St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge – 14 miles / 22.5 km
To many, the Coast to Coast Path is a challenging walk. You’ll find a route of 190 (or more) miles, stretching from the Irish Sea in the West, to the North Sea in the East. Starting in Cumbria, and ending in Yorkshire. Three National Parks. Varied terrain. Largely un-waymarked. In short, it’s a handsome challenge, and it was one we were to complete in 12 days.
I was walking with my seasoned hiker father (Rob), my outdoors aficionado friend (Craig), and his marathon running father (John) . We met at St Bees where to route heads West before heading East, over fields and along tracks towards to Lake District and within sight of the hills and mountains to come.
It’s an easy enough day walk, but nothing worth shouting about. It’s good to have a simple slog as a first day to get the gears rolling, but the first notable climb (if that) sits at a measly 350 metres above sea level (called Dent Hill). The cold fog that came in created the illusion it was much more than that, hence the rather heroic picture above, taken by two sly sirens who surely wait for budding Coast-to-Coast-ers at the top of that hill every day, leading them astray like they did us.
Rather than take the steep descent by Nannycatch Beck, we headed West for the second time that day. We joined a road that we marched along in fury at whoever was holding the maps, and whoever did the most talking to the sirens. That, and whoever had summoned the rain; not standard pitter-patter rain, but the misty light rain that gets into everything.
Rather embarrassingly, we finally arrived at Ennerdale, to find our campsite behind the church next to a semi-surging river lapping at the dry stone wall between it and us. We threw our tents up, found shelter at a pub, and ended the night inside our damp tents, hoping our luck got better and our spirits less damp.