Wainwright staged his walk over several years, doing bits at a time, revisiting/revising his favorite walks, and his dutiful wife picked him up at the end of each stage. It is my understanding that Wainwright did not complete the entire walk in succession, nor did BBC commentator Julia Bradbury, whose recent program Coast to Coast Walk generated much attention and publicity to the walk. In addition many folks who live in the UK will do the walk in two or more stages, adding a few miles each year. This idea of staging the walk got us talking about things like staging the Appalachian Trail back here at home, but this is a topic for another post altogether.
Wainwright’s classic walk is 12 stages, with mileage per day varying from 11.5 to 23 miles per day, with elevation gains up to 2,559 feet above sea level at Kidsty Pike.
Our variation on Wainwright’s walk was staged, as follows:
- St. Bees to Ennerdale Bridge (approx. 14.5 miles)
- Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite (approx. 14.5 miles)
- Rosthwaite to Grasmere (approx. 9 miles)
- Grasmere to Patterdale (approx. 8.5 miles)
- Patterdale to Bampton Grange (approx. 11 miles)
- Bampton Grange to Orton (approx.13.25 miles)
- Orton to Kirkby Stephen (approx.12.75 miles)
- Kirkby Stephen to Keld (approx.12 miles)
- Keld to Reeth (approx.11 miles)
- Reeth to Richmond (approx.11 miles)
- Richmond to Danby Wisk (approx.14 miles)
- Danby Wisk to Osmotherly (approx.11 miles)
- Osmotherly to Blakey Ridge (approx.22 miles)
- Blakey Ridge to Egton Bridge (approx.11 miles)
- Egton Bridge to Robin Hood’s Bay (approx.18 miles)
Although there is great camaraderie among the walkers, there is also a sense of anxious competition between Coast to Coasters, one of the first questions posed to one another being, “how many stages are you doing it in?” This was a bit troubling to me because what appears to be a simple question is actually far more complicated. We took “rest” days in St. Bees and Robin Hood’s Bay before and after our walk, as well as extra days in Grasmere and Richmond and Whitby and Manchester (where we based our flight) for sight-seeing, making a grand total of a 21 day trip, with 15 days of walking. Moreover we saw this walk as more than just physical activity or a goal setting exercise, rather it was an opportunity to revisit a country we both love and see it from a different perspective. The majority of my previous trips have been centered on London as a portal to the rest of the country. Particularly with the Olympic looming, it was a pleasure to visit the more rural parts of the countryside.