In the northern UK is where you will find this increasingly popular long distance trail. Starting on the west coast in the small seaside village of St.Bees and travels 304kms (109miles), (we calculated 325.3kms, 202 miles) east to the North Sea and the village of Robin Hood’s Bay. You will travel through three National Parks and some diverse and spectacular countryside, from the very picturesque Lakes district, up over mountains, through forests, over rolling hills and farmlands, across the vast moorlands of the North York Moors before reaching the dramatic rugged coastline with scenery to die for. What more could one want from a long distance walk. The Coast to Coast (C2C) has it all, it was developed back in 1973 thanks to the famous Alfred Wainwright, a British fell walker, a guide-book writer and illustrator.
Mark and myself walked this amazing walk back in May 2013. We walked in rain, hail and sunshine (little sunshine) through some of the prettiest of countryside and into quaint villages. Stayed in nice and interesting accommodation and got to meet wonderful people from all over the world. Discovered Marks love of mud, as he seemed to like rolling in it a lot, and realised that the eerie fog isn’t so nice to walk through a pint and hot meal always made things better.
The C2C starts in the seaside village of St. Bees. This village has history that dates back 1,000 years. We spent the first day visiting the historical Priory where we learnt about the discovery of the “St. Bees Man”, an almost perfectly preserved body of a medieval knight which was dug up during an archaeological dig back in 1981. This village is also quite a popular summer holiday spot and is situated only 80km (50miles) from Scotland. It’s also the most westerly point of Cumbria. St. Bees is not just where you start the walk but it is where by tradition you dip your boots into the Irish Sea and collect a stone off the beach before walking off across the country to dip your boots into the North Sea and throw your stone.
The itinerary below we had chosen for this walk was to make the most of the journey, as we believe you don’t travel and spend all that money not to experience it fully. You will see some days are shorter, this is either because the terrain might have been more challenging or there was a town we felt we wanted more time to explore. At the half way point in Richmond we had a rest day, not only recharged our battery’s, but to explore this medieval market town and its historical castle, (and I needed a new pair of boots as mine died on me). For those of you that enjoy the old Steam trains be sure to spend some time in Grosmont (approx 5.7km, 3.5 miles) after Glaisdale. Take a short ride up the line and back, stop and have some Devonshire tea. A lot of fun and well worth taking the time.
I think it’s important to remember that all distances you will see for this trail, as with any trail, they will vary. A lot of long distance trails have alternative routes for you to choose. This can be for reasons of the weather, you need a safer route option, sites and views or maybe detour to other towns. Either way when you see a walk that says its km’s (miles) from end to end be prepared it may be different. Always research so you are not caught out by surprise. I forgot one more reason the trail could be longer (and this can happen more often than you think) you got lost! Or as I say ‘took the scenic route’.
Below is our itinerary
- St. Bees to Ennerdale Bridge. Approx 28.5km (18 miles).
- Ennerdale Bridge to Rothwaite. Approx 26.5km (16.5 miles)
- Rothwaite to Grassmere. 13.5km (8.5 miles).
- Grassmere to Patterdale. 12km (7.5 miles)
- Patterdale to Brampton. 24km (15 miles)
- Brampton to Orton. 20km. (12 miles)
- Orton to Kirkby Stephen. 24km (15 miles)
- Kirkby Stephen to Keld. 24km (15 miles)
- Keld to Reeth. 20km (12.5 miles)
- Reeth to Richmond. 20km (12.5 miles)
- Richmond to Oaktree/ Danby Whiske. 24km (15 miles)
- Danby Whiske to Ingleby Cross. 13km (8 miles)
- Ingleby Cross to Chop gate. 17km (10 miles)
- Chop Gate to Blakey Ridge. 17km (10 miles)
- Blakey Ridge to Glaisdale. 16.8km (9 miles)
- Glaisdale to Littlebeck. 11.2km (6 miles)
- Littlebeck to Robin Hoods Bay. 13.8km (8 miles)
Information for your planning.
When to go? Always check the weather and see what is common for the time in which you intend to walk. Remember the UK is known for its wet weather. When Mark and I went we had already decided that is was going to be wet and it will rain, which it did all except one day. We were prepared and it really didn’t bother us.
Accommodation. You have a few choices of places to stay.
The cheapest option is camping. Do research where you can.
There are hostels, bunkhouses and camping barns. Do check on these as they are not everywhere.
Then you have B&Bs, Guesthouses and Hotels. These options are more ready available though also cost more. This option also can include meals.
There are quite a few companies now that offer this service to carry your main luggage from your accommodation to accommodation. Some companies also offer the service of helping you plan and book your accommodation. This is a great option if you can fit it into your budget as all you have to think about is the walk. You also only carry a day bag and if for whatever reason you are unable to walk a section they will cart you too. For info on these companies you just need to google.
Maps and Guidebooks .
For your maps and guidebooks a found one of the ones easy to use and understand was –
- Coast to Coast Path, Trailblazer Books, by Henry Stedman. Maps are hand drawn (which is not something I would usually have chosen) but the writing is detailed enough not to be confusing.
- We doubled that up with fantastic walking maps from Harvey Maps. These maps are GPS compatible, easy to read, light weight and 100% waterproof.
There are other books and maps as well. For example there is the
- Cicerone Guide by Terry Marsh,
- Wainwright’s original A Coast to Coast Walk (pictorial guide).
Also if you want to see a DVD on the walk. Acorn Media and BBC did a five-part series with TV presenter Julia Bradbury in 2009. Quite an interesting show and gives you a run down on what you would expect.
You can also check out tourist information centres and online information groups.
Be sure to read some of our other posts on different walks we have done like West Highland Way and the Great Ocean Walk. There is also Hiking the St. Olav Way and I walked the Camino Del Norte. Spain. as well as Via Francigena. The Italian Section and many more.