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Eric Robson and Alfred Wainwright

Eric Robson and Alfred Wainwright

Eric Robson and Alfred Wainwright

This is a walk for those with a liking for long distance 'unofficial' expeditions. It is a journey on foot from St. Bees Head on the Irish Sea to Robin's Hood Bay on the North Sea, the route crossing the Lake District and the Pennines into Swaledale and ending with a traverse of the Cleveland Hills and the North York Moors. It links the three National Parks.

The length of the walk is 190 miles, all of it on rights of way or through areas of open access, and an average walker will do it in two weeks.

The countryside traversed is beautiful almost everywhere, yet extremely varied in character, with mountains and hills, valleys and rivers, heather moors and sea cliffs combining in a pageant of colourful scenery. It is of great interest both topographically and geologically and you will see part of the history of England on this walk.

The route, which has a bias in favour of high ground rather than low, is divided into convenient sections, each of sufficient distance to provide a good days march for the average walker.

Day 1: St. Bees to Ennerdale Bridge: 14 ¼ miles
Day 2: Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite: 14 ½ miles
Day 3: Rosthwaite to Patterdale: 17 ¾ miles
Day 4: Patterdale to Shap: 16 miles
Day 5: Shap to Kirkby Stephen: 20 miles
Day 6: Kirkby Stephen to Keld: 12 ¾ miles
Day 7: Keld to Reeth: 11 ¼ miles
Day 8: Reeth to Richmond: 10 ½ miles
Day 9: Richmond to Ingleby Cross: 23 miles
Day 10: Ingleby Cross to Clay Bank Top: 12 ¼ miles
Day 11: Clay Bank Top to Glaisdale: 18 ¾ miles
Day 12: Glaisdale to Robin's Hood Bay: 19 miles

You will find further information about the Cumbrian days of the walk on this site but to complete the whole route we recommend visiting our eshop for Wainwright's official guide.

Route Information

Time/Effort 5 out of 5
Navigation 4 out of 5
Technicality 3 out of 5
Height gain/loss (metres) 2560
OS map OS Explorers 303, OL6, OL5, OL19 + A.W's C2C Guide
Refreshments towns and villages on the routes

Route Essentials

Duration: 12 - 14 days

Miles: 190

Route Details

Coast to Coast - an introduction by Eric Robson.

It all began with a ruler laid on a map. In the early 1970s A. Wainwright had already become the patron saint of Lakeland fell walkers. His seven volume Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells were heading for their millionth sale and Wainwright was looking for a new challenge. Long distance walking was catching on in Britain - even though we were a long way behind our continental cousins. The final section of The Pennine Way from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders had been officially opened in 1965. So Wainwright set about devising a walk across England, using footpaths and other rights of way. The end result was the 192 mile route from St. Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood's Bay on the Yorkshire coast and passing through three National Parks - the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.
A.W. devised a way of breaking the walk into day stages so that it could be completed during a fortnight's holiday break. He also offered a more leisurely version that gave people 'time to stand and stare', always one of Wainwright's favourite pastimes.

Tens of thousands of walkers have completed the Wainwright Coast to Coast challenge over the years. Many of them would share A.W.s view that, whereas the Pennine Way with its interminable peat hags is a walk you finish with relief, the Coast to Coast is a walk you finish with regret.

Wainwright was immensely proud of his creation - even though, modestly, he titled is book A Coast to Coast Walk, never laying claim to being definitive. In his later years what gave him great pleasure were the stories of local economic benefit that the walk had created. When I walked sections of the Coast to Coast with him in the 1980s he heard how many businesses were benefiting from the flow of Wainwright walkers through places such as Shap and Keld.

It's a great and varied walk which in 2004 was voted the second best long distance walk in the world, beating the Inca Trail and the trek to Everest. Only the Milford Trail in New Zealand pipped it. Not bad for the work of an old chap with a map and a ruler in a back bedroom in Kendal.

The Wainwright Society:

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