Why Do The Coast To Coast With Auswalk?
To tell you the truth, I wasn’t all that excited when I first set off on England’s famous Coast to Coast walk. It seemed to be on everyone’s “to-do” list, and that sort of thing is usually more likely to put me off a particular walk than inspire me to go and do it. But there I was, setting off on the Coast to Coast.
Perhaps not surprisingly, I very quickly realised why this walk was so popular. Yes, it’s great to be able to say that you’ve walked from one side of a country to another, but in this case, the experience is so much more than simple bragging rights. In the Coast to Coast, the legendary British fell-walker, Alfred Wainwright, designed a route that takes you through his favourite parts of the country – and those really are some of the very loveliest bits of northern England. Starting off in the west with the iconic Lake District, progressing through the lush, green Yorkshire Dales, and finishing with a romp over the gentle, heather-covered hills of the North York Moors. And what a sensation on those last days when you start to get a glimpse of the sea out on the eastern horizon! To think that your feet could take you so far and through such beautiful landscapes. Yes, the weather can be a bit “damp” at times, but dress appropriately and you’ll be fine! The camaraderie among the walkers on this route is also legendary. You’re sure to make many new friends.
So why walk the Coast to Coast with Auswalk?
I give you two very good reasons.
The Coast to Coast is not one of the UK’s recognised National Trails. As such, it is not a marked route (compared to, for example, the Grande Randonnée “GR” type of walks in other parts of Europe which are marked with regular red and white paint flashes). Rest assured however that the Coast to Coast does follow relatively clear walking tracks throughout. You will not need to navigate cross country through the wilderness. But, in areas like the Lake District National Park, walking tracks are not signposted at all. That is apparently against the ethos of those hardy Brits! As I understand it, the idea is that since there are not many truly wild spaces left in England, they like to keep the bits they do have feeling as wild as possible. That means no signs at track junctions! A bit of a shock to us Aussies, seeing that well-signed paths is pretty normal in our popular national parks.
Outside of national park areas, there is an absolute cornucopia of walking tracks: Public Footpaths, Public Right of Ways, Bridle Paths etc. It’s a beautiful thing! These paths are generally marked with circular arrow markers. That’s a good start, but there are still very few signs that actually tell you where a particular path will lead you. Since 2012, the Friends of Wainwright have started a campaign to put little green stickers on those circular arrow markers that are part of the Coast to Coast walk, which is a good start. Keep an eye out for those…..
Overall however, do not worry! Our highly-comprehensive, day-by-day walking notes, together with our day-by-day marked copy of a detailed walking map, will ensure that you can walk the Coast to Coast in full confidence, with no fear of becoming lost, even when it is foggy and misty. So no need to brush up on those orienteering and navigation skills – unless you’re really keen, of course; then don’t let me stop you ?
I will say though that on one of the days, a smart phone with a basic compass function (ie enough so you can tell North from South and East from West) may be useful. Clearly, a real compass will do the trick too! This is for when you are walking over the famous Nine Standards Rigg (= ridge) beyond the market town of Kirky Stephen. Part of the track over the peat hags (= bogs) can be indistinct. See day-by-day notes for details.
There is a lot of technology out there these days to help you with navigation. With our detailed notes and maps, this is really not necessary for the Coast to Coast. However, I know that many of you like to have some gadgets with you (I am guilty of this too!) It can be very nice indeed to see exactly where you are on the screen of your GPS or smart-phone navigation APP of choice. To facilitate this, we also provide you with day-by-day gpx files. Nice!
The places you will stay while walking the Coast to Coast are wonderful. And we, the Auswalk team together with our local collaborators in England, can say this from personal experience! We have stayed with the vast majority of accommodation providers on the Coast to Coast and know them personally. That’s apparently not that common these days. Most UK accommodation booking agencies may never have even met the hosts to whom, for years, they have sending their walkers. That’s not us.
Northern England is not known for its amazing sun-drenched summers. We all know this. But, with a little bit of luck, you are still likely to experience some really fantastic sunny days while on the Coast to Coast. Other days might be a little wetter…. Set yourself up for success. It’s all about having the right gear. Check the weather report daily (or ask your hosts), though note that this may not be a fool-proof indicator of what you are in for!
- In general, always carry your rain gear and an extra warm layer. We recommend waterproof trousers & a good Gortex jacket with a hood that comes down to mid-thigh (ie, not just a light spray or shower-proof jacket that comes down to your waist).
- A big rain poncho contraption can also be useful. These fit over you and your pack! Use a pack liner, or dry bag, or multiple ziplock bags to keep precious items dry. If it looks like it will be raining for most of the day, use the rain poncho over the top of your Gortex jacket and over the top of your pack. Those little pack covers don’t actually do much if it’s seriously wet!
- Hiking boots that keep your feet dry are highly recommended. The ground is often wet and boggy, and rain may be persistent. Wet boots will mean wet socks which will mean wet, cold feet and a very high chance of blisters. Avoid those at all costs!
- Wet & boggy conditions? A pair of long gaiters, as in Tasmania, can be really good for keeping water and mud out of your boots.
- Consider getting at least one pair of “waterproof socks” (a great British invention!) – eg Sealskinz or Bridgedale brands. These are widely available online or you can purchase them at good outdoors stores in the UK before you set off on your walk. If using waterproof socks, wear a thin pair of liner socks underneath to maximize comfort.
- A “sit mat” of some description can also be useful. Wet, cold rocks or wet grass are not the most comfortable place to sit for lunch.
- A small thermos for hot beverages. You will usually have a kettle in your room at your accommodation. In other cases, you can ask your host to fill it up for you at breakfast.
WHAT IF THE WEATHER IS REALLY MISERABLE & YOU’RE NOT THAT KEEN TO WALK?
Ride with your luggage to the day’s destination instead! Remember that this is supposed to be a holiday. An enjoyable experience. If you’re not feeling it, or just need a day off for whatever reason, jump in our comfortable minibus and travel in comfort and style. (If this appeals to you, please advise your luggage transport driver via phone or email on the afternoon of the day BEFORE you would like to ride).
And that’s it for the moment. In meantime, if you’re looking for some good viewing to further inspire you, check out the following two series. Both available on DVD.
You can either walk the full Coast to Coast, or we have split it up into Coast to Coast West and Coast to Coast East, so you can walk the route at your own pace. To book a walk or hike package, book now online or call us on (03) 9597 9767.