Alfred Wainwright’s coast-to-coast walk to be made National Trail
Spectacular country walk through Lake District and Yorkshire Dales will be made more accessible
Alfred Wainwright’s coast-to-coast walk, which meanders through the often spectacular countryside of three of England’s national parks, is to be made a National Trail.
The 197-mile route from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire is one of the UK’s post popular long-distance routes, taking in lakes, mountains, moors, bogs, medieval castles, ancient ruins and a good number of pubs.
Wainwright, a writer and “fellwanderer” who remains a God-like figure to walkers in the Lake District, devised the route and published it in his guidebook Coast to Coast in 1973.
Despite its unofficial status, the path is walked in its entirety by about 6,000 people every year generating an estimated £7m for local economies.
On Friday Natural England announced it would become a government-designated National Trail, joining 16 others in England and Wales, including Hadrian’s Wall Path, Glyndŵr’s Way and the Pennine Way, the first official trail, which opened in 1965.
The announcement comes with a commitment of £5.6m to upgrade the route and make it more accessible.
The broadcaster Eric Robson, who chairs the Wainwright Society, said it had long been one of the society’s ambitions to get National Trail designation for the walk.
It was the starting point of something bigger for a route that helps support businesses and jobs in some of the most sparsely populated rural communities, he said.
“This is a very exciting and important step and we look forward to working with partners along the route to establish the coast-to-coast walk as one of the UK’s great National Trails.”
The TV presenter Julia Bradbury also welcomed the news. “Having walked the walk (and talked the talk) and promoted its virtues on TV and in print, I know exactly why it is one of the great Alfred Wainwright’s most popular routes. Taking in the magical Lake District, to the heights of the peaks and the rolling landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales and Moors – it is just stunning.”
Wainwright pieced together the trail using existing footpaths, bridle ways and minor roads.
It takes most people a fortnight to complete and traditionally begins in St Bees, where people should get their boots wet and collect a pebble to carry on their quest.
In the Lake District it takes in Ennerdale Water, where Bill Clinton says he proposed to Hillary, Angle Tarn and Haweswater. Once over the M6, walkers are soon in the rolling hills and fields of the Yorkshire Dales passing through Ravenseat, of TV Our Yorkshire Farm fame, and the village of Keld. Then it’s the wild North Yorkshire moors finishing off in Robin Hood’s Bay where people can finally throw their pebble in the sea.
The trail status means the route will get investment, which helps make the path more accessible for people of different abilities, Natural England said, by removing stiles and replacing them with gates, for example.
The signage and path structures will be made more consistent and circular paths will be introduced for people who want shorter walks.
Natural England said enhancements would be made over the next three years with the upgraded path expected to open in 2025.
Marian Spain, chief executive of Natural England, said: “The way we will now develop the coast to coast into a National Trail is a turning point for national trail development as it will be the first national trail where delivery of the social and economic benefits for users and communities will be built in from the start.”