Q and A
to advice section]
are ten of the most frequently asked questions that Lou and John receive
from 'would-be' Coast to Coast walkers
the best time of year to walk the Coast to Coast?
June and September are good choices, when the days are much longer.
It can be a bit crowded in July and August, and although northern England
isn't exactly tropical, the days can be hotter. Avoid April and October,
because of the shorter days and possible snow, especially in the Lake
What sort of training do I need to be in good shape when I arrive at
St. Bees for the start of the trek?
let's be candid. If you're a regular, experienced walker, you can start
planning your walk. But if your normal exercise regime doesn't extend
beyond a walk from your local supermarket to the car once a week, then
you've got some work to do.
to Coast is a 190-mile walk across the wonderfully varied countryside
of northern England. Completing this walk will give you a great sense
of folk do this walk every year, so don't worry too much about whether
you can do it. It's not like climbing Everest, and you can. But you
must get in shape for this physically demanding adventure -- and training
could take you at least six months.
The level of fitness required depends partly on how you're doing the
walk (see next question). However, if you work a standard five-day week,
you should try gradually increasing the amount of walking you do. Begin
by walking several three-to-five-mile circuits.
vary the terrain so you get used to some hill climbing. It's also useful
to walk on surfaces other than artificial paving. Make sure you carry
a backpack on these trips, with a few pounds of weight (chocolate or
boots -- it's up to you). When you've built up to walking 10 miles every
Saturday, and another 10 on Sunday, your body should be ready for the
Can you give me an idea of how much money I'll need to do the walk?
depends on how you want to do the walk. If you'd like everything organised,
there are several companies who will do this -- for instance, the Sierra
Club. With this approach, you have guides to accompany you, your accommodation
is pre-booked, and baggage transfers arranged. All you have to do is
put one foot in front of the other.
of such pre-arranged walks varies, depending on the company and the
package. The already-mentioned Sierra Club's Coast to Coast walk costs
$2,345 (US), not including airfare. British-based Contours Walking Holidays
offers a similar guided walk, which also includes all meals, for £965.
for many people, part of the fun of the Coast to Coast is planning the
whole thing themselves. With a good accommodation guide such as Doreen
Whitehead's (featured on this website) you can make your own bookings
-- by email, phone, fax or post. There are also agents who, for a modest
fee, can pre-book all your accommodation for you.
Some walkers are spontaneous types, who just book accommodation one
day at a time. Much of the time this strategy is fine. However, remember
there are certain stopovers on the walk where fewer rooms are available,
and during the busy season these can be fully booked.
don't want a walking package, plan on spending about £30 a day
for your B & B and food. This doesn't include getting to St. Bees,
where the walk starts, nor returning from Robin Hood's Bay, where it
about camping along the route?
the third option, and in fact many people each year take along a sleeping
bag and tent. You'll find campsites at regular intervals along the walk,
which cost about three to four pounds a night. Toting camping equipment
will be heavier on your back -- but lighter on your wallet. This approach
should cost about £170, including food. And if you really yearn
for a comfortable bed at some point along the route, indulge yourself
and stay in a B & B.
it safe for a woman to do the Coast to Coast on her own?
A: If you're
in a reflective mood and want to experience the peace of the countryside
-- perhaps without a talkative companion -- then walking alone can be
great. However, solitary long-distance walking isn't necessarily a gender
issue. Most outdoor specialists don't recommend solo treks for either
women or men, because if you have an accident or become ill, you could
be at risk.
So if you
really do prefer your own company, simply follow one standard rule en
route Each day, before you set off, let someone know where you're headed
and who you'll be staying with at the end of your day's walk. If you're
staying in a B & B, then let your host have the information, or
perhaps another walker that you've met. This way, if you don't turn
up as expected, it's much more likely that you'll get help faster.
Women on their own should be safe on the walk. But if at any stage you
feel uncomfortable, ask another walker or walkers if you can join them.
Or at the least, make yourself known to them, so they can keep an eye
out for you.
type of clothing and equipment do I need on the Coast to Coast?
A: Be prepared
for every kind of weather from cold and very wet to hot and dry -- you
won't get bored! We can't over-emphasise the importance of a good pair
of boots, which have been thoroughly worn in.
must be comfortable both when climbing and going down steep hills. There
are boggy, marshy areas in the Pennines, where Gore-Tex or equivalent
boots are recommended, as well as gaiters. Boots that are too soft mean
your feet will be bruised on the stony tracks of the Lake District.
However, a stiff mountaineering boot will cause heel rub and blisters.
Especially if you have joint problems, one or two walking poles can
take some of the load off your hips and knees when you're going downhill.
wind and waterproof jacket is also essential, with a mid-layer of Polartec
200 type fleece. A polyester-type base layer is best next to the skin,
because cotton holds moisture and takes a long time to dry if it gets
wet. In case of a downpour, it's good to carry overtrousers with long
zips, which you can put on in a hurry over wet boots (lined overtrousers
tend to stick). Don't forget a hat for the higher, colder areas -- or
for keeping off the sun (along with sunscreen).
of your kit is being transported for you each day, you can use most
backpacks. However, if you are carrying everything, especially camping
equipment, ensure that your backpack fits you and is comfortable. It's
useful to have a waterproof cover for your pack, to keep everything
dry. Store spare clothing in plastic bags.
Keep a litre of water in your water bottle, but if it's hot increase
this to two litres. If you have to fill up along the route, treat the
water with iodine or chlorine -- just in case. Don't forget a first-aid
kit. Even the most optimistic walker should be prepared for possible
bruises, blisters or cuts.
I've planned everything and packed, how do I get to the starting point
of the walk using public transport?
from London and Manchester stop at Carlisle. Change there for trains
to St. Bees. After you've triumphally entered (or staggered into) Robin
Hood's Bay at the finish, catch a bus to Scarborough. From there, take
a train to York, where you can board many trains to London and elsewhere.
don't want to carry all your gear, there are several companies such
as Coast to Coast Packhorse which will carry your luggage from one point
to the next (assuming you are following Wainwright's classic route).
The Packhorse service can also carry a limited number of walkers who
are injured or ill, and unable to do the next stage of the walk.
kind of navigation skills will I need once I set out on the walk?
A: On this
issue, our two experienced guides' opinions differ. John Deighton thinks
that the route is, on the whole, well-signposted. However, Lou Wilkinson
believes that on certain parts of the walk, signposting is not as good
as it could be, and the walker must depend on a map and compass. In
particular, he mentions the "Wainwright route" from Keld to Reeth, through
the lead-mining country. However, both John and Lou agree that at least
one of your walking party should be familiar with map-reading and compass
work, to keep you on the route. So, when you go out on those pre-Coast
to Coast training walks, take a map and compass. Keep checking your
map to ensure you always know where you are, taking into account local
landmarks. Practise taking compass bearings. Of course, if you're the
hi-tech type, and bring along your Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver,
you should have nothing to fear.
should I carry money on the Coast to Coast Walk?
there are no wallet-stripping shopping malls en route, you'll obviously
need some money. Carrying cash along the Coast to Coast is not risky,
and many B & Bs do not take credit cards, although some pubs may.
Along the route, you'll only find full banking facilities at Kirkby
Stephen and Richmond. So it's best to carry cash to last you for the
entire walk, plus credit cards.
other miscellaneous useful tips?
forget to take a camera that you're familiar with, and about five rolls
of film. Even if you're normally a half-hearted photographer, you won't
be able to resist capturing the glorious landscapes and picturesque
villages on camera. You can buy film along the route, but remember that
the shops may still be closed when you start the day's walk and then
can be shut again by the time you're finished.
find other shopping opportunities mainly in Kirkby Stephen and Richmond.
Remember this, as you may need to repair or replace equipment. In Richmond,
the outdoor shop and bootmaker Altberg on Finkle Street (off the big
Market Place) runs a repair service.
through these points may have stimulated you to come up with a few additional
questions of your own. If this is the case, then why not drop us a note
and we will do their best to address the particular queries you have.
us at firstname.lastname@example.org
and thanks for participating in the site!