Thursday, 18 October 2012

Coast to Coast (C2C) walk England - the overview

Trevor and I will be tackling the Coast to Coast Walk next northern summer i.e.2013. We will be walking in a group with a guide. The company we have chosen is Northwestwalks.

Northwestwalks Coast to Coast guided tours follow Wainwrights famous 190 mile long-distance route across the North of England. From St Bees on the Irish Sea to Robin Hoods Bay on the North Sea the route leads through spectacular scenery and contrasting landscapes, crossing the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks.

There is a wealth of history along the route.

Initially the route follows the coastline around St Bees Head before turning east and entering the Lake District National Park. The Lake District is home to spectacular lake and mountain scenery. Although not high the mountains are rugged with steep footpaths. From Shap the Coast to Coast route levels to cross the undulating farmland between the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, where the high ground returns but with less demanding ascents. At Richmond we leave the Dales and walk across the low lying Vale of Mowbray to Ingleby Cross and the beginning of the North York Moors. From here the trail leads on a roller coaster ride across the heather covered hills to the North Sea and Robin Hoods Bay.

The Coast to Coast is a lengthy challenging 'trek' and should not be under estimated, the valleys through the middle section, and the arable land in the eastern section make for straightforward walking, but the hills of the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors are rugged and gradients can be steep, so walkers must be physically fit, and equipped to meet it. The terrain on this trail is a diversity of rocky mountain paths, limestone plateau’s, country lanes, rolling hillsides and farmland.

The guided coast to coast holidays are group holidays with a guide. Each night on the trail we will stay in a different village along the route in selected accommodation, with full English breakfast provided. Our luggage will be transferred for us between overnight stops. We only need to carry a day pack: wet weather gear, extra layers in case it gets cold, lunch, drinks and whatever else we need for the day.

Start point: St Bees, Cumbria

End point: Robin Hoods Bay, North Yorkshire

Direction of walk: West to East

Grade: A challenging route walked at a steady pace and therefore a good level of fitness (stamina and cardiovascular) is required.

Group size: There will be a maximum of 12 people plus guide.

Terrain: The varies from rocky paths (especially in the National Parks), to farmland and country lanes. The National Parks provide the added challenges of some steep ascents and descents (perfect if you like walking in the mountains and hills). Ropes are not required. Footpaths can be hazardous (loose rock, wet, vegetation, scree, steep paths, vehicles, etc) so care and a sense of awareness is required.

Included in the price of the holiday are 14 nights accommodation with full English breakfast, experienced guide, luggage transfer and personal accommodation to accommodation transfer if required (so it is possible to bail out of a day and rest rather than walk).

Not included in the price: Evening meals, packed lunches, drinks and snacks, travel insurance, travel to St Bees and from Robin Hoods Bay, souvenirs, etc. Even so, the price is very reasonable compared to guided walks here in Australia.

Accommodation is provided in a variety of selected comfortable B&Bs, Guest Houses, small hotels and Inns. Types and standards of accommodation vary from village to village, and room sizes and facilities vary within accommodation. Many properties are hundreds of years old, and although many rooms have been converted to ensuite it has not been possible to do so in some properties or rooms due to space limitations or buildings having listed status (a property preservation order). Most rooms are ensuite but we expect to share a bathroom (i.e. have a non ensuite room) for one or two or nights of a full tour.

B&Bs in England are typically good value and country pubs are often full of character so some of the adventure of this trip will be the places we stay.

Guides: As well as leading the way the experienced Guide will provide daily information about the route its varied landscapes and local history. The guide will also provide information about the villages, places to eat, etc.

Meals: A full English breakfast is included in the cost and is served at the accommodation. Packed lunches (average cost £5) are available to buy from the accommodation or local shop, and evening meals (average cost £12) are generally available from local pubs.

Weather in Northern England is best described as changeable but there can be long dry warm spells. Walkers should be prepared for all possibilities as weather, particularly in the mountains, can change quickly. Weather statistics are available from the Met Office at If severe weather conditions prevail during the holiday the guide may have to change the route, delay or cancel a day’s walk.

Route description

Each stage (day) of the walk is set down in a separate post. These posts are intended to provide some further information about the route and points of interest. All distances, timings and heights are approximate and are provided as an aid to describe the route. The time to cover the distance includes time spent walking and time for breaks.

Day 1: St Bees
Arrive at St Bees. We will probably fly into Heathrow and then take the train from London to St Bees, a 5 hour trip. We will be staying at Stonehouse Farm which is about 100m from the railway station. We will be meeting our guide and fellow walkers at a welcome meeting in the guest lounge, Stonehouse Farm at 5pm.

Days 2 to 14 are walking days and each of these days is detail in the 13 stage posting.

Day 15: Robin Hoods Bay
Robin Hoods Bay is our walking destination which will will get to at the end of stage 13. It is a picturesque once fishing village and reputed smugglers haunt. Being built on the hillside the street from top to bottom of the village is the final steep descent/ascent on route.

And after the walk?
We will probably spend a few days just south of Robin Hoods Bay as I have a heap of ancestors from this area of the Yorkshire coast as well as the area a little inland from Scarborough.

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