Our trip begins in Penrith, England. Arrive at the Penrith Railway station by 11:30am and meet your guide and fellow travelers. Following lunch at a local caf�, we drive to St. Bees on the Irish Sea. This village is the official start of Wainwright?s 192-mile eastbound hiking trail that ends at Robin Hood's Bay on the North Sea. After christening our boots in the Irish Sea (a coast-to-coast tradition), we ascend from the beach to a headland with sweeping views of the sea and town. We then transfer to our Lake District hotel nestled at the foot of Shepherds Crag in Borrowdale Valley, which is our home for the next three nights. Our guides provide a trip briefing followed by dinner. Lunch and dinner included.
Hiking: 4 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 400'/250'; Terrain: beach walking, grassy trails with some muddy and rocky sections over rolling hills. Driving: 3 hours.
Fueled by a traditional English breakfast, we transfer to the shores of Buttermere Lake to begin today's hike. We follow Warnscale Beck along Warnscale Bottom (the Lakeland terms for stream and valley floor) until we climb steeply to crest on to the saddle at Fleetwith. It's a challenging ascent with almost 1500' of elevation gain, but from the top we are rewarded with superb views of Buttermere and Haystacks. Haystacks was Alfred Wainwright's favorite peak in the Lake District and where his ashes were scattered.
Our hike continues westward on an old miner's tramway which was once the straightest mile in Lakeland. We descend to Honister Pass, site of the United Kingdom's last working slate mine, before continuing to Borrowdale Valley. The trail follows the River Derwent, winding through green pastures and tiny villages where we will have an opportunity to sample a traditional afternoon tea. Tonight we head into the lively town of Keswick. Dinner is on your own tonight, and your guides will provide suggestions for their favorite places to dine. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 5 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 1500'/1600'. Terrain: rocky trails?open hiking over exposed hills with some steep sections.
Our hike begins by crossing a bridge over the rushing waters of Stonethwaite Beck. We follow a riverside trail until the main valley turns south into a steep-sided V-shaped valley. The trail climbs steadily, gaining nearly 1500' in elevation before we reach the Greenup Edge pass with its rewarding views of Borrowdale. Crossing the pass, the vistas open up to include Ullswater peaks and the Yorkshire Dales. We descend to the quaint village of Grasmere, the former home of William Wordsworth, one of England's most beloved poets. We'll tour his home and discover what life was like at the turn of the 19th century. All meals included.
Hiking: 7 miles; Elevation gain/loss 2400'. Terrain: rocky and grassy trails?open hiking over exposed hills with some steep sections.
Today we set our sights on Kidsty Pike (2600?). This is the last, and one of the highest, of the big passes we cross on our journey. Hiking from the village of Patterdale, we traverse a 2000-year-old Roman road built along the mountain tops to link the northern and southern strongholds in the Lake District. We take one last look back at the mountains of Lakeland before descending to the secluded valleys on the eastern boundary of the Lake District. We?ve completed a crossing of the most mountainous region of England! We transfer to Ravenstonedale, a picturesque, traditional stone village in the Eden Valley and our home for the next two nights. All meals included.
Hiking: 7.5 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 2,600'/2,300'; Terrain: grassy and rocky trails with some boggy areas?open hiking over exposed hills with some steep sections. Transfers: 1.5 hours.
We begin our explorations of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. This is a beautiful region of rolling hills, green valleys and rural farmland. Starting from Ravenseat, we hike through pastures intersected by meandering rivers, and dotted with grazing sheep and stone barns. Swaledale?often called James Herriot country?is renowned for its wildflower meadows, limestone landscape and drystone walled fields. Our hike passes through the village of Keld, a tranquil settlement that marks the halfway point on the 192-mile coast-to-coast footpath. We continue to Muker village where we'll enjoy a picnic lunch and have an opportunity to visit the village's small craft stores. Our next stop is at the ancient Ivelet Bridge; if you look carefully, you?ll see a coffin stone set into the verge on the north side of the bridge. This was used by pall-bearers to rest when transporting a coffin on their way from Muker to the church at Grinton. Our trail follows the banks of the River Swale to the lovely Yorkshire village of Gunnerside, our end point for today. All meals included.
Hiking: 9 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 650'/1150'; Terrain: Dirt and grassy trails with some muddy and rocky sections; stone pathways; rolling hills. Driving: 1.5 hours.
We spend this morning in the historic market town of Richmond. We?ll explore the remains of the 11th-century castle and climb to the top of its keep for panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. We?ll also have an opportunity to shop for souvenirs in the quaint local stores. Following lunch, we begin hiking on a gentle path along the banks of the River Swale, stopping at Easby Abbey. Founded in 1152, the abbey fell into disrepair after Henry VIII ordered its closure in the 16th century. Its magnificent ruins have inspired English landscape artists such as JMW Turner. The nearby St. Agatha?s Church dates from the 12th century and features an impressive collection of medieval wall paintings. Our hike continues through open fields and groves before ending at Catterick Bridge. All meals included.
Hiking: 5 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 300'; Terrain: stone pathways, dirt trails. Driving: 2 hours.
We head into the heart of the North York Moors National Park, with its heather-clad ridges, lush valleys and open windswept moorland. The trail begins with an easy climb up to Round Hill, which provides far-reaching views across the high moorland. Continuing on, we hike beautifully paved pathways running through the heather; the trail follows the former Rosedale Ironstone railway track across the moors. It?s hard to imagine trains up here, but they served a vital purpose to the mining industry until 1929.
We end our hike at The Lion Inn on remote Blakely Ridge. This 16th century freehouse is located at the highest point (1325') of the North York Moors National Park and was described by Wainwright as "a bleak and isolated moorland inn". We reward ourselves with a refreshing pint of ale or cup of tea before transferring back to our accommodations. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 8.5 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 1,000'/600'; Terrain: Maintained pathways, muddy and rocky trails?open hiking over exposed heathland; rolling hills.
Our final hike starts at the hamlet of Littlebeck and continues into the Scarry Wood, past a fabled cave, and up to beautiful Falling Foss waterfall. After a short transfer, we hike across sprawling fields to reach a clifftop path, with expansive views across the North Sea. We follow this trail to the charming fishing village of Robin Hood?s Bay. We complete our journey at the shore, dip our tired feet in the sea, and savor the achievement of our coast to coast trek. Several nearby pubs offer Wainwright Ale if you fancy a celebratory drink! Our final evening is spent in a lovely hotel perched on the cliff top, offering unobstructed panoramic views across Robin Hood?s Bay and the North Sea; it?s a fitting place to celebrate a truly epic trek across England. All meals included.
Hiking: 7 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 1,000'/1,500'; Terrain: grassy trails with some muddy, boggy, and rocky sections; boardwalks; rolling hills.
After breakfast, our adventure ends with a transfer to the York train station. York is conveniently placed for direct trains to Manchester Airport, London and Edinburgh. This is a fascinating historic city, and well worth exploring if you can extend your time in England. Options include meandering its 14th century timber streets and visiting the impressive gothic cathedral. Breakfast included.
Driving: 2 hours.