Coast to Coast walk: what is the route, how long is path discovered by Alfred Wainwright - new plans explained

The coast to coast walking route is set to become a national trail
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Natural England will award National Trail status to the coast to coast walk.

The coast to coast walk is one of the most popular long distance hikes in the country - it attracts visitors from all over the world to take in views of three of England’s national parks.

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During the walk you will also come across lakes, mountains, medieval castles and a number of pubs.

Each year the route is completed by around 6,000 people and is estimated to generate around £7 million for the local economy.

Here we take a look at what the coast to coast walk is and how long it takes to complete the walk.

The walk will offer a view of the Yorkshire Dales (Getty Images)The walk will offer a view of the Yorkshire Dales (Getty Images)
The walk will offer a view of the Yorkshire Dales (Getty Images)

Who discovered the Coast to Coast walk?

The coast to coast was discovered by Alfred Wainwright.

Alfred Wainwright was a British fellwalker, guidebook author and illustrator.

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Wainwright is well known for his pictorial guides to the Lakeland Fells. He described his books as a “love letter” to the Lakeland Fells and was awarded an MBE for his accomplishments.

A coast to coast walk was devised by Wainwright and the guidebook was released in 1973.

Wainwright died in 1991, aged 84.

What is the Coast to Coast route?

The coast to coast route begins at the beach at St Bees in Cumbria and ends at Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire.

During the journey, walkers will pass through three contrasting national parks - the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.

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Tradition states walkers should get their feet wet at the start and at the end of their journey.

It’s also custom for walkers to take a pebble from the beach at St Bees and place it on the beach in Robin Hood’s Bay.

How long does it take to complete the Coast to Coast?

In the guidebook, Wainwright breaks down the 197 mile route into 12 stages, each of which ends at a settlement with an overnight accommodation on site. The route is designed to make up a two week holiday with one or two rest days included.

What does National Trail status mean?

On Friday 12 August 2022, the coast to coast route was given National Trail status.

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As a result of this Natural England has announced it will invest £5.6 million towards improving the iconic route.

Natural England will also aim to make the path more accessible for people of different abilities by replacing stiles with gates where possible, investing in paths and introducing more signs along the route.

The enhancements are expected to take place over the next three years and the upgrades are expected to be completed by 2025.

Here are a full list of other National Trails in the UK:

  • Cleveland Way - 109 miles
  • Cotswold Way - 102 miles
  • England Coast Path - 2,800 miles
  • Glyndŵr’s Way - 135 miles
  • Hadrian’s Wall Path - 85 miles
  • North Downs Way - 153 miles
  • Offa’s Dyke Path - 177 miles
  • Peddars Way and the Norfolk Coast Path - 130 miles
  • Pembrokshire Coast Path - 186 miles
  • Pennine Bridleway - 205 miles
  • Pennine Way - 268 miles
  • The Ridgeway - 87 miles
  • South Downs Way - 100 miles
  • South West Coast Path - 630 miles
  • Thames Park - 184 miles
  • Yorkshire Wolds Way - 79 miles

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