The Coast to Coast guides (photo by Chris Butterfield)
Devised by Alfred Wainwright, and in 1972 “finally accomplished”, the Coast to Coast is regarded as one of the best long distance walks in the UK; in 2004, some experts even voted it the second best walk in the world. The route is over 190 miles, which stretches across Northern England starting from St Bees on the Cumbria coast, and finishing at Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Yorkshire coast. It passes through three national parks: the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, and the North Yorkshire Moors. Wainwright recommends that walkers dip their boots in the Irish Sea at St Bees, and at the end of the walk in the North Sea at Robin Hood’s Bay. It is popular for ‘coast to coasters’ to collect a pebble from the beach at St Bees, and then carry it across Northern England before throwing it into the North Sea at the end.
“One should always have a definite objective, in a walk as in life – it is so much more satisfying to reach a target by personal effort than to wander aimlessly. An objective is an ambition, and life without ambition is…….well, aimless wandering.” A Coast to Coast Walk
Wainwright suggested the route to be walked over 12 days, and with one or two rest days, the walk can make a two week holiday, however, Wainwright states that he did not intend people to necessarily stick to these daily stages, or even to his original route.
“The route detailed in this book is my own preference, but some walkers may choose to vary it in places, either to make additional detours or to short-cut corners, or even follow their own course over lengthy distances. Such personal initiatives are to be encouraged – if they do not involve trespass. The way you go and the time it takes matter not. The essence of the walk is the crossing of England, from coast to the other, on foot.” A Coast to Coast Walk
‘A Coast to Coast Walk’, first published in 1973, contains Wainwright’s original text and his hand-drawn black and white route maps. The book received its first official revision by Chris Jesty in 1994.
A Second Edition of ‘A Coast to Coast Walk’ was published in June 2010 by Frances Lincoln. The book was completely revised and updated by Chris Jesty, who had previously revised the seven ‘A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells’ and ‘The Outlying Fells’. In this edition, the route is picked out in red for greater visibility on the page and the complete walk has been checked and updated where necessary.