Take a look into one of our most classic WT journeys, England Coast to Coast, through the lens of one of our adventurers.
My wife Carol and I jumped at the chance to join the Wilderness Travel’s classic adventure, England Coast to Coast. This vigorous hiking trip was my first-ever visit to England, and filled us with surprisingly delicious pub food and admiration for spectacular medieval architecture. After dipping our boots in the Irish Sea, we strode 112 miles across England’s historic and literary landscape, over the fells of the Lake District to the pastoral beauty of the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks, to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea. A luggage van with our friendly driver Peter Koronka allowed us to walk with lightweight day packs and skip mundane sections, ending each day in comfortable local lodging. The following vignettes were captured as our varied group of 12 Americans visited the “mother country.”
The happily married team of Richard Bell and Karen Bell cheerfully guided us across their home country of England, despite an unusually rainy July. Here they relax at Wainstones Hotel, in Great Broughton, North Yorkshire county. Our journey happily included beer and wine, making it more of a pub march than “pub crawl.”
We passed rock-walled pastures on hills along the ascent from Boot to Burnmoor Tarn in Lake District National Park.
I woke up early one morning to watch the sunrise at atmospheric Irton Hall in Lake District National Park, Cumbria.
We spent time at Wastwater Lake in Wasdale Valley, in the heart of Lake District National Park, Cumbria. Wastwater is England’s cleanest and deepest lake (236 feet deep). From Eskdale in Cumbria county, we walked to Boot for lunch at a local pub and a visit to a working medieval corn mill. We then climbed to Burnmoor Tarn, and descended to Wasdale Head.
Our group at Wastwater Lake. Photo taken by driver and photographer Peter, using my camera.
Our hike brought us from open meadows to forested trails, and we passed many cascading waterfalls. This is the East Gill Waterfall, Keld, in Yorkshire Dales National Park. We followed the River Swale via meadows, woods, and villages.
The Green Bridge over the River Swale and 12th century Richmond Castle, in Richmond, North Yorkshire county.
We hiked through fields of purple heather flowers on the Cleveland Way Public Footpath, between Osmotherly and Great Broughton in North York Moors National Park. British taxpayers subsidize this privately owned National Park, where the high, semi-natural moorland is managed by farmers and landowners for traditional sheep farming and grouse shooting. Burning the heather encourages new growth to provide food for sheep and the native red grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica, a subspecies of willow ptarmigan). Three types of heather grow on the North York Moors: ling (Calluna vulgaris), the most common type here, has very tiny pink flowers generally blooming in mid- to late-August; bell heather has dark pink or purple bell-shaped flowers; and cross-leaved heath, found in boggy areas, blooms with pale pink bell-shaped flowers.
Beggar’s Bridge is built over the River Esk in 1619, near Glaisdale. Our group of 12 hikers plus two trip leaders rambled across a variant of the unofficial “Coast to Coast Walk,” which is mostly un-signposted across northern England.
From Grosmont, we took a steam-hauled train through North York Moors National Park to Pickering on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Along the way, we saw Goathland station, the setting for fictional Hogsmeade Station for the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films.
We toured North York Moors National Park from Grosmont to Robin Hood’s Bay on foot and via van, and the scenery was pastoral perfection.
By dipping our boots into the North Sea, we completed our two-week journey coast to coast via foot and car from the Irish Sea.
A sample of a delicious seafood crab salad lunch at Wainwrights Bar in the Bay Hotel at Robin Hood’s Bay.
From Robin Hood’s Bay, we visited stunning Whitby Abbey which dates from 657-1538 AD. This Christian monastery later became a Benedictine abbey, which was confiscated by the crown during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII in 1537-8. The abbey church overlooks the North Sea on East Cliff above Whitby.
The Church Steps above Whitby. In Bram Stoker’s famous 1897 novel, Dracula came ashore as a creature resembling a large dog who climbed the dramatic 199 Church Steps to the graveyard of Church of Saint Mary, adjacent to Whitby Abbey ruins atop East Cliff, above the Esk River. The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin is an Anglican parish church serving the towns of Whitby and Ruswarp in North Yorkshire county.
I’m grateful to our Trip leaders, Richard and Karen Bell, and the Wilderness Travel team for helping us forge some unforgettable impressions, tastes, and memories of northern England.
—Text and photos by 5-time WT adventurer Tom Dempsey, England Coast to Coast.