Your trip starts in the westernmost point in Cumbria, St Bees. Explore the village and take a stroll down to the long sandy beach where the CTC starts. There's a couple of good pubs in town for a first dinner.
Guesthouse in St Bees (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 25.6km with 590m ascent, 515m descent
Start the Coast to Coast on the beach followed by a highly scenic stretch along the cliffs. The route turns inland and threads a course along an old railway before climbing the small hill Dent (352m). With the Lake District ahead, complete this rolling stage into the village of Ennerdale Bridge.
Inn in Ennerdale Bridge (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 23.2km with 560m ascent, 565m descent
Walk the length of Ennerdale Water as a prelude to wild Ennerdale. Stop for refreshments at the Black Sail hut before the trail starts climbing up to Honister Pass. Once at the top, drop into Borrowdale, one of our favourite Lakeland valleys and continue to the charming village of Rosthwaite.
Inn in Rosthwaite (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 12.9km with 555m ascent, 585m descent
The first of two short but steep stages links Borrowdale with the village of Grasmere. A steady climb brings the CTC to two grassy cols. Then it's a long rolling descent to Grasmere, farms and dry-stone walls appearing as we near the village. An option is the entertaining ridge walk to Helm Crag.
Guesthouse in Grasmere (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 12.6km with 580m ascent, 495m descent
Leaving Grasmere, climb steeply to Grisedale Hause where the large tarn of the same name sits in the col. Roll downhill towards Patterdale, another superb Lakeland valley descent. Options are given today to climb St Sunday Crag or Helvellyn on the way to Patterdale.
Guesthouse in Patterdale or Glenridding (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 24.6km with 900m ascent, 785m descent
Some of the highest walking of the CTC is over the High Street mountain range. The CTC's high-point of Kidsty Pike (792m) comes just before the long drop to Haweswater. We walk the length of this reservoir and beyond through fields to Shap.
Guesthouse in Shap (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 31.3km with 480m ascent, 565m descent
With the Lakes firmly behind you, enjoy this long, gentle stage across low moorland and through fields. On the way, detour to Orton for supplies. Arrive in bustling Kirkby Stephen, one of the largest villages on the route and boasting several pubs.
Guesthouse in Kirkby Stephen
After a last breakfast take the train towards Leeds and then onto the main lines. Manchester, York or London are easily reached.
For those happier with longer days, our 5-stage trek combines stages 3 and 4 from Borrowdale to Glenridding, omitting the overnight stay in Grasmere. Please contact us for details and specific schedules.
Make the trip longer
We can book different lengths of trip according to your preferences. For a more relaxed pace, our 7-stage trek splits the 2 long stages between Glenridding and Kirkby Stephen into 3 stages, with 25km the maximum distance.
Additional rest days
We do not include any rest days as standard in this trip, however if you have the time, we highly recommend adding one in. A rest day can be welcome to many; others prefer to keep going. Grasmere is a super place for a pause, and comes at the half way point of the trek.
As normal we include your accommodation in St Bees and Kirkby Stephen, both of which have train stations. If travel time is short, we can suggest ways to fit journeys in before your first stage and after your last. If driving, there are ways to minimise time needed to return to your car, for instance by using Kirkby Stephen as a base to go out and back. Please ask us about these options.
Hike with a guide
Hike with confidence in the company of our fully qualified International Mountain Leaders (IMLs), with the navigation, accommodation and all arrangements taken care of. You're welcome to walk on any date within our season and we can adjust the hike to suit your needs. If your group would like a guide for your trip, please get in touch for more details.
Coast to Coast West
1 May to 15 Sept 2024
70 per dog
70 per dog
80 per dog
80 per dog
90 per dog
90 per dog
To all stops
GBP 100 per bag
GBP 30 per bag
Your accommodation is in a mix of guesthouses, B&Bs, hotels and inns that we hope will invigorate and entertain. The Coast to Coast, as much as any long distance trail in the UK, offers some authentic and memorable overnight stays. One night you could be staying above an inn in the middle of a small village; the next you could be guests in a friendly home hidden away in the hills. We book ensuite accommodation where possible.
Upgrade your accommodation in some towns and villages along the way. We book comfy hotels in Borrowdale, Grasmere, Glenridding and Kirkby Stephen. Stay in smarter Lakeland hotels and guesthouses, and fewer B&Bs, such as The Grasmere Hotel and the Inn on the Lake. For your first night we book the Ennerdale Country House hotel in Cleator and include a taxi from Cleator to the start of the route in St Bees.
Contact us for more details of hiking the Coast to Coast using more basic accommodation, such as hostels and bunk houses. We can try to book hostels in Borrowdale, Grasmere, Patterdale, Shap and Kirkby Stephen, and more may be available depending on your particular schedule.
Single Room Supplement
If you would like to stay in single rooms rather than sharing a double, twin or triple room we add our single room supplement. This covers the additional cost of booking single occupancy rooms on a per person basis.
We welcome dogs on our Coast to Coast trips. On a doggy CTC schedule longer than our classic 6 stages, we have to arrange taxis due to the lack of dog-friendly accommodation in Orton. Here we propose two nights in Kirkby Stephen, and we will cover the cost of the taxis.
We do not take bookings for solo walkers on self-guided trips. If you are still interested in this trip, we do have availability on our guided trips.
Your route follows the Coast to Coast, as officially as the slightly relaxed nature of the route allows, as far as Kirkby Stephen. Set off from St Bees and reach the headland above cliffs before breaking away inland towards Ennerdale. Cross the centre of Lakeland, past the Black Sail hut into Borrowdale, then through Grasmere and across to Patterdale. Over the ridges of High Street reach Shap and some gentler ground. Pass Orton and later reach Kirkby Stephen in the valley.
The Coast to Coast involves a broad mix of England's walking terrain. Most miles are across relatively forgiving terrain such as field paths, tracks, rockier paths or country lanes. On the four Lakeland passes, terrain is rougher: either rockier or boggier. The path might not be visible on the ground for short stretches, meaning reliance on good navigation if the cloud is low.
Is it for me?
The Coast to Coast West is a manageable trek for regular walkers who are used to full-day walks in the hills. With careful choice of where to stay each night, there need not be any particularly long days. The Lake District National Park is one of the most beautiful areas in the UK and this trip really makes the most of it. For quaint English hospitality, spectacular scenery and excellent trails, the Coast to Coast West is a superb option.
The Coast to Coast's emphasis is on distance rather than steepness. Distance is one consideration, however the terrain and weather can combine to create another challenge - navigation on the Lake District stages can be tricky in mist, and anyone who is used to climbing hills in the Lakes will have an advantage. In any case it will greatly help your enjoyment of the walk to arrive fit at the start, used to days of similar distance and height gain to those that you are about to face. There is no climbing or scrambling, but there are some steep rocky paths, especially in the Lakes. It is all par for the course in the sphere of hill-walking in the UK. On some days there are easier and harder alternatives, which you can decide on the day depending on weather conditions and if you feel up for a more challenging day or not.
For an even more detailed read, please see our Coast to Coast Walking Guide
Your holiday starts in St Bees and ends in Robin Hood's Bay. The train is best to St Bees, on the coastal line that links Carlisle and Lancaster, while Robin Hood's Bay is linked by a regular bus to Scarborough for trains to York and Leeds. If flying we suggest Manchester for both directions and to transfer by train.
Travel to and from the trip is not included in the holiday price. We take care to give the most useful notes possible about all the travel options. We supply these both on booking and in your info pack, and we offer personalised tips at any point. The aim is that our trekkers arrange their travel by the simplest and most scenic means as suits their plan.
- Bespoke accommodation itinerary - tailored to suit your particular requirements
- Breakfast every morning
- Detailed Routecards CTC1-6 of the Exploratory system, printed on waterproof paper
- 2 topographical maps of the route
- Expert advice and local information
- A comprehensive 'Season Update' following our pre-season recce
- Full support during your trip from the Alpine Exploratory team (8am until 8pm in the UK)
- Travel to and from your trip
- Local transport whilst on the trip unless specified
- Travel insurance
- Lunches, snacks, drinks and evening meals
- Baggage transfers (available as an extra)
Baggage transferOur baggage option on the Coast to Coast West takes your bag to each night's accommodation. Each morning simply leave your bag with your host or at reception, and it will be delivered to your next accommodation.
If you prefer, please feel welcome to email or call us. Thanks!
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Open to the world
Since Alpine Exploratory started in 2005 we have loved getting to know our clients from around the world. Along with the UK, our best-represented countries are the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Please use our national-rate numbers for a cheaper call to contact our office in Edinburgh.
Alpine Exploratory is a system of knowledge on the best mountain trekking in our areas, giving clients superb holidays based on this exploration.