily at this point it still was another 10 minutes to the foot of the Head and enough time for Angela and family to get outside (and wake up) and meet us at the bottom.
The bottom we arrived, the tide was in, I crossed the bridge next to the head and there was everyone Ang, Seb, Mum, Dad, Maria, Pete, Luke and Anna… and two random people sat there hoping for some peace… Oops.
Angela ran forwards and gave me a huge hug followed by Maria holding Sebastian. I then hugged everyone else and a Cocker Hoop beer was there waiting for me AND a bottle of champagne which I popped open and sprayed over everyone.
IT WAS DONE! The reality sinked in! Aidy was incredible throughout and I made sure he got as many hugs as I did!
Wow how do I begin to summarise the last 8 days. So many highs and lows! So many memories, laughs, moans, hills, roads, paths, sheep, beers ha oops!
A quick summary would be that the cycling part was a physical endurance test, doing it on mountain bikes in three days was a triumph! A great challenge with great memories and a great finish at Robin Hood’s Bay. The walk back was a torturous mental endurance test but still with great memories and an incredible finish at St Bees. I’d repeat the cycling part anytime but maybe on a road bike. The walking part? – Even with my new mega awesome walking boots would my legs still hold up? Maybe but I don’t think I’ll ever try to find out!