Coast-to-Coast England

Birth of a Trail
  |  Gorp.com

Brainchild of the late guidebook writer A. Wainwright, the Coast-to-Coast Walk is England's most popular footpath. Cutting across the north of England near the country's narrowest part, the trail starts at the seaside town of St. Bees on the Irish Sea, climbs into the Lake District, then crosses the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors before ending at Robin Hood's Bay, a picturesque village on the North Sea.

Hiking with an English accent is a different experience for Americans. There is no wilderness as we know it. Camping is something you do at a campground. And no matter where you look, you'll see a flock of sheep.

But the English have some ideas of their own that we would do well to borrow, like their system of public footpaths, which pass by easement through private lands. Throughout the walk, you'll see hundreds of little wooden signs pointing the way to these little paths, which might go from village to village or just across a field.

It was by linking together such rights-of-way that Wainwright developed the idea of a coast-to-coast walk that would spend as little time on roads as possible. The thousands of people who walk all or part of his trail each year is a measure of his success.


Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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