- Explore the wonderful wilderness of England’s Lake District National Park.
- Enjoy a stunning diversity of scenery including dramatic lakeland panoramas.
- Climb the highest point over Kidsty Pike at 784m.
- Relax and enjoy cosy B&Bs and pubs along the route.
- Wander through charming villages including Wordsworth’s much loved Grasmere.
- Listen for cuckoo’s in the Borrowdale Valley.
Dip your toes into the Irish Sea before setting off to walk the first 82 miles of Wainwright’s famous Coast to Coast walk from St Bees to the quaint Yorkshire Dales market town of Kirkby Stephen. Traverse the dramatic landscapes of the Lake District through rugged fells and dales while passing by majestic lakes and pretty lakeland villages.
Wander through Rosthwaite, Patterdale and poet William Wordsworth’s much loved Grasmere where you can explore the Wordsworth Museum and the famous Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread Shop. Look for shy red squirrels along the quiet banks of Haweswater before entering the rolling hills and pretty moorlands of the Yorkshire Dales, ensuring you stock up on plenty of chocolate at Kennedy’s Fine Chocolates in Orton.
What makes our trip different?
- Specialist advise from our dual Coast to Coast travel expert
- Personal Lake District guide for a stage of the walk
- Trailblazer Coast to Coast guidebook and waterproof polyethylene Harvey maps
- Comprehensive travel pack
- Tailor-made arrangements available
- UK emergency support person contact
Extend Your Holiday – City Breaks
Double your holiday experience by including a stopover on your journey! A city break is a great way to explore another place, indulge in some extra shopping, dining or sightseeing and is a great way to break up a long flight. Our fabulous array of RAW Travel city breaks can be tailor made to your requirements and usually include an arrival transfer, 2 nights accommodation and a city sightseeing tour.
Are you a first-time or solo traveller?
We’ll support you all the way! View our preparation and training resources.
NOTE: This self-guided walking tour requires individuals to use problem solving skills, be adaptable and have a keen eye. It is recommended that you are comfortable map reading, referring to route notes and that you have a good sense of direction (or are willing to work on improving this!). Sometimes route finding, losing your way, finding it again and asking the locals for help is all part of the adventure.
If this is your first self-guided trip, after the first couple of days you will get the hang of it as the vast majority of our first time travellers attest. Please be assured that our written material issued to you for route finding is updated regularly and we provide a 7 day service hotline in the event of any problems. We also provide a mountain guide on a Lakeland section who can help you hone your map reading skills. Using directions and maps can be more difficult for solo travellers as often two heads are better than one when it comes to finding your way. There is a certain level of the unknown that comes with self-guided trips, however with a methodical approach potential problems will be averted. The freedom of a self-guided trip is something that, once experienced, is sought time and time again.
Day 1: Arrive St Bees
Arrive by local train from Lancaster or Carlisle to the tiny Cumbrian village of St Bees whose roots date back to the 9th century and is the official start point of the Coast to Coast. The walk begins on the shores of the Irish Sea where Alfred Wainwright recommended you dip your feet to mark the start of journey and collect your pebble to carry to Robin Hood’s Bay. Take an evening stroll to St Bees Head which overlooks the small town and is a lovely place to sit and watch the sun go down.
Day 2: Walk St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge (22.5km)
The walk starts with a day of varied scenery as you leave the coast and head into the hills. Follow the well worn path up and over the dramatic red sandstone cliffs of St Bees Head, a nature reserve for seabirds, keeping an eye out for kittiwakes and guillemots on the wing.
The route turns inland through farmland and the next time you’ll see the sea is at Robin Hood’s Bay on the east coast of England. The trail passes through the pebble dashed houses in Sandwith, Moor Row and Cleator, especially built for coal miners and typical of Northern England’s urbanised areas. The Lake District National Park beckons beyond and after crossing Cleator Moor through the woods of Blackhow, you climb Dent Hill (353m) to descend steeply to the village of Ennerdale Bridge and your gateway to the Lake District National Park.
6-7 hours – total ascent 780m / descent 665m
Day 3: Walk Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite (24km)
A long scenic day takes you along the quiet shores of Ennerdale Water, a forgotten corner of Lakeland that receives far fewer visitors than the central lake district. After leaving Ennerdale ensure you keep to the left hand side of the waters to enjoy a relatively flat walk to the remote YHA at Black Sail. The youth hostel is an excellent place to break your journey before the steep ascent at Loft Beck and the wild expanses of Honister Pass. As you begin your descent into the beautiful Borrowdale Valley make sure you listen for cuckoo birdsong and keep an eye out for the rare red squirrel. Take note, today’s route passes through the highest rainfall area in England, a country noted for its rain.
You will meet our Mountain Guide today and he will walk with you through this first hill section of the Coast to Coast, explaining the geography , history and flora, fauna as you go. They will also cover safety on the fells with you and ensure you are comfortable with your navigation and emergency procedures.
The Honister Slate Mine Visitor Centre holds guided tours that provide many interesting insights into the history of the mine. You’ll then pass through the village of Seatoller before walking into the wide expanse of Borrowdale Valley to Rosthwaite with its lovely pub and hotel. Down the road is the enchanting little hamlet of Stonethwaite, worth a look for your evening pint at the charming country inn and to admire the storybook lane and cottages.
7 hours – total ascent 765m / descent 785m
Day 4: Walk Rosthwaite to Grasmere (14.5km)
Today you head out of the lovely valley of Borrowdale through fields of Hardwick and Swaledale sheep. Follow the low dry-stone wall that runs along Stonethwaite Beck before veering left and away from the stream to begin your steep climb towards Eagle’s Crag. There are fabulous views back over the valley and from here the path to Greenup Edge leads you into the high country and the heart of the Lake District National Park.
Coming to the head of the Easedale Valley you have a choice of paths, one descends down into the valley and follows the line of Easdale Gill (better for inclement weather), the other skirts long the top of the crags and provides wonderful views and walking in good weather. On this path you’ll pass by the iconic Lion and the Lamb rock outcrop by Helm Crag and have fine views of the lake at Grasmere and tomorrow’s walk before you drop down to Grasmere in the valley below.
6 hours – total ascent 750m / descent 760 via Helm Crag
Day 5: Walk Grasmere to Patterdale (13.5km)
The day starts with a climb out of Grasmere to the pass at Grisedale Tarn, there are beautiful photo opportunities along the way and a lovely picnic spot at the waterfall just below your last climb before the lake.
When you arrive at the head of the Grisedale Tarn (539m) you have a choice of 3 possible routes; one leads over St Sunday Crag (841m), which is a ridge walk along a Monolithic block of stone with tremendous views. The central path follows the valley down to Patterdale and is the best option for poor weather. The most challenging route leads to the left up to the summit of Helvellyn (950m) and from there down onto the infamous spine of the Striding Edge – so called because of the precipitous drop off either side of the narrow path. It’s frequently used in photographs of the Coast to Coast and is probably England’s best known stretch of mountain. It is not for the feint of heart and is not a Raw Travel recommended route.
Keeping to the right hand shore of Grisedale Tarn the route leads you into the lovely village of Patterdale with its serene location at the head of Ullswater Lake and is well worth a stroll in the evening before calling into one of the local pubs or hotel for dinner. The village store and post office is well worth a browse as it was the first shop to sell Wainwright’s original Coast to Coast guides and is a mine of information and supplies for walkers.
5 hours – total ascent: 900m / descent 805m via the recommended route over St Sunday Crag – add 3km and 2 hours if including the detour via Helvellyn and Striding Edge
Day 6: Walk Patterdale to Shap (25km)
A long day ahead as you leave the central lakes and head outside the Lake District National Park to Shap. The path climbs out of the Patterdale valley with splendid views of Ullswater and the Lakeland mountains you walked yesterday. The trail winds between crags passing Angle Tarn and continues to climb to the Knott (739m) and Kidsty Pike (780m), after which you begin your descent to the shores of Haweswater Lake in the valley below. The craggy cliffs below Kirsty Pike was once home to England’s last golden eagle, Eddy, who sadly died in 2015, but keep a look out for for shy red squirrels along the way.
Haweswater is the most remote of the lakes and has a markedly different feel to the central lakes, for many people it’s their favourite lake with the walk taking you close to the waters edge along its full length to the tiny settlement of Burnbanks before passing Thornthwaite Hall and the heading into farmland.
Before you reach the village of Shap you’ll pass one of the highlights of the Coast to Coast, the evocative ruins of Shap Abbey dating back to the 12th century. You’ll also pass the remains of an ancient stone circle which in turn was plundered for its stone when the monks built the abbey in 1199.
7-9 hours – total ascent: 1174m / descent 1009m
Day 7: Walk Shap to Orton (13km)
Today’s scenery is quite different from other stages of the trail with limestone escarpments, moorland, pastures and scattered farmhouses. The limestone plateau east of Shap have yielded many archaeological finds from over 200 sites dating back some 2,000 to 9,000 years ago, including axe heads, arrows and seed deposits from the Neolithic and Bronze Age, near Oddendale the remains of two concentric stone circles date back almost 6,000 years. The pretty village of Orton has many attractions including Kennedy’s Fine Chocolates chocolate, which a must visit if you have a sweet tooth and they even sell a Coast to Coast chocolate bar.
4 hours – total ascent 535m / descent 655m
Day 8: Walk Orton to Kirkby Stephen (20km)
Your walk today takes you into one of the least populated areas of England, up over wild moorlands to take in the dramatic remains of Victorian rail engineering. This is a longer day but with easy gradients and glimpses of a prehistoric past, these now lonely places were once busy with human life. You’ll pass by Sunbiggin Tarn with its resident birdlife before dropping into the Lune Valley and Smardale Bridge where you should look out for the ‘pillow mounds’ – prehistoric sites whose purpose remains unclear. After walking up Smardale Fell you descend into the welcome sight of the lovely market town of Kirkby Stephen.
5.5 hours – total ascent 535m / descent
Day 9: Depart Kirkby Stephen
You are free to check out anytime today before 10am. If you have time don’t miss the parish church of St Hedda which has several interesting features including a Norman coffin, the tusk of the last wild boar in England and a stone depicting Loki the Viking god of mischief dating back to the eighth century. If you’re lucky enough to be in Kirkby Stephen on a Monday make sure you visit the famous markets which were first chartered in 1352.
Self-guided trips offer flexibility, independence and choice. Set your own agenda while someone else worries about the logistics. Our self-guided walking holidays are fully flexible which means you can normally start your walk on any day during the season and customise by adding extra days for resting or sightseeing. As you’re walking independently, you’re free to follow the trail at your own pace. You set your own speed as you are not limited by the constraints of group travel.
Note that if booking for a start date of less than 30 days from the time of booking we cannot guarantee that your trip is possible unless you have contacted us first and your trip details have been confirmed.
- 8 nights accommodation in B&Bs and small hotels on a twin share basis
- Daily breakfast
- Luggage transfer each day from hotel to hotel (1 x 20kg bag per person)
- Coast to Coast guidebook
- 1 x polyethylene Harvey map: St Bees – Keld
- Coast to Coast route notes
- Experienced Mountain Guide to join you for 1 day of the Journey
- Document holder
- Consultation with our Coast to Coast staff
- Single supplement $300 extra (takes into account exclusive use of Mountain Guide)
Map & Guide
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What our Clients Say
The service was absolutely first Class. It was an absolute treat to know that a new host awaited me at the end of each day... I cannot recommend your company enough and have sold it's praises to everyone who has asked me about the walk.
This trip has a difficulty rating of 6-7 out of 10.