Coast To Coast - St Bees to Robin Hood's Bay

The Coast to Coast walk (C2C), is a signed and un-signed walk in the North of England, described by Alfred Wainwright in his book "A Coast to Coast Walk" in 1973. The walk runs from St Bees Head in Cumbria to Robin Hoods Bay in Yorkshire, 192 miles over The Lake District, Pennines, Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. Most people walk from west to east, as we did, with the prevailing wind on our backs. We did meet a couple of walkers walking the other way as they had previously walked west to east, the downside of that is that they would miss out on the Camino spirit and camaraderie amongst walkers going from west to east.

“I want to encourage in others the ambition to devise with the aid of maps their own cross-country marathons and not be merely followers of other people's routes: there is no end to the possibilities for originality and initiative.”

A. Wainwright, A Coast to Coast Walk

The walk takes an average of 12 to 14 days, depending on one's abilities,

As some stages are fairly remote without many options on rooms we booked all the accommodation ourselves in advance, mostly on or by phoning the property. Alternatively companies exist who will book all rooms for you in advance, e.g.

We went in July during one of England's hottest ever summers spotting a weather window that we felt we wanted to take advantage of. However, we still had 2/3 days of very heavy rain, both in the Lake District and in Yorkshire and low mist/cloud over the Lakes.

We met 20/30 people at different times, sometimes we walked part of the way with them, or saw them in a couple of days. It had a true Camino spirit about it, all looking out for each other, advising each other on routes, accommodation, shops, places to eat etc. I was surprised at how long some of the stretches of walking are, with few opportunities for stocking up with supplies during the day, food and water for the whole day need to be carried.

Sunday 22nd July Manchester to St Bees to The Ennerdale Country Hotel Cleator. Day One

Most walkers start early in the morning from St Bees having arrived there the night before. We however, decided to catch the train from Manchester (where we live) to Carlisle, changing there, and catching the train to St Bees, arriving at 1.30pm. This was a great service, and when booked a couple of weeks in advance relatively cheap.

By tradition all coast to coasters start by dipping their boots in the sea, and collecting a pebble to take to the sea in Robin Hoods Bay, providing you make it there of course! The walk heads north following the cliffs along the coast, then turning inward towards the Lakes. We stopped at The Dog And Partridge in Sandwith for a pot of tea, then carried on to our destination The Ennerdale Country Hotel, Cleator. We arrived in time to see the wedding which was taking place there.

Dinner at Grove Court Hotel was popular with the locals. We ordered traditional walkers' food of steak pie, chips and vegetables. It was a fantastic meal, but with huge portions. We found this in many pubs that we went to, having to resort to asking for a small portion or even one between us!!

A great first day, all the planning had gone well. Most people stayed overnight in St Bees, and started in the morning, ending the day at Ennerdale Bridge. We used to book

Distance km 17.45

Duration of Walk Hours  4.30

Average Pace Min/km 15.28

Steps 28450

Elevation gained in meters 270

Monday 23rd July Cleator to Gillercombe, Rosthwaite. Day 2

The "official" route goes over Dent hill, however checking the map, and realising we had a long way to walk today, we walked down the roads to Ennerdale instead of going over Dent. This was a very pleasant short cut, and we managed to put some miles under our belts early on. By the shores of Ennerdale Water we caught up with walkers who had stayed at Ennerdale Bridge. This is a beautiful area following the path along the southern shore of the Lake. The 'stone outcrop' mentioned in the guidebook was no problem.

By the time we reached the end of the lake, the rain began, and got worse throughout the day. So much for the 10 day forecast of perfect weather. The path continues uphill, through the forest passing High Gillerthwaite youth hostel. At various points paths lead off, and way markings are scarce.

Eventually we stopped for our picnic lunch at Black Sail youth hostel, meeting new friends whom we would meet at various places all the way to Robin Hoods Bay. Everyone was glad to shelter from the rain, the kitchen can be used to make tea and coffee. Toilets are free too. Be careful from here to Honister to ensure that you follow the correct path, it is very easy to get lost, especially when the cloud is down. There are a distinct lack of signs., check out path past Black Sail.

The next stop after a long arduous path was the cafe at Honister Slate mines, a very welcome sight, especially in such bad weather. Gillercombe B and B, was the destination for today, just on the B5289 road on the outskirts of Rosthwaite. Rachel the owner requested that we take off our wet outer clothes in the porch, she very kindly tumble dried all our clothes. booked directly with owner by phone

Dinner was at the Scafell Hotel, again huge portions, but half portions available.

Many walkers we met earlier were dining there too, which continued to be the pattern for the next 10 days.

Distance km 32.23

Duration of Walk Hours  9.32

Average Pace Min/km 17.45

Steps 57228

Elevation gained in meters 716

Tuesday 24th July Rosthwaite to Noran Bank Farm, Patterdale. Day 3

This leg can alternatively be split into 2 days, staying a night in Grasmere to break up the day. Tempting to stay in Grasmere but we felt the leg would have been too short. But if we had not been there before it would be a lovely afternoon/evening.

A beautiful walk over Grasmere Common with lovely views. However, at points it was hard to find the way, as again the path is not clearly marked, but we found there were always enough people to ask/follow.

We arrived at the Travellers Rest pub on the A591 at 1pm, in time for some lunch. We had some spare food in our rucksacks, but the option of eating hot food inside appealed more. The weather again had been mixed this morning, drying up later.

There are a couple of choices at this point, the high routes over Helvellyn or St Sunday Crag. We opted for the low level walk though Grisedale Valley, due to the length of today's walk and the weather. The high level routes would be fantastic if staying overnight in Grasmere and the weather was clear.

We followed the obvious path uphill to Grisedale Tarn, then a pretty but long walk follows Grisedale Beck to Patterdale.

We ate an early dinner at 5.30pm in the White Lion Pub, Patterdale (to avoid walking back there later), we found friendly staff and nice food. Unfortunately the village shop was closed by 6.30pm as it seems to have its own hours and shuts if quiet. So don't make our mistake; visit the shop prior to the pub.

There was not a great deal of reasonably priced accommodation in Patterdale, so we had booked Noran Bank Farm which is slightly off the C2C path, The owners were very friendly and helpful, providing us with a delicious breakfast and packed lunch for the next day (as we had missed the village shop!). The farmhouse was built in 1617, and was like going back in time.  Bed and Breakfast or Bunkhouse Rooms

By this time we realised that no-one else we met was carrying their backpacks, just day sacks, and using the Sherpa van service to transport packs to the next location. On our previous long distance walks, this facility had not always been available, and only works if the accommodation has been booked ahead. So after 3 long days of carrying full kit, we put as much stuff as possible all in the one rucksack, and had it transported for the rest of the trip. This made the upcoming long days much easier, and I would recommend this service. We paid £8.00 a day for one bag weighing up to 20kg to be shipped.

Distance km 25.61

Duration of Walk Hours  9.32

Average Pace Min/km 22.22

Steps 52960

Elevation gained in meters 1080

Wednesday 25th July Patterdale to The Kings Arms Shap. Day 4

The sun shone brightly for today's long stage of 15 miles. We were joined for the day by a young lady  whose boyfriend had been poorly so he got a lift with the bag- carrying Sherpa van service to Shap. The views today were spectacular back over the lakes where we had walked, then down to Haweswater, and the high Pennines beyond.

We got lost on several occasions, such as Boredale Hause which follows the first ascent.  Also after climbing the Knott, we carried on down High Street, before stopping to look back at the views, and realised we should have headed east previously to the top of Kidsty Pike, so back tracked we did.

Lunch on the top of Kidsty Howes - at 2,560feet (780M), the highest point of the walk. This overlooks Haweswater, which had more water in than I had imagined, given the dry summer. It was a steep drop down to the lake, then it was certainly a long walk down the side of the lake, and not as flat as we would have imagined. From there, follow the path, through woods, finding drinks and honesty box near a bridge. Over the fields to reach the spectacular remains of Shap Abbey, with information boards, a couple of miles from The Kings Arms, Shap, tonight's destination. This was a long tough day, with no facilities. We met fellow walkers who had avoided most of Haweswater by going over High Raise and Red Crag, Bampton Common, dropping  down to Haweswater two thirds of the way along. See Ordnance Survey Map, OL5 North-Eastern Lakes.

We cheated on dinner tonight, going to the Coop Stores in Shap, buying salad, bread, cheese and fruit for dinner, and stocking up with lunch for the next day. The chip shop was recommended, but closing when we arrived after showers, at about 7.30pm.

Distance km 28.58

Duration of Walk Hours  10.28

Average Pace Min/km 21.59

Steps 58428

Elevation gained in meters 937

Thursday 26th July Shap to The Black Bull, Kirby Stephen. Day 5

An earlyish  start after yet another huge English breakfast!  A long walk of 20 miles today, over the M6, leaving the lakes behind. The walk gradually undulates over sheep-grazing land, mostly with clear signage. The path splits at Orton Scar, one way going into Orton which has eating/accommodation options, the other continuing across rough ground. Orton is the only available refreshment stop today, except for drinks in an honesty box at Scar Side Farm.  As it is a long day, especially after the previous day, some people opt to split this day onto 2 stages, and stay at Orton. The path basically continues in an easterly direction, joining the Dales Highway for a while, a short section on a dismantled railway, and eventually under a railway tunnel to Kirby Stephen. We again had studied the map, and used some local roads, which seem to be basically traffic free, hopefully making the long walk quicker.

We stayed at the Black Bull Inn, again we visited the Coop for dinner, consisting of bread, salad, cheese, fruit and food for lunch the next day. After a long day walking it was lovely just to relax in a bath, and eat dinner in the room. Just out of interest there are a couple of walking shops in Kirby Stephen, try them on arrival, or they open at 9 am, in case you have forgotten anything. There is a whole array of accommodation/shops/restaurants in Kirby Stephen. We visited the church which is beautiful and contains an 8th Century carved Viking stone. Alternatively people stayed at Nateby.

Distance km 30.09

Duration of Walk Hours  8.11

Average Pace Min/km 16.20

Steps 50713

Elevation gained in meters 435

Friday 27th July Kirby Stephen to Tan Hill Inn Keld. Day 6

After yet another delicious but very filling cooked breakfast we set out again up a clearly marked path, up Hartley Road, past the quarries. At the Nine Standards, the views are superb. By chance we met up with so many walkers we had enjoyed time with previously. The purpose of the Nine Standards is a bit of a mystery, whether they are the county boundary between Eden and Yorkshire, or as a decoy for the army of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. Either way they are stunning, and provide a great landmark. Once the Standards have been reached, the path splits, according to the time of year, in order to reduce erosion. The walk is now beautiful rolling moorland, descending eventually to a beautiful small stream - Whitsunday Beck, increased speed can be gained over the mossy ground.

We stopped for drinks and cake at Ravenseat Farm Cafe, a stunning location, made famous by the TV show- The Yorkshire Shepherdess and books written by the owner - Amanda Owen. We were served very nicely by young children, who also showed us the way out of the farm. The cafe is only open sometimes, but when shut it is possible to use the tap and toilets.

However, at this point we left the official C2C path. Because we had only booked all the accommodation 2/3 weeks before the walk, we found some booked up. We struggled to find anything around Keld or Muker, so at this point headed north up Pryclose Gutter and Tongue Sike in the direction of Tan Hill. This lovely walk took about 90 minutes, a beautiful part of "God's own County - Yorkshire."

Tan Hill (today's destination) is the highest pub in the British Isles, at 1,732 feet (528m), with a splendid range of beer and food. It was very busy when we arrived, and we were advised to book evening meal ahead. There is a choice of accommodation, with some rooms/dormitories inside the pub. These were full, so we stayed in a Tepee with stunning views over Yorkshire. There is a toilet outside, by the campsite,  but the showers are inside the first floor of the pub. We had an enjoyable evening chatting to fellow walkers who were walking the Pennine Way, and swopping stories and the problems they had found trying to find accommodation. I would recommend staying at Tan Hill, as it is a beautiful walk to get there, and to stay at ones of Britain's more iconic pubs is magical. rooms/tepees/camping

Distance km 20.15

Duration of Walk Hours  7.04

Average Pace Min/km 21.05

Steps 40019

Elevation gained in meters 742

Saturday 28th July Tan Hill Inn to Black Bull Inn, Reeth. Day 7

After being awake some of the night listening to the wind howling outside, and rain, we had another tremendous breakfast. The 3 Tepees were surrounded by people camping in tents (rather than tepees), and we were so happy that we were not in a very soggy tent.

The weather had definitely taken a turn for the worse as we battled the wind and heavy rain, taking  a southerly direction 4 miles downhill to  the Pennine Way to rejoin the C2C path in Keld. We met some fellow C2C walkers who had stayed in a farm on the Pennine Way.

From Keld to Reeth, there are 2 options for the walk, the river or old mines. Due to the weather, we opted for the river route, leaving this route for a drink in Muker, which is a beautiful old village, famous for Swaledale Woollens. We continued along the B6270 crossing the River Swale back to the path at the stunning Ivelet Bridge. From Gunnerside the path again splits, we chose the low level walk which followed the river most of the way to Reeth.

Fortunately the rain stopped before lunch time, again the walk offered fantastic views. We reached Reeth by mid-afternoon checking in at the Black Bull, the room was on the front with lovely views over the biggest village square I have seen. In Reeth, there was a very good selection of places to eat, some were busy with tourists. There is a small shop on the outskirts of the village, and a small shop inside the post office.

We had a delicious dinner at the Kings Arms Hotel.

Distance km 24.79

Duration of Walk Hours  6.51

Average Pace Min/km 16.35

Steps 42177

Elevation gained in meters 184

Sunday 29th July Reeth to the Black Lion, Richmond. Day 8

We ate another breakfast, joined by fellow walkers. Bad weather was forecast so we left ASAP afterwards. Today is a relatively short and easy day past Marrick Priory and across the fields towards Marske. By the time we got to Marske, it was raining so much we gave up on the footpaths across fields taking the road option instead, walking past the phone booth in Marske and uphill past Clapgate Bank into Richmond.  At this point it was just a question of getting to Richmond, listening to music/podcasts, as the torrential rain got worse, at one point the entire road was underwater, necessitating ankle deep paddling.

We arrived at the Black Lion looking extremely wet, whilst diners were enjoying their Sunday lunch!! In hindsight, we should have checked in advance, to enquire if we could have checked in early arriving as we did at 1pm. However, the staff were very kind, finding us a room, then doing all our washing, and providing old newspapers to stuff in our boots to aid drying. There is nowhere between Reeth and Richmond for any refreshments or shelter.

For a change, we had time to do some sightseeing. Richmond is a lovely historic town on the River Swale, we visited the old Market Square, Richmond Castle, and had a lovely walk round the town, the rain becoming a slight drizzle. There is a large co-op store on the square, and many other shops including Mountain Warehouse, but check opening hours if you are there on a Sunday.

We had a delicious dinner in the Black Lion where we were staying, with huge portions, again by coincidence with fellow walkers.

In hindsight, a good alternative to Richmond would be to carry on walking another four miles to Catterick Bridge, and stay at the Farmers Arms: increasing the length of today's' short day, and decreasing the long day following to Ingleby Cross.

Distance km 18.82

Duration of Walk Hours  4.31

Average Pace Min/km 14.24

Steps 29407

Elevation gained in meters 363

Monday 30th July Richmond to the Blue Bell, Ingleby Cross. Day 9

Leaving Richmond in the morning the path is slightly misleading, instead of walking along the A6136 following the C2C, the path along the disused railway line can be taken. There are pretty views back towards the Castle and along the river.

The path traverses farmland for most of the day. All very pretty with crops in the fields. The path passes through the beautiful hamlet of Bolton-on-Swale. We visited the church and read about Henry Jenkins, reputedly born in 1500, dying at the age of 169 in 1670. He is mentioned in many records, using his vast memory to help with historic events of the time. It makes an interesting story to study. There are also drinks and a toilet.

We had a quick sandwich at the White Swan, Danby Whiske, which also has accommodation if a break in the journey is needed. The sign portrays 60 miles to Robin Hoods Bay, so two-thirds of the journey completed. Beautiful views in all directions across flattish farmland. Danby Whiske, is the lowest point of the walk at 43 meters.

On reaching the A19, there is a petrol station with toilets, and a Londis shop open 24 hours the last one to be seen for the next few days, so stock up,

The worst moment of the trip now arrives how to cross the dual carriage way, without  a bridge or subway. Apparently the local MP has been requesting a crossing for years, but to no avail. We eventually crossed by waiting for a gap in the traffic, then running across to the barrier in the middle, climbing this, then repeat. Not good. Our new German buddies could not believe this crossing, and said they would be very squished on an Autobahn.

The Blue Bell at Ingleby Cross was tonight's destination, some rooms are in the pub, others in a newer building to the side. We booked an early dinner, again huge delicious portions were procured. If arriving earlier, there is a cafe.

Alternatively people stayed at Osmotherley.

Distance km 37.34

Duration of Walk Hours  9.17

Average Pace Min/km 14.55

Steps 59578

Elevation gained in meters 166

Tuesday 31st July Ingleby to The Buck Inn, Chop Gate. Day 10

Past Arncliffe Hall the farmland comes to an end with the Cleveland Escarpment, a walk up this leads to the Cleveland Way, which we joined for the next 2 days. The path now undulates sticking to the top of the escarpment with tremendous views over countryside to Teesside in the distance.

We stopped at the cafe at Lordstones, it did seem strange to come into contact with "day trippers" and people in cars, after spending so long with walkers.

Again we had struggled to find a room for the night, due to a scarcity! The stage in the guidebook that we were following ended at Clay Bank Top, which is just a local name, with nothing there. Some of the local farms/pubs can collect from this point, driving you to and from their accommodation. However, once we are on a walk, our plan is not to take motorised transport. We had booked Chop Gate for the night, south of the Cleveland Way. We left the path just after Kirby Bank, heading past Beak Hills Farm, and Westcott Farm to The Buck Inn. This avoided walking down the main road from Clay Bank top, or phoning the landlord for a lift.

This being a relatively short day, we arrived at the pub before it opened, and waited on the benches outside- again maybe we could have checked this in advance, and had a slower walk. Dinner at the Buck Inn, they offer a packed lunch service, but we still had bread bought at the Petrol station on the A19, and the walkers' favourite - peanut butter.

Distance km 22.39

Duration of Walk Hours  7.16

Average Pace Min/km 19.30

Steps 42235

Elevation gained in meters 707

Wednesday 1st August  Chop Gate to Arncliffe Arms, Glaisdale. Day 11

We set out heading north for a mile up the B1257, then turning right through Seave Green, and Billsdale Hall up the escarpment and re-joining the Cleveland Way (and C2C) at Round Hill.

We followed the disused railway line across the moor for 5 miles, which does make for easy walking. There is a spur off the path on the left, which leads directly to the Lion Inn. We missed this, continued walking down to the road junction, and walked back up the road to the pub. We called in at the pub for a drink; rooms and meals are available, there is an old-world charm, so pop in. Again given hindsight, we would have walked to here the day before instead of staying at The Buck Inn, as it is directly on the path.

We continued up the road for a few more miles, having our sandwiches overlooking the moors. Again fantastic views. Then struck out across the Moors.

Most disappointing when we arrived in Glaisdale was the village shop, which was closed as it was Wednesday. The penultimate night, spent in the bar of the Arncliffe Arms, swopping stories and adventures from our new group of friends. All have enjoyed it, not sure that they all would do it again however. Looking forward to seeing the North Sea tomorrow.

Distance km 33.71

Duration of Walk Hours  7.58

Average Pace Min/km 14.11

Steps 52205

Elevation gained in meters 451

Thursday 2nd August Glaisdale to Robin Hoods Bay. Day 12

A beautiful walk, initially visiting Beggars Bridge dating from 1619, following the river valley, and the North Yorkshire Railway  as far as Grosmont. The railway is an old steam line  run by enthusiasts, and it may be interesting to look at the trains and station. Then just when you think all the altitude is behind you, up the hill onto the moors. At Littlebeck, we decided to go a different way, turning left up a steep road to Hempsyke Hall, turning right to Lound House, half a mile north along the B1416, turning right along a small  lane to Sneaton Thorpe Lane, through Sneaton Thorpe, and re-joining the "official" path after Rigg Farm. A further walk followed before reaching the sea just past Northcliffe Holiday Park, where we called in the cafe.

 It was a fantastic feeling to finally see the sea, just prior to the holiday park. A wondrous sight  thinking we had walked so far. The path follows the coast south to Robin Hoods Bay. Public toilets are in the old Station car park.  As we wound our way down the steep streets to the beach, we thought back over the past 12 days, of all the walking, the views, the adventures, the torrential rain, the great people met, fantastic food eaten, and lovely accommodation. We would not change a thing, (except to bring more waterproofs), we have enjoyed every minute of the challenge , we would recommend it and would love to complete it again.

We ambled our away across the stony shoreline, to dip our boots in the North Sea, and throw the pebble collected from the Irish sea 12 days ago into its new resting place. We met up by chance with the young couple whom we first met in the Black Sail Hut, Ennerdale, and had seen them at various intervals along the way.

After many photos and sad goodbyes we made our way to Bay Taxis,near St Stephens Parish Church, where our rucksack had been dropped off by the very efficient Sherpa van service. We caught the bus to Scarborough, visiting the sea there, before catching the train back to Manchester. Thoughts of our next trip in our minds.

Distance km 29.34

Duration of Walk Hours  7.52

Average Pace Min/km 16.05

Steps 48961

Elevation gained in meters 555

Total Measurements for our Coast to Coast Walk,

Obviously there will be some discrepancies, and we are relying on the accuracy of mapmywalk.

Distance km 320.5

Duration of Walk Hours  90.65

Average Pace Min/km 17.37

Steps 562,361

Elevation gained in meters 6606

Accommodation we stayed in, on The Coast to Coast Walk. July 2018

Places to eat at along the way

Other useful websites

Books we used

Coast to Coast walk A-Z for Walkers  (can't recommend highly enough) - with relevant extracts of Ordnance Survey maps, enabling us to occasionally change our route.

The Coast to Coast Book, Martin Wainwright

Ordnance Survey Map, OL5 North-Eastern Lakes


Buy a good guidebook in advance, and The Coast to Coast walk A-Z for Walkers or take ordnance survey maps. The A-Z however is easier than big maps, with the salient maps put together for you. This is easier to use than the guide book, especially during bad weather. Just occasionally we wished we had O.S maps, i.e. walking to Tan Hill, and we could have looked at the big picture. We used The Coast to Coast Book, by Martin Wainwright, but other books are available, i.e. Cicerone walking guide, by Terry Marsh, and the updated guide by A. Wainwright. The walks in the books sometimes go different ways in each book. We did find the path in places badly signed, and since returning home, I have written many emails concerning this, but to no avail. Perhaps if more people wrote then this could be rectified.

Book the accommodation in advance.

We booked Sherpa transport for bags in advance, they transport rucksacks, suitcases, and even camping equipment clearly labelled to the next destination.

Take snacks, cereal bars etc, as there are many whole days of 20 miles+ without refreshments, we also have peanut butter with us and/or cans of tuna with ring pull openers.

If arriving by train book in advance for cheaper fares, we have a travel together card, getting a third-off the train fare.

We worked out the route to be taken in advance, as many stages have either long or short days, lacking alternative accommodation.

Study the maps in the "Coast to Coast walk A-Z for Walkers", or ordnance survey maps. By doing this, we sometimes formulated our own route, missing road walking, or when the path was too wet taking roads (which in general were very quiet.). We feel as long as we walked from coast to coast, with no motorised transport, then it is fine to deviate from the official path. At times, this is the only way to find places to stay as well. Wainwright  (who devised the walk in 1973), said he did not expect people to stick to his stages each day or even to stick to his route.  

However  good the weather forecast would appear to be, ensure that you take good waterproofs, hats, muffs and gloves. Take sticks if necessary, and take a good first aid kit, as there are no pharmacies or shops for many days.

Wear boots, the only way to go. We wear Lowa boots, originally designed in Germany, and very popular with walkers there. Having worn out previous pairs, with an excess of 1,000 miles walked in them, we are now onto our third pairs. They are available in Decathlon, and probably other places too.

Having done a couple of Caminos in Spain we are used to leaving at 7am and walking for a couple of hours before coffee and toast for Breakfast. On the C2C, this is not an option as the price of breakfast is included with the room, and on many occasions, nowhere else to eat food. The downside of this being, departures are later than we would have liked, and too much food to eat before setting out!! Tempting as it is to eat so much after a few days we and others did start requesting smaller portions.