Walking the coast to coast

We’ve finally finished the coast to coast walk from St Bees Head to Robin Hood’s Bay. The journey is based on the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright, who originally devised the route in 1973 and it crosses three National Parks: the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. A thoroughly enjoyable journey that we did in three parts. Here’s some brief notes on the route and photos. More notes on the final five days as I’m writing this fresh after finishing and didn’t keep notes on the first two legs of our journey.

Wainwright’s route plan

PART 1 (October 2016)

St Bees Head to the Fox and Hound pub in Ennerdale Bridge (14 miles)
We arrived late at night to our starting point and camped in a field close to St Bees lighthouse. The route on the first day was fairly unremarkable (from memory) and took us to the edge of the Lake District. We camped in a small field next to the Fox and Hound pub.

Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite (14m):

Rosthwaite to Patterdale YHA (17m)

Patterdale YHA to Penrith train station (14m)
This was an extra section required for our logistics, which took us along the length of Ullswater, the second largest lake in the Lake District.

PART 2 (April 2017) – 3 days

Day 1: Patterdale to Shap (16m): this section includes the “high street” to Kidsty Pike, the highest point on the coast to coast journey. Then later on, along Haweswater Reservoir. A strenuous, but rewarding day. From what I remember, also quite wet.

Day 2: Shap to Kirkby Stephen (20m)

Day 3: Kirkby Stephen to Keld (13m): this section of the route includes the nine standing stones.

PART III (August 2019) – 5 days

Day 1: Keld to Richmond (24m):
The last section of the Yorkshire Dales and a long day. The distance was a shock to the feet and shoulders which were aching by the end. Short showers meant that raincoats were on-and-off all day. A few tricky river crossings too as we followed the River Swale. It was the day after heavy rainfall had caused flash floods that had devastated several villages. We were shocked as we walked through the village of Reeth. Cars scattered, walls collapsed, sheds overturned, gardens covered in silty-mud. Camera-crews dotted around. It’s on the national news. We camped just outside Richmond in Brompton-on-Swale caravan park.

Day 3: Richmond to Ingleby Amcliffe (23m)
The most challenging day for me, mainly because it was a hot, very flat and laborious section of the walk, involving pounding our achy feet along country lanes and across monotonous fields of wheat, barley and rape. Other folks we meet that day agreed. Wainwright himself described it as a tedious section of the route. We stayed in the village of Ingleby Amcliffe, in a camping field next to the Blue Bell Inn pub.

Day 4: Ingleby Amcliffe to The Lion Inn (22m)
This section of the route takes us into the North York Moors where the heather was just coming out in beautiful shades of purple. A much more interesting day of walking with expansive views looking off the moor. Traversing along the escarpment, the path rises and falls steadily and is easy to navigate. I’m struck by the vast expanse of the grouse shooting industry across these landscapes. It seems to be that or sheep farming.

We were all starting to feel pretty exhausted towards the end of the day as we followed an old railway track, leading us towards our destination, the Lion Inn pub, Blakey. A very remote but popular pub that dates back to the 16th century. We camped in the field opposite after enjoying a huge meal and some delicious ale.

Lion Inn to Grosmont (14m)
A relief to have a shorter day of walking. We started after treating ourselves to breakfast at the Lion Inn, then walked across the moor to Glaisdale. After Glaisdale, there was some variety, with some woodland along the River Esk.

Grosmont a very attractive village with a steam train running through the heart of it making it popular for tourists. I was also happy to notice it houses Britain’s oldest independent co-operative shop. We stayed just outside the village in a campsite by the river, where we had a dip in the evening before dinner – a delicious pizza in an art gallery!

Grosmont to Robin Hoods Bay (16m)
An enjoyable last leg of the journey. Starting with a forest trail that leads up to the Falling Foss waterfall. Coming out of the woodland, we went across some final sections of moorland and farmer fields before finally hitting the coastal path from the Northcliffe caravan site. In good spirits, we rounded Ness point and entered the town. Before long, we were descending down the picturesque, narrow lanes of Robin Hoods Bay to the water’s edge. We took off our boots and sat on a bench, feeling so happy to have finished our journey.

Beautiful shades of pinks and purples in the heather of the North York Moors
The end of the route.