The Wainwright Way: Coast-to-Coast

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.

Price: from AUD3695 per person

Duration: 18 Days

Trek Ratings: Activity 3 / Conditions 2 / Accommodation 1 / Training/Preparation 2

Best Season: April, May, June, July, August September

Country Visited: England

Trip Start: St Bees

Trip Ends: Robin Hoods Bay

Trip Route: St Bees-Ennerdale Bridge-Borrowdale-Grasmere-Patterdale-Bampton-Orton-Kirkby Stephen-Keld-Thwaite-Reeth-Richmond-Danby Wiske-Osmotherley-Clay Bank Top-Chop Gate-Blakey-Egton Bridge-Grosmont-Robin Hoods Bay

Trip Style: Self-Guided Trekking

Activity: Sightseeing Trekking

Activity Per Day: Approximately 5-7 hr walking

Day 01 Arrive St Bees. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 02 St. Bees to Ennerdale Bridge 23.5 km/14.5 miles, 6 hours. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 03 Ennerdale Bridge to Borrowdale 26.5 km/16.5 miles, 7 hours. Overnight at Guesthouse.
Day 04 Borrowdale to Grasmere 13.5 km/8.5 miles, 5-6 hours via Helm Crag. Overnight at Guesthouse.
Day 05 Grasmere to Patterdale 12 km/7.5 miles, 5.5 hours standard route. Overnight at Guesthouse.
Day 06 Patterdale to Bampton Grange 22.5 km/14 miles, 6 hours. Overnight at Guesthouse.
Day 07 Bampton Grange to Orton 19.5 km/12 miles, 5 hours. Overnight at Guesthouse.
Day 08 Orton to Kirkby Stephen 18km/11 miles, 5 hours. Overnight at Guesthouse.
Day 09 Kirkby Stephen to Keld 24 km/14.5 miles, 6 hours or Thwaite 27 km/16.5 miles. Overnight at Guesthouse
Day 10 Keld or Thwaite to Reeth 20 km/12.5km, 5 h or 18.5 km/11.5 miles, 5 hours. Overnight at Guesthouse.
Day 11 Reeth to Richmond 20 km /12.5 miles, 5 hours. Overnight at Guesthouse.
Day 12 Richmond to Danby Wiske 22.5 km/14 miles, 5 hours. Overnight at Guesthouse.
Day 13 Danby Wiske to Osmotherley 16 km/10 miles, 3.5 hours. Overnight at Guesthouse.
Day 14 Osmotherley to Clay Bank Top or Chop Gate 18 km/11 miles or 21 km/13 miles, 6 hours. Overnight at Guesthouse.
Day 15 Clay Bank Top or Chop Gate to Blakey 11 km/7 miles or 11.5 km/9 miles, 4.5 hours. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 16 Blakey to Egton Bridge or Grosmont 16 km/10 miles, 4 hours. Overnight at Guesthouse.
Day 17 Egton Bridge or Grosmont to Robin Hoods Bay 25.7 km/16 miles, 7 hours. Overnight at Guesthouse.
Day 18 Arrangements end after breakfast.

Day 01 Arrive St Bees.
Travel to starting point on the edge of the Irish Sea with views across to the Isle of Man. You should have time to visit the Abbey church, which has features on the local history and has a display on a mummified knight that was discovered in a lead coffin from the graveyard. If you have an extra night here, you can follow the coastal path or quiet inland roads to the attractive town of Whitehaven, with its marina and great museum. It is famous in the annals of the US navy as the site of an elaborate raid on the British mainland by one John Paul Jones during the American War of Independence. Accommodation – St Bees A 17th century sandstone barn situated on the main street in the coastal village of St. Bees. The barn was initially converted in the 1980’s into a large guesthouse and self-contained flats, being recently refurbished throughout. All rooms have a colour television and tea & coffee facilities. .

Overnight at Hotel
No meals included

Day 02 St. Bees to Ennerdale Bridge 23.5 km/14.5 miles, 6 hours.
Climb from the beach taking a footpath along red sandstone coastal cliffs of St Bees Head with England’s only breeding colony of Black Guillimots and then inland over hilly ground to the edge of the Lake District National Park. Dent Hill is the first real fell that we cross and will give you some indication as to whether you are fit enough for the pursuivant days!
Although short, there follows possibly the steepest descent of the whole tour down to Nanny catch Gate and beck a delightful stroll along which brings us to the final descent to leafy Ennerdale Bridge. (14.5 miles / 23.5 km, 6 hours). Accommodation: Ennerdale – Overnight at a friendly, family owned hotel. Enjoy a home cooked meal of local produce including fish and game in season. A traditional feel is retained by the hotel, with its open fire, and the fully licensed bar serves a range of beverages including locally produced ale.

Overnight at Hotel
Breakfast Included

Day 03 Ennerdale Bridge to Borrowdale 26.5 km/16.5 miles, 7 hours.
A quiet and scenic footpath along the shore of Ennerdale Water, with a bit of a easy scramble under Angler’s Crag at Robin Hood’s Seat. A long walk on a forest track then continues to Black Sail Hut, which is the smallest Youth hostel and originally a shepherd’s hut. A steep climb follows up the Lowther Beck before traversing some of the Lake land fells, perhaps with views down to Buttermere. Finally we reach the ‘drum house’ which marks the descent path to the Honister slate mine workings with its useful cafe to Borrowdale; perhaps the most delightful valley in the Lakes with its crags and broadleaved trees. This is a delightful ensemble of hamlets, Seatoller (the wettest place in England), Longthwaite, Rossthwaite and Stonethwaite. Delightful riverside paths connect the treks and their pubs, together if you have sufficient energy left of an evening. You might be interested to know that ‘thwaite’ is old Norse for paddock. (16 5 miles / 26.5 km, 7 hours). Accommodation: Borrowdale – Tonight we stay in a small and long established guesthouse. It is set in a beautiful small hamlet town. A popular peaceful retreat for former clients. Ensuite facilities are not available here as it is a listed building that changes cannot be made to.

Overnight at Guesthouse
Breakfast Included

Day 04 Borrowdale to Grasmere 13.5 km/8.5 miles, 5-6 hours via Helm Crag.
Classic Lakeland scenery over Greenup Edge to Easedale and Grasmere Hopefully you will have enough time to visit the Wordsworth Museum at Dove Cottage, William Wordsworth’s grave at the church and the famous Ginger bread shop! (8.5 miles / 13.5 km, 5 hours. Via Helm Crag – recommended.) Accommodation: Grasmere – Our small family run guesthouse is conveniently placed in the center of this delightful village. Grasmere is one of Lakeland’s most celebrated villages, and there is time either this afternoon or tomorrow morning to look around and visit the poet Wordsworth’s home at Dove Cottage.

Overnight at Guesthouse
Breakfast Included

Day 05 Grasmere to Patterdale 12 km/7.5 miles, 5.5 hours standard route.
Over Grisedale Pass (2000 ft) and around the small mountain lake of Grisedale Tarn to Patterdale. In good weather if you are reasonably strong, the best option is to take the route up St. Sunday Crag, for some exceptional views down across Ullswater as you descend to Patterdale, possibly the most breathtaking of the trip (7.5 miles / 12 km, 5 hours (standard route).
Add 2 miles and 2 hours if include detour via Summit of Helvellyn. Add 1 . hours for detour of St. Sunday Crag. Accommodation: Patterdale – Tonight’s accommodation is popular with visitors and local people alike since the early 1800’s. Many a tale could be told of events that have taken place in all its lifetime, including the time when Wordsworth was in our very bar as news arrived that Nelson had died at Trafalgar. This is a listed building so the rooms are small, to change this would spoil the character of this wonderful coaching inn.

Overnight at Guesthouse
Breakfast Included

Day 06 Patterdale to Bampton Grange 22.5 km/14 miles, 6 hours.
Some would say this was the most difficult stage especially in bad weather when you do need to be ready with map and compass. The days starts with a steep climb up past pretty Angle Tarn, and then up and onward to a critical cairn where you turn off the route to High Street to go up and over Kidsty Pike (2560 feet, the highest point on the whole route) and then descend steeply to walk along Haweswater, a huge body of water conceived in 1929 to supply Manchester with drinking water, drowning a couple of villages in the process. At the end of Haweswater, at Burnbanks we leave the original Wainwright route to complete the final mile and a half to Bampton Grange (14 miles / 22.5 km, 6 hours). Accommodation: Bampton Grange – This is a traditional country inn, in whitewashed stone with great atmosphere and a sense of history about it.

Overnight at Guesthouse
Breakfast Included

Day 07 Bampton Grange to Orton 19.5 km/12 miles, 5 hours.
Purists may want to return to Burnbanks to continue the original route, but you can rejoin it a couple of miles down the country road from Bampton near Rosgil. You then undulate 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. It nevertheless is a pretty place to pause with some new interpretation signs. After this continue into Shap, the old granite mining town with several pubs and shops. There follows a hilly section across Limestone Moors with limestone pavements in treks strewn with ‘erratic’ boulders moved there by glaciers. Finally we drop into the gentler climes around Orton, a quaint picturesque village with Kennedy’s Chocolate factory to lead you into temptation, but yes, you have earnt it! (12 miles /19.5 km, 5 hours). Accommodation: Orton – We use a number of guesthouses in this small village. With its attractive architecture, chocolate factory and tea shops. .

Overnight at Guesthouse
Breakfast Included

Day 08 Orton to Kirkby Stephen 18km/11 miles, 5 hours.
A bridging day between Cumbria and The Yorkshire Dales. Mainly farmland walking with a section of moors around Sunbiggin Tarn, which is an important site for birds. A steep descent to the Scandal Beck at Smardale Bridge makes for a nice lunch stop. Then ascend over Smardale Fell for the pretty descent into Kirkby Stephens and attractive market town, with St. Hedda’s Church containing the 8th Century Loki stone relating to Norse mythology. (11 miles / 18 km, 5 hours). Accommodation: Kirkby Stephen – This accommodation has many unusual features, and is of an exceptionally high standard. It is a Grade II listed Georgian town house full of character, with a friendly relaxed atmosphere.

Overnight at Guesthouse
Breakfast Included

Day 09 Kirkby Stephen to Keld 24 km/14.5 miles, 6 hours or Thwaite 27 km/16.5 miles.
Climb out of town to the cairns of Nine Standards Rigg (2170 feet) with its array of obelisks. This is an ancient possibly a boundary feature that no one has any real knowledge of. It marks the Watershed of England. Next we cross squelchy moors down to Keld in Swaledale. If it is a wet and cold day you might relish a scone and tea made on the farm at Ravenseat, where they breed prime rams. The moors then become increasingly gentler as you walk into Keld with its many waterfalls and old stone barns. (14.5 miles / 24 km, 6 hours to Keld, Thwaite is an additional 3 miles). Accommodation: Keld – Accommodation in Keld is at a medium sized guesthouse, offering a gateway to the Pennines “The Backbone of England”. Traditional Yorkshire fare is served in an attractively decorated dining room, and there are tea and coffee making facilities in all rooms.

Overnight at Guesthouse
Breakfast Included

Day 10 Keld or Thwaite to Reeth 20 km/12.5km, 5 h or 18.5 km/11.5 miles, 5 hours.
Wild moorland with long-abandoned lead mines, a magnet for the industrial archaeologist (12.5 miles / 20 km, 5 hours). There is also a pretty lower alternative route via Swaledale if you have bad weather or even if you don’t! There is a really nice pub in Gunnerside on this lower option. (11.5 miles / 18.5 km, 5 hours). We end up in Reeth an attractive Green Village which flourished at the height of the mining age and today does well out of tourism, hence a collection of pubs and tea shops. Accommodation: Reeth – 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
Breakfast Included

Day 11 Reeth to Richmond 20 km /12.5 miles, 5 hours.
A morning walk through pretty Swaledale lined with limestone crags on either side, allowing time in Richmond for shopping (note most shops closed Sunday) and sightseeing in Richmond whose Norman Keep towers above the Swale on one side and the ancient cobbled market square on the other. You can also follow the swale to Town Falls which are quite impressive when the river is in spate. (12.5 miles / 20 km, 5 hours). Accommodation: Richmond – The extremely picturesque North Yorkshire town of Richmond, with its cobbled market square and Norman castle, is an ever-popular destination for visitors. Our accommodation is in a small, very comfortable, guest house within easy reach of all the sights in Richmond.

Overnight at Guesthouse
Breakfast Included

Day 12 Richmond to Danby Wiske 22.5 km/14 miles, 5 hours.
A gentle rural day, walking out from Richmond beside the River Swale and across the fields to Catterick Race Course, then threading our way to Brompton on Swale, an ideal lunch stop in the church yard before trundling along beside tiny streams and quiet country roads reaching the village of Danby Wiske with its Green and sole pub(14 miles / 22.5 km, 5 hrs). Accommodation: Danby Wiske – This popular B&B is in the centre of the village.

Overnight at Guesthouse
Breakfast Included

Day 13 Danby Wiske to Osmotherley 16 km/10 miles, 3.5 hours.
Today is primarily a road walk although there are cross country sections. The two hills are towards the end, a short climb to (what was) East Harlsey Castle, and then with the North York Moors pressing ever closer we have to carefully cross the main A19 road to take a lovely woodland footpath up to Osmotherley. On the way one can visit Mount Grace Priory (built 1398) this is a ruin but there has been restoration work and there are remaining duck ponds and drainage features. Osmotherley is a quaint hill village with 3 pubs to choose from, and Britain’s oldest functioning Methodist Church 1754. John Wesley came to preach here (10 miles / 16 km, 3.5 hours). Accommodation: Osmotherley – 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
Breakfast Included

Day 14 Osmotherley to Clay Bank Top or Chop Gate 18 km/11 miles or 21 km/13 miles, 6 hours.
This is a roller coaster walk. A steep stretch from Osmotherley introduces us to the North York Moors, sandy heather clad hills with areas of forest. After coming off Scarth Wood Moor, there is a long ascent up Live Moor and Carlton Bank (408 m) before descending to Lord Stones Café, almost hidden in an off road embankment, ready for coffee time. There then follows the succession of Cringle Moor, Broughton Bank and White Hill all at or over 400 metres. You loose and then re ascend 100-200m between each one. White Hill has an area of sandstone boulders called The Wainstones that you thread through on the way up. Great views in clear weather, Roseberry topping, Vale of Mowbray and back to the Pennines. You come off the ridge at Clay Bank Top and descend to various accommodations with no real local centre. (11 or 13 miles / 18 or 21 km, 5-6 hours). Accommodation: Chop Gate – We use a number of guesthouses in this remote area.

Overnight at Guesthouse
Breakfast Included

Day 15 Clay Bank Top or Chop Gate to Blakey 11 km/7 miles or 11.5 km/9 miles, 4.5 hours.
Today the walk follows a moorland ridge up over Round Hill (454m) and the track maintains its height as it follows the line of the old dismantled Rosedale railway line. The moor is bleak in bad weather punctured in treks by standing stones some marked with inscriptions. There are enticing views at times into the fertile upper valleys of Farn and Esk dales, but especially when it is misty, wet and cold, the arrival at the ancient Lion Inn at Blakey is a great relief. (7 or 9 miles / 11 or 11.5 km, 4.5 hrs). Accommodation: Blakey – We stay at the Lion Hotel in this bleak moorland location. This pub hotel has been a refuge from the elements for 400 years or so, and very cosy it is to! Normally there are a large number of species of Real Ale and great dining in either the bar or the restaurant.

Overnight at Hotel
Breakfast Included

Day 16 Blakey to Egton Bridge or Grosmont 16 km/10 miles, 4 hours.
After a bit of a road perambulation past a white cross called Fat Betty, there follows an easy undulating descent down to beautiful wooded Eskdale. You also get some 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, where we come across the ‘Beggars Bridge’ a parabolic stone structure that has a story of love lost and love refound! Egton Bridge features a church with relics of the Catholic Martyr, Oliver Postgate. A really pretty setting, the river is famous for fly fishing and has some interesting stepping stones, which enables you to hop (or wobble) between the two pubs faster than using the road. (10 miles / 16 km, 4 hours). Accommodation: Egton Bridge or Grosmont – We use a variety of guesthouses/B&B in either of these villages.

Overnight at Guesthouse
Breakfast Included

Day 17 Egton Bridge or Grosmont to Robin Hoods Bay 25.7 km/16 miles, 7 hours.
Following a delightful private road to Grosmont, you might get there in time to see a steam engine pull out for Pickering. There then follows a very steep pull up across heather moors with views down to Whitby and its Abbey. But the sea and journey’s end is still tantalisingly far as the route abruptly changes course to visit the May Beck valley with its Falling Foss waterfall. A last area of high moor brings us to the coast, where the last 3 miles are spent on the coastal cliff path to Robin Hood’s Bay, which appears almost by surprise as you near it. This is a village of red roofed houses clustered around its harbour on the North Sea coast marking the end of this 190 odd-mile crossing of England. Normally a drink at the Bay Hotel follows a paddle in the sea (both optional activities) (16 miles / 25.7 km, 7 hours). Accommodation: : Robin Hood Bay – 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
Breakfast Included

Day 18 Arrangements end after breakfast.
Buses can take you 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.

Breakfast Included

As a self-guided expedition, there is no fixed departure date for this trek. This trip can only be organised upon your request. We have price discounts according to the group size and number of pax. The bigger your group, the bigger your group discounts.

Please also note currency can and does fluctuate. Please contact us for further information and current trek pricing.

Cost Includes

17 breakfasts
17 nights accommodation in hotels and guesthouses on a twin share basis with ensuite facilities where available
One piece of luggage transferred from Inn to Inn, not exceeding 20kg
Information pack including route notes & maps
Emergency hotline

Cost Does not Include

International & domestic airfares
All costs associated with obtaining a passport
Lunch, Dinner and drinks
Entrance fees
Travel to the start and from the end point of the trip
Travel insurance
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Unscheduled transfers required during the trip

How fit do I need to be?

Besides the activity and the destination the most important thing about choosing your trip is making sure it suits your background and physical abilities. To help you select the right trip we have classified our walking and cycling tours into grades. Please refer to Trip Grading for more detailed information.

What is Self-Guided Trekking?

Self-guided walking holidays in the UK and Europe are a very popular active holiday experience as they offer flexibility, independence and choice. Our self-guided walking holidays follow a linear or circular route, staying at hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs and inns.

Our self-guided walking holidays are fully flexible which means you can normally start your walk on any day during the season and customise by adding extra days for resting or sightseeing.

As you’re walking independently, you’re free to follow the trail at your own pace. You set your own speed as you are not limited by the constraints of group travel. You are free to shorten or lengthen your walk as the terrain permits and can even take a day off, although you may need to travel onto your next accommodation by taxi or public transport in order to do so. As long as you are reasonably active you will be able to find a suitable tour. All of our tours are graded to help you choose the right walk for you.

How do I know the dates I want to book are available?

We do not hold rooms for our self-guided trips as most are daily departures. We just ask that you complete our online booking form and we will start to request the accommodation. Please be mindful of UK Bank Holidays (May and August) and Easter as these weekends are very busy and difficult to confirm. If for any reason we cannot book your preferred dates, your deposit payment is instantly refunded.

I'm travelling on my own, can I book a Self-Guided Trek?

Yes, with some exceptions (please contact us for details). The exceptions are generally more difficult or remote routes where we consider it potentially unsafe to walk alone. This is made clear on the web page and in the trip dossiers. For single travellers on self-guided tours a Single Supplement fee or Solo Traveller Supplement must be paid; this is to cover the extra cost of single rooms or occupancy of double or twin rooms.

What equipment is included?

We provide all the equipment that is required for the type of trip you join. All self-guided walking full documentation is provided that include route notes and maps. Some will also have guidebooks, town maps and transportation timetables.

What is the accommodation like?

We have carefully selected a range of charming country inns, pensions, guesthouses, hotels and bed and breakfasts based on the local atmosphere they offer, epitomising the regions you are travelling in. Most are family run, so expect a healthy dose of local charm and insights while you’re there. Sometimes where we stay in small villages or remote areas, we choose the best available.

What about the food?

All of our journeys include breakfast daily and may also include lunch or dinner – please refer to the specific inclusions on the trip page or download our detailed trip dossiers. We introduce you to provincial restaurants that feature local flavours and traditional specialties unique to the region. Food is an integral part of any European experience and the many culinary delights are yours to savour. Where possible, we also cater to most dietary requirements, provided you let us know in advance.

How do I get to the starting point?

We explain in more detail in the Route Notes (Documentation) how to reach the starting point and return to the airport at the end of the tour by means of public transport (train, bus and taxi). European train timetables are now readily available on the internet.