- Walk England’s Coast to Coast West from St Bees to Kirkby Stephen
- Dramatic upland scenery of the English Lake District
- Pass through some of England’s finest villages, such as Grasmere
- Wonderful camaraderie between fellow “coast to coasters”
- Observe Britain's rarest wildlife, such as red squirrels and otters
The Coast to Coast West takes you through the dramatic upland scenery of the English Lake District from St Bees, located on the Irish Sea, to the market town of Kirkby Stephen.
Created by Alfred Wainwright, this is one of the world’s great walks and on this particular itinerary, you will complete the western section.
As you walk you will meet fellow “coast to coasters” and enjoy the incredible camaraderie as you bump into the same walkers along the trail and in the charming B&B’s at day’s end. This dramatic and rewarding trail will stay forever in your memory.
This is a general stage by stage guide. For all the available day by day itineraries, please see the options on the right.
Arrive in St Bees and overnight.
St Bees is an ancient village set on England's north-west coast. It is a great starting point for your classic walk, and many of the charming 17th-century buildings along the main street were once farms.
Why not find a local pub in which to have dinner, but don’t turn in too late as the trail tomorrow begins the ascent into the hills of the Lake District.
St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge - 15 miles
Do not forget to dip your toes in the Irish Sea and pop a pebble from the beach into your pocket before setting off this morning! The first section of the Coast to Coast West begins with a cliff-top walk, continues with an ascent up Dent Hill, providing birds-eye views across the fells of the Lake District, and concludes by following the trail along peaceful country lanes to the pretty Lakeland village of Ennerdale Bridge.
Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite - 16 miles
The first part of today’s walk takes you along the southern section of Ennerdale Water and then enters mossy woodland before ascending Loft Beck. From here is the long descent to Borrowdale, which is made up of three hamlets, Longthwaite, Stonethwaite and Rosthwaite, where you will spend tonight.
Rosthwaite to Grasmere - 9.5 miles
This section is a classic Lake District walk with an ascent up to Greenup Edge (600m), past waterfalls and followed by a walk down the valley into the iconic village of Grasmere, which Wordsworth called “the fairest place on earth” and where he used to live in Dove Cottage. Enjoy strolling down lanes with quaint cottages, tea and gift shops.
Grasmere to Patterdale - 7.5 miles
This is another classic day with an initial walk up to Grisedale Pass. Reach it by ascending up a bridleway from Grasmere and arrive at the pretty mountain lake, Grisedale Tarn. With more strenuous options up Helvellyn and Striding Edge, if you wish, these landscapes are truly stupendous in their drama and you will need to have your camera ready at all times! On your way into Patterdale, you may see a red squirrel or two as this is a haven for wildlife.
Patterdale to Shap - 16 miles
Today you will be leaving the Lake District behind, but there will continue to be landscapes full of pikes, crags and fells. A long climb up to Kidsty Pike is followed by a descent down to Haweswater and an undulating section that takes you above the lake’s shore. Come upon the atmospheric ruin of Shap Abbey before arriving in Shap itself, a long narrow village with a 17th-century market hall.
Shap to Kirkby Stephen - 20 miles
The walking route today takes you along the Westmoreland Plateau and is the longest walk of the itinerary, but the ascents and descents are minimal, as you stroll down grassy trails through fields and moorlands. Pass a stone circle after Orton and then carry on through walled fields to Tarn Moor and Sunbiggen Tarn, a bird sanctuary. At the crest of Smardale Fell the Pennines rise in front of you, before you make your way into the market town of Kirkby Stephen.
We specifically choose the hotels, inns, guesthouses and B&B’s to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay. They all offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food. We always try and book your accommodation as close as possible to the trail.
Many of our clients choose to add extra nights along the walk to sample more of the wonderful walking and attractions available on the Coast to Coast. Rosthwaite is a good choice as there are many walks around Borrowdale and you could visit Keswick which is close by. There is plenty to do in the busy village of Grasmere or if you prefer somewhere quieter Patterdale is a good option.
We will always try and accommodate you at the locations detailed in the tour itinerary. Occasionally, because of limited availability we may have to accommodate you into alternative accommodations which are not listed in the description. If those listed are unavailable the alternative accommodation will be of the same or better standard than those described.
Single Rooms & Solo Walkers
If you require single rooms we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable.
We welcome solo walkers on the Coast to Coast West, although you should of course take extra care in the outdoors when walking solo.
A hearty breakfast is included each morning. Lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Most of your accommodations will more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs or restaurants
Here's some examples of the accommodations that we use:
Stonehouse Farm - St Bees
Stonehouse Farm is a friendly family run Georgian farmhouse in the centre of St Bees. It is only a 10 minute walk to the start of the Coast to Coast walk.
Thorntree's B&B - Ennerdale Bridge
Thorntree's have just recently opened up their traditional home to the Coast to Coast walkers, and promise a warm welcome, and provide guests with their own private dining room, and comfortable en-suite bedrooms.
Scafell Hotel - Rosthwaite
The Scafell Hotel is a wonderful Country House Hotel located in the very heart of Borrowdale, considered by many as England’s finest valley, surrounded by mighty fells, tranquil meadows and crystal clear waters. A paradise for the walker and a perfect centre from which to visit other parts of the Lake District.
Old Water View - Patterdale
Old Water View has been welcoming visitors for over 100 years and was one of Wainwright's own personal favourites. It offers comfortable accommodation with lots of extra little personal touches.
Brookfield House - Shap
Brookfield House offers comfortable accommodation with spectacular views across the fells. They are renowned for their personal attention.
The George Hotel - Orton
The recently refurbished George Hotel is a traditional inn with a beer garden set in the picturesque village of Orton. All 8 guest rooms are warm and homely with comfy beds, ideal after a hard days walking.
Great resources for the Coast to Coast
The Coast to Coast Walk West is available from March to September.
You can start your holiday on any date during the season. If your itinerary includes Grasmere, it may be easier to get availability if you do not start your walk on a Tuesday or Wednesday due to restrictions with weekend availability in Grasmere. Also, if Grasmere is on your itinerary it may be easier to confirm if you add in an extra night here (which we recommend anyway) due to restrictions with 1 night bookings in Grasmere.
No accommodation in Grasmere will allow one night stays on a Saturday night, we would therefore have to book you two nights in Patterdale.
Due to the Appleby Horse Fair all accommodation in Kirkby Stephen is full between 2 - 9th June, please try and avoid staying in this area over these dates.
Grade & Terrain
This holiday is graded moderate to strenuous and is most suitable for those walkers with previous long distance experience.
The route is a mixture of paths, tracks and minor roads. Some of the paths can become very muddy and boggy where progress can often be slow.
The route is way marked sporadically so at least one of your party needs to be able to navigate using a map and compass. We will also provide you with a Coast to Coast Guidebook and a Harvey map to to assist you.
Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person. Please ensure that you do not bring more than one bag of 20kg, as if this occurs, the luggage transfer company will ask you to pay an additional fee (approx. £8.00 per day, per bag). This additional payment, should it be necessary, needs to be made locally to the driver and in cash. Any additional bags need to labelled as if they are not labelled we cannot guarantee that they will reach you at the next accommodation.
If you are travelling from far afield and do have more than one bag it is possible to arrange for the extra luggage to be stored whilst you are on the tour for a fee of £25 per bag. These additional bags would be picked up at your accommodation at the start point (St Bees or Kirkby Stephen) and dropped off wherever you finish depending on the itinerary you choose to do. Please contact us if you are interested in this option.
Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.
Due to baggage transfer restrictions we can only offer this walk from West to East.
The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.
Getting to St Bees
The closest airports to St Bees are Manchester and Newcastle. From both airports, the travel time by train is approximately 4 hours. You can also fly into any of the London Airports and take a train north from London Euston (via a change in Carlisle). There are also alternative trains going via Lancaster and Barrow-in Furness.
If you are considering driving please be aware that St Bees has very limited parking facilities. The only free public parking is available at the railway station (only 18 spaces available) but is not intended for C2C walkers). Many B&B’s have parking available for a small fee per night.
Getting from Kirkby Stephen
The closest airports to Kirkby Stephen once again Manchester and Newcastle. From Kirkby Stephen, you can take a train to Manchester via Carlisle. Getting to Newcastle from Kirkby Stephen is more complicated and time-consuming as you have to go via bus and train with a few changes. However it can be done and you would need to check the Traveline website for schedules. The Trainline is also a good resource.
It is also possible to travel by train to London via Carlisle, or via Leeds.
Parking in Kirkby Stephen is limited. There are some spaces in the Pennine View Campsite, the campsite is secure and you can leave it there for the duration of your walk.
If you do decide to park your car in Kirkby Stephen then we can arrange for your first night’s accommodation to be in Kirkby Stephen instead of St Bees and you can then catch the Sherpa Bus to St Bees the following day to being the walk. Please contact your Destination & Adventure Specialist for further details.
- Hand picked B&B's, guesthouses and small hotels
- Door to door baggage transfer.
- A detailed information pack, map and guide book.
- Emergency telephone support from our office in the event of a problem.
- Travel to the start or from the finish of the walk.
- Lunches, dinners, snacks and drinks.
- Travel Insurance.
- Personal Equipment.
- Single room supplement
- Solo walker supplement
- Extra nights
How fit do I need to be?
This tour is rated moderate to strenuous so you definitely should be in excellent physical health and have a very good level of fitness to fully enjoy this tour. If you currently don’t enjoy an active lifestyle we suggest regular walking in hilly terrain supplemented by cardio vascular exercise for at least 6 months prior to your walk. A good gym or personal trainer will be able to draw up a personalised training programme.
What is the best way to get to the Coast to Coast start/finish?
The best way to travel to the start and finish of the Coast to Coast is by train. Our travel information page has further details on getting to and from the start/end of your walk.
How far in advance do I need to book?
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as Wainwright's Coast to Coast is extremely popular especially over April/May and September. You will find up to date availability on our website and we will always try and accommodate your plans.
What personal equipment do I need?
You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc.
When is the best time of year?
Traditionally April/May has always been the most popular time of year because the theory goes that the weather is better. Although any time between late March and October offers a wonderful experience.
Which direction should I walk?
We recommend you walk from West to East as all the guidebook is written in this direction and this is also necessary because of luggage transfer restrictions.
Am I able to take my dog?
Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers we use do not accept pets.
What happens if I can’t walk a stage?
You can use public transport, bus or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop.