England's Coast to Coast Walks Cheat Sheet: Planning Your Coast to Coast Walk
When you’re planning a walking holiday on one of the UK’s most epic trails, Wainwright’s Coast to Coast, you’ll probably start with doing research on general information on the trail. For instance, you may wish to know a bit more about the walking conditions on Wainwrights’ coast to coast walk, the remoteness of the routes, the presence of signage, and who Wainwright actually was. Another aspect of your coast to coast walk planning will likely be the grade of the walk and how challenging or comfortable Wainwright’s walk can be. To help you answer all these questions, we have prepared a detailed cheat sheet on things to know before you begin your Coast to Coast walk planning.
Which Coasts Are Linked On This Walking Trail in England?
The Coast to Coast walk in the United Kingdom crosses from West to East on one of the narrowest parts of the island. The route begins in St Bees on coast of Cumbria near the huge red sandstone cliffs of St. Bees Head, which overlooks the Irish Sea. From here it crosses the three national parks, the Lake District National Park, Yorkshire Dales National Park and North York Moors National Park, to finally reach Robin Hood’s Bay overlooking the North Sea.
At Sherpa Expeditions you can choose from a number of travel options along the Coast to Coast trail that differ in duration (15 up to as many as 18 day trips) and that are either guided or self-guided walking tours.
Who Is Wainwright?
Alfred Wainwright is the author of a well-known series of mountain-walking guide books on the Lake District among which is the first guide ever written on the Coast to Coast walk. Wainwright was an illustrator as well. His most famous publication is the series of seven Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells of the Lake District and in which he describes 214 fells, today known as The Wainwrights.
He lived and worked most of his life in Kendal, a few hours south from Patterdale, which is on our route of the Coast to Coast Walk.
What Are the Walking Conditions Underfoot on the Coast to Coast Like?
- St Bees to Ennerdale 23.5km / 14.5 miles: mixed walking mainly on farmland
- Ennerdale to Rosthwaite 26.5km / 16.5 miles: a hard day and rugged underfoot
- Rosthwaite to Grasmere 13.5km / 8.5 miles: steep walking and it can be boggy depending on rainfall
- Grasmere to Patterdale 12km / 7.5 miles: steep and rocky underfoot
- Patterdale to Shap 26km / 16 miles: the hardest part but easier underfoot apart from the long step section down from Kidsty Pike
- Shap to Kirkby Stephen 33km / 20.5 miles: a grassy trail
- Kirkby Stephen to Keld 24km / 14.5 miles: can be boggy
- Keld to Reeth 20km / 12.5 miles: good underfoot
- Reeth to Richmond 20km / 12.5 miles: good underfoot
- Richmond to Osmotherley 39km / 24 miles: easy underfoot but a long distance
- Osmotherley to Blakey 34km / 21 miles: a hard walk and quite rocky underfoot
- Blakey to Egton 16km / 10 miles: can be boggy, but it is on grassland and goes largely downhill
- Egton to Robin Hood’s Bay 25.7km / 16 miles: through heath, woodlands and on roads
How Remote Are the Routes on Wainwright’s Coast to Coast?
Even though most parts of the region you are walking in are relatively thinly populated, you will still find plenty of infrastructure to make sure you don’t have to camp or bring your own food. You can walk for a few hours without coming across any settlements, but then you’ll walk into one of the charming British villages for a bite and a break before continuing on.
If you are on a self-guided trip, you will need to concentrate on your map much of the time because of sudden changes and twists and turns of the route.
What’s The Most Challenging Coast to Coast Walk?
That would be the shortest version of the walking holidays we offer, which is our 15-day Coast to Coast Walk (available as both escorted and self-guided). It’s the most challenging version of the Coast to Coast Walk because you do the full length of the route in just 13 days of walking. The walking distances and times are longer than on any of our other trips.
What’s the Most Comfortable Option to Choose When Planning the Coast to Coast?
As opposed to the shortest trip being our most challenging option, the longest 18-day version of the Coast to Coast Walk is the most comfortable option. Walking distances are shorter so you have more time to rest and take in the scenery. For those of you who like to take it even more relaxed, you can decide to split up the route in two different sections that you can cover independently of each other. Of course it’s also always possible to customise your trip and add in extra resting or sightseeing days, just ask our friendly team.
What About Signage Along the Coast to Coast Route?
The Coast to Coast trail varies in its signage. The walk is not an official long distance footpath and because of that there are no official waymarks. When you pass through the towns and villages, most often you will find wooden sign posts. In the Dales there are some Coast-2-Coast signs and in the Cleveland Hills you can partially follow certain waymarks. However, especially in the Lake District and in parts of the Dales you must be prepared as there are no waymarks whatsoever. This means that you do need to be able to navigate with a map and compass, especially when visibility is poor.
The Coast-to-Coast crosses a number of other routes such as the Cumbrian Way and Herriot Way so you can’t assume the person in front of you is going the same way.
What Do I Do If I’m Short On Time?
If you’re short on time and still like to enjoy the Coast to Coast Walk in England, we advise you walk the first part of the route in eight days. This stretch shows you the Lake District and is considered the best part of the Coast to Coast Walk. The first few days will take you over some of the most rugged and beautiful terrain of the Lake District. You will pass Helvellyn (950m), England’s third highest mountain. You can decide to walk to the summit on a detour and on a clear day you may be able to see Scotland and Wales from its top.
We hope that this information will provide a good start to your Coast to Coast walk planning. Of course there's always our background information on the Coast to Coast trail as well and our team of travel experts is available to answer any questions from our London office.
If you are interested in more information on Wainwright's Coast to Coast, you may want to bookmark this page and Part II of this cheat sheet with even more questions on planning the Coast to Coast walk answered.