England's Coast to Coast Guide: Choosing Your Walk

Guided hike along the Coast to Coast | Jac Lofts
Guided hike along the Coast to Coast | Jac Lofts

Coast to Coast Guide: Choosing Your Walk

This helpful guide to Wainwright's Way in England will help you pick the right tour 

 
England's Coast to Coast is one of the world’s most iconic walks and is on the bucket list for most keen hikers. 
 
It's also referred to as Wainright's Walk, named after Alfred Wainwright, the author of a well-known series of mountain-walking guide books on the Lake District. Among his books is the first guide ever written on the Coast to Coast walk that spans the complete breadth of England.
 
As specialists on this classic English hike, UTracks offers a number of affordable guided and self guided walking and cycling tour options. This handy reference guide has been designed to help you select the right trip for you.
 
Hikers above Grizedale Tarn in the Lake District |  <i>John Millen</i> 

What Exactly is the Coast to Coast Walk?

 
England’s Coast to Coast walk crosses from West to East on one of the narrowest parts of the island. The route begins on the Cumbrian coastal town of St Bees, which overlooks the Irish Sea. It crosses through three national parks; the Lake District National Park, Yorkshire Dales National Park and North York Moors National Park, before finally reaching picturesque Robin Hood’s Bay overlooking the North Sea. 
 
Above Swaledale, walking in England

What are my walking tour options for the Coast to Coast?

 
You can choose from a self guided walk or a guided small group experience. The various full trail trip options on offer essentially differ in duration, from 15 to 18 days. Or, you can break it up into two smaller stages, from St Bees to Kirkby Stephen, or from Kirby Stephen to Robin Hood’s Bay
 
Walkers on the Coast to Coast trail, England

It's only England; it can't be that hard, right? 

 
Wrong. Experienced trekkers have stated they have found the Coast to Coast Walk more difficult than climbing Kilimanjaro or trekking to Everest Base Camp. This is because of the distances covered, an average of 24kms each day on the shorter walk. 
 
Backing that up over 2 weeks – without a rest day - it is important to consider your fitness before undertaking this challenging walk. All our full trail Coast to Coast Walks are graded at the higher end of our grading scale, moderate to challenging and challenging. Check out our honest Trip Grading System for how we define our trips.
 
Watch our inspiring video on the Coast to Coast for the full armchair experience.
 

What's the most Challenging Coast to Coast Walk?

 
The shortest version, our 15-day Coast to Coast Walk (available as both escorted and self-guided). It’s the most challenging version of the Coast to Coast Walk because you do the full length of the route in just 13 days of walking. The walking distances and times are longer than on any of our other trips.
 
Walking up from Fleswick Bay on Wainright's Walk |  <i>John Millen</i> 

What's the Least Challenging Coast to Coast Walk?

 
The longer 18-day self guided Rambler tour of the Coast to Coast Walk allows the slowest pace. Walking distances are shorter so you have more time to rest and take in the scenery. Of course, on self guided trips it’s possible to add in extra rest days in any of our itineraries, just talk to us about your needs. 
 
Beggars bridge near Glaisedale |  <i>John Millen</i>
 

I'm Interested in a Self Guided Coast to Coast walking tour. What's the Signage like along the Route?

 
The Coast to Coast Walk varies in its signage. The walk is not an official long distance footpath and because of that there are no official waymarks. When you pass through the towns and villages, most often you will find wooden sign posts. 
 
In the Dales there are some Coast-2-Coast signs and in the Cleveland Hills you can partially follow certain waymarks. However, especially in the Lake District and in parts of the Dales, you must be prepared as there are no waymarks whatsoever. The Coast to Coast crosses a number of other routes such as the Cumbrian Way and Herriot Way so you can’t assume the person in front of you is going the same way. 
 
We provide you with comprehensive route notes and maps, which we have refined over many years. Combine this with our luggage transfers and it makes sense to organise your individual walking experience with us.
 
  Coast to Coast Walk Map

I am short on time. Which Coast to Coast walking tour can I do?

 
Break the trail into two sections – or consider cycling it (see further on). You walk the first part of the route, from St Bees to Kirkby Stephen, in eight days. This stretch shows you the Lake District and is considered the most scenic section of the Coast to Coast Walk. 
 
The first few days will take you over some of the most rugged and beautiful terrain of the Lake District. You will also pass Helvellyn (950m), England’s third highest mountain. You can decide to walk to the summit on a detour and on a clear day you may be able to see Scotland and Wales from its summit. 
 
Then come back another time to complete the Kirkby Stephen to Robin Hood’s Bay stage, which takes 9 days. 
 
Smardale Bridge among picturesque English countryside |  <i>John Millen</i>

Will I miss anything if I walk the Classic 15 Day Coast to Coast tour?

 
In principle, all trips follow the same route. However, there are very minor differences between the 15 to 18 day routes in that you follow slightly different paths in order to arrive in a village on time. Whether you choose to walk the classic 15 day route or one of the extended versions, you will still take in all the important villages, sights and wonderful nature. The main difference is the walking pace. 
 
On the moors near Orton Scar, England

I'm more of a cycling person...

 
There is a cyclist’s Coast to Coast – referred to as C2C or Sea-to-Sea - available as well. It covers a different route and embraces different scenery. This is a 6 day self guided cycling tour that offers superb cycling amidst the Lake District's great scenery. 
 
Cycling along the Coast to Coast in England |  <i>Andrew Bain</i>

Can I start in Robin Hood's Bay instead?

 
All our Coast to Coast Walks travel from West (St Bees) to East (Robin Hood’s Bay). This follows Wainwright’s original description of the walk and is the way all the guidebooks describe the trail. If you follow this direction, you’ll have the prevailing winds in your back and towards the end of the day, the sun won't hinder your vision. 
 

View all Coast to Coast tours.

 
Have you done the Coast to Coast trail? Let us know about your experiences in the comment section below.
 
  
England, Coast to Coast, United Kingdom, Wainwright's Way, Walking, Cycling

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