Not many people outside rambler circles will be familiar with Alfred Wainwright, but the 190-mile (306km) coast-to-coast walk he documented in his 1973 book is becoming increasingly popular.
Wainwright was a fellwalker from Blackburn, Lancashire in central Britain. He used his passion and his expertise to pen over 40 books and pictorial guides between 1955 and 1974 before presenting three BBC TV series about Britain’s illustrious fells.
His work has become the go-to reference for the fells in the Yorkshire Moors and Cumbria.
This year has marked the 50th anniversary of Wainwright’s infamous Coast-to-Coast pictorial guide, detailing the route and stop-off points between St Bees Head in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire.
Until recently, Wainwright’s iconic route was an “unofficial” hiking path but was announced as an official National Trail in 2022.
However, the walk has not only grown in popularity to commemorate the memory of Alfred Wainwright and the great work he did. The relationship between mental health awareness and the benefits of walking has played a key role as well.
A recent survey reveals that most Brits go walking to improve their mental health more than their physical appearance.
What is Wainwright’s Coast-to-Coast Walk?
The “Coast to Coast Walk” is a long-distance footpath in Northern England that spans approximately 192 miles (309 km) from the Irish Sea in St. Bees, Cumbria, to the North Sea in Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire.
The walk is often attributed to Alfred Wainwright, a renowned British fellwalker, guidebook author, and illustrator, though he didn’t create the route itself. Instead, Wainwright’s 1973 book “A Coast to Coast Walk” popularised and documented the route, making it widely known.
The Coast to Coast Walk is famous for its diversity of landscapes and scenic beauty, taking walkers through three national parks: the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, and the North York Moors.
It encompasses a range of terrains, from rugged mountains and rolling hills to tranquil lakes and charming villages. Some key highlights and features of the walk include:
The walk begins at the picturesque coastal village of St. Bees on the Irish Sea, with a ceremonial dip of your toes in the sea before setting off.
The route passes through the stunning Lake District National Park, offering panoramic views of fells, lakes, and forests. Some notable locations in this section include Ennerdale Water, Borrowdale, and Patterdale.
The trail takes you across the Pennine mountain range, offering challenging ascents and descents, particularly in the High Street section.
You’ll cross the Yorkshire Dales, with beautiful limestone landscapes, picturesque dales, and charming villages like Keld and Reeth.
Vale of Mowbray:
The route traverses the Vale of Mowbray before entering the North York Moors National Park.
North York Moors:
The walk concludes in the scenic fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea coast, with stunning views of the coast and the dramatic cliffs.
The Coast to Coast Walk is typically completed over several days, with accommodations available in the form of inns, bed and breakfasts, and campsites along the route. It’s a challenging but rewarding journey, suitable for experienced hikers, and it offers a wonderful opportunity to experience some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in England.
Before embarking on the Coast to Coast Walk, it’s important to plan carefully, including preparing for changing weather conditions and having appropriate maps and guidebooks. Additionally, it’s advisable to notify someone of your plans and progress for safety reasons.
Reports reveal that some parts of the walk are not well signposted, but that is expected to change thanks to the £5.6 route upgrade that is being conducted by Natural England.
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