Coast to Coast Path: British Walking Guide: planning, places to stay, places to eat; includes 109 large-scale walking mapsby Henry Stedman
Fully revised 6th edition of this classic 191-mile walk across northern England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, inspired by Alfred Wainwright. Crossing three fabulous national parks – the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, and the North York Moors – it samples the very best of the English countryside – rugged mountains and lakes, gentle dales and stone-built villages; wild moorland; sea cliffs and fishing villages. 6 town plans and 109 large-scale walking maps – at just under 1:20,000 – showing route times, places to stay, places to eat, points of interest and much more. These are not general-purpose maps but fully-edited maps drawn by walkers for walkers.Itineraries for all walkers – whether walking the route in its entirety over two weeks or sampling the highlights on day walks and short breaksPractical information for all budgets – camping, bunkhouses, hostels, B&Bs, pubs and hotels; St Bees through to Robin Hood's Bay – where to stay, where to eat, what to see, plus detailed street plansComprehensive public transport information – for all access points on the Coast to Coast PathFlora and fauna – four page full color flower guide, plus an illustrated section on local wildlifeGreen hiking – understanding the local environment and minimizing our impact on itPlus GPS waypoints. These are also downloadable from the Trailblazer websiteNow includes extra colour sections: 16pp colour introduction and 16pp of colour mapping for stage sections (one stage per page) with trail profiles.
- Trailblazer Publications
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Sixth Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 4.75(w) x 7.05(h) x 0.64(d)
Read an Excerpt
IntroductionIn devising a walk that would span the north of England from the Cumbrian coast to the North Sea, the legendary fell walker, guidebook writer and illustrator, Alfred Wainwright, created an enduring concept that 40 years later continues to inspire hikers in ever-growing numbers. Despite not being an official National Trail with all the support that entails, the Coast to Coast path has almost certainly become the most popular long-distance footpath in England. At around 200 miles (see box p17) it's not the longest in the country and certainly doesn't, as some mistakenly think, cross the country at its widest point. It makes no claim to being especially tough (though we can safely predict that those who attempt it in one go will find it sufficiently challenging). Nor does it, unlike the long-distance paths that run alongside Hadrian's Wall or Offa's Dyke, follow any ancient construction or border. In truth, the Coast to Coast is but one of an infinite number of routes that could be devised by joining the various footpaths and byways to form a trail across northern England and in doing so providing those who follow it with a snapshot of the country. But what a magnificent snapshot that is! Around two-thirds of the walk is spent in the national parks of the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. These parks encompass the most dramatic upland scenery in England, from its highest fells to its largest lakes, some of its most beautiful woods and parts of its bleakest, barest moors. The walk also passes through areas alive with some of Britain's rarest wildlife, including red squirrels and otters, and even skirts around the eyrie of England's last surviving golden eagle. Furthermore, where man has settled on the trail he has, on the whole, worked in harmony with nature to produce some of England's finest villages, from idyllically situated Grasmere to unspoilt Egton Bridge. The trail itself is a further example of this harmony; these paths and bridleways have existed for centuries and though man-made, do not feel or look like an imposition on the landscape but are very much part of it. While these paths and villages continue to thrive under the steady stream of Coast to Coasters, in other places nature has reclaimed the poignant ruins of mills and mines, ancient Iron Age sites and mysterious stone circles which between them bear witness to thousands of years of human endeavour. They punctuate the path and provide absorbing highlights along the way. But the walker on the Coast to Coast path experiences additional, unquantifiable rewards. There is the pleasure of acquiring a developing level of fitness, the satisfaction of unravelling a route-finding conundrum and the relief when a hard-won day finally ends at the doorstep of a cosy B&B or in a centuries-old hostelry. Most memorably, it's the cheery camaraderie shared by your fellow pilgrims bound for Robin Hood's Bay and the window into the lives of the people who live and work in this fabulous landscape that stay with you as you transit the country from coast to coast. Wainwright's Coast to Coast pathThe Coast to Coast path owes its existence to one man: Alfred Wainwright. It was in 1972 that Wainwright, already renowned for his exquisitely illustrated guides to walking in the Lake District, finally completed a trek across the width of England along a path of his own devising. It was an idea that he had been kicking around for a time: to cross his native land on a route that, as far as he was aware, would 'commit no offence against privacy nor trample on the sensitive corns of landowners and tenants'. The result of his walk, a guidebook, was originally printed by his long-time publishers, The Westmoreland Gazette, the following year. It proved hugely successful. Indeed, a full twenty years after the book was first published, a television series of the trail was also made in which Wainwright himself starred, allowing a wider public to witness firsthand his wry, abrupt, earthy charm. Wainwright reminds people in his book that his is just one of many such trails across England that could be devised, and since Wainwright's book other Coast to Coast walks have indeed been established. Yet it is still his trail that is by far and away the most popular, and in order to distinguish it from the others, it is now commonly known as Wainwright's Coast to Coast path. The route has been amended slightly since 1973 mostly because, though careful to try to use only public rights of way, in a few places Wainwright's original trail actually intruded upon private land. Indeed, even today the trail does in places cross private territory and it's only due to the largesse of the landowners that the path has remained near-enough unchanged throughout its 200 miles. Though the trail passes through three national parks, crosses the Pennine Way and at times joins with both the Lyke Wake Walk and the Cleveland Way, it's not itself one of the 15 national trails in the UK, nor is it likely to become one anytime soon. What is certain is that despite this lack of official support, the Coast to Coast has become one of the most popular of Britain's long-distance paths, with estimates of up to 10,000 people attempting it annually. How difficult is the Coast to Coast path?Undertaken in one go the Coast to Coast path is a long, tough walk. Despite the presence of some fairly steep gradients, every mile is 'walkable' and no mountaineering or climbing skills are necessary. All you need is some suitable clothing, a bit of money, a backpack full of determination and a half-decent pair of calf muscles. In the 200-odd miles from seashore to seashore you'll have ascended and of course descended the equivalent height of Mount Everest. That said, the most common complaint we've received about this book, particularly from North American readers, is that it doesn't emphasise how tough it can be. So let us be clear: the Coast to Coast is a tough trek, particularly if undertaken in one go. Ramblers describe it as 'challenging' and they're not wrong. When walkers begin to appreciate just how tough the walk can be, what they're really discovering is the reality of covering a daily average of just over 14 miles or 23km, day after day, for two weeks, in fair weather or foul and while nursing a varying array of aches and pains. After all, how often do any of us walk 14 miles in a day, let alone continuously for two weeks? The Lake District, in particular, contains many steep sections that will test you to the limit; however, there are also plenty of genteel tearooms and accommodation options in this section should you prefer to break your days into easier sections. The topography of the eastern section is less extreme, though the number of places with accommodation drops too, and for a couple of days you may find yourself walking 15 miles or more in order to reach a town or village on the trail that has somewhere to stay. Regarding safety, there are few places on the regular trail where it would be possible to fall from a great height, save perhaps for the cliff walks that book-end the walk. On some of the high-level Lakeland alternatives (see pp112-3 and pp124-6), however, there is a chance of being blown off a ridge. In 2009 a walker suffered this fate and broke his ankle, as did the rescuer who came in a helicopter, though sustaining such a serious injury by being blown over is highly unusual. The greatest danger to trekkers is, perhaps, the likelihood of losing the way, particularly in the Lake District with its greater chance of poor visibility, bad weather and a distinct lack of signposting. A compass and knowing how to use it is vital, as is appropriate clothing for inclement weather and most importantly of all, a pair of boots which you ease on each morning with a smile not a grimace. Not pushing yourself too hard is important, too, as this leads to fatigue with all its inherent dangers, not least poor decision making. In case all this deters you from the walk bear in mind that in 2009 a 71-year-old finished the walk for the fifth time, and a 7-year-old girl once completed the walk with her father – and they all managed it in 13 days! At the same time young men with all the right kit and a previous crossing under their belt were finished after storming across to Shap in three days. How long do you need?We've heard about an athlete who completed the entire Coast to Coast path in just 37 hours and a walker who managed it in eight days. We also know somebody who did it in ten and another guy who did four four-day stages over four years. Continuously or over several visits, for most people, the Coast to Coast trail takes a minimum of 14 walking days, in other words an average distance of just over 14 miles (23km) a day. Indeed, even with a fortnight in which to complete the trail, many people still find it tough going, and it doesn't really allow you time to look around places such as Grasmere or Richmond which can deserve a day in themselves. So, if you can afford to build a couple of rest days into your itinerary or even break it up into shorter stages over several weeks, you'll be very glad you did. Of course, if you're fit there's no reason why you can't go a little faster if that's what you want to do, though you'll end up having a different sort of trek to most of the other people on the route. For where theirs is a fairly relaxing holiday, yours will be more of a sport as you try to reach the finishing line on schedule. There's nothing wrong with this approach, though you obviously won't see as much as those who take their time; chacun à son goût, as the French probably say. However, what you mustn't do is try to push yourself beyond your body's ability; such punishing challenges often end prematurely in exhaustion, injury or, at the absolute least, an unpleasant time. When deciding how long to allow for their trek, those intending to camp and carry their own luggage shouldn't underestimate just how much a heavy pack can wear you down. On pp34-5 there are some suggested itineraries covering different walking speeds. If you've only got a few days, don't try to walk it all; concentrate, instead, on one area such as the Lakes or North York Moors. You can always come back and attempt the rest of the walk another time. When to goSEASONSBritain is a notoriously wet country and the north-west of England is an infamously damp part of it. Rare indeed is the trekker who manages to walk the Coast to Coast path without suffering at least one day of rain; three or four days per trek is more likely, even in summer. That said, it's equally unlikely that you'll spend a fortnight in the area and not see any sun at all, and even the most cynical of walkers will have to admit that, during the walking season at least, there are more sunny days than showery ones. That walking season, by the way, starts at Easter and builds to a crescendo in August, before quickly tailing off in September. By the end of that month there are few trekkers on the trail, and in late October many places close down for the winter. SpringFind a couple of dry weeks in springtime and you're in for a treat. The wild flowers are beginning to come into bloom, lambs are skipping in the meadows and the grass is green and lush. Of course, finding a dry fortnight in spring (around the end of March to mid-June) is not easy but occasionally there's a mini-heatwave at this time. Another advantage will be fewer trekkers on the trail so finding accommodation without booking is relatively easy. Easter is the exception, the first major holiday in the year when people flock to the Lake District and other national parks. SummerSummer, on the other hand, can be a bit too busy and, in somewhere like the Lakes over a weekend in August, at times depressingly congested. Still, the chances of a prolonged period of sunshine are of course higher at this time of year than any other, the days are much longer and the heather is in bloom, too, turning the hills a fragrant purple. If you like the company of other trekkers summer will provide you with the opportunity of meeting scores of them, though do remember that you'll need to book your accommodation well in advance or be prepared to camp occasionally. Despite the higher-than-average chance of sunshine, take clothes for any eventuality – it's bound to rain at some point. AutumnSeptember can be a wonderful time to walk; many of the families have returned home and the path is clear although accommodation gets filled up in early September by a wave of older visitors who've been waiting for the new school term. The weather is usually sunny, too, at least at the beginning of September. By the end of the month the weather will begin to get a little wilder and the nights will start to draw in. For most mortals the walking season is almost at an end. WinterA few people trek the Coast to Coast in winter, putting up with the cold, damp conditions and short days for the chance to experience the trail without other tourists and maybe even under snow. Much of the accommodation will be closed too but whilst it may also be a little more dangerous to walk at this time, particularly on the high-level routes through the Lakes, if you find yourself walking on one of those clear, crisp, wintry days it will all seem absolutely worth it. RAINFALLAt some point on your walk, it will rain; if it doesn't, it's fair to say that you haven't really lived the full Coast to Coast experience properly. At nearly 4.7 metres (185 inches), the hills over Borrowdale on Stage 2 (see p106) record the highest rainfall in England; a staggering eight times more than the south-east of England, for example! The question, therefore, is not whether you will be rained on, but how often and how hard. But as long as you dress accordingly and take note of the safety advice given on pp71-5, this shouldn't be a problem. Do, however, think twice about tackling some of the high-level alternatives if the weather is bad and visibility poor, and don't do so on your own. DAYLIGHT HOURSIf walking in autumn, winter or early spring, you must take account of how far you can walk in the available light. It won't be possible to cover as many miles as you would in summer. Remember though, that you'll get a further 30-45 minutes of usable light before sunrise and after sunset depending on the weather. In June, because the path is in the far north of England, those coming from the south may be surprised that there's enough light for walking until at least 10pm. Conversely, in early spring, late autumn and winter you'll
Meet the Author
Henry Stedman is a hiker of considerable experience, having hiked in many parts of Europe, Asia and Africa. He has been writing guidebooks for more than 15 years.
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