Coast to Coast Walk (England) 2011-2012

The Coast to Coast walk (a.k.a. C2C) was created by the guidebook writer Alfred Wainwright. It is a long distance walk (approx. 192 miles) crossing the northern part of England from St. Bees on the coast of Irish Sea to Robinhood bay on the coast of North Sea. The walk passes through three National Parks: the Lake district, Yorkshire Dales and North Yorkshire Moors. I first heard of this walk from a BBC program when I still lived in US. Before the C2C hike, I had done a couple multi-day walks in US and Europe. One of which was the Praia canyon hike in Utah, and the other one was the Landmannalaugar walk in Iceland. However, the Coast to Coast experience really ignited my enthusiasm in the point-to-point long distance walking. Since we walked C2C quite a while ago, my memories had faded a bit. So this note will be short of descriptions (anyway the information about the walk is readily available on the internet). And I hope the photos will give reader better ideas of the landscapes and environments of the walk.


We completed the walk in two trips. The first part happened in 2011, covering the sections from St. Bees to Kirby Stevens. The second half was done in 2012. We followed the standard 14 day itinerary. It could easily be completed in shorter time but this schedule gives you time in some charming villages like Grasmere and Patterdale. We used the luggage transport companies to move luggage for us. For the first half we used the Sherpa Expeditions and the second company was the Mickeldore.


Because the original route conjured up by Wainwright goes from west to east, most of people follow the this direction. Our starting point is the village of St. Bees. This is a small village on the Cumbria coast. Most of tourists in town were the walkers who would start the Coast to Coast the next day. There was a old Norman church worth visiting. The beaches of St. Bees had interesting and unusual smooth, wavy rock formations. Most of coast-to-coast walkers start on the weekends. So if you can avoid weekends, you could miss the crowds. That to be said, after you get on the trail, you can find peace and quite most of the time.




From St. Bees we walked towards Ennerdale Bridge on the edge of lake district. The paths took us through gentle hilly farm lands of Cumbria. Although the scenery wasn't what one would call spectacular, it was a pleasant walk. And it was sunny. The first night we stayed in a farm just before we reached Ennerdale Bridge. After the farm dinner, we watched a beautiful sunset over the pasture land.



On the next morning, about half hour walking from the farm, we arrived at the Ennerdale Bridge. This was the first lake we saw in the Lake District. The water was perfectly clear. From there we climbed up through the hill and passed a disused slate quarry. The weather was fine and hill was romantically beautiful so much so that an American girl hiking with a British family was singing "the hills are alive with sound of musics" all the way up, which was a bit of annoying. The day ended at a beautiful village, Rosthwaite.



The Lake District has many lakes but I was told that only one has "lake" in the name. Most of them are called "xxx-mere" or "xxx-water". Besides the lakes, the Lake District is known for its beautiful fells forming open valleys. Although it isn't like the Alps, when weather is good it rivals Alps with its understated beauty and gentle charms.


From Rosthwaite we went to Patterdale with one night stay in Grasmere. For these two days we were in the heart of Lake District. Grasmere was a charming village. There were a lot of hikes one could do using Grasmere as the base. It also attracted plenty of tourists because Wordsworth wrote many of his best known poems while he lived in Grasmere. Patterdale lies at the end of Ullswater. The lake was beautiful and the mountains were full of magics but what I remembered most was watching a small dog (a terrier probably) tackling a big tree branch (2-3 meters long) in the lake as if it was a stick it normally chased. It was such a comedic scene that I couldn't stopped laughing for minutes.





After Patterdale we headed towards Shap. The walk took us out of the Lake District. I don't remember much from this day's walk. About 2 kilometres outside the village of Shap, we passed the ruin of Shap (13th century) abbey.



From Shap to Kirby Stevens was the limestone country. The footpaths went undulating through farm lands and small hills. Near the village of Orton, there was a hill covered by the eroded limestone that looks like giant cobblestones streets (or pavements as it was sometimes called). It was a very unique landscape which I hadn't seen anywhere else. We ended the first part of our C2C hike at Kirby Stevens because there was a convenient railway link. I really enjoyed the first part of the walk. There were beautiful fells, lakes, quaint villages, old churches and ruins, plenty of sheep. And a day's work was always rewarded with a fresh pint at the local pub. I often thought that this was a long distance pub crawl with extra bonuses.




In 2012 we started from where we left off a year ago to finish the "business". From Kirby Stevens we set off to Yorkshire dales. We weren't as lucky as the previous year in term of weathers. It probably rained everyday during the second part of hike. Yorkshire dale has completely different characters than the Lakes. It consists gentle hills of pasture land separated by miles of dry stone walls. Sheep and cows dotted among the landscapes.




After three days in the dale, we arrived at Richmond. The city had a historic center and ruin of a castle that is worth a visit. From Richmond to the Ingleby Cross was a long boring flat section of farm lands. The distance was over 36 Kilometres. The most existing part of the walk is to cross the 4 lane A19 near the end of the day. I wondered what the lorry drivers thought about the crazy walkers rushing into the gaps of the busy traffics.



Near Ingleby cross, there is a ruin of a medieval Carthusian houses, the Mount Grace Priory. It is supposed to be one of the best preserved examples of such monastery but I didn't have time to go there. From Ingleby cross we walked into the North Yorkshire Moors national park all the way to the North Sea coast. Depending on the weather, the moors could be either bleak or charming. In general it had the remote and desolated feels, which was well suited as the setting for The Wurthering Heights. Along the way, we got pored on a few more times and we had to find ways in the bogs (gaiters were very useful). Eventually we reached the Robin Hood's Bay in our muddy boots. An hour later we toasted the completion of the walk with a fresh pint and some fish & chips.







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