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This is the quintessential English hill walking and long distance trail experience: 190 plus miles traversing three national parks and a lot of interesting landscapes, old towns and of course public houses in between! It is amazing to think that this most famous of routes, totally eclipsing the Pennine Way in terms of popularity and variety, is still not classified as a National Trail!
Starting at the tiny Cumbrian seaside resort of St. Bees on the Irish Sea we head east, with the wind, into the Lake district to pass by some of its most famous lakes and cross some important passes, with options to extend days (with ascents of peaks such as Helvellyn).
Then it is on into the Yorkshire Dales and over the mystical Nine Standards Rig, before following the beautiful River Swale for a couple of days into the old market town of Richmond. There follows a marathon section to link up with the North York Moors National Park from where we roller coaster around to the North Sea Coast to make a triumphant entrance into Robins Hoods Bay where a celebratory pint, bottle of Champagne or ice cream whilst standing in the sea is in order. Along the way you will be amazed at the variety of the dry stone walls, the charming little villages and just how much that you get to eat for a full English cooked breakfast!
There are cozy small hotels, guesthouses and pubs to stay at on this tour and these, as well as the rich variety of the people that you meet enroute, reflect something of the great diversity of England.
St Bees sits on the edge of the Irish Sea with views across to the Isle of Man. Today is at leisure, you may wish to sightsee, including a visit to the Abbey church or branch out further to the attractive town of Whitehaven, with its marina and great museum. Accommodation is in a 17th century sandstone barn. Overnight at Hotel
Commence along red sandstone coastal cliffs with England’s only breeding colony of Black Guillimots. Continue inland to edge of Lake District National Park. A significant descent down to Nanny Catch Gate and Beck precedes a delightful stroll to leafy Ennerdale Bridge. Enjoy home cooked meal of local produce in a traditional hotel with open fire and fully licensed bar. Overnight at Family Owned Hotel
Commence along shore of Ennerdale Water, continue Angler’s Crag at Robin Hood’s Seat. A long walk to Black Sail Hut, the smallest Youth Hostel and originally a shepherd’s hut. Steep ascent up Lowther Beck before traversing Lake land fells. Descend to Borrowdale; a delightful valley with its crags and broadleaved trees. We will stay in a small and long established guesthouse, set in a beautiful small hamlet town.
Overnight at Guesthouse
Classic Lakeland scenery to Easedale and Grasmere. Opportunity to visit poet Wordsworth’s home & Museum at Dove Cottage, William Wordsworth’s grave at the church and the famous Ginger bread shop! Our small family run guesthouse is in the centre of this delightful village. Grasmere is one of Lakeland’s most celebrated villages, you will not want to leave! Overnight at Guesthouse
Over Grisedale Pass (2000 ft) and around the small mountain lake of Grisedale Tarn. In good weather some exceptional views from St. Sunday Crag down across Ullswater as we descend to Patterdale. Tonight’s accommodation has a colourful history, including Wordsworth being in our bar as news arrived that Nelson had died at Trafalgar. Overnight at Guesthouse
We start with a steep climb up past pretty Angle Tarn, up and over Kidsty Pike (2560 feet, the highest point on the whole route). We then descend steeply to walk along Haweswater. At Burnbanks leave the original Wainwright route to complete the final mile and a half to Bampton Grange. A challenging stage especially in bad weather, but our legs have toughened up by now. Tonight we stay at a traditional country inn, in whitewashed stone with great atmosphere and a sense of history. Overnight at Guesthouse
We trek this morning through fields to Shap Abbey, the most easterly point of the Lake District National Park. This was the last Abbey to be founded in England in 1199 and the last to be destroyed in 1540. From here, we continue into Shap, the old granite mining town with several pubs and shops, before following a hilly section across Limestone Moors and into Orton, a quaint picturesque village. Overnight at Guesthouse
A bridging day between Cumbria and The Yorkshire Dales, today is mainly farmland walking with a section of moors around Sunbiggin Tarn, an important site for birds. A steep descent to Scandal Beck before ascending over Smardale Fell, and a furtherdescent into Kirkby Stephens. Our accommodation is a Grade II listed Georgian Town House filled with character and a relaxed atmosphere. Overnight at Guesthouse
Ascend to Nine Standards Rigg (2170 feet) with its array of obelisks marking the Watershed of England. Continue across moors which will be squelchy if wet, then a gentle walk down to Keld with its many waterfalls and old stone barns. Our accommodation is at a medium sized guesthouse, offering traditional Yorkshire meals in an attractively decorated dining room. Overnight at Guesthouse
We have two options today: a wild moorland with long-abandoned lead mines, or a pretty lower alternative route via Swaledale, the latter including a very nice pub in Gunnerside. Our destination is Reeth, originally a mining village, today offering collection of pubs and tea shops. Our guesthouse was formed from a terrace of traditional C16th miners’ cottages, a peaceful and comfortable hotel with courtyard and garden, renowned for its cuisine. Overnight at Guesthouse
A morning walk through pretty Swaledale lined with limestone crags on either side, arriving early to allow time in picturesque Richmond for shopping and sightseeing. We may visit the Norman Keep towers above the Swale, the ancient cobbled market square and Town Falls Our accommodation is in a small, very comfortable, guest house within easy reach of all the sights in Richmond. Overnight at Guesthouse
A gentle rural day, walking beside the River Swale and across the fields to Catterick Race Course, then threading our way to Brompton on Swale. Continue after lunch alongside tiny streams and quiet country roads reaching the village of Danby Wiske with its Green and sole pub. Overnight at Guesthouse
Primarily a road walk with some cross country sections. A short day only but with two hills towards the day’s end. Enroute we can visit Mount Grace Priory (built 1398). Osmotherley is a quaint hill village with 3 pubs to choose from, and Britain’s oldest functioning Methodist Church 1754. Tonight’s accommodation is set in an extremely picturesque village on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. All rooms are ensuite and have tea and coffee making facilities. Overnight at Guesthouse
This is a roller coaster walk. A steep stretch from Osmotherley introduces us to the North York Moors, onto Scarth Wood Moor, then a long ascent up Live Moor and Carlton Bank (408 m). Take a breath before descending to Lord Stones Café, followed by Cringle Moor, Broughton Bank and White Hill all at or over 400 metres. Great views in clear weather as we come back to the Pennines. Accommodation is a guesthouse at Chop Gate. Overnight at Guesthouse
We ascend a moorland ridge over Round Hill (454m), bleak in bad weather but with enticing views at times into the fertile upper valleys of Farn and Esk Dales. Depending on weather, our arrival at the ancient Lion Inn at Blakey is a great relief. Our stay tonight is at the Lion Hotel, a cosy refuge from the elements for 400 years or so. Great dining in either the bar or the restaurant. Overnight at Hotel
After passing a white cross called Fat Betty, an easy undulating descent down to beautiful wooded Eskdale with views opening up to the sea. The latter part of today’s walk follows a pretty path through the woodlands on the banks of the River Esk, famous for fly fishing, and over ‘Beggars Bridge’. Egton Bridge features a church with relics of the Catholic Martyr, Oliver Postgate. Overnight at Guesthouse
This morning we will try to arrive at Pickering in time to see a steam engine pull out of the station. Continue with a very steep pull up across heather moors with views down to Whitby and its Abbey, before continuing to the May Beck valley with its Falling Foss waterfall. The final 3 miles are on the coastal cliff path to Robin Hood’s Bay, marking the end of this 190 odd-mile crossing of England. Our final night is spent in an elegantly refurbished Victorian guesthouse with many original features. This is a popular sea side location so one of many similar B&B’s may be used. Overnight at Guesthouse
Buses can take us on to Whitby Bay or Scarborough, from where trains can be taken via York, Whitby is well recommended for an extra day or two and it is possible to walk there from Robin Hoods Bay via the Cleveland way or Cycle Path.