Rollup, rollup for just the first half of Wainwright’s masterpiece! This is a chance to walk part of the famous Coast-to-Coast walk, getting a taste of Britain’s long distance hikes. This itinerary traverses The Lake District national park ending at the quaint market town of Kirkby Stephen. Pass through the dramatic landscapes of the Lake District, majestic lakes, rugged mountains, working hill farms and pretty villages, many of which include a fine traditional English public house!
It is amazing to think that this most famous of routes, totally eclipsing the Pennine Way in terms of popularity and variety, is still not classified as a National Trail! Starting at the tiny Cumbrian seaside resort of St. Bees on the Irish Sea we head east, with the prevailing wind at our backs, into the Lake District. Walk through Ennerdale, Borrowdale and Patterdale passing by some of its most famous lakes and cross some important passes. If you are feeling fit there are options to extend a few days to include a famous peak or two such as Helvellyn.
Emerging from the mountains of Cumbria and looking east towards the Yorkshire Dales you reach your journeys end; not quite Coast to Coast but a fulfilling week of walking through some of England’s best mountain scenery.
The trip is graded Moderate to Challenging. Some long days and steep climbs and descents. Generally however undulating. Mixed weather can be expected. We would not recommend the route for first time walkers. Note that often the trails in the Lake District especially are steep and rocky at times. Despite its justifiable popularity, this is not a National Trail.
Make your own way to the starting point St Bees on the edge of the Irish Sea with views across to the Isle of Man. You should have time to visit the Abbey church, which has features on the local history and has a display on a mummified knight that was discovered in a lead coffin from the graveyard. If you have an extra night here, you can follow the coastal path or quiet inland roads to the attractive town of Whitehaven, with its marina and great museum. It is famous in the annals of the US navy as the site of an elaborate raid on the British mainland by one John Paul Jones during the American War of Independence.
Accommodation: A 17th century sandstone barn situated on the main street in the coastal village of St. Bees. The barn was initially converted in the 1980's into a large guesthouse and self-contained flats. All rooms have a colour television and tea & coffee facilities.
Climb from the beach taking a footpath along red sandstone coastal cliffs of St Bees Head with England’s only breeding colony of Black Guillimots, then inland over hilly ground to the edge of the Lake District National Park. Dent Hill is the first real fell that you cross and will give you some indication as to whether you are fit enough for the pursuivant days! Although short, there follows possibly the steepest descent of the whole tour down to Nanny catch Gate and beck a delightful stroll along which brings you to the final descent to leafy Ennerdale Bridge. The day’s total ascent 780m / descent 665m.
Accommodation: Overnight at a friendly, family owned hotel. Enjoy a home cooked meal of local produce including fish and game in season. A traditional feel is retained by the hotel, with its open fire, and the fully licensed bar serves a range of beverages including locally produced ale.
A quiet and scenic footpath along the shore of Ennerdale Water, with a bit of an easy scramble under Angler’s Crag at Robin Hood’s Seat. A long walk on a forest track then continues to Black Sail Hut, which is the smallest Youth hostel and originally a shepherd’s hut. A steep climb follows up the Lowther Beck before traversing some of the Lake land fells, perhaps with views down to Buttermere. Finally you reach the ‘drum house’ which marks the descent path to the Honister slate mine workings with its useful cafe to Borrowdale; perhaps the most delightful valley in the Lakes with its crags and broadleaved trees. This is a delightful ensemble of hamlets, Seatoller (the wettest place in England), Longthwaite, Rossthwaite and Stonethwaite. Delightful riverside paths connect the places and their pubs, together if you have sufficient energy left of an evening. You might be interested to know that ‘thwaite’ is old Norse for paddock. The day’s total ascent 765m / descent 785m.
Accommodation: Borrowdale - Tonight we stay in a small and long established guesthouse. It is set in a beautiful small hamlet town. A popular peaceful retreat for former clients. Ensuite facilities are not available here as it is a listed building that changes cannot be made to.
Classic Lakeland scenery over Greenup Edge to Easedale and Grasmere. Grasmere is one of Lakeland’s most celebrated villages, and hopefully there is time either this afternoon or tomorrow morning to visit the poet Wordsworth's home at Dove Cottage and drop into the famous Ginger bread shop! The day’s total ascent 750m / descent 760m.
Accommodation: Our small family run guesthouse is conveniently placed in the centre of this delightful village.
A great walk over Grisedale Pass (609m/2000ft) and around the small mountain lake of Grisedale Tarn to Patterdale. In good weather if you are reasonably strong, the best option is to take the route up St. Sunday Crag, for some exceptional views down across Ullswater as you descend to Patterdale, possibly the most breathtaking of the trip. Add 2 miles and 2 hours if include detour via Summit of Helvellyn. Add 1 ½ hours for detour of St. Sunday Crag. The day’s total ascent: 900m / descent 805m via the recommended route over St. Sunday Crag.
Accommodation: Tonight’s Coaching Inn accommodation is popular with visitors and local people alike since the early 1800’s. Many a tale could be told of events that have taken place in all its lifetime, including the time when Wordsworth was in this very bar as news arrived that Nelson had died at Trafalgar. This is a listed building so the rooms are small, to change this would spoil the character of this wonderful inn.
Some would say this was the most difficult stage especially in bad weather when you do need to be ready with map and compass. The day starts with a steep climb up past pretty Angle Tarn, and then up and onwards to a critical cairn where you turn off the route to High Street to go up and over Kidsty Pike (780m / 2560ft), the highest point on the whole route and then descend steeply to walk along Haweswater, a huge body of water conceived in 1929 to supply Manchester with drinking water, drowning a couple of villages in the process. You then undulate through fields to Shap Abbey, the most easterly point of the Lake District National Park. This was the last Abbey to be founded in England in 1199 and the last to be destroyed in 1540. It nevertheless is a pretty place to pause with some new interpretation signs. After this continue into Shap, the old granite mining town with several pubs and shops. The village offers an interesting insight to the history of the area, and the old Shap Abbey is nearby. The day’s total ascent 1174m / descent 1009m.
Accommodation: The proprietors will welcome you to their guesthouse in the village of Shap.
There follows a hilly section across Limestone Moors with limestone pavements in places strewn with ‘erratic’ boulders moved there by glaciers. Finally you drop into the gentler climes around Orton, a diversion of about a mile can be made to this quaint picturesque village with Kennedy’s Chocolate factory to lead you into temptation. Walking now between Cumbria and The Yorkshire Dales, there is a lot of attractive farmland to cross with a section of moors around Sunbiggin Tarn, which is an important site for birds. A steep descent to the Scandal Beck at Smardale Bridge makes for a nice late lunch stop. Then ascend over Smardale Fell for the pretty descent into Kirkby Stephens and attractive market town, with St. Hedda’s Church containing the 8th Century Loki stone relating to Norse Mythology. The day’s total ascent 808m / descent 950 m.
Accommodation: This accommodation has many unusual features, and is of an exceptionally high standard. It is a Grade II listed Georgian town house full of character, with a friendly relaxed atmosphere
Trip concludes after breakfast.
Per Person, Twin Share