Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk - Part 1

Fleswick Bay, St Bees Head, Cumbria

Alfred Wainwright loved walking and he loved the Lake District. Wainwright first visited the Lakes when he was 23 and as a result became the most famous Lake District writer of modern times. It was his passion for the walker’s paradise, which led him to devise the coast to coast walk. The route links three national parks and covers 192 miles of some of the finest walking ground in the country.

West to East?

Wainwright walked the route from West to East and so most people follow in his footsteps. His argument was that you get the prevailing weather at your back and not in your face. He also pointed out that walking ‘left to right’, as it were, you don’t get the afternoon and evening sun in your eyes. Doing it this way round, you begin in the Lake District, walk through The Yorkshire Dales, over the Pennines and finish up in the North York Moors. Stunning scenery will surround you from beginning to end.

These are some of the walk’s highlights:

The Lake District

The Lakes are arguably the main pull for many people attempting the Coast to Coast route. The beautiful national park that Wainwright adored offers many attractions in the towns and countryside.

St Bees Head
The walk begins with a breathtaking stroll along the sea cliffs, looking out across the Irish Sea. It is followed by a walk across farmland and into a valley which marks the start of Lakeland. The walk begins with the opportunity to spot a variety of sea birds, with the assistance of your binoculars (bins are a must on this walk – there’s so much to see). The outstanding views begin here. Catch your breath as you look back across Nannycatch Gate towards St Bees.

Ennerdale Water and the valley of Borrowdale

Ennerdale Water, Lake District

After leaving St Bees and travelling 13.8 miles you will reach Ennerdale Bridge. This stretch of the walk takes you past Ennerdale Water, the most remote of the Lakes. Perfect for escapists, this lake does not have a road running alongside it. The Borrowdale valley, home to Rosthwaite was once a hive of industrial activity with iron smelting, charcoal burning, and mining for copper and graphite - you will find this hard to believe as you make your way through the quiet, wooded valleys.

Mountainous climbs through Grasmere and Helvellyn

Grasmere Lake, Lake District

Take in the attractive village of Grasmere, once home to William Wordsworth as you make your way towards Patterdale. Visit Wordsworth’s former home or simply head on your way. There is a choice of routes from Grasmere, the mountains of Helvellyn or St Sunday Crag, or the pass (Grisedale Hause) between them, before dropping into Patterdale village.

You will now make your way to Westmorland and the Yorkshire Dales (the second national park covered on the route). The Dales offer varied and beautiful countryside, from river worn dales to hills reaching over 2 300ft. Read the next section of the walk, The Yorkshire Dales.

Buy Lake District maps in our map shop
Why not try the OS getamap to plot routes, see ready-made routes, and print sections of OS Explorer and OS Landranger maps.
Read parts 2 and 3 of the article.

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