Two Years Post Coast-to-Coast Trek Across England

Not sure where two years plus have gone but any calendar will confirm they are behind us.

June 18-2018 marked our flight back to CA and the end to our infamous trek across England. While we were no longer on the trail the experience simply moved from our feet to our heads and hearts. It is a reassurance that one can do anything they set their mind to and claim that accomplishment as their own forever more. Charlotte’s and my England Coast-to-Coast (C2C) adventure became exactly that.

Below is a short video to see and feel our experience. After viewing it be prepared to feel the urge to make the trek, or maybe another one you’re keen on. I was first introduced to long distance walking by a dear friend who owns Green Horse Ranch near Quito, Ecuador. She described how wonderful it was to see the world by walking through it. What an endorsement! Yes, that is how the seed was planted. By allowing it to grow, thinking about it, talking about it, dreaming about it, pretty soon I was convinced I could do it. Why not? Charlotte became equally interested and our journey began.

C2C in 4 minutes 8 seconds … Enjoy!

I have often been asked about how the trip was planned, what became part of our essential packing list, what resources did we use? Some specific products were so perfect that I will use them again on my next long distance trek. If the world ever recovers from COVID-19 enough to allow us to venture abroad, letting our spirits soar, mine is heading for the 309 mile (498 km) Pieterpad Trail in the Netherlands. Here are my ten top essentials and why they worked:

Day 4 – A Day of Rest and Diversions

When Wainwright devised his C2C route in 1972 he used neither compass or maps nor did he walk the 192-mile distance in one go.  When walking he simply pointed himself in an easterly direction and began wandering.  The trail is not “official” thus signage is scarce or nonexistent in many areas.  Today, and for anyone attempting this trek since Wainwright’s day, it is acceptable, suggested and expected that walkers will create their own route to meander from sea to sea.  So in true, authentic spirit Charlotte and I have done the same as those before us and those who will follow.

After dodging Dent Hill on Day 2,  with its steep ascent and descent of 1158’, we thought the biggest climbing challenges were behind us.  As you have read in our previous post, the next day found us climbing straight up Loft Beck, along a ridge, up some more to Grey Knotts, and down to Honister Slate Mine and Borrowdale.   This was the LOW route!  The summit was 2345’ … shrouded in cloud.  This memory is stark in our minds as we push forward.

Today’s route begins from the beautiful Beech House B&B in Glenridding.  Owned and operated by Lynn, the sole proprietor whose Grandmother operated a B&B just down the lane.  Lynn worked at the hotel next door for years waiting for the right property to come on the market so she could make the move to ownership.  The day came, Lynn bought the building next door and began renovating.  This included raising the roof on the stone house behind it to turn one bedroom into four.  Pride in ownership and service is evident in every detail.  Lynn is a fiercely independent woman with no husband, children or other demands.  She says, “When I decide to do something, I simply go forth and do it!  I don’t need to consult anyone.”  We were very pleased to be counted among her happy guests.

Check the different rocks in the foreground building … lifted roof …

Stinky boots and socks … Yuk!

Ullswater Lake Divergence … Glenridding to Shap

The discription of this 15.5 mile leg put us on sharp attention.  The guidebook clearly warned of 4400’ of ascent and descent that was so tough one would “curse the very name of Wainwright.”  Hey!  We’re two sharp CA women who understand the English language quite well.

An obvious diversion lay outside the door of the Beech House with a two minute walk to the Ullswater Steamer Dock.

Soon we were steaming up the lake under stunning conditions, gentle wind in our hair, unbelievable scenery, and the smugness of knowing that there was another way to reach our destination besides up then down.  Later in the evening we would hear of people who had to abandon the trail due to sprained ankles and the need to scramble down steep slopes hanging on with their hands.  Not us …

As prearranged, Chris the Lakeland Taxi driver, was waiting for us at Pooley Bridge, the end of our one-hour Lake cruise.  In no time he maneuvered the back roads about 2 miles and reconnected us to the C2C trail.  We lost no miles, simply went around instead of over!  Brilliant!

Heading in the right direction

 

An Honesty Box on the trail … How brilliant!

Resting in the shade … great lunch spot

Hello over there!

Shap Abbey … founded in 1199, last abbey to be founded in England Suddappeared in our path.  How grand!

Our destination for the day.  The Hermitage is over 300 years old and closely watched over by the astute eye of our host, Jean.  Not a thing passed unnoticed by her.

No shoes, socks barely tolerated, don’t arrive early for breakfast … “We have a routine here you know” …

We did our best to be good guests but it wasn’t easy.

Day 3 – Rosthwaite to Grasmere

After we climbed the mountain on Day 2 we really believed the most challenging part was over.  After all, we were on a “walk” and not a climbing adventure.  So in the company of three other couples we left Rosthwaite, packed lunches on our backs, and headed out.  Innocent as babes in the wood.

The trail became less distinguishable and turning back was not an option.  Two people had GPS Garmins and seemed confident we were definitely on the right track.  The incline became more tense as we were now climbing over huge rocks and pushing ourselves higher and higher.  Every ridgeline above sent silent prayers that we were nearing the top and would soon begin the descent into Grasmere where an extra day of rest was on the agenda.

The hope for a final ridgeline disapated as we continued to follow the others into mist and cloud.  With limited visibility we had no idea which way to go.  Fortunately, the group had formally adopted us by now and were as attentive as a mother hen with new chicks.  They guided us along a zigzag ridge across the top and up yet some more.  Finally, finally our boots began to point down instead of up.

Going down a steep incline can be as dangerous as going up.  Gravity is not your friend in either direction.  Three people fell on the descent.  We were all mid-life with a lot of pride so each fall was followed by assurances that nothing was damaged.  Charlotte took a short sit down fall on some grass and thus was fine.  Our descent was SLOW and careful.

When we finally got down to the valley floor and turned the corner into Grasmere we were ready to kiss the flat ground!  The experiences of the past two days put this adventure into a new perspective for us.  Knowing what the next day held was suddenly vital.  We had already changed direction once … Dent Fell was listed in our guidebook as “This is just about the steepest path on the whole trail.  Mind your ankles!”  Officially it navigated the south side of a lake.  Jeez!  That was easy to avoid, we simply took the north side flat path.  No genius needed for that.

Little did we know what lay in store ….

Grasmere – How Foot Lodge

Grasmere is a perfect place to linger for a day.

Our lodging was next door to Dove Cottage, home to the famous poet Wordsworth, who lived there for years with his sister, Dorothy. Wordsworth was a sensitive guy who penned prose about the surrounding natural beauty and struck great success writing about daffodils.

Dove Cottage

Wordsworth’s poetry is sprinkled generously about the grounds. This one reads …

”Through primrose-tufts, in that sweet bower the Periwinkle trail’d its wreaths.  And tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes” W.W.

Phil Cox, following our trek while reminiscing about when he and Corina did the C2C in 2004, was moved to bring Wordsworth back to life long enough to capture some of our most memorable moments so far …

“I wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw Rita and Charlotte clambering on all fours, Stumbling over yonder hills until, behold, quite near a field of golden daffodils I saw Charlotte’s arse hit the grass, a nasty spill indeed, Undamaged she recomposed herself, sat beside the lake, beneath the trees, singing praises to our dear Lord that their C2C would not abort, and so with joy they exclaimed, “On to Patterson Walk we will go, unruffled and composed!”, and lo, they did with not a sniffle or sneeze march on to the
fluttering and dancing of the breeze.”

Simply brilliant!

Day 2 – Longmoor Head, Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite

Alan, proprietor of The Manor in St Bees, gave us clear directions to a SHORTCUT to connect with the C2C trail by turning right just past the school.  Great!  A nice well marked street … that soon passed through a gate and became a solid path.  All good, until the next stile.  Now it was dodging sheep and cow poo with a minimal visible trail.    We were reassured by the railway tracks that were generally parallel to us.  There was no denying a full field of sheep, a good fence and thick gorse definitely separated us from the rails but as long as we could see them we felt comfortable.

Eventually we emerged on the side of a farm house.  Yikes!  Coming straight toward us was a baby lamb … with its distraught Mum on the other side of the fence!  Fast as flash Charlotte and I attempted to catch the little creature.  One lucky grab of an ear, a quick up into waiting arms and over the fence.  That little lamb turned around, stuck it’s face through the wire fence as if thanking us for the kindness received and trotted off to rejoin Mum.

Feeling good about the lamb rescued we kept moving along … until we came to a crossroads.  While trying to sort out the correct direction two young women appeared walking straight towards us.  With grace and their  map they convinced us to turn around and head straight back.  We had overshot a turn in the trail by about ten minutes, the perfect amount of time to be where the little lamb needed us.   We call that the Perfect Mistake!

Signage is minimal or non-existent in the Lake District

Longmoor Head – Home Away from Home with Joan & Richard

What a stunning place to be, to witness what happens when two people share a dream and work towards it in total harmony.  The resurrection of buildings with fallen in roofs to recreating the cobblestone drive … all done by these two brave souls and the sweat of their brow.

Richard LOVED his cows and proudly introduced us to these fine straight backed specimens. They perked up smartly when they heard Richard’s country brogue rolling with affection.  The bull lives in another field where he awaits visitors.  These girls “cycle” every 21 days until  they go visiting.

Life is good and in harmony at Longmoor Head.

On our way to Rothswaite …

Soon we were climbing slowly but had no idea what lay ahead

The trail got higher and higher … steeper and steeper

Black Sail Youth Hostel … a well earned rest before the final ascent

Height Gain: 2,300 feet

Loft Beck and Grey Knotts lie ahead 

Two couples with GPS adopted us …

we would never have found our way solo.

We actually had three couples that stuck together reaching the summit and descending together.  Both going up and coming down was super treacherous. We witnessed three out of six take considerable falls.  Fortunately none were seriously hurt … at least they would not admit to it.

Finally we were down the other side despite a heavy downpour that left us soaked to the skin with water filled boots.  I left my raincoat behind to lighten the load … a short sleeved shirt was no match to a British thunderstorm … but it was a WARM rain the locals cheered!

The Bridge of No Return, which means we’re super glad to be off that mountain!

The Royal Oak B&B was a welcome sight for sure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Days at Hawksmoor Guest House, Windermere

Personally, I have often wondered how special it would feel to walk out of the arrival door at an airport and have someone standing there,  sign in hand, with my name on it.  In Manchester it happened!  Yup, name spelled correctly with Hawksmoor, Windermere across the bottom.  Perfect!

Charlotte and I would spend two days in a stunning Guest House recovering from jet lag and getting used to our new surroundings.

Here are a few pics showing how we did this …

Arriving…

Hawksmoor Guest House

Eggs Benedict at Hawksmoor

Bowness

Ancient church

Tranquil moment  

Yes, a Defibrillator

Stunning hydrangeas in full bloom simply everywhere

Out for a bus excursion

Beef with Bubble & Squeak  … very British!

St Bees and the First Step …

We have finally made our way to the starting point of the C2CTrail, St Bees on the Irish Sea and west coast OD England.  We were blessed with Jane, our Lakeside Taxi driver who provided far more than transportation from Windermere to St Bees.

The Manor B&B had posted signs they were closed due to some “emergency” but were accepting guests with reservations.  Thank goodness!  We parked our bags, donned our gear and headed out to clock the first miles of the C2C.

We are looking ready for the challenge.

First ritual … dip your toes in the Irish Sea.

Pick your pebble that you will carry and toss into                                                  the North Sea on the East coast.

St Bee herself.  Escaping an unwanted/enforced marriage this gal found her way to these shores and became famous.                                                        She was said to be an Irish princess.

The trail points up and follows the coastline.

The bird colonies were nothing short of stunning!

The first C2C sign … 190+ miles to go …

Stiles become commonplace.

Recognizing the people who have dedicated time and effort to this trail

Au Revoir and the Flight

May 26-2018

Enterprise Car Rental was timely in their home pickup service. Before we knew it the moment of goodbyes, good lucks, we love you, we’ll miss you … and a rash of tears sent us out of Indian Ridge Country Club, heading for the Crowne Plaza Hotel at LAX.


Ed gives his blessing for a safe and fun adventure.

Ready to shuttle and fly!

In the Flagship Lounge prior to departure.

Looking good in seat 1H … that would be right behind the cockpit … 👍

Hey, that ✈ is pointing the wrong way!  No matter, we were convinced the woman First Officer, aka Co-Pilot and named Adrienne, probably sorted that out fast because we were heading due East right on time.

Panko Crusted Shrimp for dinner with all the trimmings … Yum!

Conversation with Self

Is walking across England a far flung dream?
Is it accomplishable?
Why not?
Other people do it … thousands of people do it …
Charlotte says, “We can too!”
Preparation is key.

One day’s pedometer reading …
WOW! I’m impressing  myself …

 

 

 

The Coast-to-Coast Route

 

This English “Walk” is 192 miles from St Bees on the Irish Sea to

Robin Hoods Bay on the North Sea.

It is rated according to how long it takes you to complete.
Super Fit – 11 Days
Standard – 13 Days
Leisurely- 15 Days
Stop & Stare – 17 Days

We are taking 16 Days … Elegant Leisurely 😎

Practicing or Maybe Training

We practiced or trained in our own backyard.
Some was tougher than we expected.

Mt Eisenhower was on our list.

Cold enough to bundle up!

Heading the right way.

Higher than we thought, but we made it.