Tag Archives: england

2011-06-00: Wainwright’s Coast-to-Coast Walk

In September 2003, the Smithsonian magazine had an article titled “A Walk Across England“, about the pathways linked into a coast-to-coast walk from St Bees in the west to Robin Hood Bay in the east. This inspired us to start considering such things, and led more or less directly to our Hadrian’s Wall Walk, as a less challenging walk.

By 2011, we were ready to try the big one, 200 miles. (They say 190 miles, but there are alternative paths in places, and sometimes extra mileage to the B&Bs; besides, all guidebooks lie.)

We began with Carl and Renee, with a trip to Stonehenge (sleet in June) and Wales, to see some areas that might have been connected to Renee’s ancestors, and general sightseeing. We rode horses, and took the train to the top of Mt. Snowden. In Dolgellau, we met a fish-and-chips shop owner who was planning to take his steamboat to Egypt, and have his trip up the Nile filmed for a TV show. Carl then returned home, and the rest of us took the train to St Bees.

We used Sherpa(?) to handle reservations and move our bags, and planned on 13 days of walking. The walk passes through the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, and North York Moors National Parks. We had driven through the Lake District on an earlier visit, but it’s even better from the mountaintops. The banner picture on this backlog is from the walk. I think the ponies can smell an apple in my backpack.

This was the first trip we used our cell phone as a phone (not just for wi-fi access to email, etc.). Renee was able to talk to Carl, and update him on our progress.

Walks like these put you in contact with other people who start around the same time and have a similar itinerary, at least for a few days at a time. For several days starting about midway, our path overlapped with Gordon (from England), Brian (from Australia), and Daniel (from West Los Angeles). After a few days, Renee got Brian to admit he was celebrating his 50th birthday, having left his family at home.

After we returned home, we contacted Daniel when we went to Los Angeles, and had dinner with him. To hear more about Brian, see our walk of the West Highland Way.

The C2C is challenging, and walking for so many days takes a toll on your feet. Our preparation was generally good enough, and we all survived without serious problems. I think 13 days was too much, though, and don’t expect to do such a long walk again.




2005-06-00: Hadrian’s Wall Walk

I don’t recall quite how we became aware of it, but at some point Susan proposed that we walk the Hadrian’s Wall Path. In England, they refer to this as a National Trail; it was formally established in 2003. The trail runs along the ancient (122 AD) Hadrian’s Wall, which is a World Heritage site. The trail runs from coast to coast, and is most often walked from the east end at Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne to Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast, a short distance south of the border between England and Scotland. The distance is officially 84 miles, but our walk was closer to 100 miles.

We had visited some of the sites and museums along Hadrian’s Wall in a previous visit (year?), but this would be a chance to see the entire route and all of the remaining fragments of the wall. When we asked them, our friends Carl, Renee, and Chad agreed to walk with us.

We spent a few months walking increasing distances at home, and on successive days, to prepare our feet. We made arrangements with Sherpa (?) to reserve rooms at Bed and Breakfast establishments along the way, and to move our bags from place to place. We only planned to carry lunch and raincoats while walking. We planned on eight days of walking, with a rest day near the middle.

The walk was very successful, except for Carl. He stepped in a rabbit hole coming over a stile, and sprained his ankle. Fortunately, there is a bus route that runs parallel to the trail, along the old Roman military road. (The bus route is called Route 122, named after the year the wall was built.) Carl was able to meet us at the B&B’s and sometimes for lunch.

The B&Bs were all very good experiences, but some days required walking a few miles away from the trail, adding to the official distance.

When we got to Carlisle, we rented two cars, and continued our trip to the Western Isles.