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Travel information on England, Scotland and Wales
Many of you are likely to have questions on when and where you can travel again within the UK. As the situation evolves, we will provide you with the answers to the most frequently asked questions on where you can holiday in the UK this year.
We’re all sadly aware that currently travel is limited with foreign travel banned even. Many of us here in the UK will be in anticipation for Monday 12 April when the government’s Global Travel Taskforce will come with its report on how and when travel can resume.
The roadmap for travel within the UK is clearer with preliminary dates set for England, Wales and Scotland. With all optimism building around travel for the summer, find some of the best walking and cycling opportunities in the UK. Now is the ideal time to plan ahead for when travel is permitted again with our Reduced Deposit Promotion and flexible booking conditions still valid.
From mid-April, travel within England will be partially allowed again setting the pace for UK-wide and international travel. It is hoped that this will be with lesser restrictions from mid-May and June.
So, whether you'd like to tackle the popular Coast to Coast Trail
, walk or cycle along the Cornish Coastal Path
, explore the Isle of Wight
or immerse in the Yorkshire Dales
, your options are plenty.
Dates for your diary:
- 12 April, and no earlier: allowed to reopen is self-contained accommodation such as campsites and private holiday lets – indoor facilities for one household only
- 17 May: expected date for international travel to be allowed again under a traffic light system and with testing & quarantining in place
Find official information on travel by the English Government, including the roadmap out of lockdown, here
Visiting England from abroad? Find official government information on travel in England here
Scotland is on its path to ease travel restrictions from April. What’s more: 2021 is the Year of Coasts & Waters in Scotland; cyclists on the Tour of Britain will be culminating in Aberdeen this September; and outdoor destinations are in the midst of preparations for increased visitor numbers.
So whether you want to follow the Great Glen Way
, complete the Scottish version of the 'Coast to Coast'
, or take in the majesty of the great outdoors from the Inner Hebrides to Scotland's 'Big County', browse all walking & cycling holidays in Scotland
or have a chat with our team
to discuss your wishes.
Dates for your diary:
- 26 April: plans to permit travel within mainland Scotland and tourism accommodation to reopen with general social distancing restrictions in place
Find official information on travel by the Scottish Government, including a timetable, here
Visiting Scotland from abroad? Find official government information on travel in Scotland here
Rebook Free of Charge
Plan your active holiday now! We are currently offering you the flexibility of changing your dates up to 70 days before departure – free of charge*. On top of that, if within the 70 days before your departure there is an official government reason due to which your trip cannot run, you can still change your dates without paying any fees. Or you’ll have the option to change to an alternative trip or get a full refund.
Wales is set to reopen its borders to UK travellers from mid-April allowing people to take in again Britain’s largest archaeological monument – Offa’s Dyke
. The path gives access to the pristine Welsh-English borderlands where way marked trails lead hikers through idyllic villages, along ancient aqueducts, ruined castles and striking rocky outcrops.
Dates for your diary:
- 27 March: travel within Wales is permitted in self-contained holiday accommodation – including hotels with en-suite facilities and room service – for one household.
- From 12 April: travel restrictions within the UK and Common Travel Area (open borders area comprising the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands) will be lifted
Find official information on current restrictions by the Welsh Government here
Visiting Wales from abroad? Find official government information on travel in Wales here
Travel in Europe
The British government has announced 17 May 2021 as the date that international travel should reopen again. Although the government is working on plans that include a traffic light system for destinations based on their COVID infection rates and vaccination progress, a final decision on non-essential foreign travel is yet to be made.
With pre-departure and post-arrival testing to stay with us for a little longer, it is anticipated that if returning from a green country, no self-isolation would be necessary.
This article was last updated on 6 April 2021.
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.
We’re delighted to have teamed up with photographer Andy Cox, whose website cornwallwithacamera.com features some of the most stunning shots we’ve ever seen of this truly beautiful part of the UK. Andy has lived there for nearly all of his life – few people know the magic and charm of Cornwall’s breath-taking landscapes better than him. All of the photos you can see in this gallery, plus many more, can be purchased as prints and photo gifts from his website, and you can also find him on Facebook and Instagram. Andy has also taken many photos of other parts of the UK, most notably the Isles of Scilly, the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands.
Most importantly, every location featured in this gallery is visited on one or more of our Cornwall walking or cycling holidays – so you can enjoy the magnificence of these places in the flesh. The 2021 summer season is looking bright, so what are you waiting for?
Cheesering at sunset
Godrevy Lighthouse at sunset
Godrevy Lighthouse in a storm
Bodmin Moor in golden light
High tide sunset at St Michael's Mount
Poly Joke, Pentire
Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes
On the 4th September 2020, a day after Ann’s 63rd birthday, Steven and Ann started their Pennine Way adventure. Steven unfortunately had to give up on his walking trip on day 5 at Gargrave because of blisters. He got a taxi to the B&B in Malham while Ann walked there on her own. The next day Ann continued the adventure while Steven used public transport to get to Horton in Ribblesdale for the night’s accommodation and then picked up their car at home so they could join each other in the evenings at the charming B&B's.
It has given me so much confidence completing the Pennine Way.
Why did you choose to walk the Pennine Way?
Some years ago Steven, my husband and I were on holiday in Yorkshire with friends staying at a B&B. In the morning at breakfast a couple told us that they were walking the Coast to Coast. As soon as they told us about their adventure I wanted to do it. We have had walking holidays ever since, starting in 2015 with the Coast to Coast walk, followed by Offa's Dyke, Glyndwrs Way, the West Highland Way and in 2019 I took on Mt Kilimanjaro on my own. I am pleased to say that I made the summit of 5,895 meters; the toughest thing I have ever done. After Kilimanjaro I needed another big adventure and for 2020 the Pennine Way, all 268 miles in one trek, was chosen. Steven contacted Sherpa Expeditions and with the help of Tali made the arrangements. We had decided to walk the Pennine Way over 18 days, which included a couple of shorter days – considered rest days.
How did you prepare for your walk?
I joined my husband Steven in retirement in 2018 at the age of 60 to look after my Dad who was 91. Dad and I would go for miles, Dad in his electric buggy, me walking. The electric buggy had a battery life of 20 miles and we tested it.
My friend and I had completed the Capital Ring Walk and we were just getting going on the London Loop when COVID-19 Lockdown started in March 2020. During lockdown I would walk the local footpaths near home nearly every day, I was walking over 50 miles a week. Steven would join me for a walk a couple of times a week. Before COVID-19, Steven and I planned to go on holiday to the Lake District to train for our walking holidays so I hoped that the mileage we were walking in flat Essex instead would be enough for the Pennine Way.
How often does a granny from Essex get to climb a waterfall...
What was your favourite place along this UK National Trail?
I found all of the Pennine Way amazing, the solitude of the high moorland, the rain and blustery wind, the very boggy moors with wet feet most days and the amazing people I met on route. I have more than one favourite destination.
The lights of Tan Hill Inn after a very wet and windy walk over the moor. It looked so cosy and inviting . I had walked from Keld to Tan Hill with another Pennine Way walker and his friend who was doing a few days. I had bumped into them a few times and enjoyed dinner with them at Tan Hill. They did get a day ahead of me and I missed knowing they were on route.
Climbing Cauldron Snout was another favourite, how often does a granny from Essex get to climb a waterfall. Then Cauldron Snout to be followed on the same day by High Cup Nick. I just sat there with my flask of tea and took in the scenery. Walking along Hadrian’s Wall was beautiful; it took some of the tiredness out of my legs.
And my last day to Kirk Yetholm: I sat under a finger post indicating “Kirk Yetholm 4 miles”, drank my tea and knew I had made it, although I was swearing to myself up that last hill.
Best food & drink of this part of England?
I don't have one favourite place for eating, everywhere we went provided for walkers really well. I think my best meals were my lunch time sandwiches with amazing views with half or some of the days’ challenge completed. I usually stopped late afternoon too, for me a cup of tea and a snack tasted extra good knowing I didn't have far to go before I could rest.
What aspect of walking the Pennine Way did you find most challenging?
The biggest challenge was the Cross Fell day of 19.5 miles from Dufton to Alston. I left at 8am from the B&B and the never-ending lung busting slog up to Cross Fell took until nearly 1 o'clock. Here I had lunch, but still had 11 miles to go. It was late afternoon by the time I got to Garrigill where I had my afternoon tea. Steven had walked out to meet me as it was 6.30 before I got near Alston.
Biggest surprise of walking the Pennine Way?
My navigational skills are not as good as Steven's, so the biggest surprise for me was that I managed to complete the Pennine Way on my own. I didn't want to give up. I was so nervous as I walked out of Horton in Ribblesdale that first day on my own, but was determined to give it a go. I did have the GPX app that Sherpa Expeditions recommended and had managed to download all but 2 days routes.
I recorded my mileage every day, the Pennine Way is 268 miles. I did 290 miles, this includes the walks to and from the B&B's and the times I went wrong. I think you need to be fit to walk the Pennine Way but you also need to be determined. It has given me so much confidence completing the Pennine Way.
Would I do it again? YES
Want to do it too? Find out more about your options of walking the Pennine Way with Sherpa Expeditions or contact our team to discuss your wishes.
There's a reason that so many people choose to do a walking holiday in the UK - in fact there are many reasons! The benefits of a UK walking holiday are both physical and spiritual - here are a few of the best...
An obvious one to start off with. Everyone knows that the best way to get fit and stay fit is to find something active that they enjoy. For some that might be running on a treadmill in the gym – but can you really think of a better way to get your body working hard and your heart pumping than climbing to the top of a steep hill or mountain and drinking in a beautiful view? Do that every day for a whole week, or longer, and just imagine how good you’ll feel. Of course, not all walking holidays have to be hard work – some of the UK’s best walking tours are gentle rambles through largely flat landscapes, but the exercise is still an important part of the experience.
This lot are working hard - just imagine how fit they'll be at the end of their trip!
It isn’t just your physical fitness that benefits from a walking holiday. It’s long been proved that exercise, fresh air, connection with nature and exposure to glorious views and wide open spaces are good for both the body and the soul. And at the end of the trip, the sense of achievement you get from having completed the challenge is something that will stay with you for a very long time. Sure, a week lying on a beach is all well and good (for some), but how long do those memories last compared to the ever changing landscapes of a walking holiday?
These two look pretty happy, don't they?
Wide open spaces and magnificent views - good for the soul!
The UK countryside isn’t just about glorious views – there’s some fascinating history to delve into on many of the popular routes. There’s Offa’s Dyke, built in the 8th century by Offa, the King of Mercia, to keep out the Welsh marauders. Or Hadrian’s Wall, started by the Roman Emperor in 122 AD to separate the Roman Empire from the ‘barbarians’ to the North. Then there’s the smuggling history all round the Cornish Coast, Queen Victoria’s connection with the Isle of Wight, and so much more. Wherever you decide to walk, there are stories to learn, and famous footsteps to walk in.
Osborne House, Queen Victoria's retreat on the Isle of Wight
Food and Drink
Traditional British food has taken a bit of a knock in years gone by, compared to our European neighbours. But not anymore – people have woken up to the choice and quality of traditional dishes served up in regions across the UK, and now the food is one of the highlights of any walking holiday in Britain. Throw in some of the finest beer and ale to be brewed anywhere in the world, and you have a recipe for a delicious meal at the end of each day’s walking.
Here are just a few of our favourite regional specialities to be found in the UK:
Cornwall - Stargazy Pie: A classic fish pie, made with pilchards or sardines, eggs and potatoes, covered in a pastry crust. Whilst recipes vary, the one common feature is fish heads protruding from the crust, as though their gazing at the stars, which is where the pie gets its name from.
The Lake District – Cumberland Sausage: Why have individual sausages when you could have one long sausage, coiled into a ring so it retains all of its juices and peppery flavour. Often served on top of a bed of creamy mashed potato and covered with rich gravy.
Yorkshire – Parkin: A moist, spicy, sticky, gingery cake. Perfect with a good cup of Yorkshire tea!
West Highland Way – Seafood: Scotland offers some of the best seafood in the world – and on the West Highland Way you’ll be savour some of the tastiest. Oysters, crab, lobster, razor shell clams – fresh from the sea.
This is just a start – there are so many classic dishes around the UK, you’ll have to keep coming back to make sure you try them all!
A typical Scottish seafood platter
Nature & Wildlife
Wherever you walk in the UK, you’re quite likely to encounter some fantastic wildlife – birds of prey, red deer, grey seals and shaggy feral goats are just some of the animals you might come across. And if fossils are more your thing, then the Jurassic Coast of Dorset and the Isle of Wight offer some great opportunities for fossil hunting on your route. As for flora and natural phenomena, there are waterfalls, rivers, spectacular rock formations (such as the famous Durdle Door in Dorset), flowers, grasslands, hedgerows and pretty much every other type of natural landscape you can imagine. For a pretty small country, the UK certainly packs a lot in!
Puffins on St Cuthbert's Way
A grey seal
The Dorset Coast with Durdle Door in the background
If this has inspired you to book a walking holiday in the UK, you can browse our full programme here.
Scattered around England and Wales, you may have come across a so-called UK National Trail. Marked by the iconic acorn symbol, these are walking (and sometimes cycling) routes designated by the British Government. The conditions along the trail are looked after by a dedicated officer and are kept maintained to a standard that truly sets them apart.
They are a fantastic option to discover some of the best that the UK has to offer to outdoor enthusiasts as they wind their way through Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks. All being long distance walks
, allow yourself a week or two to step into the outdoors and soak up the British countryside.
With nine out of the 15 trails to choose from, let Sherpa Expeditions be your guide when completing a UK National Trail
The 110 mile Cleveland Way follows a walking route from Helmsley to Filey. What stands out is the experience of half a walk over hill and scarp edges and half along the hilly coastline of the Yorkshire seaside.
The Cotswolds is the epitome of the English countryside. It is no wonder that this is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as rolling hills meet with quaint villages that are all preserved in a glorious state.
Hadrian’s Wall Path
Hadrian’s Wall stretches from the aptly named Wallsend in Newcastle Upon Tyne to the quaint village of Bowness-on-Solway in the west. The 84 mile (135km) Hadrian’s Wall Path takes hikers across the rugged countryside of Northern England, following the world’s largest Roman artefact.
Offa’s Dyke Path
Crossing the border between England and Wales more than 10 times, the Offa’s Dyke National Trail path follows some of the finest scenery in both countries for 177 miles (285 km).
The Pennine Way, a mountain journey across the backbone of England, became the very first UK National Trail on April 24th 1965. It is a long, 268 mile (429 km) hike from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. It crosses some of the finest upland landscapes in England and down into Scotland.
South Downs Way
Exactly 100 miles of chalk downland walking separates the Victorian seaside town of Eastbourne and the ancient Saxon Capital of Wessex and England – Winchester, forming the South Downs Way. Stretching over a rare large Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Southern Britain, the walk generally follows the chalk (soft limestone) ridge just to the north of the popular seaside towns on the Sussex and Hampshire coast.
South West Coast Path
England’s longest and, many would say, finest trail is the 630 miles long South West Peninsula Coastal Path from Poole to Minehead, of which almost half is in Cornwall.
Following the Thames Path will help you to understand not only the Thames but also why it is the key to the history of London. There is a lot to see: the palaces such as Hampton Court and Syon Park; castles such as Windsor and the Tower of London; multiple bridges each with their own history; and wildlife reserves. And always as the backdrop to it all is the life on the river.
Great Britain, our large island in the North Sea, is surrounded by plenty of smaller isles and islets, all which offer unique opportunities to go for a walking or cycling holiday.
Just the fact that you are on an island gives an instant holiday feeling. On top of that, there is the special journey to reach the island; which often includes a short ferry or boat ride to increase the sensation even more. Island life is usually slow-paced and local people seem more relaxed, hospitable and are often in for a chat. Add to that a constant sea breeze, fresh seafood and stunning ocean vistas and you’ve got yourself the perfect great British island holiday.
Below, we list five of so called British isles that you can choose to discover on several of our cycling and walking holidays.
#1 Isle of Wight
Queen Victoria, despite ruling a quarter of the Earth and being Empress of India, elected to spend her holidays on the Isle of Wight. Here she had a little holiday cottage build called Osborne House - her little pied-à-terre. She painted and sketched the island’s nature, rode horses and went for long walks and swimming.
The island is relatively quick and easily reached from London on a 2-hour train ride plus a ferry or hovercraft trip.
>> Discover the Isle of Wight on foot with the Isle of Wight Coastal Walking holiday
>> Discover the Isle of Wight by bicycle with the Isle of Wight Cycle holiday
Jersey is the biggest island of the Bailiwicks of Guernsey & Jersey who have a separate economic and political life from Great Britain. The island has an ancient history: it was until several thousand years ago attached to mainland France with many Palaeolithic dolmans or burials from that period. It was known about in Roman times and later came under the control of the duke of Brittany during the Viking invasions. All in all, lots of historical and natural interest for the walker or cyclist.
>> Discover Jersey on foot with the Jersey: the Channel Island Way holiday
>> Discover Jersey by bicycle with the Channel Islands Cycle holiday
#3 Isle of Man
According to legend, this British island was once ruled by Manannán who would draw his misty cloak around the island to protect it from invaders. One of the principal folk theories about the origin of the name Mann is that it is named after Manannán. The ancient Romans knew of the island and called it Insula Manavi, it is uncertain though whether they conquered the island or not. However, the Manx Gaelic for the island is Ellan Vannin, which just means island of Man.
Learn about Manx history and myths in the Manx Museum in Douglas, your port of arrival.
>> Discover the Isle of Man on foot with the Isle of Man Coastal Path holiday
Known for scenic cliffs and beaches, small towns oozing old world charm, and coastal defences dating from the Palaeolithic period through to the Second World War, Guernsey has been a favourite holiday destination for active adventurers. After a long and turbulent history, Guernsey, similarly to Jersey and other islands, is now a British crown dependency, albeit not part of the UK or of the European Union.
Another island that is part of the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey. Each of the small islands have their own character and customs and this is very clear when you visit them all.
>> Discover Guernsey on foot with the Guernsey Islands – Channel Island Way holiday
>> Discover Guernsey by bicycle with the Channel Islands Cycle holiday
#5 Holy Island
A causeway leads across the sands to Lindisfarne on Holy Island, just off the area of outstanding natural beauty that is the Northumberland Coast. Correct timing is essential here as the causeway gets covered by water for almost two quarters of each day. With Sherpa Expeditions you can overnight at this tiny British island, allowing you plenty of time to roam around.
When you have made it to Holy Island, the 16th Century Lindisfarne fortress and the priory ruins are a must-visit. The castle has even featured in films such as Macbeth and Cul-de-Sac, both by Roman Polanski.
>> Discover Holy Island on foot during the St Cuthbert’s Way holiday in 8 days
>> Discover Holy Island on foot during the St Cuthbert's Way holiday in 10 days
Curious to learn more about some of these British isles? Or if you would like to make an enquiry to discover one of the above-mentioned islands on a cycling or walking holiday, please contact the team at our London office.
Gail Rast from Australia went on a self guided Coast to Coast walk with us last summer and in this article shares her feedback of the walking holiday across England. Her walking history began around five years ago when she walked the entire Camino Frances – solo!
What is your walking history?
I’ve always loved nature and the outdoors, but became really passionate about walking a little over 5 years ago when I made the decision to walk the Camino Frances. This was fairly ambitious for my first multi-day hike, but I succeeded in walking the entire 800km (solo). Since then I have done a number of multi-day hikes in Australia (including bush-camping) and 2 years ago I did the Portuguese Coastal Camino (260km).
"I’ve always loved nature and the outdoors"
Why did you choose to walk the UK’s Coast to Coast?
I chose the Coast to Coast long distance walk because I have always wanted to see the Lake District and spend some time in the English countryside. Walking is a great way to see and experience new places.
"Walking is a great way to see and experience new places."
How did you prepare for this long distance walk?
I keep myself fit year-round by swimming, walking and other activities such as kayaking. In the lead-up to the Coast to Coast walk, I increased my walking (distance and more difficult terrain) and trained with a pack. I also incorporated weight training into my routine to strengthen my muscles.
What was your favourite destination along the trail?
I genuinely enjoyed the entire Coast to Coast Trail – I loved the diversity of the terrain! Stand-out village for me was Osmotherley, such a pretty place and such friendly locals. I also loved the coastal terrain of St Bees and Robin Hood’s Bay (great way to start and finish!).
Best Food & Drink?
The pub food was hearty and sustained my ravenous appetite at the end of the day! My most memorable meal was braised Cumbrian lamb in a pub in Rosthwaite – it was plentiful and absolutely delicious. I also enjoyed the local ales, and have now developed a taste for boutique gins!
The biggest surprise was the number and variety of animals that shared the trail – so many different types of sheep and cows, as well as horses and numerous birds including pheasants and grouse. As I was walking solo most of the time, they were great company!
What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging?
The descents of the Lake District were more challenging than I had imagined. I managed fine with the ascents, but my knees struggled coming down the peaks. But the views and sense of achievement made it absolutely worth it.
Want to experience Wainwright's Coast to Coast for yourself and cross England's Lake District on foot? At Sherpa Expeditions we offer a variety of ways to discover the area, whether on foot or by bike, guided or self guided, check out your options here.
We have picked some lovely UK based walks that are perfect for either first time walkers or easier walks for those wanting something a little more gentle to ease themselves back in after lockdown. They are all rated introductory to moderate or moderate on our grading scale, so are suitable for beginners to those with a bit more experience and a good level of fitness.
Great Glen Way (Introductory to Moderate)
This is a 73 mile walk in the true heart of Scotland, hiking through the Scottish Highlands and following the shores of the famous Loch Ness, boasting great views of Ben Nevis. You will mainly walk along canal towpaths and forest tracks starting at Fort William and ending in Inverness, which is Scotland’s north-most city and dubbed the ‘capital of the highlands’. It’s a great route for those looking for some history too, as you will find plenty of examples of elegant bridges and locks along the canals which reflect the designs of the early Industrial Revolution.
Find out more about the Great Glen Way here
Dorset and Wessex Trails (Introductory to Moderate)
This is a walk providing you with great variety. There’s the Dorset coastline with natural rock formations including Durdle Door, which would be of particular interest to the fossil hunters amongst us. Then, further inland you will get the chance to visit a mysterious region of ancient hill forts, Roman and Saxon remains in the ancient kingdom of Wessex. You will also come across beautiful villages such as Cerne Abbas and Abbotsbury along your journey.
Find out more about the Dorset and Wessex Trails here
Dales Way (Moderate)
This is a trip which takes you right through the Yorkshire Dales. It is a 78 mile walk crossing the Pennines from Ilkley to Windermere., staying in traditional Inns and Farmhouses dating back to the 16th and 17th century, along the way. You will experience the English countryside at its best with soft rolling hills, pretty river valleys, an abbey and some lovely Real Ale pubs. When the weather is nice, you will be able to find the perfect place to relax whilst enjoying a shady picnic.
Find out more about the Dales Way here
South West Coastal Path (Moderate)
The South West Coastal Path in its entirety is England’s longest and, many would say, finest trail. It stretches 630 miles long from Poole to Minehead, of which almost half is in Cornwall. There are many different routes you can take which cover parts of the full trail, so you can choose whichever suits you, or slowly build up and do them all! Anyone who loves the English seaside will enjoy these walks as they will be sure to include Cornish pasties, shipwrecks, dramatic cliffs and the roaring sea.
Find out more about the South West Coastal Path here
West Highland Way (Moderate)
This is definitely a trip for your bucket list which includes a walk to the foot of Ben Nevis, following the shores of Loch Lomond, Britain’s largest lake, walking through open heather moorland across the Rannoch Moor wilderness area, as well as crossing through both Glencoe and Glen Nevis. It is also claimed to be the most popular long distance trail in the British Isles, but we will let you decide!
Find out more about the West Highland Way here
Hadrian’s Wall (Moderate)
This is a 83 mile route reaching across town, county, forest and moorland. During your walk you will get to experience the scenic variety of northern England from the modern, busy cityscapes of Newcastle Upon Tyne to the red sandstone hues of medieval Carlisle, to the quiescence of Bowness on Solway. Following the route of the wall, which was started as long ago as 122 AD, you will also get to explore the fabulous heights of Highshields Crags in the Northumberland National Park and the contrasting lime green pastoral scenes of the Eden valley.
Find out more about the Hadrian’s Wall Trail here
So, you are off to walk the Coast to Coast. Whether it’s guided or self-guided you will have your main baggage being transferred for you, which saves on a lot of weight, but the big question is what essential and useful items should you take with you on the walk?
As you are staying in hotels, pubs and B&Bs, this is something that can get reviewed on a day to day basis so that you can make adjustments in regards to the weather, and depending on if you are on a higher (mountainous) or lower (farmland and road) section of the route. First, are the essentials.
A 35-50 litre rucksack (day sack) should be a sufficient size to put everything in for the day. Most of these are of course not waterproof, so you may also want to invest in a rucksack cover – although, beware that these can easily blow off and fly away if not well secured. Make sure to line the rucksack with a dry bag, or have several individual dry bags or even ordinary polythene bags without holes in.
Modern day rucksacks have lots of utility points for attaching gels, water bottles or dormant walking poles. Elasticated webbing ties, or a large webbing fabric rear pocket of many day sacks is extremely useful for securing wet clothing between showers, so that it is readily accessible and doesn’t soak the main compartment of the rucksack.
Always carry full waterproofs, top and trousers, even if it is unlikely to rain, they make a perfect windproof layer and you can forget they are there. The risk is not putting them in your bag on a good day and then the next day when it rains, discovering that you haven't got them! Gaiters could optionally be carried and put on during wet and boggy days, when it is likely that your feet will get pretty wet.
Documents and Phone
For valuable documents and your maps, notes and books that you are using for the walk, it is certainly quite a good idea to invest in waterproof map and document cases; ideally an A4 or A5 sized one for documents and an A3 sized one for maps. Ortileb make some good ones which will be totally waterproof if sealed properly and last for years.
A mobile phone is more or less essential these days and can be used for contacting emergency services, the accommodation or for use as a camera or GPS. You may want to bring a 'proper ' camera as well, there is certainly a lot of subjects to take photos of during the walks, especially landscapes. It may be worth having a spare powered battery and a portable power supply for your phone, just in case.
If you are not wearing it, bundle a fleece, jumper or gillet into your bag. Although, really it is not essential to carry a spare set of clothing with you , an extra-long sleeved shirt may be worthwhile if it is very hot or if you want to change into a drier garment when you arrive at your next destination. Some days, there is always the chance you will get in before either your baggage does or before your accommodation is actually open.
Food and Drink
Some people carry a plastic container for their packed lunch to stop the content getting squashed, although most people just make do with just a bag. It’s always a good idea to put some extra high energy snacks and bars in the pockets of your day sack too and have at least 2 litres of drinking water with you. In the UK you can fill up from water taps, you don’t need to buy bottled water.
We would recommend you to take a half litre vacuum flask for hot or cold drinks as well. Some walkers are very pleased to have these with them whilst they are out on a cold day, or to ‘celebrate’ the traditions of morning or afternoon tea. Unlike walking on the continent, when you walk in Britain you will nearly always find a hospitality tray in your bedroom with kettle and tea / coffee items, sufficient to fill a flask.
Handy Everyday Items
Most rucksacks have a top pocket where you should store quickly accessible items, such as a small head torch, whistle, penknife, lightweight gloves and a beanie style hat. The same pocket should also be used to carry things like lip balm, sun cream, keys and a proofed wallet to contain things like your passport, money and tickets - items that should not be left in your main baggage. A squash able broad brimmed hat and sunglasses are also recommended, but maybe leave the umbrella behind as they can easily get destroyed in the windy conditions sometimes experienced along the Coast to Coast. Finally, make sure you have at least somewhere on your person or handy in the daypack for map, compass, notes, book and information about where you are staying overnight. It is easy to forget!