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Back in 1973, a legendary man named Alfred Wainwright devised a new walking route across Northern England, from the Irish Sea to the North Sea and through three incredible national parks along the way. The walk was popularized by his detailed book, A Coast to Coast Walk, and even became the star of its own TV series. Decades later, the Coast to Coast (C2C) Walk continues to inspire walkers from all over the world, with its varied scenery, natural beauty, and cultural experiences.

The Coast to Coast walk remains an unofficial trail, though it makes good use of the U.K.’s plentiful access paths and public rights of way. In many ways, the fact that the C2C doesn’t have National Trail status actually adds to its appeal. It has an eclectic and grassroots kind of feel to it, and it’s clear that both hikers and locals feel a real sense of responsibility for the well being of this special trail.

In this post:

Looking out over a tarn and green hills in England's Lakes District on the Coast to Coast Walk
A beautiful sunny day in the Lakes District.

Why Walk the Coast to Coast?

How often do you get the chance to walk across an entire country? And, better yet, without having to quit your job or spend several months on the road? Traversing the nearly 200 miles between the western and eastern coasts of England is profoundly rewarding. It is incredible to watch the landscape change from the dramatic mountains of the Lakes District, to the rolling pastures of the Yorkshire Dales, to the agricultural heartland in the center of the country, and finally through the bleak and stunning North York Moors before reaching the sea at the picturesque bluffs near Robin Hood’s Bay.

Perhaps even more wonderful than the incredible landscapes are the people and communities you’ll encounter along the way. The Coast to Coast Walk is undoubtedly an amazing outdoor adventure, but it is also a rich cultural experience and a rewarding personal journey.

A trail sign on the Coast to Coast Walk shows the distances to St. Bees and Robin Hood's Bay
A trail sign on the Coast to Coast reminds walkers of the incredible distances they’ve covered!

How Long is the Coast to Coast Walk?

Official Distance: 192 miles (309 kilometers)

Elevation Gain: 29,000 feet (8,850 meters)

The Coast to Coast walk is purported to be 192 miles from St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay. While this is certainly a close estimate, we measured (via GPS) the Coast to Coast to be 186 miles long for those who stick to the traditional route. For those on the metric system that’s a whopping 300 km!

Of course, measuring the exact distance of the Coast to Coast has little practical value, as walkers will certainly end up walking further than the specific measured distance. The taking of alternate routes, detours, and the occasional jaunt off the trail to visit the local pub will assuredly make the distance actually walked vary from person to person.

How long does it take to walk the Coast to Coast?

Wainwright originally broke his route into twelve stages, each ending in a place with overnight accommodation. However, most of today’s guidebooks break up the walk into a more reasonable thirteen stages, which averages out to about fourteen miles per day. Even a thirteen-day itinerary will be quite challenging for many walkers. Towards the end of this guide, we’ve provided 17-day, 14-day, and 12-day itineraries to give you a sense of the possibilities.

Generally speaking, allow yourself about two weeks to complete the Coast to Coast Walk. Some walkers may want to move at a more relaxed pace and/or build some rest days into their itineraries. Others may want to push themselves to cover great distances each day. Remember, you don’t have to do the whole route in one go. Many walkers are happy to cover just a segment, based on their individual schedules and preferences.

  • Fast pace: 11-13 days
  • Moderate pace: 13-16 days
  • Relaxed pace: 16-19 days
Rainy weather on Ennerdale Water in the Lakes District, Coast to Coast Walk
Moody weather is part of the Coast to Coast experience.

When is the best time to walk the Coast to Coast?

There are some hearty souls who attempt the Coast to Coast during England’s dark, cold, wet winter months, but most mere mortals will enjoy it much more in the summer season. Due to the fact that you’ll be traversing a variety of landscapes and climates, it’s inevitable that you’ll encounter a wide range of weather conditions any time you walk.

Generally speaking, here’s what you can expect in each month of the hiking season:

April: Cool temps, moderate rainfall, and sparse crowds make this an attractive month to hike. Be aware of the shorter days, which allow for fewer daylight hours on the trail.

May & June: The weather tends to be a bit milder and more settled than in April and the days are longer, but it’s still pretty quiet on the trail. These are great months to walk to C2C.

July/August: School holidays and warm weather mean that these are the busiest months on the Coast to Coast. July and August (August in particular) tend to be wetter than May and June, but you can also get some brilliant sunny days, too.

September: With few crowds, mild temperatures, and relatively less rainfall, September is a wonderful time to be on the trail.

October: The days begin to get shorter, colder, and wetter as you enter October. You may get some incredibly clear and crisp autumn days, but you’ll also need to be prepared for harsh conditions.

Rainbow in Yorkshire Dales on the Coast to Coast Walk
Magical moments occur year-round on the Coast to Coast Walk.

Which Direction to Walk the Coast to Coast?

Wainwright devised the original Coast to Coast route to be traversed from west to east, but it can easily be walked in either direction.

West to East

Begin with the stunning Lakes District and tackle the most challenging terrain with fresh legs. Traditionalists will appreciate following in Wainwright’s footsteps, and the prevailing winds are likely to be at your back. This is the more popular direction to walk so you’ll make friends with the other hikers you encounter again and again.

East to West

Meet new hikers each day and shake up tradition. This direction allows you to save the dramatic Lakes section for the grand finale, and also approach it with the enhanced fitness you’ve built along the walk. International travelers will enjoy the easier connection to Manchester upon finishing.

Rainbow in Yorkshire Dales on the Coast to Coast Walk
Whichever way you choose to walk, St. Bees head makes for a dramatic start or finish to your adventure!

How Difficult is the Coast to Coast Walk?

Let’s start by saying this: any long-distance hike that requires two weeks’ of nonstop walking is going to be challenging. The cumulative stress on your body adds up after several consecutive long days on the trail. When it comes to a thru-hike like the Coast to Coast, it is definitely important to respect the distance.

That all accounted for, compared to many of its counterparts, the C2C is quite approachable.

The most physically strenuous sections of the trail are found in the Lakes District. In these stages you’ll find the biggest elevation changes and steepest climbs.

In the middle section of the walk, you’ll have some days where you’ll need to cover great distances (often 15-20 miles in a single day). These stages mostly entail flat, easy walking, but they require endurance and the repetitive motion can be hard on the body.

It’s important to take into account the mental challenges of a long-distance walk, as well. There are some very long stretches of road walking through uninteresting farmland that seem to go on forever. These can often feel harder than summiting a mountain! However, finding a strong headspace and pushing through our mind’s own limitations is the very reason many of us love with hiking in the first place. These challenges are the very best!

Road walking in the North York Moors Coast to Coast Walk
Long stretches like this one can challenge both the mind and body.

Finally, England’s temperamental weather can add a significant level of challenge to your trek. From relentless rain, to gale-force winds, to blazing sunshine, the elements will certainly add another layer of difficulty to your walk at some point or another.

Conclusion: With the proper preparation, any reasonably fit hiker can complete the Coast to Coast Walk. This is not a super-technical mountaineering endeavor reserved for only the hiking elite. Families, older adults, and less experienced walkers can certainly find enjoyment and success on the C2C. The trail rarely ventures too far from civilization, allowing for plenty of shortcut opportunities and easy logistics. Just remember to train in advance, take time to prepare your route, logistics, and kit, and, of course, respect the distance.

Weather

As we mentioned in the When to Go section, you’ll encounter a wide range of weather conditions throughout your walk (see that section for a month-by-month weather breakdown, too). One thing is nearly certain: it’s going to rain at some point along your walk. Be sure to pack some good waterproofs so you can enjoy England’s wet climate to the fullest!

Don’t be fooled by the relatively low elevation profiles on this walk; the conditions can quickly change in the mountains and hills. This can be dangerous if you’re not prepared (especially in the Lakes District where you’ll be on exposed peaks and ridgelines). If there are very high winds, torrential rains, or thunderstorms predicted, you should not attempt to hike.

The Met Office has an excellent app and website for forecasting England’s ever-changing elements. Make sure to pay special attention to the “Hazards” section, as this gives a useful rating of any potential inclement weather in the forecast. The Met Office allows you to search locations by postal code, interactive map, town name, or landmark. This is important, as weather events can be quite localized, so try to search as close to where you’ll be hiking as possible.

Cloudy skies in the Lakes District on the Coast to Coast Walk
The weather can change quickly in the mountains and fells.

Accommodation

Walkers of every style and budget will find plenty of excellent lodging options along the Coast to Coast. In fact, the unique and friendly accommodations are a highlight of many C2C walkers’ experiences. The available options vary greatly from place to place, but we’ve outlined all of the types of accommodation you’ll encounter along the Coast to Coast Walk.

For a complete accommodation directory, be sure to check out our Coast to Coast Accommodation Guide!

B&B’s and Guesthouses

These are what the Coast to Coast is all about. With their warm hospitality, incredible full English breakfasts, and cozy decor, independently-run guesthouses are at the heart of the C2C experience. Expect to pay about £65 per person in a double room.

Our favorite Coast to Coast B&B’s

Castle House, Richmond: Richmond is a charming town located roughly halfway along the C2C, making it an ideal place for a rest day. If you want to take your relaxation to the next level, don’t miss staying at the Castle House! Everything is top-notch here, from the well-appointed rooms to the sumptuous breakfast spread.

Fernleigh B&B, Robin Hood’s Bay: With the friendliest owners, thoughtful touches everywhere, a peaceful location, and luxurious amenities, this is the perfect place to treat yourself upon finishing your C2C walk.

Full English Breakfast at a B&B on the Coast to Coast walk
If you choose to stay at B&B’s, expect to eat like a king!

Hotels

While certainly less plentiful than B&B’s, there are a fair number of hotels located along the Coast to Coast route, mostly in larger towns. These hotels are not of the big, chain variety, but rather smaller, independently-owned establishments. They vary quite a bit in terms of price and quality, but most are very well-appointed and include amenities such as wifi, tea/coffee, and often breakfast. A double room will typically cost you about £100 a night.

Our favorite Coast to Coast Hotels

Scafell Hotel, Borrowdale: This hotel mixes the classic charm of a historic countryhouse with the modern luxuries of recently renovated guestrooms. Plus, there’s a fabulous free breakfast.

Burgoyne Hotel, Reeth: Hungry hikers always rave about the delicious meals at the Burgoyne (breakfast is included). Beyond the food, the rooms are quite comfortable and hotel’s setting is convenient and beautiful.

Coast to Coast Walk hotel accommodation
Hotels along the Coast to Coast tend to be smaller, independent, and quite charming.

Bunkhouses and Hostels

Bunkhouses and hostels provide an excellent budget option for those who are not keen on camping. There are several hostels run by the YHA along the route, and these are particularly good. Facilities vary widely across the many bunkhouses and hostels along the C2C, but generally you can expect dorm-style accommodations with shared bathrooms (sometimes mixed gender). Many places provide communal kitchens and lounge areas, drying rooms, wifi, and meals for purchase. Most bunkhouses and hostels require you to bring your own sleeping bag and towel. The average dorm bed in a bunkhouse or hostel costs about £40 a night.

Our Favorite Bunkhouses and Hostels

YHA Patterdale: With a beautiful kitchen and lounge area, spotless facilities, and piping hot showers, this is undoubtedly one of the best hostels along the Coast to Coast.

YHA Grasmere: We can’t speak highly enough about the YHA hostels, and their Grasmere hostel is a prime example of why we love them. Set in a perfect location and housed in a charming historic building, a night at the YHA Grasmere feels more like staying at friend’s mansion than at a hostel. It’s more expensive than other options in the area, but the great facilities make it a good value.

Black Sail Hostel Coast to Coast Walk
The delightfully cozy Black Sail Hostel.

Camping

Camping on the Coast to Coast is a budget-friendly option that allows for maximum flexibility and freedom on your walk. Wild camping is not permitted anywhere in Northern England, although it is possible to pitch your tent in a low-profile way in a few places along the route, particularly in the Lakes District. For those who prefer official campgrounds, there are numerous camping options located throughout the Coast to Coast Walk. These range from luxurious holiday parks to basic pub gardens, but most campgrounds provide toilets, showers, and electronics charging. Prices vary widely, but expect to average around £10 per person to camp in an organized campground.

Our favorite Coast to Coast Camping

Orchard Caravan and Camping Park, Reeth: Set in a tranquil location within a few minutes’ walk to town, this campground has thoughtful touches, excellent facilities, and plenty of flat, grassy pitches.

Intake Farm B&B, Littlebeck: Instead of stopping in Grosmont, campers should push on further to this gem in Littlebeck. The friendly B&B owners welcome campers in their lovely garden and allow them access to the shower and toilet inside the main house. Complimentary tea, cake, and chit chat is served upon arrival, and meals can be purchased on request.

Don’t forget to check out this post for a comprehensive list of C2C accommodation!

Camping on the Coast to Coast Walk
Camping provides great value and maximum flexibility.

Food & Drink

Delicious food and drink are plentiful along the Coast to Coast, making your adventure as much a culinary delight as an outdoor endeavor. If you plan on staying mostly in guesthouses and B&B’s along the route, expect to fill up on lavish breakfast spreads each morning. Many of these accommodations will also provide packed lunches for an additional fee. Dinner is served at the many guesthouses, inns, and pubs located at frequent intervals along the route, although many require that you book your meal a few hours in advance. These meals are generally hearty and delicious, but you’ll pay handsomely for the convenience.

Those on a tighter budget can self-cater quite easily along the Coast to Coast Walk. There are grocery stores and shops at several points along the route, allowing you to resupply frequently and carry less weight in your pack. Many hostels have communal kitchens where walkers can prepare meals, but campers should bring their own stove and cookware.

Honestly boxes stocked with candy bars, snacks, and soda can be found in a few places along the route. These can be the most wonderful surprise pick-me-up on a long day of walking!

Regardless of your approach to food and drink on the Coast to Coast, there are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • Always plan ahead to ensure you have enough food with you at all times. Look to see where the next restaurant or shop is located, and prepare accordingly. Carry an extra meal and some snacks to have in case your plans change.
  • Don’t miss out on some of the best gastronomic experiences the Coast to Coast has to offer. Be sure to enjoy a real ale in a cozy pub, a cup of tea on a wet afternoon, and a full English breakfast at least once along your route.
Food and drink on the Coast to Coast Walk
Everything tastes more delicious after a long day of walking!

Water

You can fill up on clean drinking water at most pubs and guesthouses along the route. It’s a good idea to carry 1-3 liters with you each day, depending on the weather and total mileage. Unless you’re certain you’ll be able to refill along the way, fill up for the entire day before setting off in the morning. Do not drink from rivers, streams, or other sources without filtering first.

Drinking Water on the Coast to Coast Walk
It may be tempting, but don’t drink from streams without filtering first!

Getting to and from the Walk

The Coast to Coast Walk is bookended by St. Bees on the western coast of England and Robin Hood’s Bay on the eastern coast. Both towns are accessible via public transport. Most international travelers will fly into Manchester as that is the nearest major airport to St. Bees, the traditional start of the walk.

Getting from Manchester to St.Bees

It’s quite easy to travel by train from Manchester to St. Bees, as there’s a railway station in the center of St. Bees that receives several trains each day (except Sundays). The journey from Manchester Piccadilly Station to St.Bees takes 3-4 hours and requires 1-2 transfers depending on the booking. Tickets can be purchased at Manchester Piccadilly or in advance through TransPennine Express.

Depending on how far in advance you purchase your ticket, time of year, and time of day, one-way ticket prices range from £20-£60.

Getting from Robin Hood’s Bay to Manchester

Getting between Manchester and Robin Hood’s Bay is a little less straightforward.

The cheapest option is to travel by bus. Arriva runs a service from Robin Hood’s Bay to Middlesbrough. From there you can take another coach service to Manchester (Megabus and National Express both offer service). The entire journey takes 5-8 hours and costs about £30.

If you want to travel by train, you’ll first need to get a railway station in one of the nearby towns that have stations, either Whitby or Scarborough. It’s possible to take an Arriva bus from Robin Hood’s Bay to Whitby or Scarborough. TransPennine Express operates a rail line that runs from Whitby and Scarborough to Manchester. The entire journey takes about 4-6 hours and costs about £60.

Manchester Piccadilly Station Coast to Coast Walk transportation
Many walkers will connect through Manchester’s Piccadilly Station to get to and from the Coast to Coast.

Maps and Guidebooks

Given that the Coast to Coast is not a National Trail in the UK, you won’t find the usual trail signs giving clear directions at every turn. Rather, the Coast to Coast is often very poorly marked and can be difficult to navigate on. For that reason we highly recommend that every walker have some sort of map (digital or paper, preferably both) that they bring with them on their Coast to Coast trek.

Maps

When we walked Wainwright’s Coast to Coast we did not use paper maps, other than those included in our guidebook. Instead, we utilized downloadable GPS maps on our phones to ensure we knew where the trail was as well as where our next stop was. Given that cell phone service can be spotty along the route, especially in the Lakes District, it is critical to have a good offline mapping app, such as Gaia GPS, to ensure you’ll be able to access your location.

If you’re interested in utilizing this method of navigating, you can learn more in our Coast to Coast Maps and Routes post.

Even with the convenience of GPS navigation, we still recommend carrying a paper map or map booklet for the Coast to Coast. This will provide a bit of insurance should that trusty phone of yours get dropped in a puddle or soaked in one of the many downpours you’ll surely encounter.

Given the long distance of the Coast to Coast walk we highly recommend bringing a compact map booklet that contains the entire route. We like the version created by Cicerone, which contains Ordnance Survey maps (Ordinance Survey is the UK’s national mapping service) for the entire Coast to Coast route at 1:25,000 scale. You can purchase that map booklet here.

If you’d prefer to carry full-size Ordnance Survey maps for the entire Coast to Coast, you can find the entire set here.

If you do plan to carry paper maps, a weatherproof carrying case like this one wouldn’t hurt to have either.

Navigating on the Coast to Coast Walk
A map is an essential piece of gear for the Coast to Coast Walk!

Guidebooks

Both Cicerone and Trailblazer make excellent guides for the Coast to Coast Walk. Both are filled with tons of great content, from local history to practical information and insider tips. We highly recommend bringing either along on your walk, as it will make your journey smoother and your experience richer.

The Trailblazer book is the best overall guide in terms of its organization, in-depth trail narratives, and accommodation/logistics information.

Ciccerone’s guide is slightly less user-friendly and a little lacking in on-trail information, but it offers an Ebook version (Trailblazer does not). This is a great option for those trying to keep their packs as light as possible!

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the guide that started it all: Wainwrights original book, A Coast to Coast Walk. This one is less useful as a guidebook, but still a wonderful source of inspiration chock full of incredible illustrations and colorful anecdotes.

Shap Abbey, Coast to Coast Walk
Shap Abbey. Bringing along a guidebook will ensure that you appreciate sights like this one to the fullest.

Budgeting and Money

The UK is expensive. It’s easy to spend a fortune on your Coast to Coast Walk. If you want to stay in plush B&B’s, eat most meals in restaurants and pubs, and treat yourself to modern conveniences (such as baggage transfers), you’re going to need deep pockets.

However, it is absolutely possible to walk the Coast to Coast on a small budget, and still have a great time doing so. Self-catering most meals and camping along the route are the two best ways to save money on the C2C.

Here’s a very general breakdown of various expenses on the Coast to Coast:

  • B&B/Guesthouse/Hotel: £75 (per person/per night)
  • Bunkhouse/Hostel: £40 (per person/per night)
  • Camping: £10 (per person/per night)
  • Meal at pub/restaurant: £15-£20
  • Pint of beer: £4-£5
  • Cup of tea/coffee: £3
  • Regional transport: £50
  • Local transport: £3-£10
  • Baggage Transfer: £10 (per bag/per day)

Money

Credit cards are accepted at many shops, restaurants, and accommodations along the Coast to Coast. That being said, plenty of smaller places (such as some guesthouses, campgrounds, and cafes) still require cash. As it may be many miles before you reach the next ATM, it’s always a good idea to carry enough cash to cover your expenses for a few days.

You’ll also need cash or a contactless card for most local buses, so keep that in mind if you plan on taking any shortcuts or detours.

Coast to Coast Walk budgeting
At least the million dollar views on the Coast to Coast don’t have to cost a fortune (just a bit of physical effort)!

What to Pack for the Coast to Coast Walk

Regardless of fitness level or hiking style, there is one golden rule that rings true for all walkers: the lighter your pack the better off you’ll be. It can be tempting to carry a lot with you on your C2C trek- you’re walking across an entire country after all! In reality though, it’s what you don’t pack that will help you the most on your journey.

To be clear, we’re not suggesting you need to be an extreme minimalist, but simply that you put some thought into what goes in your rucksack. That’s where we can help! Read on for our very best, tried-and-true packing advice.

For a full kit list, check out this post!

Footwear on the Coast to Coast

Taking care of your feet is of the utmost important on a long-distance walk like the C2C. Blisters, chafing, and other ailments can completely sabotage your experience, and the Coast to Coast’s wide range of underfoot conditions and wet environments can increase your risk of issues. The right shoes and socks can make all the difference.

Hiking boots, hiking shoes, and trail running shoes will all work for the Coast to Coast Walk, provided that they will work for your unique needs. The most important thing is that they’re adequately broken in and that you’ve tested them on multiple walks to ensure they are comfortable.

In terms of waterproofing, there are two opposing schools of thought about this. It is inevitable that your feet will get wet at multiple points along your walk, from driving rains, flooded paths, bogs, and so on. Many hikers prefer to use sturdy boots with a thick layer of waterproofing to keep the moisture out as much as possible. This is a good strategy, but keep in mind that when these heavier shoes get wet they can take a long time to dry. Other prefer to use breathable trail shoes. These will get wet right away, but they’ll also be dry again within a couple hours and allow your feet to get some air in the meantime. It’s totally a matter of personal preference, but it’s a good idea to try a few options out prior to setting off on your C2C journey.

Good socks are also a game-changer on the Coast to Coast. We love merino wool socks like these for their comfort, breathability, and anti-stink qualities.

If you’re blister-prone, consider trying toe socks, sock liners, and/or body glide.

Coast to Coast footwear
Good footwear and rain pants are necessities for the Coast to Coast Walk!

Don’t forget to check out our Complete Coast to Coast Packing List for a detailed kit list and expert advice!

Good Waterproofs

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad rain gear! You will undoubtedly face plenty of wet days on your Coast to Coast, so good waterproofs are an important investment.

At the very minimum, make sure you have a lightweight rain jacket, rain pants, and a pack cover. Some hikers pack their clothing and other items inside trash bags or waterproof packing cubes as an extra precaution. A hat can be nice to keep the rain out of your face. A waterproof carrying case for your map and/or phone isn’t a bad idea either. Finally, many walkers like to use gaiters for especially boggy or flooded areas.

Coast to Coast packing list waterproof gear
Glad to have our waterproofs and pack covers!

Choosing a backpack for the Coast to Coast

Just like with footwear, a properly fitting backpack is crucial on the Coast to Coast walk. Also similar to your boots, your pack needs to be broken in for optimal comfort. We recommend carrying a weighted pack on your training walks to get used to the extra weight and ensure it fits well.

If you plan on staying in B&B’s along the route, you won’t need a very large rucksack. A 25-liter pack should be enough to hold a few clothing items, food, water, and toiletries.

Those staying in dorms and bunkhouses will most likely need to carry a sleeping bag and towel. A 30-40L pack will be more than enough space for everything you need.

If you plan on camping, you’ll need a larger pack to fit your tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and cooking equipment in addition to your basic supplies. A 45-60L pack will be suitable for most campers.

How to Train for the Coast to Coast Walk

The Coast to Coast walk is not extremely strenuous relative to most long-distance hikes, but it is still very important to get in shape before attempting it. You will have a much more enjoyable experience if you are not dragging your miserable, exhausted body to the end of the trail each day!

Endurance

The best thing to do to prepare your body for two weeks of daily long walks is to build your endurance base. Ideally, you should aim to hike, walk, or do another moderately-paced cardio-building activity (like jogging, rowing, cycling, or swimming) 3-4 times per week for at least three months leading up to your trip. Even 20-30 minutes of walking is helpful, although you should try to get in at least one longer effort (1-4 hours) every week or two.

Strength

It’s also a good idea to incorporate some strength training to prevent injuries and imbalances as you increase the time spent on your feet. Core exercises are important for stability and will help you manage the weight of your pack. You should also aim to regularly complete a variety of leg exercises to prepare for the demands of the trail.

Mental

Finally, don’t forget to train your mind for long hours of walking! Being mentally strong is critical for those seemingly endless stretches or unexpected challenges that arise on a long-distance trek. Positive mantras, favorite daydreams, and simple mind games can all be helpful when you’re struggling mentally.

Coast to Coast Walk Difficulty
The greater the challenge, the sweeter the reward.

Itineraries and Stage Descriptions

There are limitless ways to walk the Coast to Coast. Some people do just a segment at a time, others spend weeks meandering across the entire route, and others fastpack it in much less time. It’s up to you to determine your perfect itinerary, keeping in mind your time-frame, fitness, and travel style.

As a starting point, we’ve provided a detailed guide for a classic, 14-day itinerary. We’ve also provided basic 12-day and 17-day itineraries. All itineraries follow the traditional west-to-east direction, but could easily be reversed.

Little Beck Wood, Stage Fourteen Coast to Coast Walk UK
The final stage of the walk meanders through the gorgeous Little Beck Wood.

Classic 14-Day Itinerary

Stage 1: St. Bees to Ennerdale Bridge

Distance/Elevation: 14.04 mi // +2,542 ft, -2,214 ft

Where to Stay: Thorntrees B&B

Begin your walk by completing two very important Coast to Coast rites of passage. Head down to the water’s edge to dip your boots in the Irish Sea and pick up a pebble. You’ll dunk your boots in the North Sea and deposit your pebble upon finishing in Robin Hood’s Bay. Once you’ve savored these great traditions, follow the trail atop ruggedly beautiful seaside clifs as it makes its way out of St. Bees. Once you turn inland, it’s mostly flat walking past farmland and through a couple of quaint villages. There’s a final climb over Dent Fell (and phenomenal views) before a few more easy miles to Ennerdale Bridge.

Stage One of the Coast to Coast Walk from St. Bees to Ennerdale Bridge.
Stage One of the Coast to Coast Walk from St. Bees to Ennerdale Bridge.

Stage 2: Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite

Distance/Elevation: 14.71 mi // +2,320 ft, -2,385 ft

Where to Stay: Hazel Bank Country House

Stage Two is arguably one of the most beautiful of the entire walk, and certainly showcases the best of the Lakes District. Begin on a rugged path that traces the length of Ennerdale Water before winding your way up to the remote Black Sail Hostel. The hostel is as cozy and charming as can be, set against a stunningly wild backdrop. Pop in for a cup of tea before tackling the steep ascent to Honister Pass. Finish with a picturesque descent into Rosthwaite.

Stage two of the Coast to Coast Walk from Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite.
Stage two of the Coast to Coast Walk from Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite.

Stage 3: Rosthwaite to Grasmere

Distance/Elevation: 7.23 mi // +1,987 ft, -1,992 ft

Where to Stay: Beck Allan’s Guest House

Enjoy more incredible Lakeland beauty on this stage, which starts with wild landscapes and rugged trails. There is one section that requires mild scrambling as you make your way up to Lining Crag. Cross the vast, boggy Greenup Edge before choosing between the more straightforward main route down or the dramatic variant over Helm Crag. A delightful evening in Grasmere is the perfect reward for your efforts.

Stage three of the Coast to Coast Walk from Rosthwaite to Grasmere.
Stage three of the Coast to Coast Walk from Rosthwaite to Grasmere.

Stage 4: Grasmere to Patterdale

Distance/Elevation: 7.53 mi // +1,948 ft, -1,739 ft

Where to Stay: Old Water View Hotel

This stage begins on a gently climbing path that leads walkers through attractive farmland before entering more untamed hillsides. As you ascend towards Grisedale Hause (the high point of this stage), incredible vistas open up first behind you and later in front of you. Follow a rocky, rugged path for a bit before the trail becomes gentler as you approach Patterdale. Be sure to stop in at the atmospheric White Lion Pub in Patterdale to commemorate your final night in the Lakes District.

Stage four of the Coast to Coast Walk from Grasmere to Patterdale.
Stage four of the Coast to Coast Walk from Grasmere to Patterdale.
Patterdale Coast to Coast Walk
The charming village of Patterdale.

Stage 5: Patterdale to Shap

Distance/Elevation: 15.25 mi // +3,291 ft, -2,955 ft

Where to Stay: New Ing Lodge

One of the best parts of the Coast to Coast Walk is the way it allows walkers to witness the changing landscapes that make up the diverse patchwork of Northern English terrain. Stage Five is one of the best examples of this. The first section is marked by a challenging final climb to Kidsty Pike, the highest point of the entire walk. From there, you’ll leave the mountainous Lakeland behind as you descend to Haweswater. It’s a tedious but scenic walk as you trace the length of the lake. When you finally leave Haweswater, a new landscape of rolling hills and pastures opens up before you. Take a short detour to explore the historic Shap Abbey before resting up in the small village of Shap after a long day on your feet.

Stage five of the Coast to Coast Walk from Patterdale to Shap.
Stage five of the Coast to Coast Walk from Patterdale to Shap.
Shap Coast to Coast Walk Stage Five
Beautiful pastoral scenery awaits as you near the village of Shap.

Stage 6: Shap to Kirkby Stephen

Distance/Elevation: 19.3 mi // +1,714 ft, -1,977 ft

Where to Stay: Fletcher House

Stage Six covers quite a bit of distance, but those weary of the Lakeland climbs will find some relief. Alternate between colorful moors and tidy farmland, all while marveling at the wide-open spaces. The sky feels boundless and the green stretches on forever. You’ll learn to use new muscles as you navigate the many stiles that you’ll cross as you pass through farmland. End the day in the well-appointed town of Kirkby Stephen, which offers many shops, restaurants, and other services.

Stage six of the Coast to Coast Walk from Shap to Kirkby Stephen.
Stage six of the Coast to Coast Walk from Shap to Kirkby Stephen.

Stage 7: Kirkby Stephen to Keld

Distance/Elevation: 11.54 mi // +1,910 ft, -1,431 ft

Where to Stay: Frith Lodge

If you brought along your gaiters and waterproof boots, today is the day to use them! Stage Seven packs plenty of excitement (and a good deal of challenge) into a relatively short distance. Start the day with a climb to the legendary and mysterious Nine Standards Rigg, which marks the watershed of Britain. From there, the bog-hopping begins! Pay close attention to the color-coded routes, as the appropriate route varies by time of year to prevent excessive erosion and environmental impacts. After a wet and wild traverse of the bogs, descend to a stream set in a picturesque valley. An undulating and scenic path (with a bit of road walking) carries you to Keld.

Stage seven of the Coast to Coast Walk from Kirkby Stephen to Keld.
Stage seven of the Coast to Coast Walk from Kirkby Stephen to Keld.
Nine Standards Rigg Stage 7 Coast to Coast Walk
Nine Standards Rigg.

Stage 8: Keld to Reeth

Distance/Elevation: 10.66 mi // +1,818 ft, -2,200 ft

Where to Stay: The Burgoyne Hotel

There are two route options between Keld and Reeth and both are splendid. The high-level route takes walkers on a rugged climb to bleak moorland scattered with fascinating old mining remains. This is the more challenging option, both in terms of physical exertion and also because poor waymarking makes navigation quite difficult. The low-level route ambles alongside the River Swale for much of the way, providing delightful glimpses of waterfalls, wildflowers, pastures, and forests. This stage showcases some of the best of the Yorkshire Dales.

Stage eight of the Coast to Coast Walk from Keld to Reeth.
Stage eight of the Coast to Coast Walk from Keld to Reeth.

Stage 9: Reeth to Richmond

Distance/Elevation: 10.36 mi // +1,360 ft, -1,576 ft

Where to Stay: The Castle House B&B

Stage Nine is characterized by mellow walking through rolling pastures and farmlands. There is a good bit of road walking on this stage, but the numerous points of interest more than make up for it. At the beginning of the walk, you’ll pass the remains of the 12th century Marrick Priory (worth a short detour), in the middle section you’ll pass through the lovely village of Marske along with its 12th century church, and you’ll end the day by meandering through the peaceful woods of Applegarth farms. Richmond makes a delightful and well-located place for a rest day.

Stage nine of the Coast to Coast Walk from Reeth to Richmond.
Stage nine of the Coast to Coast Walk from Reeth to Richmond.
Richmond Coast to Coast Walk
Exploring Richmond is a perfect rest day activity.

Stage 10: Richmond to Danby Wiske

Distance/Elevation: 13.36 mi // +427 ft, -750 ft

Where to Stay: The White Swan

Begin the day by following an idyllic path along the River Swale. Eventually, you’ll bid the river farewell and begin a long trek through endless farm fields. It certainly feels like you’ve made it into England’s heartland at this point in the walk. There’s quite a bit of road walking on Stage Ten, but many trekkers will welcome the easier change of pace. Be sure to check out the beautiful Norman church while in Danby Wiske.

Stage ten of the Coast to Coast Walk from Richmond to Danby Wiske.
Stage ten of the Coast to Coast Walk from Richmond to Danby Wiske.

Stage 11: Danby Wiske to Osmotherley

Distance/Elevation: 10.29 mi // +829 ft, -253 ft

Where to Stay: Vane House

Stage Eleven is yet again filled with flat, easy, pastoral walking. Savor the relaxed pace as you enjoy your final stage in this middle portion of the walk before tackling the North York Moors. There’s plenty of road walking, although history buffs will appreciate that part of it is on an ancient Roman road. Pause for a moment at Ingleby Cross, the official boundary of the North York Moors National Park and the final fifty miles of your adventure.

Stage 11 of the Coast to Coast Walk from Danby Wiske to Osmotherley.
Stage 11 of the Coast to Coast Walk from Danby Wiske to Osmotherley.

Stage 12: Osmotherley to Blakey Ridge

Distance/Elevation: 18.47 mi // +3,106 ft, -2,506 ft

Where to Stay: The Lion Inn

The first half of Stage Twelve largely uphill as you make your way through the scenic Cleveland Hills and eventually to the high point at Urra Moor. The incline is a refreshing change of pace after days of flat walking, as are the expansive views as you gain elevation. Once atop Urra Moor, take in the seas of heather (which turn a beautiful purple in late summer and fall) for miles and miles. There are virtually no services between Osmotherley and Blakey Ridge, but most accommodation providers in the area will pick up and drop off hikers at various points along the way as needed to break up this long stretch.

Stage 12 of the Coast to Coast Walk from Osmotherley to Blakey Ridge (The Lion Inn).
Stage 12 of the Coast to Coast Walk from Osmotherley to Blakey Ridge (The Lion Inn).
North York Moors Stage 12 Coast to Coast Walk
Beautiful purple heather in the North York Moors.

Stage 13: Blakey Ridge to Grosmont

Distance/Elevation: 13.17 mi // +504 ft, -1,693 ft

Where to Stay: Grosmont House

There’s a long, bleak stretch of road walking through the moors at the beginning of this stage, interrupted only by the infamous “Fat Betty.” Betty is actually one of many centuries old moorland crosses that can be found in the area, but she is unique in that she’s become an informal trading post of sorts for hikers to leave and take food and gear as they near the eastern terminus of the walk. Once the monotony of the road is behind you, you’ll be rewarded by a gorgeous traverse over high moors as you descend towards Glaisdale. Once out of the Moors, follow peaceful lanes into the charming village of Grosmont. Be sure to check out the authentic steam trains while you’re there.

Stage 13 of the Coast to Coast Walk from Blakey Ridge (The Lion Inn) to Grosmont.
Stage 13 of the Coast to Coast Walk from Blakey Ridge (The Lion Inn) to Grosmont.

Stage 14: Grosmont to Robin Hood’s Bay

Distance/Elevation: 14.99 mi // +2,115 ft, -2,197 ft

Where to Stay: Fernleigh B&B

This final marvelous stage of the Coast to Coast seems to give you a little taste of everything you’ve encountered on your journey thus far: woodlands, moors, bogs, farms, seaside cliffs, villages, and maybe even a variety of weather elements if you’re lucky! After a stunning traverse of the coastal bluffs, you’ll wind your way down through the incredibly quaint village of Robin Hood’s Bay. Mark the end of your journey by dipping your boots and depositing your pebbles in the North Sea. The Bay Hotel, conveniently located at the water’s edge, is the traditional spot for a celebratory pint and the place to add your name to the C2C logbook.

Stage 14 of the Coast to Coast Walk from Grosmont to Robin Hood's Bay.
Stage 14 of the Coast to Coast Walk from Grosmont to Robin Hood’s Bay.
Robin Hood's Bay Coast to Coast Walk
Robin Hood’s Bay.

Fast-Paced 12-Day Itinerary

This option is best for experienced walkers who have limited time to complete the C2C. To traverse the entire route in just twelve days will require you to cover significant distances each day. If you are short on time but not physically and mentally prepared for such long days of walking, you can always do just a section of the walk instead of attempting to complete the entire thing.

StageStartFinishDistance (miles)Elevation Gain (feet)Elevation Loss (feet)
1St.BeesEnnerdale Bridge14.04+2,542-2,214
2Ennerdale BridgeRosthwaite14.71+2,320-2,385
3RosthwaitePatterdale14.77+3,744-3,538
4PatterdaleShap15.25+3,291-2,955
5ShapKirkby Stephen19.3+1,714-1,977
6Kirkby StephenKeld11.54+1,910-1,431
7KeldReeth10.66+1,818-2,200
8ReethRichmond10.36+1,360-1,576
9RichmondIngleby Arncliffe21.98+702-866
10Ingleby ArncliffeClay Bank Top11.62+2,755-2,162
11Clay Bank TopGlaisdale17.51+1,142-1,493
12GlaisdaleRobin Hood's Bay19.2+2,186-2,686
Yorkshire Dales Coast to Coast Walk
An idyllic scene in the Yorkshire Dales.

Relaxed-Pace 17-Day Itinerary

If you’ve got the time, it’s worth considering this 17-day itinerary. With daily distances averaging a little over ten miles each day, this itinerary is approachable for a wide range of ability levels while still allowing you to achieve rewarding feats. Even better, incorporate a rest day or two into your itinerary to really savor the experience to the fullest.

StageStartFinishDistance (miles)Elevation Gain (feet)Elevation Loss (feet)
1St. BeesEnnerdale Bridge14.04+2,542-2,214
2Ennerdale BridgeBlack Sail Hostel9.05+1,269-676
3Black Sail HostelRosthwaite5.66+1,217-1,875
4RosthwaiteGrasmere7.23+1,987-1,992
5GrasmerePatterdale7.53+1,948-1,739
6PatteraleShap15.25+3,291-2,955
7ShapOrton6.84+827-702
8OrtonKirkby Stephen12.45+977-1,365
9Kirkby StephenKeld11.54+1,910-1,431
10KeldReeth10.66+1,818-2,200
11ReethRichmond10.36+1,360-1,576
12RichmondBolton-on-Swale7.08+302-574
13Bolton-on-SwaleIngleby Cross15.14+497-424
14Ingleby CrossClay Bank Top11.37+2,788-2,159
15Clay Bank TopLion Inn (Blakey Ridge)8.55+924-503
16Lion InnGrosmont13.17+504-1,693
17GrosmontRobin Hood's Bay14.99+2,115-2,197
Dipping Boots in the North Sea at the end of the Coast to Coast Walk.
Dipping our boots in the North Sea to celebrate the end of the journey!

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking to push your physical limits, explore world-class cultural sites, or just enjoy the simplicity of long walks in beautiful places, the Coast to Coast Walk definitely won’t disappoint. With a variety of transportation connections and itinerary options, you can truly make the experience your own. Wishing you a memorable and rewarding C2C adventure!

What’s Next?

Check out our other great Coast to Coast Walk Resources: