Coast to Coast Trail
This is the classic walk across northern England. Starting on the west coast the route crosses the spectacular mountains of the Lake District, continues through the gentler Yorkshire Dales and finally across the northern Yorkshire Moors; three of England's fabulous National Parks packed into one wonderful walk. Originally devised by A.W. Wainwright, the route is now the most popular long distance path in England; so much so that there is a small industry servicing the needs of walkers. This is a wonderful classic walk and one that all walkers should aim to accomplish at some time. Although it is strenuous in places it will reward the effort and, once completed, will stay as a treasured memory for ever.
Many of England's long distance paths are inspired by, and follow, a natural feature of the landscape. Perhaps the best example is the Pennine Way, which follows the backbone of Engand. The Ridgeway and the South Downs Way are examples of routes following limestone ridges. Similarly, many routes, such as the Severn Way, follow river valleys. What makes the Coast to Coast so interesting is that it ignores geology and 'goes against the grain', traversing England from West to East across the Cumbrian mountains, the Pennine watershed and the North Yorkshire Moors. From the very beginning at St. Bee's huge natural barriers confront the walker, providing spectacular dramatic scenery and an invigorating challenge. There are, of course, some gentler interludes along the way. After the sensory stimulus of the Lake District the arrival at Shap is followed by a section of low rolling limestone hills allowing recovery before the ascent of the Pennine range. After crossing the watershed the descent through upper Swaledale into the lovely town of Richmond is followed by the flat contrast of the route across the Vale of Mowbray. The final drama comes from the crossing of the North York Moors and the finish on the National Heritage coast at Robin Hood's Bay.
Regarding the route, Terry Marsh, author of one of the guides listed opposite, says in his introduction - 'His [Alfred Wainwright's] chosen route was but one of many possibilities, and the man himself encouraged walkers to devise their own. So, the present walk differs significantly in a number of ways. Being environmentally and ecologically more friendly, it ostracises much of the road walking that bedevilled Wainwright's plan, and overcomes the indifference he often displayed towards rights of way, or the lack of them. What results is a tantalising and inspiring excursion to rank with the finest of this country's long distance walks, and all of it on established right of way or permissive paths.'
The Sherpa Van Project provides a back-up service to walkers along this trail. They will transfer your luggage between overnight stops so that you can travel light. They also provide an accommodation booking service from B&B to hotels and can help with journey planning. For full details go to www.sherpavan.com
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