03 Aug 20

Reflections on the UK’s Coast to Coast Walk

Stuart Holland United Kingdom

Jane McInnis walked the UK’s iconic Coast to Coast path with RAW Travel. Here she reflects on her wonderful experience.

“I’m so glad to have had the experience of walking Coast to Coast – it gave me the life space I was after in a most wonderful series of natural spaces…”

I walked every day at my own pace, and on my own – which is how I prefer it (except for the 3 days guided in Lakes District). Guide Neil was spot on in terms of the kind of person you would hope to have in this role. I would not have been without this aspect of my walk – it helped me gain confidence, learn key compass skills, get answers to a wide range of questions (plants, animals, geology, local lives etc), and enabled me to experience climbing Helvellyn and clambering down Swirral Edge – brilliant!

Section breaks for longer segments of the walk were perfectly paced – just great, and just right having a rest day at Kirby Stephen.

fence latch showing rich history on the coast to coast

Rock walls, stiles, kissing gates, latches of all kinds and ingenuity,
sheep and lamb, sheep pooh

Charming…

  • Baaa-ing
  • Bird song – constant and lovely
  • Crazy grouse jumping up randomly and calling out from the heather
  • Light at 4+am
  • Light until 10pm

sheeo spotting on the coast to coast walk

Stinging nettles, cows and bulls, cow pooh, grouse and their baby chicks, pheasants,
r
abbits and baby rabbits, rabbit pooh, a red squirrel!

Walking, Walking, Walking…

  • Boggy peat
  • Rocky/stony surfaces
  •  Large stone slabs and steps
  • Hard tarmac walking
  • Lots of climbing up and down
  • Big skies
  • Luscious and vibrant spring green fields of flowers
  • Swathes of native garlic in the woods
  • Hillsides of bluebells
  • Babbling streams
  • No signs, no signs, no signs
  • Wet boots, wet socks, wet feet
  • Sweaty pants

rock wall on the coast to coast

Where to carry the map and guidebook?

  • Map in backpack
  • Guidebook tucked inside rain jacket, or tucked into the waist belt of my pack for very frequent access
  • Map holder provided no use – too small, and opaque – Neil gave me an old one of his – bigger and clear plastic

lake on the coast to coast walk

Food Glorious Food

  • Cooked breakfasts – offered on top of cereal – as if cereal is an entree!
  • Porridge, stewed fruit, fresh fruit, muesli, cornflakes, granola, yoghurt, toast, tea, coffee, black pudding, sausages, eggs, salmon, bacon, mushrooms…on and on
  • Pub-style meals – deep fried fish, chips, burgers, steak, chicken in a creamy sauce, sausages – and mostly all huge servings, but very good all round.
  • Great blackened fish meal at Wolfgang’s at The Buck Inn.
  • Absolutely hopeless coffee – everywhere (as is usual anywhere outside Australia!).

Old style and funky accommodation

  • Thorntrees in Ennerdale
  • Butt House in Keld
  • The Old Croft House in Kirby Stephen
  • The Manse in Reeth
  • Park House near Ingleby Cross
  • The Old Mill in Egton Bridge

Pack Horse was great – not one hitch the whole way. Greatly appreciated the effort made by the owner to call in at breakfast in Kirby Stephen to introduce himself and ask for any feedback.

  • Clean sheets
  • Not watching tv (I didn’t find I wanted to)
  • Kettles and trays of tea making things, mostly with UHT milk
  • Fresh white towels – better when face cloth included
  • Also better when hair dryer available
  • Electric instant hot water machines in shower recesses – work just fine
  • Odd assortments of dressers, desks, mirrors, wardrobes
  • Stairs up, and down
  • Keys and assorted key tags
  • Everyone always asking first thing for the wifi code, and always a topic of conversation if it’s no good

coast to coast guest house

English Weather

  • Rain, Fog, Mist, Cloud, Sun, Wind

Layers of history and colourful characters 

  • Celtic
  • Roman
  • Norman
  • Catholic, and then not
  • Industrial Revolution
  • Sheep farmers
  • Grain farmers
  • Dairy farmers
  • Miners of slate, tin, alum
  • Poets
  • Authors
  • Artists

coast to coast animals resting on a hill

New and caring acquaintances

Lots of Canadians. Same questions we all asked each other over and over (funny when you think about it):

  • Where are you from? Where do you live?
  • Are you doing the walk on your own?
  • What’s your name?
  • What do you work at?
  • How many days are you taking to walk?
  • Any rest days? Where?
  • How are you going with it all?
  • Where are you walking to today?
  • What place are you staying at tonight?
  • Where are you having dinner?
  • Do you have children?
  • What are they doing?
    (up to the individual to offer/disclose partner arrangements!)
  • Have you done much other walking? Where? What was it like?

Literature…

  • The Essex Serpent
  • Mothering Sunday
  • Fly Catching

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