I've completed the Coast to Coast twice now, once on the traditional route west to east taking 9 days, then this year a second time leading a group east to west taking 14 days.
Maybe this is why at least once a year I get pulled into another trail and while British mountains and Lakeland rock tend to dominate my present the Corsican GR20, the Long Range Traverse in Newfoundland and the Pacific Crest Trail are always at the back of my mind. I expect in the coming years one will jump to the forefront and demand an adventure of me. At certain points in life the feeling of losing everything extraneous is hard to resist.
Taking in the dramatically different landscapes of the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors provides constant interest - far more so than any other trail I've encountered - and the pubs and inns along the trail have embraced their place on what remains an unofficial trail by offering fantastic food and some equally fantastic local ales.
A commonly held misconception with long distance trails is that one needs to stick to the trail itself. For me at least this doesn't embrace the spirit of the pursuit (as long as you're not getting the bus instead). Wainwright himself encouraged walkers to create their own variants and this year as myself and the group were familiar with the Lake District we took a route heading over Bampton Common into Martindale, then later wild camping at Easedale Tarn before heading on to Sergeant Man then to Styhead and Wasdale - all new places, all providing interest as we were approaching our most tired. Such variations are key to making the experience your own.
Still... why walk so far? Why not just drive to each place? Visit Ennerdale... drive over to Richmond... Well if its that or nothing I'd encourage you do it. But if you've never walked a long distance trail on your own you don't understand what it is to feel the ground change beneath your feet, or what the trail teaches.
Once your walk begins the trail possesses you. You watch the landscape change dramatically in a way not encountered during day walks. You glance back at your map for waypoints and logistics ...how much water do I have? ...how long until the next water source? ...where is the next food re-supply? ...how many meals do I need to load up with? ..where's my next campsite? ...and as the trail nears its end you grit your teeth and push your legs harder (or maybe you do the whole trail at a more relaxed pace than I do & you don't get into this state, each to their own). There is something meditative in the process of constant considerations, while in the lull between waypoints there is a chance to consider all things with a refreshed perspective.
Fancy seeing the Lakeland Fells for yourself? Or maybe you'd like a guide for some sections of your next Long Distance walk? Go out with one of our qualified, experienced and enthusiastic Mountain Leader. Take a look at our Experiences and Challenges page. Or alternately get in contact on the Bookings page. You can also like our Facebook page for regular updates on new articles.
All articles are written from a humble and deeply personal perspective. Where facts or recommendations are given these are taken from research and experience. We hope these articles help you in your quest to enjoy the mountains and that they portray our passion for what EA Mountain Skills does.