Last Good Friday we were asked to pen a few words when we returned from our booked trip “ooop north” to take on Wainwright’s Coast to Coast path from St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay. I know a lot of you have already successfully negotiated the trail so this little piece is intended as an encouragement to those of you contemplating the Coast to Coast.
We used Contours to arrange our accommodation and baggage transfer and took 12 days to do the 194 miles. However as Wainwright said it doesn’t really matter what route you take and how long you take to do it as long as you get from one coast to another. The time taken should suit what you are comfortable with and we met many walkers who split the walk into two halves and did it over two years or took up to 19 days to complete it. Our accommodation was never less than satisfactory and in some cases was outstanding. The natives were welcoming and seemed to appreciate our support of the local economy (especially the pubs!!).
As for the walk itself, the scenery was breathtaking and varied. After dipping our toes in the Irish Sea, the first four days took us across the Lake District. On two of the days there is a choice of the higher or lower route up over the hills or along the valley (in bad weather the higher route is foolhardy). We were lucky and had four days with no rain in the Lakes, almost unheard of. On the second day we took the challenging high route over Red Pike and Haystacks, getting lost and briefly regretting our choice but the views were absolutely superb and at the end of the day in the pub nursing a pint, we felt we had achieved something. The walk then took us through the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. Only one day out of the 12 was tedious and that was between the Dales and the Moors from Richmond. We did encounter some bad weather spending two days in cloud but you cannot expect 12 days of good weather.
We also bumped into some interesting folk on the trail from Australia, Canada and the States and a wild camper from Maidenhead who kept appearing out of the mist. At Ravenseat near Keld we met the famous shepherdess, model and mother of seven for tea and scones. On Cringle Moor we were overtaken in cloud by runners taking on a 100 mile 48 hour challenge putting our efforts in the shade.
Finally we reached t’other side and dipped our toes in the North Sea; the sense of exhilaration was palpable and the effort worthwhile. Even total strangers seemed pleased that we had finished.