Coast to Coast: St Bees to Kirkby Stephen Guided Walk

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Coast to Coast: St Bees to Kirkby Stephen Guided Walk

Trip Highlights

  • Explore on foot the dramatic landscapes of the Lake District with its' majestic lakes, and rugged mountains
  • Experience a taste of the famous Coast-to-Coast walk, one of Britain’s best long distance hikes
  • Enjoy the hospitality of your hosts in warm B&Bs along the route

Trip Summary

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.

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.

Suitability

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.

Itinerary

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. This evening you will meet your guide for a welcome briefing. If you have an extra night, 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.

Meals:  Nil

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.

Meals:  B

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.

Meals:  B

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.

Meals:  B

A great walk over Grisedale Pass (609m/2000ft) and around the small mountain lake of Grisedale Tarn to Glenridding or 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.

Meals:  B

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.

Meals:  B

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.

Meals:  B

Trip concludes after breakfast.

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • 7 breakfasts
  • 7 nights B&B accommodation on a twin share basis
  • One piece of luggage per person transferred from Inn to Inn, not exceeding 20kg
  • Walking guide accompanying group

What's Not Included

  • Dinner, lunches and drinks
  • Entrance fees
  • Travel to the start and from the end point of the trip
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
  • Unscheduled transfers required during the trip

Upcoming Travel Dates

AT A GLANCE

Duration:8 Days
Countries:England
Starting Point:St Bees
Finishing Point:Kirkby Stephen
Activities:Guided Walking
Grade:moderate to challenging  Click for more information
Trip Code:WKG
Prices From:GBP£1180 Per Person
Single Supplement:GBP£160  Click for more information
Please do not book any flights or extra arrangements until such time that your booking is confirmed by Sherpa Expeditions by phone or email.