I did it! I have walked from one coast of England to another, a distance of around 192 miles in twelve days…

It was a fantastic walk and a great adventure. I was amazed at how varied the route actually is- I walked along coasts, through villages and farmland, climbed mountains, trekked across bleak and barren moorland, explored ancient ruins and old mine workings and crossed over the roller coaster paths of the North York Moors.

I had chosen to park in the secure car park at the caravan park at Kirkby Stephen and use the Packhorse service to transport me to St Bees to start the walk. As I drove to Kirkby Stephen the hills were obscured by mist and the rain hammered the windscreen, which didn’t bode well for today’s walk.

I parked up and was collected by Peter, who confirmed that I was his only passenger this morning. As we passed through the sodden and mostly invisible Lake District he gave me useful pointers along the Lake District section, particularly around Kidsty Pike where it is easy to take the wrong path. As he drove, I asked Peter whether many walkers resort to using the bus; he told me a few anecdotes, including one unlucky lady walking with her husband, who fell whilst descending Red Pike and broke her leg in two places. She was airlifted to hospital where she was given a temporary splint and chose to rejoin the route using the Packhorse transport to support her husband, being lifted in and out of the bus each morning and evening.

Peter also recalled another group who were totally unprepared for the terrain they found themselves walking through and, after walking for two days, promptly chose to ride the bus for the rest of the walk!

St Bees Head

As we rolled into St Bees I was pleased to note it had stopped raining and clearer weather appeared to be rolling in from the coast. I said goodbye to Peter and, feeling rather awkward and self-conscious, decided to have a coffee and cake at the café before setting forth.

Nobody in there looked as though they were potential Coast to Coast walkers, so after faffing around a bit I set off in search of the Irish sea to soak my boots in the tradition advocated by Wainwright. I chose two pebbles- one to keep and one to throw into the North Sea at Robin Hood’s Bay, took a bad selfie by the notice indicating the start of the Coast to Coast path and set off along the cliff path, which rapidly climbed above the town.

Dodgy selfie!

The mist was gone and I could see the Isle of Man as I made my way northwards towards Whitehaven. Here I met my first two Coast to Coasters- an Australian couple who were camping the route. They said they would see how far they got today and make camp when they felt like it, it must be lovely in a way to have that freedom.

Fleswick Bay

The route turns inland, passing through the villages of Sandwith, Moor Row and Cleator- I must admit this part of the route isn’t all that interesting, although I did get to see the famous ‘no pies’ sign outside the shop at Cleator. The villages feel rather run down, and the path between them involves sloshing through some saturated fields.

The Coast to Coast statue at Moor Row

The first hill on the Coast to Coast follows Cleator- the rather inappropriately named Dent Fell, which, although is only 352 metres, is bloody steep! I had to keep stopping to rest, which made me doubt myself as if I couldn’t even manage this climb how could I expect to cope with the high fells?

The view from Dent

The mist had cleared enough to give a good view from Dent’s summit- looking back to sea Scotland, the Isle of Man and Sellafield can be seen and looking inland, the thrilling prospect of the Lakes.

The Lake District!

The descent off Dent is steep- surprisingly so. Luckily it is grass rather than loose scree so wasn’t too much of a problem and I was soon walking through the lovely secluded valley of Nannycatch, although I forgot to look out for the Kinniside Stone Circle so I missed it.

Nannycatch

A bit of a road walk leads to the village of Ennerdale Bridge although there is a footpath which runs parallel for much of it, giving some tantalising glimpses of Ennerdale Water and its surrounding fells. I had been a little concerned as using the transport meant I hadn’t started walking until 10:30am. I wasn’t staying at Ennerdale Bridge, but had booked a room at the Stork Hotel in nearby Rowrah (the hotel is on Rowrah Road- try saying that without sounding like Scooby Doo!) The proprietors will collect Coast to Coast walkers to save them a two mile road walk off the route but only until 6pm, so I had felt a little pressured all day.

Looking towards Ennerdale

I made it into Ennerdale Bridge at a little after 5pm so ordered a drink in the Shepherds Arms, where they kindly contacted the Stork Hotel for me as I had no mobile reception.

I was duly collected and had plenty of time to shower before dinner. My room was very pleasant and looked out onto the fells and with day one ticked off I was feeling quite good!

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