Self Guided Walking Holidays
on Wainwright's Coast to Coast
One of the world’s great walks, the classic Coast to Coast is named after the British fell walker and guidebook author, Alfred Wainwright who ‘designed’ the journey starting at St Bees on the shores of the Irish Sea in Cumbria, travelling through three national parks, over 190 miles (300km) of footpath and ending near the huge red-stone cliffs of Robin Hoods Bay in North Yorkshire.
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Traditionally traveled from west to east, so that the prevailing weather will be ‘behind’ walkers, Wainwrights Coast to Coast is one of the most popular long distance walks in the British Isles. This is due in part, to it having defined starting and finishing points, as it begins on the west coast and ends on the east coast of Northern England. Secondly, the walk moves through three of the finest and distinctly different national parks in Britain, the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.
Inspiring and captivating generations of walkers, the Lake District has the highest hills and some of the largest and most beautiful lakes in England. The remote Yorkshire Dales has rambling riverside paths; a patchwork of fields with dry stone walls and unspoilt villages and the North York Moors with enchanting woodland and lush green valleys has one of the largest expanses of heather moorland hills in the United Kingdom.
Most walkers choose to begin by the ‘Coast to Coast’ monument at St Bees and Wainwright suggests ‘dipping’ your booted foot in the Irish Sea at the start of your walk and maybe pocketing a pebble from St Bees beach to drop into the North Sea at Robin Hoods Bay on completion of this magnificent journey.
Heading upwards to the sandstone cliffs overlooking the Irish Sea your journey then moves inland, where you will pass along the shores of beautiful Ennerdale Water, down the beautiful valleys of Patterdale and Borrowdale, viewing whitewash cottages dotted around the various sleepy hamlets, before moving onwards to Grasmere, where you may wish to visit Dove cottage, home to the poet William Wordsworth.
Leaving the lakes behind, the trail moves on to rolling farmland, limestone crags and the windswept moor tops of the Yorkshire Dales, through the valley of Swaledale with idyllic villages and dry stone walls before arriving on the historic cobbled streets of Richmond where you can explore the Norman castle and Georgian architecture of this busy market town.
Finally, experience the peace and rugged beauty of the heather clad North York Moors, passing through enchanting woodland and finally along a magnificent cliff-top footpath with the North Sea waves crashing below, before journeys end at Robin Hood’s Bay and the resting place for that pebble !
This walk is challenging due to the remote nature of the landscape and the route is not as well marked out as other walks in Britain but the rewards of solitude, tranquillity and a sense of achievement to be found amongst the beautiful breath-taking scenery and diverse landscape will make every step taken worthwhile.