Holidays at home are becoming increasingly popular, as the crowds who once flocked through the bustling airports are rediscovering the beauty on their doorstep. Every year thousands attempt the stunning coast-to-coast walk devised by the footloose fellwalker Alfred Wainwright in 1973.
The 196-mile route takes in some of the most delightful countryside Britain has to offer. From the crystal-clear waters of the Lake District, up and over the plunging valleys of the Dales, onward through the wild and rugged Moors, before finally arriving at the North Sea coast, in the pokey village of Robin Hood’s Bay – just in time for a pint.
The trail can be attempted in a series of stages, depending on how far you can walk in a day. In the morning, you’ll set off and pick up the trail, making your way towards your evening accommodation to rest for the night. Or instead of west-to-east, head east-to-west. Aside from following the route, you can make the rules about the direction and how far you want to go each day.
Few holidays are so ideally suited to bringing your dog along. No hassle at the airport with pet passports and cumbersome carry-ons, instead wander through the beauty of northern England with your furry friend by your side.
And here’s the fantastic route you will be taking….
Lake District National Park
The journey begins – when heading west-to-east – at the seaside village of St Bees on the far edge of the western lake district, overlooking the Irish Sea. From there you’ll head up onto the cliffs, taking in the dazzling views across the Irish Sea, before turning inland and threading your way towards the village of Ennerdale Bridge.
From Ennerdale, the route winds its way across the Lake District passing through the villages of Rosthwaite, Grasmere, and Patterdale. Along the way, you’ll pass the looming bare peak of Great Gable, down through the lush valley of Borrowdale, and over the mountainous pass of either Helvellyn or St Sunday Crag. Then, onto the village of Patterdale – where the poet William Wordsworth grew up – for a well-earned rest; before heading onto Shap, for the final leg of the Lake District stretch.
For any Patterdale terrier owner, the highlight will be of course taking your Patterdale to Patterdale!
Stiles for Miles: In Yorkshire, this isn’t as much of an issue, but in Cumbria, the stiles can be a nightmare for dogs. If your dog is small enough that you can pick them up, this won’t be an issue, but with larger dogs, make sure you know how to to get them over the barrier safely.
From Shap, you’ll head over the limestone pavement of Westmorland. In this strange geological phenomenon, the rock forms a flat landscape, like a rugged road. Then onwards to Kirkby Stephen, a quaint town in the heart of Cumbria. Your dog (and you) will likely be getting tired, and the continual walking can be tough on the pads of their paws. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have a day’s rest to recuperate. Take the day off, and stroll around the antique shops, or enjoy the local food and drink at the many restaurants, cafes and pubs.
After your rest (or if you chose to plough on), you’ll cross the west/east watershed, at the Yorkshire border. Before heading by the Nine Standards Rigg – a series of cairns perched high at the summit of Hartley Fell in the Pennine Hills. From there, the route winds into the Dales. The route was previously extremely boggy – making it difficult for walkers, let alone those with a dog – but thankfully, recently laid stones have made the path more manageable.
Follow the upland streams – where on a warm day, your dog can take a quick paddle – and make your way through Swaledale to Keld, marking the halfway point. Heading out of the beautiful village of Keld, the route splits into two. Either go up and over the windy moorland, if you and your dog are up for the challenge; or else meander down through the valley, passing by teashops and pubs, on the road to Reeth. An incredibly pretty village set amidst the folds of the hills.
From Reeth, amble through the woodland and fields, out of the Yorkshire Dales towards Richmond. Admire the castle, or enjoy the broad array of shops and restaurants. Richmond also offers a great place to have a rest and a mooch with your pooch.
The next stretch can be a little difficult for dog walkers, as there are very few (if any) places which take dogs between Richmond and Osmotherley. Therefore, many travel companies’ advice spending a couple of nights in Richmond or Osmotherley, to recuperate for the final leg, and organising a taxi between the two locations. If you are organising this yourself, plan beforehand.
However, if you are choosing to camp, then you’ll be able to continue from Richmond, roughly following the River Wiske across the farming country of the Vale of Mowbray. (Be careful to avoid cattle, as farmers don’t take kindly to dogs disturbing them, so bring a lead just in case.) Spend the night at the curiously named Danby Wiske, before heading onto Ingleby Cross – notable for the Grade II Anglican church.
At this point you are on the last stretch, as the route climbs up along the western rim of the North York Moors, joining the Cleveland Way. The day will be surprisingly hilly, so you might be grateful for having rested in Richmond. Reaching Clay Bank Top, you’ll head down in search of your B&B or else a good camping site.
Tracing the Cleveland Way, the route marches east, crossing Urra Moor – the highest moor in the North York Moors at 1,490 feet. After this, the Cleveland Way veers north, as the coast-to-coast trail shadows the dismantled Rosedale Railway to Blakey Ridge, and the cosy Lion Inn – an isolated pub offering a well-earned pint or glass of wine.
Next, you’ll continue along Rosedale, before skirting Great Fryup Dale, with awe-inspiring views across the moorland, before heading down Glaisdale Rigg to the village of Glaisdale. After crossing over Egton Bridge, the route heads down an old toll road to Grosmont village.
After Grosmont you’re homeward bound, climbing up over Sleights Moor, through Littlebeck Wood – looking out for the hermitage carved into a boulder – and passing by the Falling Foss waterfall, a truly spectacular sight. One which you’ll dog will inevitably enjoy a little too much! Then dry off, as you pass through Low and High Hawsker to arrive at the eastern clifftops towering over the chilly North Sea waters. Follow the path, as you wind down to Robin Hood’s Bay, and settle down for a good plate of grub and the best rest of your life. Even your pooch will be settled!
What to Bring for the Coast to Coast Walk UK
So, that’s the journey, along with some advice on how best to manage it with your dog. Here’s some more general tips on what to bring along, and any guidance for the journey.
Leads and Muzzles: Muzzles depend on the temperament of your dog, but leads are a must, especially when passing through farmland. You don’t want to be getting into an altercation with a disgruntled farmer. If you are confident in your dog’s behaviour, the countryside code only specifies that dogs must be under ‘close supervision’.
Hygiene: We all love natural beauty. Let’s keep it that way. It might be the great outdoors, but no one wants to step in dog poo. Remember to pack enough bags for the entire trip.
Water Bottle: It’s an awful long way from coast-to-coast, far enough to make anyone thirsty. While you almost certainly pack a bottle of water for yourself, it’s a little trickier with the pooch. Try out a portable dog water bottle. Lesotc Dog Water Bottle is one of the best-rated on Amazon. It’s easy-to-use and doesn’t leak. Plus, it’s lightweight and has a large capacity.
Rest days: You might have read about the rest days, and blown the idea off. However, your feet might decide differently. Blisters make walking a nightmare, and your dog’s soft paws need time to heal too. So, take a rest, and your feet can thank me later.
Treats: Treats are a great way of keeping your dog going with a quick snack. They also provide an easy way to reward them for behaving well in farmland or other unfamiliar situations. Follow the golden rule of dog training, all good behaviour earns a treat.
Pack for all Weather: England at its best is glorious, the grass shines a verdant green, the sky boundless and blue. But we all know the weather can turn on a whim. Make sure you’ve got a waterproof in your pack, but get one for your pooch as well. You’ll be grateful later when you’re not drying them off. Check out JoyDaog’s Premium Outdoor Waterproof Raincoat for Dog’s – made of high-grade waterproof fabric that’s breathable too. It’s perfect whatever the weather.
There you have it! Enjoy some great bonding with your dog, as you hike through the rich natural beauty of northern England. There’s no better way to spend your summer.If you are looking for shorter dog walks, you make like to read about the best Dog walks in North Yorkshire.
You can also have a look at this article Hiking with your Dog – me and my Patterdale Terrier.