Published: June 14th 2006April 10th 2006
Coast to Coast Hike (10th-21st April, 2006)
Just to give you a bit of background, the coast to coast walk (or C2C - Irish Sea to the North Sea) begins in St. Bees on the west coast of England and finishes in Robin Hood's Bay on the east coast. Covering 192 miles (306km), the walk passes through the Lakes District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. Alfred Wainwright completed the walk in 1972 and published his own route. Although there are maps of the trail there is no set path the entire way. There is scope for variations to be made to the walk and that is the way that Wainwright wanted it to be. He didn't want it to become a really well worn path like other walks in the area. There were many days on the walk when we were passing through farmland and we knew we had right of way across the land but some of the sheep we met didn't seem to think so!! More about that later! Here are a few stories for you.
Dipping of our Boots (St. Bees)
Olivia and I set out on the 11th of April from St.
St. Bees Head
The sky was blue and the sun was shining but not for long!
Bees. On the 10th we spent the day travelling by train from London to St. Bees via Carlisle. It was great to get out of London and see some of the english countryside. The final leg of the train journey took us along the coast where sometimes a section is impassable on the train when the tide is high. We also spotted the Isle of Man off the coastline. We had a leisurely afternoon in St. Bees, enjoyed the sunshine and found our starting point for the next morning. St. Bees had a 400 year old school and a 13th century nunnery. It would have been an opportune time to dip our boots in the Irish Sea (apparently a tradition before you start the walk that we didn't learn until at least Day 2!)
Another 5 Miles! (St. Bees to Ennerdale)
At Tomlin House B & B in St. Bees we enjoyed a typical hot english breakfast complete with black pudding and cumbrian sausage! What wasn't so enjoyable was the view as we were eating breakfast. The rain was pelting down on the glass and it was blowing a gale. We weren't quite as eager to get cracking as
Tomlin House B & B in St. Bees
Unfortunately we couldn't pack away our raincoats! Olivia looks sad but she is really happy because she gets to use her new raincoat(anorak) on Day 1!
the day before! The first section from St. Bees was along the coast around St. Bees Head. Olivia and I truly struggled to stay upright and remain on the path. There wasn't a chance even if we had known, of dipping our boots in the Irish Sea without being swept out to sea. We were high up on the cliff top (at least 50 metres or more up) and there was this white stuff blowing across in front of us. It was the white foam from the waves below!
It was quite a long day with lots of rain, gale force winds and mud. We became aware very quickly of it being lambing season when during our first paddock crossing we saw a new born lamb that was not yet walking and then its mum who was still losing its placenta. The mum made a lot of noise and started approaching us, clearly not wanting us anywhere near her new born.
We met an aussie couple from North Melbourne who insisted on taking us down a very steep grassy hill (only fit for sheep) insisting that Wainwright travelled the same route! Olivia's knee was not the same for the remainder
A Wet and Windy Start!
Olivia and I were lucky not to have been blown off St. Bees Head it was so windy!
of the walk.
We reached Ennerdale at around 4.30 only to be told that Ennerdale YHA is actually 5 miles (8km) out of Ennerdale. We had already travelled about 22km. Thankfully the manager at Ennerdale YHA still had a hot meal for us which was much appreciated after such a long, wet day.
Which Lake is Which? (Ennerdale to Rosthwaite)
A lovely day walking through the valley and then climbing out of the valley where we could see Lake Ennerdale and Lake Buttermere. We almost climbed back down to Lake Ennerdale for a 2nd look in fact until some fellow walkers pointed us in the right direction!
Lambs in Pink Raincoats, Bad Maps and Killer Hail! (Rosthwaite to Grasmere)
No kidding, there were really some baby lambs in pink plastic raincoats running around a farmyard. It may have been first thing in the morning but I was awake and not dreaming! And we may have wandered along a trail in the opposite direction than we should have been for a little while! Some old chaps walked us back in to Rosthwaite and we bought a new map and I started using the compass from there on in! The
So many cute lambs along the trail. Lamb cutlets were on the menu at a few pubs!
rain came again as did some big hail stones which really hurt my face. Olivia and I cowered behind a big rock until it stopped. My mobile then came in to service and I got a text message from my mum - she was in Apollo Bay and enjoying a hot chocolate with Baileys! That's just what Olivia and I needed in this storm! We didn't quite make it to Patterdale as planned due to our detour and bad weather but fortunately the YHA in Grasmere had a couple of spare beds!
Lamb Cutlets (Grasmere to Patterdale)
Another lovely walk through the valley and up to Grasmere Tarn. In Patterdale we met Kendra and Spike and had lunch at a local pub. We then drove on to Kirkby Stephen arriving at the YHA which was coverted from one of the towns churches in 1981. Kendra and I discovered the lamb numbering system. Members of the sme family were all numbered the same in coloured paint/spray. Most sheep had 2 baby lambs so all 3 would share the same number and were often running around together. It didn't stop some of us from ordering lamb cutlets that evening for dinner!
Snow on the hills!
Thankfully they didn't tell us which numbered lamb it was!
All Creatures Great and Small (Keld to Reeth)
From Kirkby Stephen, Packhorse transport picked up Olivia and I and dropped us in Keld for the beginning of the walk through the Yorkshire Dales. There were many more farms which involved lots of stile climbing and difficult squeezes through narrow gates. I was even faced with a sheep who started to charge towards me, wanting us to keep our distance from the baby lambs. Olivia just kept telling me not to make eye contact! Reeth is famous for the filming of All Creatures Great and Small. Olivia also took a dip in the Swaledale River. The sun was out after all! It was a spectacular tumble - arms and legs going in different directions as she slipped while crossing the river.
Old Brewery B & B (Reeth to Richmond)
Kendra and Spike joined us for the first section of this walk. Lots more cute lambs! Arriving in Richmond, we wandered around the market square and then visited Richmond Castle. Lord Baden Powell was the commanding officer of Richmond Castle between 1908-1910 for the interests of guiding friends.
Which way did Alfred Wainwright go?
Olivia studying Alfred Wainwrights guide.
York Moors (Ingleby Cross to Claybank Top)
Walked through lots of heather on the Moors. Unfortunately at this time of year it isn't all that colourful. In August it turns purple in colour.
An Actresses Call (Claybank Top to Glaisdale)
A long day (30km) across the Moors. This morning Olivia had a phone call from her agent asking her to attend a meeting with a director of a new series in London. Too good an opportunity to turn down so Olivia headed back to London from Glaisdale the following morning. The funniest thing was that Olivia had to flag down the train in Glaisdale. It doesn't always stop!
Intake Farm (Glaisdale to Littlebeck)
Going solo just for the last 2 days. Olivia and I were both disappointed that she wasn't able to complete the walk. A muddy start to the day following the Esk river. Lots of pheasants about but no pheasant pie! Spent the night at a farm in Littlebeck. Learnt a little more about the effect of foot and mouth disease. This farm was in a restricted zone. They were not permitted to buy or sell stock and a certain proportion of their stock had to
be blood tested by a vet. Their animals weren't infected but they weren't allowed to have anyone visit the farm. It affected their B & B business enormously. A lot of farms could not afford to keep running after losing stock.
Mist Over The Bay (Littlebeck to Robin Hood's Bay)
Quite a boggy walk through the Moors today. Glad I had my gaitors. There was a thick sea mist over Robin Hood's Bay so unfortunately there wasn't such a great view. I dipped my boots in the North Sea and then visited Wainwright's Bar. I signed the book and enjoyed wandering around this cute little seaside town.
Unfortunately the sea mist didn't lift over Robin Hood's Bay the following morning. I headed back to London via Scarborough where there was also a sea mist over the town.
The Coast to Coast was a great hike. Very different to other hikes I've done in the past. It was great staying in YHA's and B & B's all the way and passing through some great country towns. A hot bath in the evenings certainly helps the stiffness the next morning! There were little stone walls everywhere and they are
Very happy that they had 2 spare beds!
hundreds of years old (older than Australia!). I enjoyed walking through all the farmland even more so since it was lambing season.
There are more photos below