Lily Dyu’s Run Across England - Page 3
My Coast-to-Coast Journey
There was wonderful variety to the landscapes of my adventure. I climbed Cumbrian mountain passes high above lakes glistening in sunshine. Swaths of cotton grass whitened the fells, while sheep grazed in pastures blazing with buttercups. In the Yorkshire Dales, wind rang in my ears as I descended starkly beautiful moorland to lush Swaledale and through fields dotted with pale limestone barns. Above the valley, hidden hillsides lay wounded and scarred by the earlier lead mining industry. Crossing North Yorkshire, I ran across brown and purple, bilberry and heather-clad moors, where ancient stone faces and signposts loomed from morning mist.
By Grisedale Tarn, I was greeted by two American couples alongside a tiny woman, likely in her mid-70s, placing her trekking poles carefully, while moving slowly up the path.
"Hey, Mom, that mountain up there is Helvellyn,” said one of the men in the group, looking up from his map and pointing to a jagged, gray ridge against the deep blue sky. “Didn't we climb that 30 years ago?"
A day later, I met the group once again, this time resting close to a fell called High Street, named after the ancient Roman road that once ran over its summit.
They were walking the Coast to Coast trail over 15 days. Averaging less than two miles an hour at the older woman's pace meant a 5 a.m. start each day and trekking until the last of the daylight dimmed. As I left them, I imagined a mother taking her children up the English mountains and returning a lifetime later, to fulfill a long-held dream.
On a cool, breezy afternoon, I trotted along cliff-top trails, toward my final destination of Robin Hood's Bay. This rugged coast, often shrouded in mist, had seen many wrecked ships in the past. Passing dog walkers, I dropped steeply on yellow gorse-lined footpaths to the village of colorful fishermen's cottages, where tourists in the narrow lanes were oblivious to my journey's end.
As tradition demanded, I wandered across the dark, shining sand to the blue-gray sea where I tossed in the pebble that I had carried in my pack from the beach at St Bees, before dipping my feet in the water. Here, by the cold waves of the North Sea, a woman in colorful hiking gear beamed at me.
"Hi there,” she said. “Didn't you run past me yesterday? My legs and feet hurt just walking. Why on Earth are you running it?"
I grinned and laughed as I wondered how to respond. Quite simply, with such great trails, beautiful scenery and someone else to carry my bags, the question really was, "Why wouldn't I?"