Trip Number: 13615A
Staff: Cathy Dezendorf
- Hike through England's finest scenery: rugged mountains, lush river
valleys, heather moors, and spectacular sea cliffs
- Enjoy charming English villages, quaint pubs, and cozy bed and breakfasts
- Spend six days discovering England’s incomparable Lake District
- All lodging and meals
- All on-trip transportation
- All gratuities
Please note that the trip dates have changed from what was originally published. If you
have questions, please
The traditional Coast-to-Coast Walk stretches across the north of England from
the Irish Sea at St. Bees in Cumbria to the North Sea at Robin Hood's Bay in
North Yorkshire. On this uniquely designed trip, we will walk the most scenic
100 miles of the route, concentrating on the three national parks: the Lake
District, renowned for its gorgeous lakes and craggy peaks; the Yorkshire Dales,
with its gentle green valley, full of ancient stone walls and old farms -- popularized
by the PBS series, All Creatures Great and Small; and the North York Moors,
lush with heather and ending at the coastline on the North Sea. We will stop
in charming old English villages and frequent quaint pubs and tea rooms, as
well as medieval ruins along the way. We will start the trip with a visit to
the longest remaining stretch of historic Hadrian's Wall and the Roman Birdoswwald
Fort. Our baggage will be shuttled to our B&Bs each day, allowing each of
us to carry only a day pack. We will be walking 7-12+ miles a day. On some days
we'll skip the less scenic portions of A.W. Wainwright's traditional walk for
more picturesque trails. Private bus transportation will be provided for omitted
sections of the trail and to some B&Bs, restaurants, and historic sites
This trip differs from other Sierra Club Coast-to-Coast trips in that it includes
one additional layover day to explore the incomparable Lake District. A second
layover day will allow us to adjust slowly to the challenging terrain in the
Lake District. This trip also includes a visit to Hadrian's Wall and the Birdoswald
Roman Fort not offered on the 14-day trip
We expect to have local ramblers joining us for some of our walks. We will
visit ancient abbeys and other ruins that date back to medieval times. Some
of the landscapes we cross will display the after-effects of lead, coal, and
iron mining from past ages.
Photo: Paul McKown
The following is a tentative description of our day-to-day activities. Inclement
weather, poor trail conditions, and safety issues could create necessary changes
to the itinerary. There may also be changes if sites are closed.
Day 1: Our trip officially begins this morning in Carlisle.
After breakfast we will board a coach for a 30-minute ride to Birdoswald Roman
Fort, where we'll explore ancient Roman ruins and walk along the longest continuous
stretch of Hadrian's Wall visible today. Our guide will introduce us to the
fascinating life of Birdoswald, dating back 2,000 years, as we walk through
the recently excavated Roman Fort. After our introduction to the Roman presence
in medieval England, we will have lunch and then return to Carlisle. A one-hour
drive will take us to St. Bees where our hike begins. After checking into our
B&Bs we will tour the St. Bees Priory and learn about the St. Bees Man before
meeting in the evening for dinner.
Day 2: St. Bees to Cleator (9.5 miles). After the traditional
dipping of our boots into the Irish Sea, we will begin with the ascent and traverse
of St. Bees head, a three-mile promontory with cliffs falling 300 feet to the
Irish Sea. On a clear day, you can see the Lakeland Fells (hills) to the east
and the Isle of Man to the west. Following lunch at a small village along the
route, we'll work our way through a tapestry of patterned fields and lanes to
Cleator. At the end of today's walk, we'll take some time for well-deserved
refreshments at a local pub before being transported back to our B&Bs in
St. Bees for the night.
Day 3: Ennerdale Bridge to Honister Quarry (10 miles). This
section begins with a walk along the shore of Ennerdale Water, the westernmost
lake in the Lake District, to Ennerdale Forest. After a hike through a forest
we’ll have lunch at the Black Sail Youth Hostel, the most remote Youth
Hostel in England. Leaving the Youth Hostel, we'll begin a steady 1,000-foot
climb over Honister Pass, which is dominated by the magnificent mountain scenery
of Pillar (2,927 feet) and 2,949-foot Great Gable. The path then leads down
to Honister Quarry, where we will visit one of the oldest slate mines still
operating. Overnight: Grasmere.
Day 4: Stonethwaite to Grasmere (8.2 miles). Our second day
in the Lake District starts by walking into the secluded side valley of Stonethwaite,
which is dominated by Eagle Crag. We will climb over Greenup Edge to the head
of Far Easedale, the valley leading to Grasmere. If the weather is fine after
lunch, we may elect to continue up to the summit rocks of Helm Crag, an amazing
array of pinnacles and tilted rock slabs. Following our ascent, we'll descend
into the historic village of Grasmere, the birthplace of William Wordsworth.
We will overnight in Grasmere.
Photo: Nancy Lashbrook
Day 5: Grasmere to Glenridding (8.5 miles). Today our walk
will take us around Great Tongue, between Helvellyn Peak (3,118 feet) and St.
Sunday Crag, and alongside Grisedale Tarn (lake). In the afternoon we descend
into Glenridding, where we will spend the next three nights.
Day 6: Today is the first of two layover days. You may elect
to spend a leisurely day on the shore of Ullswater Lake, or you could combine
a walk and a cruise along Ullswater Lake on one of the steamers that can be
seen on the lake. It is said that the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick,
preached here and baptized converts. His Holy Well is at the roadside and can
be found one mile north of the village.
Day 7: Pooley Bridge to Glenridding (11.0 miles, 1,500 feet
gain). Today we’ll climb high above the shores of Ullswater Lake past
the Cockpit, an impressive stone circle said to have been built in pre-historic
times. We’ll continue on while enjoying stunning views of the Lake District
fells. The second part of our walk will take us down to the rim of Ullswater
Lake and eventually back to Glenridding, where we may stop for refreshments
on the terrace of the beautiful Inn on the Lake.
Day 8: Sunbiggin Tarn to Kirkby Stephen (8.5 miles). The day
starts with a ride to shorten what would otherwise be a 22-mile walk! We will
start our walk near Sunbiggin Tarn. The hills in this area are more gentle and
our route less rocky than in the Lake District. After crossing Rayseat Pike
and the lower slopes of Crosby Garret Fell, we will see the site of the prehistoric
village of Severals in the Smardale Valley and the lime kilns on Smardale Fell.
Next, we'll walk into the old market town of Kirkby Stephen, where we’ll
Day 9: Kirkby Stephen to Keld (12 miles). We will begin the
1,570-foot climb to Nine Standards Rigg, large cairns dating back to at least
pre-18th century. Two important milestones are reached in this section of the
walk: the Yorkshire Dales National Park is entered and the watershed of the
Pennines is crossed at the highest point of the fell -- 2,178 feet. A long and
possibly boggy decent will take us to the remote and very picturesque village
of Keld, where we will spend the night.
Day 10: Keld to Gunnerside (8.5 miles). We'll follow the course
of the River Swale along the valley floor. From Keld we will cross the river
by a footbridge near East Gill Force (waterfall) and climb to the ruins of Crackpot
Hall (a former lead mining area). Next we'll descend to the path along the river.
There are many old mines in this area, dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries,
and there is evidence that the Romans extracted lead in this region. After lunch
at a traditional pub in the tiny village of Muker we walk on to Gunnerside,
where we’ll stop to enjoy afternoon tea. From here we will be transported
on to Richmond in North Yorkshire, where we will stay two nights.
Day 11: Richmond is a large historic town with an impressive
castle and classic Georgian architecture. A walking tour is planned in the morning
for those who wish to join. The rest of the day is free to explore the many
attractions, parks, and gardens, or to just wander along the River Swale. Tonight
we’ll be treated to traditional music in a local pub.
Photo: Paul McKown
Day 12: Swainby to Clay Bank Top (8.5 miles). Following a
morning bus ride we’ll arrive in the North York Moors National Park. Wainwright
described the moors: "unenclosed, uninhabited, remote from industry and
noise and free from traffic -- a magnificent territory for the walker."
We will pass the well-known landmark of the Wainstones on Hasty Bank, and then
descend to Clay Bank top, where we will be transported to nearby Great Broughton
to spend the next two nights at a country inn or working farm.
Day 13: Clay Bank Top to Lion Inn at Blakey (9.0 miles). As
we leave Clay Bank Top, the ground will rise steadily across Urra Moor, the
highest point of the North York Moors. There are beautiful views of Bransdale,
Farndale, and Rosedale. We will have a late lunch at the Lion Inn Pub in Blakey
and then board our waiting bus for a short visit to the Mount Grace Priory,
a ruined Carthusian monastery dating from 1398.
Day 14: Whitby to Robin Hood's Bay (7.0 miles). Leaving Whitby
we'll pass the dramatic Whitby Abbey, which inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula.
From there we'll continue along the coast on the Cleveland Way a few miles until
we rejoin the Coast-to-Coast track. Today's walk will take us along the clifftops
overlooking the North Sea and drop us at the picturesque smugglers village,
where we will ceremoniously dip our feet in the North Sea to mark the completion
of the Coast to Coast walk. Well done! After exploring Robin Hood's Bay, we
will board our transportation for a trip back to Whitby Abbey and the town of
Whitby. Participants are free to choose between a guided tour of the Whitby
Abbey or time on their own to shop and walk around this interesting waterside
community. Following today's activities, we'll gather for our festive farewell
dinner at a popular seafood restaurant and then spend the night in Whitby.
Day 15: Whitby to York. Our transportation will depart at
9 a.m. for York, a journey of about two hours. We will say goodbye here, after
accomplishing a remarkable feat. The trip ends at the York Train Station at
approximately 11:00 a.m.
Photo: Nancy Lashbrook
Getting to the meeting point is the responsibility of each participant. You
can fly into London's Heathrow or Gatwick airports and take a train north to
Carlisle from London's Kings Cross station. You may also fly into Manchester
and take a train north to Carlisle directly from the Manchester Airport and
avoid the difficulties of getting around London. Yet another alternative is
to fly into Edinburgh, Scotland. There are good connections from there to Carlisle.
When we leave Whitby on day 15, you'll be transported to the main train station
in York, where trains run frequently to London, Manchester, Edinburgh, or other
destinations for your return flight home.
Accommodations and Food
We will be using a variety of comfortable hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, farmhouses,
and inns. Rooms will be double occupancy. Unfortunately single room accommodations
are very difficult to find in this area and will not be available. All meals
from breakfast on day 1 through breakfast on day 15 are included in the trip
price. Breakfasts will be English style -- full and hearty. You will be given
money to purchase food for lunches from local stores for trailside picnics or
to spend for lunch at a pub or teas shop. Dinners will be full-service meals
at top-rated dining establishments along our route. There will be adequate opportunities
to try local food specialties (the lamb is especially delicious!), and vegetarian
dishes are available at most locations. A good selection of ales, wines, and
ciders are always available for purchase.
PLEASE NOTE: Drinks, including bottled water and soft drinks, are not included
in the trip price. (Coffee, tea, and juice are included with breakfasts.) You
may also choose to purchase extra hiking snacks and afternoon post-hiking treats.
This trip is designed for experienced hikers currently involved in regular
hiking activities (not just walking). The route will vary in difficulty with
walking distances of up to 12 miles and elevation gains up to 2,500 feet. All
walks will be on trails or paths, some of which are very steep and rocky. Agility
is needed to negotiate rocky trails, traverse small streams, and climb stepladder
stiles over stone walls without difficulty. Portions of our route will be over
muddy, boggy terrain and trails can be quite slippery when wet.
Some rain is to be expected and can make any walk more challenging. Our luggage
is shuttled to our accommodations each day; however, each participant must carry
a day pack with lunch, drinking water, raingear, a warm layer, and any other
items needed during the day.
Photo: Paul McKown
Participants should be accustomed to walking at a pace of 2+ miles per hour
on level ground and be able to walk up steep grades at a slower pace without
undue fatigue. Our walking is not difficult or rushed for a fit hiker; however,
for safety reasons it is important that everyone be prepared to keep a similar
pace. Please call or email the leader if you have any questions regarding your
abilities before signing up for the trip. Your enjoyment of this trip will depend
on your preparation and general fitness level. Regular hiking is the only activity
that will totally prepare your legs, feet, and ankles for this trip.
Equipment and Clothing
It can rain a lot in England. Even when it is not raining, some areas are
very wet and boggy, so high-top, waterproof hiking boots are a must. A lightweight,
two-piece waterproof rain-suit is also necessary to stay warm and dry. The leader
will make other suggestions about clothing in a more detailed letter, listing
what you may need for daytime and nighttime activities. Most participants find
trekking poles very useful in the types of terrain we’ll be walking over.
- The Ordnance Survey is Great Britain's national mapping agency and provides
the most accurate and up-to-date geographic data. It is relied on by government,
businesses, and individuals. Visit their website at: http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/leisure/
The maps are easily purchased in the UK.
- The classic itinerary for this walk is contained in A. Wainwright’s
pictorial guide, A Coast to Coast Walk, a pocket-sized guide jammed
full of valuable information, sketches of the area, and minutely detailed
descriptions of the ground covered. Getting to know Wainwright, through his
witty and thoughtful commentary, is a delight. Keep in mind that our trip
takes the best sections of his trip and adds and omits other areas.
- Reading about the country's natural history and culture beforehand also
enhances the participant's enjoyment of the trip. The National Trust Book
of Long Walks in England, Scotland and Wales, by Adam Nicolson, available
in many libraries, is an excellent resource.
- Other guidebooks that are excellent supplements to Wainwright's classic:
Coast to Coast Path, by Henry Stedman, Coast to Coast Walk,
by Paul Hannon, and A Northern Coast to Coast Walk, by Terry Marsh.
The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about
conservation and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our
work is accomplished by volunteers and aided by a salaried staff, encouraging
grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward greater
understanding, advocacy, and participation in the goals of the Club.
England has been heavily populated for hundreds of years and most of the land
is utilized for human endeavor. Basically, its national parks are lines drawn
around scenic areas that are largely in private hands to control development
and non-conforming uses. Urban sprawl, intensive farming, motorways, and the
demand for vacation facilities place heavy pressure upon open space and wildlife
habitat. In spite of the differences in our national parks in the United States
and those in Europe, we share common concerns about the effects that global
warming is having on the natural environment. We’ll hope to meet with
local conservationists and to learn what they are doing to try to mitigate the
Participants are encouraged to bring information about environmental issues
in their home communities to share with our group. It is hoped that your participation
on a Sierra Club trip will inspire you to become more active in advocating for
the environment, both globally and locally, when you return home.
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
Cathy Dezendorf finds great satisfaction in sharing her love of hiking with others. After many years as a National Outings backpack trip leader in the Sierra Nevada, she discovered the joy of hiking in Europe where a comfortable bed, a warm shower, and a good meal are waiting at the end of the trail each day. She is active with her local chapter where she enjoys leading weekend backpack trips and is certified as a Wilderness First Responder. Cathy lives just north of the Golden Gate Bridge and when she isn't hiking she works as a sales rep and enjoys spending time with her children and small grandchildren.
Gene Goldberg has been leading Sierra Club trips since 1990. His Club trips have included backpacking in the Colorado Rockies, cultural trips in New Mexico, and many hiking trips to Northern Italy, the Alps, New Zealand, Norway, and Bhutan. This will be his second time on England's Coast to Coast route and he is excited to be returning. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife, Gail, and dogs, Whisky and Bailey.
Visit his website at http://genesoutings.camprecipes.com/
for more information about the other trips he leads, as well as some of his photos from around the world.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips