Thursday, 18 October 2012

C2C Stage 1: St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge

Well, this is our first day of walking on the Coast to Coast trail. With 22.5 kms ahead of us I hope that the weather is fine and that we manage this challenging first day without too many problems.

St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge (village height above sea level 100m)
Distance 14 miles/ 22.5km - Strenuous - Height Gain 685m/2250ft – 7.5 hours

Setting out from Stone House Farm in St Bees at 9:00am.
Arriving at Ennerdale Bridge at approximately 4:30pm

As far as most walkers are concerned, 'Mile Zero' on the path is at the Coast to Coast sign by the RNLI hut facing the Irish Sea. A plaque on the seafront marks the start of Wainwrights coast to coast walk. Tradition says to dip your toe in the sea and then collect a small pebble to carry with you to the east coast.

The day offers varied scenery. Initially our route heads north along the coastal path with views of Scotland and the Isle of Man. We leave the coastal path and head east towards the Lake District Mountains. The route passes through the villages of Sandwith, Moor Row and Cleator followed by a steep walk up Dent (352m), the high point of the day. Admire the views before continuing across the hilltop and descending steeply down a forest track to Nannycatch Beck. We follow the beck and then a roadside path to Ennerdale Bridge. Ennerdale Bridge is at the edge of the Lake District National Park.

Most walkers find this first day a bit of a struggle, particularly the haul up and over Dent Hill into Ennerdale Bridge.

Notable landmarks:
  • The cleft of Fleswick Bay composed of a secluded pebbly beach surrounded by red sandstone cliffs with some unusually weathered boulders on the shore, if you can be bothered to make the short detour. The bay marks the dividing line between the constituent parts of St Bees Head: South Head and North Head.
  • St Bees Lighthouse
  • Sandwith - the first settlement of note on the trail almost 5 miles/8km along the path from St Bees.
  • Moor Row is half way to Ennerdale Bridge and has a couple of places where food and drinks can be purchased.
  • Cleator ... an ancient village with little to recommend it today
  • The long and sweaty climb up Dent Hill takes about an hour from Cleator. At the top, provided the weather is clear, there should be views to the Lakeland fells ahead and the sea behind, with the gigantic plant of Sellafield to the south-west, Egremont before it and, on a good day, the silhouette of the Isle of Man and Galloway (Scotland) across the Solway Firth.
  • The path descends Raven Crag hill which is quite steep and poles could be handy. It is good training and scenic.
  • Ennerdale Bridge is the first of the self-consciously pretty Lakeland villages occupying a wonderful location spanning the River Ehen.
On route at Cleator are a small shop and the Three Tuns Pub.

Ennerdale Bridge has two village pubs serving evening meals and packed lunches.

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