After a hearty breakfast I set off and bumped into Cathy and Dan in Kirkby Stephen’s main square so we walked together which was lovely. Dan had woken with a swollen and sore ankle so they had stopped at a chemist to purchase a support bandage; I had noticed that he seemed to stumble quite a lot so lent him one of my poles for the day.

The route climbs past a quarry before turning off the road onto a track leading to Nine Standards Rigg. There are three routes over the Rigg and the one you take depends on the time of year. As it was July we were recommended to take the ‘Red Route’, which is the original Coast to Coast route, but the guidebook advised to take the ‘Green Route’ which doesn’t actually go over the summit, if visibility is poor.

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Margaret had prepared a lovely fresh fruit salad for breakfast and as I ate I chatted with Kathy, Dan, Carrie and Ed. Carrie and Ed told us they were planning on taking the 1 ½ mile detour to Orton for lunch. This was seriously tempting- mainly as Orton has a chocolate factory- but my sister and brother-in-law were meeting me at Kirkby Stephen and as today was to be 21 miles I wasn’t sure I would have time.

There is another route to the bridge crossing the M6 from Brookfields to save walking back through Shap, and as I crossed the motorway I caught up with an elderly couple, who I remembered Kathy and Dan mentioning. Kathy was amused at the fact they were bickering constantly; as I drew nearer I could hear them arguing and the lady told me that they had been together for 50 years and this was usual for them!

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It was still dry when I woke but the forecast was for a particularly wet and generally awful day so I packed everything into a large waterproof stuff sack and pulled the built-in cover over the rucksack.

Going down for breakfast I sat next to a couple of blokes, who had walked from Borrowdale the previous day. They were walking as a group of four and had found it tough going. One of the lads told me they were from London, and although they had completed some long training walks, they had all been on flat terrain.

‘Nothing prepared us for the Lake District!’ he said. I asked whether they had ever been to the Lakes before. ‘No, never!’ was the reply. He added ‘I wondered why me father-in-law just laughed at me when I told him where we were going!’

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I woke to the sound of rain, which concerned me as it wasn’t forecast for today. Hoping it would clear up I went down for breakfast, which I’d been told was served at 8:15am. I had just walked into the dining room, poured a bowl of cereal and was selecting a seat when a bell rang to officially signal the start of breakfast- oops, jumped the queue then!

I was joined by a mother and her daughter, who had a young baby. The mother had just completed a course at Glenthorne and as we talked we watched a red squirrel scamper up and down a tree in the garden.

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As I opened the curtains and peered out I noticed that the tops of the fells were hidden by cloud but it was at least dry, so I hoped for a dry and clear day‘s walking. Today was to be a fairly short day to Grasmere, climbing up and over Greenup edge and then either following a track down the valley or taking the high option over the ridge of Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag. As I set off along the track which climbs out of the Borrowdale by the side of the imposing and scary looking Eagle Crag, I needed a wee and decided to nip into a handy sheep fold. Unfortunately I realised, just in time, that a huge walking party were headed my way so I pretended to stop and have a drink until they moved past and out of sight.

Sadly their leader decided to stop them and give a talk on something interesting a few steps beyond the sheep fold (and still in full view of it) so I had to abandon my plans for answering the call of nature for now.

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After breakfast the hotel landlord kindly drove me back to Ennerdale Bridge, where the surrounding fells had almost completely disappeared in the mist although it was still dry. He looked at the waterfalls cascading down to the lake and proclaimed that I may get wet feet if I go round the southern shore, so he recommended taking the northern shore round Ennerdale instead.

I thanked him but had already decided to ignore his advice as the southern shore, although tougher, is more interesting- the northern shore is basically a slog along forestry tracks. There was a slight diversion in place to reach the lake and here runners started to pass me in all directions- I guessed this must be the Saunders Mountain Marathon as I had been speaking to a couple of runners taking part at breakfast. I was to see runners all day- in fact it was quite disorientating at times as they were running in all directions to reach various control points.

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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.

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Walking Home From Work

‘I can see a pair of eyes ahead’ I heard Helen say. Already rather spooked by the perfect darkness of the towpath apart from the little circle of light cast by my head torch, this rather casual statement filled me with cold fear. Who, or what else was walking near the canal at two o’clock in the morning?

Following our aborted attempt to walk home from work to Helen’s home in January we had decided to do it again; only this time we were going to literally walk home after work instead of walking at the weekend. We both showed up in the office as usual on Friday (after dropping my car off at Helen’s), put in a full work day then changed and walked out the door with everyone else at 5pm.

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Cometh the hour…

Well the time is almost upon me. After many years of wanting to do this walk I am finally about to set off on the Coast to Coast!!

I am driving up to my sister’s in Poulton today and then on to Kirkby Stephen Friday morning for my lift to St Bees- and Day One!

I will try to update on my Facebook page when I am able- WIFI allowing…

… bring it on…

Coast to Coast- an Introduction

In four day’s time I set out to walk the Coast to Coast across England. Despite being such a popular long distance route, the Coast to Coast is not a National Trail- it was devised by master fell walker and writer/ illustrator Alfred Wainwright, who first conceived the idea of a walk across England linking three National Parks- the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.

Wainwright wrote and illustrated a detailed guide to his chosen route, although he then rather contradictorily stated that he would encourage people to create their own variation on his route. However it is the path he devised that is the one most people follow- although parts of it have changed slightly over the years to avoid private land or to use permissive paths.

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