A walking route that crosses northern England passing through the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors national parks
The Coast to Coast is about 200 miles long following trails, rough vehicle tracks and minor roads. Devised by Alfred Wainwright in 1972, it has since become the most popular long distance trail in Great Britain. It traverses a great variety of countryside in it’s releatively short length from the uplands of the Lake District to the limestone greenery of the Yorkshire Dales to the wooded valleys of the Eskdale and Littlebeck. The towns are interesting and rich in history too; good examples being Richmond with its Norman castle, Shap Abbey and Grasmere the cute tourist magnet in the Lakes.
We had a fun time on our hike which we split into two week long sections;
-Part I October 2015 we hiked west from Kirkby Stephen to St Bees
-Part II June 2016 we hiked east from Kirkby Stephen to Robin Hood’s Bay
Day 1 12th Oct 2015 Kirkby Stephen -Orton- Shap 22 miles
A gentle start through limestone countryside with dikes and a network of fields. Early drizzle cleared mid morning to give a bright day but with a biting cold westerly wind in our faces! We diverted to the picturesque village of Orton for lunch – which was definately worthwhile. The afternoon’s high moorland made for great hiking but we began to tire for the final few miles over the M6 motorway into Orton. Great day though!
Day 2 13th Oct 2015 Shap – Patterdale 17 miles
An early start on frosty ground with low lying mist at first. Orton Abbey was an atmospheric and splendid stop. From there we headed out over more undulating fields and woodland to reach Haweswater reaching into the eastern Lake District. Soon we climbed steeply up to the high tops of High Street with clear views back east to where we had come and out west into the central Lake District. A long drop past lovely Angle Tarn and then over some rubbly paths and we made it to camp in Patterdale just as the frost set in.
Day 3 14th Oct 2015 Patterdale – Grasmere – Greenup Edge 16 miles
We set out on a bitingly cold but clear morning gently up Grisedale to reach its tarn set in a great spot south of Helvellyn. An easy drop down and we were soon lunching in the tourist town of Grasmere with shops and a great bakery. Up Easdale in the late afternoon and we hit the high ridge of Greenup Edge with more great views. We found a camp spot on the descent to Stonethwaite above Eagle Crag. Another excellent day..
Day 4 15th Oct 2015 Greenup Edge – Ennerdale Bridge 16 miles
More deep frost this morning as we dropped down to Rosthwaite, picking up some food. A wonder through trees and steep climb by the road gave some more good views before we arrived at Honister Pass. this was a good chance to dry the tent from that covering of overnight frost whilst having coffee and cake from the cafe. Next we climbed over our final high Lake District ridge past Grey Knotts to steeply drop into quiet Ennerdale. This is a big valley stretching westwards and made for easy hiking all the way out to Ennerdale Bridge. We caved in and stayed in a hotel here which was well with the money for its good food and warmth.
Day 5 16th Oct 2015 Ennerdale Bridge – St Bees 15 miles
Our final day saw us start out on minor roads before following fine trail along a stream and then up Dent hill with its marvellous views out to the coast. The trail continued along minor roads and trail through some old mining villages before hitting the west coast and a grand finale south above the cliffs to St Bees. An excellent 5 day hike!
Day 1 28th May 2016 Kirkby Stephen – Nine Standards Rigg camp 6 miles
We dropped our car off at Kirkby Stephen around 5pm and decided to set out in the evening on the trail up the hill of Nine Standards Rigg. After a day of travel this was a good way to stretch our legs and we managed a high camp on the south ridge of the hill with nearby water.
Day 2 29th May 2016 Nine Standards Rigg – Ellers Beck Swaledale 21 miles
A grand long day through the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Dropping down was easy into Swaledale. The countryside here is beautiful with it’s stone built farm buildings and dykes. Ravenseat Farm was our first introduction to the scene, but Keld was also lovely and we had tea and cakes here next to the campsite as a line of vintage tractors started out on a tour of the dales. We met a couple of other C2C hikers hiking down beside the river Swale itself and had a pleasant chat before stopping for lunch at a cafe in Gunnerside. The meadows were green and full of flowers and this was now easy hiking! We pushed on hard though into the evening and both of us were sore by the time we set up camp in the woods.
Day 3 30th May 2016 Ellers Beck – Danby Wiske 23 miles
Lots of variety to start with walking through forest and fields into the large town of Richmond with its old castle. There was a fair and procession underway as we strode down the streets into the crowded centre of town. After a shopping and cafe stop we hiked out past the castle and over the river eastwards onto flatter countryside. This flat hiking began to hurt a bit for both of us but fortunately the weather brightened a little from the damp start to the day. The final few road miles into anby were sore on the feet so we were relieved to get a room and a shandy at the White Swann Inn in town!
Day 4 30th May 2016 Danby Wiske – Osmotherley 10 miles
Drab and a gale force westerly wind today. The walking was still flat and we had a fair bit of shelter from hedgerows and some trees. We made it to the A19 just before Inglebury Cross and dashed into the truckers cafe for shelter and mugs of tea. Looking at the forecast of gales continuing for the next few days in the east where we were heading but sunshine in the Lake District to the west, we decided to spend a couple of days out in the Lakes and return.
Day 5 4th June 2016 Osmotherley – North York Moors camp 18 miles
Refreshed after a wonderful high camp on Pike O Blisco in the Lakes and hill walking round the Langdale peaks, we returned to Osmotherley again in low cloud. But at least the wind had calmed down! We strode onto the high plateau of the North York Moors and into the clouds. The walking was on undulating heather terrain and we could gain distance quite easily on the good trails even though we were wet from the mist. Eventually camped in heather moors somewhere east of Bloworth Crossing near an abandoned railway.
Day 6 5th June 2016 North York Moors camp – Grosmont 20 miles
The sun eventually poked through in the morning- hoorah!- so we were able to get distant views over the moors. Stopped at the Lion Inn for morning tea, a venerable old travellers inn up on the moorland. From here we skirted the northern edges of the North York Moors over Glaisdale Moor before dropping down into leafy Eskdale. We were now walking down the lush and green river valley in the sun and it made a pleasant contrast to the moors. Stayed at a lovely B&B at Grosmont- the Geall Gallery- really recommended.
Day 7 6th June 2016 Grosmont – Robin Hood’s Bay 15.5 miles
Final day to the coast! A steep early climb was followed by a drop into another beautiful forested valley – Littlebeck. Then onto lower moors which to be honest were a bit soggy and tedious! We pushed through and made it to the coast by about lunchtime for a splendid finishing walk south to the village of Robin Hood’s Bay nestled by the sea. Overall an great 2 week hike with lots of variety but some tough flat walking on tarmac in the middle!
Some thoughts on the trail
What’s it like It’s mostly great fun with lots of variety hiking over the hills of the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors. Passing through many quaint villages, historical churches provides lots of interesting things to see. There are many places to resupply so, even if wild camping, you don’t really need to ever carry more than two days of supplies. The start and finish on both coasts are great highlights too. This isn’t that wild a trail so expect to see others and lots of cow and sheep fields. There is also a ‘low point’ of maybe 30 miles of flattish walking on field margins and minor roads between Richmond and Ingleby Cross which we found quite sore on the feet and less scenically interesting!
It is mostly good trail underfoot and we had only a few boggy sections (worst was near Robin Hood’s Bay in the moors west of Hawsker) but mostly the trail is excellent. We wore lightweight trail shoes and running shoes.
When to go The trail can be hiked pretty much at any time of the year. We hiked in October and June. Summers (July, August, September) can be busy though which can make accomodation tricky unless you have booked. In October we saw almost no other C2C hikers (but lots of day hikers in the Lake District). In June there were a few groups hiking each day but it didn’t feel busy. September/early October and April/May/June would on balance be our chosen times to visit balancing quiter periods but still potentially decent weather. Winter with the short days and wetter conditions would be for the hardy only.
Where to stay We carried a lightweight tent, mainly because we enjoy (particulary wild) camping but most people stay in B&B’s or hotels each night. The cost can stack up if doing this though. Estimate at about £80-£100 a night for bed and breakfast for two people. We ended up with 4 wild camps, 1 campsite, 5 B&B’s. If wild camping bring along some sort of water purifier such as chlorine dioxide droplets. You will also need to plan ahead as you can’t really camp in the low lying agricultural areas but the Lake District and North York Moors provide plenty of opportunities.
Planning Best to look at the sites below and get a guidebook and off you go. There are companies that can arrange your whole trip for you including accommodation and transport your bags between B&Bs if you like. We carried all our camping gear etc though and didn’t have a problem with that. Our approach also meant we had lots of flexibility in terms of where we stayed each night which suits our approach.
Links to information on the Coast to Coast
Brian and Martina’s photos Our photo gallery from the hike….
Ramblin Man Great info source on the trail
Wainwright’s book From the man himself and an entertaining and informative read!
Trailblazer guide The guidebook we used
Packhorse Provide full support services including transport from each end of the trail
Sherpavan Another support provider
Camino adventures Helpful planning tips here
Other trails near to the Coast to Coast
Penine Way 270 mile long official trail that crosses the C2C at Keld
Cleveland Way North York Moors trail that shares some tread with the eastern part of the C2C
Lyke Wake Walk A 40 mile crossing of the North York Moors based on an old coffin route
Cumbrian Way A 70 mile footpath through the Lake District
Land’s End to John O’Groats The big one..walking the length of Britain