The Coast to Coast is an epic long-distance hike through through three of England’s most-loved national parks: the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, and the North York Moors.
Exploring an ever-changing landscape filled with history, heritage, tranquility, and wild beauty, the route travels 182 miles (293 kilometers) from St Bees on the Irish Sea to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea.
Along the way you will discover some of Britain’s most stunning countryside as you hike over empty fells and past serene lakes, through patchwork pastures and into sleepy villages, over majestic moorland and along some spectacular coastline.
Despite being one of the most popular long-distance routes in the UK, the Coast to Coast is an unofficial trail and is mostly unsignposted. As such, navigation skills are helpful on some of the more remote parts.
The route was devised by legendary fellwalker Alfred Wainwright in his 1973 book, A Coast to Coast Walk. Wainwright recommends that walkers dip their booted feet in the Irish Sea at St Bees, at the start of the walk, and in the North Sea at Robin Hood's Bay at the end of the walk.
As Wainwright suggests, this Collections starts on the East Coast and finishes on the West Coast. This way, the prevailing winds are behind you and the hardest walking is completed in the first few stages. However, many people opt to complete the trail from West to East and it is an equally valid choice.
In this Collection, we split the trail into 13 stages. Of course, you can split up each stage into as many days as you are comfortable with. You can also walk any single stage, or a couple of stages, in isolation.
Every stage finishes close to accommodation, even if there are only a few options. However, places to stay are not abundant so it is worth planning in advance and scheduling any rest days accordingly. Campers are relatively well-served along the route.
Because this hike crosses from one side of the country to the other, it is best to arrive by public transport.
You can catch a train to St Bees Railway Station, which has connecting services around the country. To get home, you would need to catch the X93 bus service from Robin Hood’s Bay to Whitby and then catch a train from Whitby Railway Station, which has connecting services around the country.
If you are planning to arrive by car, your best bet is to negotiate with a hotel or B&B a rate to stay for a night either side of your hike in St Bees and leave your car for the duration. Alternatively, there are long stay parking options around St Bees.
To get home, you would need to catch the X93 bus service from Robin Hood’s Bay to Whitby and then catch a train from Whitby Railway Station back to St Bees. Be aware, though, this will take more than six hours and requires at least three changes.
For train timetables and tickets, visit: thetrainline.com.
For the X93 bus timetable, visit: bustimes.org/services/x93-whitby-scarborough.
This stage marks the first leg of the Coast to Coast walk, one of the most famous long distance hikes in Britain.
Devised by legendary fellwalker Alfred Wainwright, the route passes some 182 miles (293 kilometers) through three of England’s best-loved national parks: the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, and the North York Moors.
From the starting memorial in St Bees, the trail follows the coastline north along what is the only designated Heritage Coast in Cumbria past the stunning Fleswick Bay and St Bees Lighthouse, all the while with spectacular views out to sea.
The trail then winds east through farmland, woodland, and moorland to Ennerdale Bridge, where this stage finishes.
Ennerdale Bridge has a fairly good range of accommodation and places to eat and drink.
The Coast to Coast is synonymous with solitude and along this stage you get a real flavor of the remote countryside in store.
From Ennerdale Bridge, the trail passes through farmland for the first couple of miles until you reach the stunning expanse of Ennerdale Water.
The most westerly, and remote, of all the lakes, Ennerdale Water affords a real sense of isolation and tranquility at any time of year, even during high season.
At the lake, the landscape changes from farmland to moorland as you climb onto the fells.
Aside from a sharp climb up Seavy Knott, this hike is predominantly a gradual ascent for the entire way.
This stage finishes in the village of Rosthwaite which has some options for accommodation and places to eat and drink.
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This stage takes you high into the fells and should challenge your fitness and stamina.
From Rosthwaite, you hike through pretty pastures for the first couple of miles before the long and tough climb up Lining Crag.
Standing at 1,778 feet (542 meters) tall, Lining Crag affords spectacular views over the rugged landscape.
It is then a long descent to Grasmere, a good place to stop for refreshments, before another grueling ascent to Grisedale Tarn.
Situated in an atmospheric setting high in the mountains at the head of three valleys, Grisedale Tarn is very beautiful and has a rich folklore heritage.
You then make a gradual descent all the way to the village of Patterdale, where this stage finishes.
Patterdale has a fairly good range of accommodation and places to eat and drink.
The trail continues higher into the fells along this stage, exploring a wild landscape that will take your breath away.
From Patterdale, you have more than five miles (eight kilometers) of continuous and challenging climbing to contend with.
Fortunately, the hills are filled with beauty. Angle Tarn, an enchanting stretch of water high on the fells, is one particular highlight on the climb up Kidsty Pike.
Whilst Kidsty Pike is a subsidiary peak of Rampsgill Head, the summit has long achieved the status of a separate fell due to its classic peaked profile. From the 2,559 foot (780 meter) summit, you are afforded spectacular views.
The trail then drops down to Haweswater Reservoir, which it follows for almost the rest of the journey.
Before your reach the village of Shap, where this stage finishes, it is worth paying a visit to Shap Abbey. Situated in the secluded valley of the River Lowther, the impressive ruins are free to enter.
Shap has a fairly good range of accommodation and places to eat and drink.
This stage is the longest on this itinerary and will be a real test of you mettle.
With many ascents and descents to contend with, as well as a rugged terrain, this hike will push you to your limits.
From Shap, trail undulates as it climbs gradually through the moorland. Two miles (three kilometers) into the route, it is worth making a short detour to see Oddendale Stone Circles.
Dating to the early Bronze Age, maybe even earlier, Oddendale Stone Circles are situated in a peaceful, slightly melancholy spot and afford an utterly enchanting atmosphere.
The next section is tough; with relentless ascents and descents all the way to the 1,283 foot (391 meter) high summit of Beacon Hill, which affords a magnificent view of the rugged countryside.
After a sharp descent, the trail remains relatively flat for the rest of the way, aside from a tough climb up Smardale Fell.
This stage finishes in the market town of Kirkby Stephen, which has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
After a grueling last stage, you will find this hike more leisurely.
From Kirkby Stephen, you make a long, but very gradual ascent to Nine Standards Rigg.
At a height of 2,172 feet (662 meters), the curious Nine Standards afford superb views over the town of Kirkby Stephen and beyond. Whilst the origin of the cairns is a mystery, some believe they were constructed by the Romans to look like troops from a distance.
After you pass the summit of White Mossy Hill, it is a gradual descent all the way to Keld.
Not far from the finish, you pass Wain Wath Force, a beautiful waterfall in a very picturesque setting.
The village of Keld has a fairly good range of accommodation and places to eat and drink.
Waterfalls, a wild landscape, and the signs of a bygone industrial age combine to make this a memorable stage.
From Keld, you follow the River Swale and soon arrive at East Gill Force, an impressive waterfall in a stunning location.
You continue into the hills past the Swinner Gill lead mines; ascending sharply before dropping again to the impressive ruins of Blakethwaite Smelt Mill.
The trail descends past the ruins of Level House and onto Hard Level Force, a small but beautiful waterfall.
You rejoin the Swale and descend to Surrender Bridge and then follow the boundary between farmland and moorland to Reeth, where this stage finishes.
Reeth has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
The landscape changes from rugged moorland to a picturesque farmland on this stage.
With a relatively short distance to contend with, this leisurely stage ends in the jewel in the heart of North Yorkshire, Richmond.
From Reeth, you follow Arkle Beck until it joins the Swale and continue alongside the river until Marrick Priory, where you make a sharp ascent.
You continue through a landscape of fields, drystone walls, hamlets, and farmland all the way to Richmond.
The defining landmark of the town is Richmond Castle, one of the greatest and oldest Norman fortresses in Britain. Constructed from 1071 onwards following the Norman Conquest, the castle stands proudly on a rocky outcrop above the Swale.
Richmond has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
This almost entirely flat stage explores a landscape of farms, fields, villages, ponds, rivers, and historic places
As you follow the River Swale out of Richmond you soon arrive at the breathtaking ruins of Easby Abbey.
The free-to-enter ruins are one of the best-preserved monasteries of the Premonstratensian 'white canons'.
You continue through fields and small woodlands, never straying too far from the river, past Brompton-on-Swale and onto the impressive Kiplin Hall.
The easygoing walking continues to the village of Danby Wiske, where the stage finishes.
Danby Wiske some accommodation options and places for food and drink nearby.
This stage might be a little modest, but it has plenty of charm.
If your legs are in need of a rest, the good news is that the distance is short, the terrain is forgiving, and the hills are non-existent on this super-leisurely stage.
Before leaving Danby Wiske, it is worth making a small detour to see the village church, which is steeped in history dating back to Norman times.
You then follow the trail east through open fields until you reach All Saints Church, which affords a wonderfully-serene atmosphere.
This church, which is Grade II-listed, was rebuilt in Regency style in 1821 and incorporates stone from an earlier church from 1170.
This stage finishes in Arncliffe, which has limited options for accommodation and food and drink.
This hearty hike takes you into the wild and beautiful North York Moors National Park.
From Ingleby Arncliffe, you climb through a small section of woodland before joining the Cleveland Way, another long-distance national trail between Helmsley to Filey.
After passing through Huthwaite Green, it is a challenging climb onto Live Moor. From there, the trail ascends gradually to Carlton Bank and drops before another tough climb up Cringle End.
From the summit of Cringle End you can see as far as Cross Fell and the Penshaw Monument. There is also a spectacular view of the Cleveland plain.
A few more sharp ups-and-downs follow, before the final push of the day to The Wainstones.
This distinctive rocky outcrop is popular with hikers and afford fantastic views across to Middlesbrough and the Tees.
You then descend to Clay Bank Top, where this stage finishes. There is not much accommodation in this area. Nearby Great Broughton and Kirkby have options, as do other villages in the area.
You hike onto the highest piece of land in the North York Moors along this rugged stage.
From Clay Bank, you rejoin the Cleveland Way and immediately begin a steep climb onto Urra Moor, a beautiful and peaceful place to be.
As you continue through the vast expanse of Urra Moor, you soon arrive at Round Hill, the summit of the moor and the highest point in the national park.
At the Bloworth Crossing, you depart from the Cleveland Way and continue over the isolated moorland to the village of Glaisdale, where this stage finishes.
Glaisdale has a few options for accommodation and food and drink.
The final stage of the Coast to Coast is a fitting homage to the route—a gritty, long-distance slog over majestic moorland to picturesque coastline.
From Glaisdale, you descend to the River Esk and follow it through woodland and fields to the village of Grosmont.
If you time your visit to Grosmont right, you might spot some vintage steam engines. The village station is home to the engineering wing of the North York Moors Railway, a heritage line that runs through the heart of the national park.
From Grosmont, it is a challenging climb over Flat Howe before you descend to Little Beck, which you follow for two miles (three kilometers).
As you follow the river, you will see Falling Foss, a beautiful waterfall situated in picturesque woodland. There is an intriguing hermit cave nearby to explore and tearooms.
You depart from the river at the car park and gently descend through the moorland, turning to farmland, all the way to the coastline.
You pick up the Cleveland Way when you reach at Maw Wyke, and follow it south.to Robin’s Hood Bay, a beautiful fishing village on the Heritage Coast where you will see a commemorative plaque marking the end of the Coast to Coast.
Robin Hood’s Bay has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.