Getting Going

Done This Sort of Thing Before?

Well, yes! In 2000 I surprised even myself by walking the 268 miles of the Pennine Way and in 2002 I marched “Up The Dyke”, completing the 180 mile Offa’s Dyke Path. Since then a house reconstruction, domestic duties and my beloved’s insistence on “proper holidays” has curtailed my long distance walks somewhat. However, I’m now in my 60th year (frightening, isn’t it!) and there may not be too many more “great treks” in me. So I thought it was time to get going again.

Why The Coast to Coast?

Well, why not? It’s not too far from where we live, has a reputation for being both very beautiful and also rather demanding and is about the right distance for a two week holiday. In any case, given the choice of walking from the west to the east coast of northern England or lying by a pool in the Mediterranean, sipping a glass of cold wine and eyeing the scantily clad local lasses, what would you do?!! Mmmm, did I really make the right choice?!

So, What’s The Coast to Coast

St. Bees Heat to Robin Hood’s Bay

Do you really not know? Well, okay then. It’s a 190 ish mile route devised by the miserable old (but wonderfully witty) bugger, the late AW Wainwright. It follows existing rights of way (footpaths and a few sections of road) from St Bees Head on the northwest coast of Cumbria, through the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorkshire Moors National Parks, to Robin Hood’s Bay on Yorkshire’s east coast. It’s not an “official” long distance path, but has almost become one by its popularity. Most people do the walk in about 13 or 14 days, although I did it in 12 and 11 would have been quite possible by combining a few of the middle, shorter legs. Most of the route follows good paths, tracks and roads, with few of the peat bogs which are so prevalent on some sections of the Pennine Way (ha – but read about the infamous Nine Standards Rigg on Day 6). In some parts the route is well sign sign posted with “Coast to Coast” signs, but in others it isn’t. The Lake District authorities seem especially “sniffy” in this regard.

What Did You Take With You?

All the usual stuff, of course (such as a couple of pairs of clean undies and just one or two socks). Wainwright, it’s said, wore just one change of clothes for the whole of the Pennine Way and wondered why he didn’t have much luck when he was chatting up barmaids in the pubs at which he stopped!

Some of my more important stuff:

Brasher GTX boots (now well knackered)A 25 litre North Face Rucksack and a 15 litre Berghaus oneBerghaus waterproofs
1,000 mile sock liners (no blisters)Bridgedale oversockspart Goretex lined gaiters
short and long sleeve T shirtsRon Hill Trackster trousers - wonderfully lightweight and easily driedsome shorts (not used much)
Garmin GPSmap 60CsxDell laptop with all the GPS routes (carried by my Sherpa)Mobile phone (see!)
Noelene who walked part of the way and carried all my luggage the rest of itGoughie and Julie for part of the way tooFar, far too much stuff in the car!
Martin Wainwright's invaluable "The Coast to Coast Walk"AW Wainwright's wonderful "A Coast to Coast Walk"

Why Would He Do That?

Why the odd title for the header? It’s like this; our friend Julie went to a Chiropodist just before coming on the first leg of the walk and she told her that I was doing the Coast to Coast. The Chiropodist asked if I was being sponsored and doing it for charity. When Julie told her “no”, she replied “Why would he want to do that then?”! She just couldn’t get her head around the idea that anyone would want to walk almost 200 miles across England for the sheer pleasure; I sometimes wonder myself! Anyway the Chiropodist’s full reply wouldn’t fit the web page header so I did a Daily Mirror on it and made the story fit the page!

How Did It Go?

Brilliantly! I was always on tenterhooks because I’d badly twisted my ankle on a long training walk a few weeks before, so I wore an ankle support the whole way. My right knee, on which I’ve had two cartilage operations as a result of too much road running in the past, “niggled” a bit and I had a peculiar problem with my right foot during the last few days. It felt like my socks were bunching up (but they weren’t) and meant I had to take my boot off two or three times during the day, massage the foot for a few seconds and then continue as normal.

Here’s a chart of my full walk, complete with all the stats (you’ll need to click on it for the full size version), although only a “real nerd” would want to know this much detail.  But, if you are thinking of doing the walk it might give you some idea of what it entails.  I chose the stop off points as much for the availability of accommodation as anything else.  Although, on one occasion that approach didn’t actually work as intended!

Any Photos, Other Stuff?

Ask a stupid question, this is me! I took two cameras with me – a Canon S3iS which I bought last year and is just wonderful, although a bit bulky and heavy, and a newish Sony DSCW-170 which doesn’t give quite as good photos as the Canon but which is very small, lightweight and has a 28mm equivalent wide angle lens. I took almost 1,000 photos en-route and I’ve selected what I reckon to be the best (and least embarrassing) 200 or so  and scattered them throughout my daily commentaries.

As I mentioned earlier, I used a Garmin GPSmap 60CSx throughout the whole walk. I downloaded the routes from an Aussie guy’s walking blog, which I unfortunately can’t find any more, modified them a bit using Quo to suit the route I’d planned and then uploaded the next day’s route plus the .gpx maps every evening (after cleaning my boots, writing my daily journal, etc.!). You can download the planned routes and see where I actually stumbled from the day to day walks or the complete route here: c2cjohnswalk (right mouse click and “Save link as…”).

Anything Else?

Yes, probably lots more, but I’m keen to get on with writing the day to day accounts so I’ll probably (more likely “possibly”!) come back to this page later.


If you want to get in touch, met me on the way, want some advice on what not to do, need to know where the best pubs are, etc. just contact me at “john at gillatt dot org“.