St. Bees to Robin Hood Bay – In the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright

It’s time for another coast to coast walk. In November 2019 the world heard about a virus in China that was causing great concern to some doctors who spoke out. At first little was known as the Chinese Authorities were giving the impression that they had it under control and it was nothing to worry about.

Then in December it hit Italy hard and the death toll started to rise. It quickly spread around the world.

The government of Barbados took the proactive role and repurposed an abandoned Naval Base, which was previously used as a prison, into a state of the art infectious disease hospital. It was handed over in a few months and has proved to be the best thing any government has done since independence.

By March 2020 the island was under strict lock down and various measures were put in place to limit the spread and death. It was kept under control except for the occasional cluster which, once identified, was dealt with a firm hand before it spread to the population at large.

The general population of the island co-operated with the protocols and advice given by the Ministry of Health. This helped.

In February 2020, after working for 50 years, I retired with plans to travel. This was not to be.  In early July 2021 Barbados was moved to the “green” list of countries that would have a short quarantine on arrival in the UK. I immediately booked a trip and left within 5 days. No one knew when the light would change!

It is a lot like approaching a traffic light and not knowing how long it has been green. Do you accelerate to get there before it changes or slow down and wait for it to change?

I always keep a few backpacking trips fully planned so it was only a matter printing the maps and getting the Covid Test. I was already fully vaccinated.

Accommodation was to prove difficult but I had a tent so that was not really an issue.

Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk
Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk – 182 miles from St. Bees on the Cumbrian coast to Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire. A coast to coast walk across England that passes through three National Parks: the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors, all areas of outstanding beauty.

Below are a few pictures of the crossing. As usual my pictures do not do justice to the landscape but they will give an idea. Mouse over or click on the images to see the captions.

Day 1

Wainwright Coast to Coast walk St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay - Day 1
It is tradition to wet your boots at the start and the end of the walk. Also a small rock is carried across and thrown into the sea at Robin Hood’s Bay.

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

Day 13

Day 14 – the UK for is now hot, hot, hot!

Day 15 – Job Done!

Wainwright Coast to Coast walk St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay - Day 15
Throwing the Irish Sea rock from St. Bees into the North Sea at Robin Hood’s Bay. Job done.
Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk
Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk – 182 miles from St. Bees on the Cumbrian coast to Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire.

This coast to coast route was pioneered by Alfred Wainwright and is a varied and interesting backpacking trip. It crosses three national parks (the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors) each special but different in their own way. If you are interested in geology the varied rocks and landscapes will be very interesting.

The farmers I met along the way appeared to me to speak different languages (dialects) as you move from west to the east!

Grasmere and Windermere are busy with tourists and don’t cater to backpackers and, in my opinion, are best avoided. Robin Hood Bay is the same and I only spent a few hours there.

Despite the Covid-19 restrictions I found the people in the smaller villages and towns very friendly. When a wild camp was needed after a long day I always found someone who would suggest a spot. Sometimes a corner of their garden or behind a pub.

After the Lake District the trail is marked with signposts at the appropriate places. But you will still need to carry maps – and know how to read them.

The weather can change very quickly, be prepared to walk in cloud at times when the view is obscured.

If you are crossing in the summer months and wish to spend each night in a B&B you will need to book accommodation months in advance.

The honour shops provide a very refreshing pause especially in the remote farms.

The Wainwright trail would be a good choice as a first multi-day backpacking hike. You are never far from a town that you can divert to. There are companies that arrange all accommodation and carry your gear so you only walk with a day pack.

You may also be interested in The Great Outdoor (TGO) Challenge coast to coast walks from the West Coast of Scotland to the East coast of Scotland which is about 320 km (210 km point-to-point). This walk is one of my favourites. I’ve now done this coast to coast crossing of Scotland seven times (2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019) – six official entries, five official completions, one official non-completion due to injury and one just for fun!

Responses to “St. Bees to Robin Hood Bay – In the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright”

  1. Maria Maurer

    William, my dear friend. It was a pleasure to read and I wish I could have joined.
    I am missing you and hope to be runited in the near future. Stay well and chapeau to your adventurous spirit!
    xx Maria

  2. Gillian Marshall

    As a Bajan living in the UK, I thoroughly enjoyed your pictures of the C2C. My husband and I walked it in 2016 and it remains the favourite holiday I have ever taken. Looking at your photos reminded me of the fabulous holiday that we enjoyed. We started on Day 1 in POURING rain, the prettily named “Nanny Catch Beck” on the way into Ennerdale Bridge was over our knees but by Day 5 we were buying sunblock in Shap… as only the English weather can provide.

    I have recently run C2C, Minehead to Dawlish but that was in one day so not such a multi-day adventure. I have never heard of The Great Outdoor Challenge but as I am being made redundant next year I shall make a note to follow that one up.

    Thank you once again.
    Kind regards

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