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A bit about us
Kevan and Liz, a married couple living with 3 cats in Lewisham, South London England, that's Europe for our American friends.
Lizzie has a passion for Rum and coke, Kevan enjoys a nice glass of red wine. We both enjoy chocolate! And are vegetarians.
We suspect that at least one of the cats sneaks into the fridge to snaffle the odd chocolate but they do not share our thoughts on vegetarianism!
We set off from St. Bees in the morning of the 17th June 2006 and arrived in Robin Hoods Bay on 30th June 2006
Saturday17th June 2006 Ennerdale Bridge - Ennerdale View
Sunday 18th Stonethwaite - Knotts View
Monday 19th Patterdale - Old Water View
Tuesday 20th Shap - Brookfield
Wednesday 21st Kirkby Stephen - Old Coach House
Thursday 22nd Keld - Butt House
Friday 23rd Reeth - Cambridge House
Saturday 24th/Sunday 25th Richmond - Old Brewery
Monday 26th Danby Wiske - Manor House
Tuesday 27th Osmotherley - Queen Catherine Hotel
Wednesday 28th Blakey - High Blakey House
Thursday 29th Grosmont - Station Tavern
In the beginning.....................
25 years ago, Easter 1981, I set off from my parents house in Cleethorpes to walk the Coast to Coast, the friend who I was meant to be going with backed out at the last minute and I decided to go alone, backpacking! I remember the first day being so hot, my feet blistered badly and I struggled to carry my rucksack. short days turned into long torturous treks. The second evening having arrived at the campsite in the dark, put the tent up and stumbled into a bar just in time to get some food. Next morning, woke up looked out the tent and there was 3 inches of snow on the ground! A day later, suffering from blisters and tonsillitis I put my rucksack down and sat at the edge of Angle Tarn, a remote, picturesque lake surrounded by hills, but knowing that I couldn't continue the idyllic setting was lost on me at the time and not long after I was back in Patterdale - calling home.
Don't think my parents were that impressed at having to drive across the country to collect me and the sight of our little green mini driving into Patterdale is a memory that has stayed with me ever since - mainly due to the look on my fathers face. He is quite a tall man and seemed to fill our little mini I have visions of his face pressed up against the windscreen glaring as he looked for somewhere to park.
As a sort of 25th Anniversary of my initial failed attempt, Liz and myself are planning to complete the walk starting on17th June 2006.
The Coast to Coast is an unrecognised 190 mile/300 km trail across Northern England, starting at St. Bees on the Irish Sea passing through the Lake District, Pennines and Yorkshire Moors before finishing at Robin Hood's Bay on the North Sea. Thanks to the notoriety of it's founder Alfred Wainwright it is perhaps one of the most popular, particularly with foreign visitors from Australia and America.
This popularity is borne out by the fact that accommodation is difficult to secure and confirm at peak times. Even booking up to 8 months in advance, we discovered that some guest houses had already been booked up for our planned dates however eventually we worked out an itinerary and with over six months to go before we set off we hadalready booked all of the accommodation - or at least that's what we thought! And had started to think about the peripherals such as maps, what to take and so on. Ok so it isn't exactly a major expedition and we have the luxury of having all our luggage transferred each day, just leaving us to worry about carrying a day sack, but you still never know what the weather can be like - even in June. How true that prophecy was going to become!
We then spent some time at the beginning of the year going through all our bookings and double checking to make certain that we had a confirmation of our reservation, sending cards out to the B+B who we didn't have any written confirmation from or couldn't quite remember if we had made a booking by phone or not. - Wouldn't want to walk 15 miles and find out that our booking for the night didn't exist as had happened with other people.
It was a good job we had done this because we found a discrepancy between the list that the luggage carriers were working from and the one we were using for the walk so our luggage may have ended up at the wrong place. Our reviews and opinions of the accommodation, can be read on the links page.
We booked our baggage transfer with Sherpa Van, mainly because none of the other companies doing this service answered our e-mail. No need to carry luggage at our age when someone else can take it from place to place by van, although of course this does mean an itinerary has to be adhered to and there isn't the chance to stay put somewhere if the weather is bad. Sherpa offered a very good service, although we are aware that on one occasion they left someone's luggage behind.
This journal isn't intended to be a turn by turn or even step by step guide to walking the Coast to Coast, there are plenty of books available for that, and in some ways it is often best to find your own path, hopefully though you will find it to be an honest account of our personal journey, the people, places and experiences that shaped our trip across England, we were bound to get lost somewhere along the way but we both hope that you will stay with us and enjoy following our travels.
For maps and guide books we used the Memory Map Coast to Coast CD which has ordnance survey maps covering the whole route - or at least it lays claim to. Closer inspection reveals a small piece of coastline missing towards the end at Robin Hoods Bay, at least it is the coast part so there won't be too many problems route finding as long as we stay on top of the cliffs! Individual strip maps for each day printed off and laminated. Guide books were only read in the evening to give an idea of what to expect the next day, we didn't follow them religiously unlike some. We enjoyed reading Wainwright and some of his anecdotes and descriptions became clearer after we had covered the stage described but the Cicerone book by Terry Marsh seemed to be the easiest to understand.
Going over the route maps in the books and comparing to the ordnance survey maps made me wonder why in certain places most of the guide books show the route following roads when there is the possibility of using footpaths to get to the same destination. This is understandable with the old Wainwright book as new access and paths are likely to have been created since it was devised but less so with some of the more recent books. There were several occasions where we devised our own route, particularly in the middle section of the walk between Richmond and Osmotherley veering off along farm tracks and paths when others were slipping into more comfortable footwear for a spot of road walking, we did encounter some overgrowth and blocked access but nothing to difficult and had the pleasure of not having to do long road sections.
With the help of the Walking Places editor, Lone Walker, the initial draft text was uploaded as went along on a daily basis, this caused a few problems particularly in remote areas trying to find signals, standing in the middle of Kirkby Stephen High Street in the pouring rain, pointing the phone skywards no doubt raised a few eyebrows, still it was the summer solstice! And on another occasion a slight detour had to be made to the top of a hill so that Kev could get as close as possible to a radio transmitter. We later refined and added to the text after we had returned home. The photo's link will take you to our Kodak Gallery, ignore all the business about signing up and just click on the small print 'view without account' we are still in the process of adding captions!
The long range weather forecast before we set off was terrible, after a week of near record temperatures the weather was due to change for the worse, we prepared ourselves for a very, very wet adventure and for once the weatherman didn't get it wrong!
Whilst we haven't found the attitude towards vegetarianism at home (London) to be anywhere as bad as in France, 'yes, its all vegetarian sir, we only threw in half a chicken and some fish heads to give flavour to the sauce', it can still be difficult to eat out in the UK, particularly in more remote areas and not get bored by Goats cheese and roasted veg every night or ripped off by having to pay the same price as a full roast dinner for a plate of pasta in tomato sauce. This was aspect of the trip that we were not looking forward to particularly as Lizzie now has to adhere to a gluten free diet we expected even less choice when it comes to finding a meal in the evening. Thankfully with a few exceptions, most notably Danby Wiske we managed to find somewhere each night for a reasonable evening meal.
Having spent some time calling all of
the places we had booked to stay overnight in and explaining the
situation, Lizzie found them to be very sympathetic, just in case though
we took some supplies of Gluten free bread with us so she could at least
have some toast in the morning.