PLANNING AND LOGISTICS.
Coast to Coast means different things to different people and there are many C2C routes – some for walking and some for cycling.
The basis of our C2C was Alfred Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk from St Bees Head on the Irish Sea to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea which he did in 1972. Wainwright emphasised that the route he describes is in no sense an ‘official route’ such as the Pennine Way. It is just an enjoyable walk from one side of England to the other following an approximate beeline.
The walk passes through the heart of Lakeland and crosses the Cumbrian limestone plateau through the Eden Valley and over the Pennine watershed where it accompanies the River Swale through the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Vale of Mowbray to the Cleveland Hills and the North Yorkshire Moors to end at Robin Hood’s Bay.
There are many publications which have succeeded Wainwright’s original guide but I used it as the basis of our planning.
For me, the planning of an adventure through the quieter winter months is hugely enjoyable and when the planning comes to fruition it is enormously satisfying. The route is not definitive so our route had a few variations. Whenever possible we planned to take the higher options and ultimately we planned to finish our walk at Whitby which has been a lifelong significant place for me.
There are commercial companies who will relieve you of the organisational and logistical challenges on your Coast to Coast walk. They will help you with planning the walk, book your overnight accommodation, and carry your luggage for you. It is estimated that 10,000 people walk this C2C route and 9,000 of them use a commercial company to help them plan their walk, book their accommodation and transport their luggage from one overnight stop to the next.
We chose the hair shirt method – we did everything ourselves – including carrying all our own gear.
We decided to do it this way so we had total control over where we went and when. We have experience of long distance walking and cycling which enables us to whittle what we actually need to carry down to a very small amount. The only way in which we reduced our load was to have Archie’s dog food posted to 3 of our overnight stops.
We primarily used Wainwright’s Coast to Coast book and Ordnance Survey maps for planning. We sorted out our route into 14 days walking. We chose to have extra time in Lakeland so we could do high route variations if the weather permitted. We tried to keep the days of equal length and difficulty but this did vary a bit according to where we could get accommodation. Our accommodation choice was very limited as we were walking with Archie and dogs are not welcome everywhere. We booked the accommodation 9 months in advance. The route is signed in some places but there are long sections with no signs.
On the actual walk Ian chose to transfer our route into a GPS to ensure that we didn’t get lost. It worked – we didn’t get lost.
To get to St Bees we used one way car hire from Enterprise.
When we finished the walk at Whitby we picked up a car from Enterprise and drove home. This was the most convenient and cost effective way of doing it.