Walking holidays have risen in popularity over the past few years with many seeking the freedom and beauty that a walking holiday can provide. One of the most famous routes in England, despite not having National Trail status, is the Coast to Coast Walk spanning three national parks (North York Moors National Park, Yorkshire Dales National Park, Lake District National Park) and an average of 192 miles. If you wish to undertake this odyssey, then some careful planning should definitely take place to ensure that not only do you have a clear route and timings worked out but some downtime to recharge and also appreciate the beauty around you.
The Coast to Coast Walk was made famous in 1973 by Arthur Wainwright, a British fellwalker, who deconstructed the route into twelve stages. If following his plan, then the holiday should take about two weeks to complete, accounting for one stage walked per day with one or two days rest in between. Wainwright’s book is still widely available and worth a read, it has since been revised (look out for the 2003 version) to include updates to the original route.
Have the right attitude
This may sound obvious but being prepared for the reality of the coast to coast walk is incredibly important if you’re to avoid a panicked midnight search for the nearest cab. The walk will be long, maybe even the longest one you’ll ever do, and the weather is likely to be unpredictable – all factors that will inevitably lead to some low points in the journey. Acknowledging that sometimes you’ll be in pain, sometimes you’ll be tired and sometimes you’ll wish you never started the thing at all, will help you realistically visualise where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. All the difficulties will be worth it once you encounter untouched nature, magnificent views and the history along the way.
Plan an itinerary
For chances of encountering the best weather plan your coast to coast route for the months between May and October. You can choose to camp all the way or book stays in accommodation, since the route passes through a range of picturesque villages. Do plan ahead as these get booked up fast and make sure to check out YHA’s range of helpful and affordable places to stay on the route. There are so many to choose from but we especially recommend YHA Grasmere Butharlyp Howe in the Lake District, for its beautiful setting and range of sports activities; YHA Whitby, located in North Yorkshire Moors with breathtaking views over the harbor, is another highlight – set in a Grade 1 listed mansion beside Whitby Abbey’s iconic ruins.
Refresh your skills
How good are you with a map and compass? And when was the last time you used them? If you’re hesitating to answer either question, then it’s definitely time for a refresh now! The route remains unofficial, though The Wainwright Society has waymarked quite a lot of it to help fellow walkers out. Still, this route cannot be completed without some solo navigation. Have a great map, your route plan, and compass ready with full knowledge of how to use them to avoid having to call the local mountain rescue team to bail you out.
Be emergency ready
It’s important to pack your kit with items that could help you out in an emergency, even if you’ve meticulously planned your trip. Stock your first aid kit with many plasters, sun protection, cream to treat bites, and any other medication you’re taking or may need; some biodegradable wipes are likely to come in handy too. This trip may be your chance to get away from technology, but you don’t want to be caught out without battery power should something happen, so plan to bring a portable charger just in case, especially if this is your first time undertaking such a long walk.
Plan your wardrobe
We don’t mean bringing a blazer in case you fancy popping out for a fancy meal! More like make sure that you’re ready for unpredictable weather with something waterproof, have a dry change of clothes for when you do get caught in a downpour, and more socks than you think you’ll need. A note on boots: buy them early and break them in long before the trip. Do not take a gamble on brand new shoes, even expensive ones that appear really well fitting, breaking them in prior is crucial for your long-term comfort on the coast to coast walk.
The walk will burn a lot of calories and if you don’t have a good supply of snacks to stave off the ‘hanger’ (hunger and anger!) then you might find yourself in a less than ideal situation. Whilst we’d always encourage healthy eating, you’re probably not going to pack enough apples to keep you going for two weeks. Choose nuts, dried fruit, cereal bars and maybe some cheeky chocolate to help fuel you between stop points. Always aim to stay well hydrated and carry a reusable water bottle. Make sure to take all your litter and plastics with you so as not to pollute the beautiful surroundings.