I’ve wanted to do the Coast to Coast ever since I read Curtis and Emily’s accounts of the trail. Emily’s description of the walk and the community it generated was one of my biggest inspirations for getting into hiking. Based on the first four days, the Coast to Coast is the more fun than the four national trails I’ve walked on previously (Ridgeway, North and South Downs Ways and Pennine Way).
The biggest surprise was how hard I found the route. There were days that beat me up badly, where I struggled with getting up and down hills. I’m not sure if this was because the trail is harder, or if I am substantially weaker after lockdown. My balance and flexibility both seemed off too. I don’t remember even the Pennine Way being so hard.
The first challenge was getting to the start. We set off a five on a Friday, perfectly timed to hit the end of the week traffic jams. It took over six hours for us to drop a car off at our end point and reach our hotel in Workington. The weather was appalling too, with thick fog as we drove through some lakeland passes.
On the way up, we were so delayed that stopping for a proper meal was impossible, so we grabbed some fast food. I ordered a large chips, since in Brighton that’s just enough to be filling. Further north, for the same price, I was given a ball of carbs almost as big as my head.
Given the possibility of arriving late, I booked us into a chain hotel in Workington. The town was subject of a BBC news article the day we were there, about towns that needed levelling up. The main thing I noticed about the place was that it was spotless, with very little litter.
We ate breakfast in a Wetherspoons. As much as I loathe Tim Wetherspoon’s politics, he is a good publican. I can go into any Wetherspoons and be guaranteed a vegan meal with no fuss. This was also by far the best vegan meal of the trip. Once we’d finished our food we took a short drive to St Bee’s Head to start the walk.