If you are walking the Coast to Coast you are going to need a guide book. Despite the fact that it is the most popular long walk in the UK, it is not a National Trails and indeed the Coast to Coast path is not an officially recognised Long Distance Path at all. Subsequently, the route is not signposted consistently enough to walk without either maps or guide books. If you are going to walk with maps, then you will still need a guide book to copy the route from the book to the maps, unless of course you are making your own journey from scratch.
All that’s in question then, is which guide book? Hopefully this section will help you decide which is the right book for you. Do you prefer lots of official Ordnance Survey map snippets with route descriptions or do you prefer uncluttered hand drawn maps, perhaps you prefer a written route description with minimal maps. What ever your preference there is a guide book to suit, just have a look below. Each book has a link, probably to Amazon.co.uk, but perhaps to the publisher’s own website if Amazon don’t stock it.
We’ve also included links to any DVDs that cover the route (jump straight to them). Rest assured we’ll keep an eye open for the much awaited Julia Bradbury version of the walk which will be shown on the BBC in 2009 and almost certainly followed up by a DVD of the series too.
Henry Stedman – Coast to Coast Path
Our view: This is still the definitive Coast to Coast guide book and if anything Trailblazer have raised the bar for other publishers to reach. The level of detail is unsurpassed. You could pick this book up and never use another resource from the first stages of planning to reaching your destination in Robin Hood’s Bay. You could find accommodation, identify public transport to get you to the start, book a baggage carrier, know where to eat in every village along the route and of course find your way as you walk it. No other guide book is as complete as this.
Official synopsis: Fully updated fourth edition of this complete guide to walking the famous Wainwright path from St Bees on the Irish Sea to the North Sea at Robin Hood’s Bay. Includes 109 detailed walking maps, the largest scale maps available at just under 1:20,000, plus unique mapping features showing route times, gradients, where to stay, interesting features; itineraries for all walkers; detailed public transport information; practical information for all budgets and 8 town plans. Plus downloadable GPS waypoints and 20 full colour photos. Also available from Amazon.
Tony & Chris Grogan – A Coast to Coast Route Guide – NEW!
Our View: A new Coast to Coast guide book has recently been released. As one of the world’s most popular long distance walks, this route isn’t short of guide books, so I was a little concerned that this may be just another ‘me too’ book. My concern was somewhat ameliorated by the authors of the book; Tony & Chris Grogan who have, what a cockney wide-boy would call ‘form’ for writing excellent guide books (you can find their Dales High Way guide on Amazon and elsewhere).
The book is a little bigger than I would expect for a guide which you’re going to have in your hand or in your pocket all day. At A5 it isn’t easily going to fit into a chest pocket – but having said that, you should make room for it somewhere, because it really is excellent!
The book is titled ‘A Coast to Coast Route Guide’ and it does pretty much exactly what it says on the cover. There’s no accommodation information in here, no tips on walking at the best time of year, no weather information, no transport links; just the route.. in minute detail.. just as you would need for some sections of this walk. There is some background to the walk though, a little bit about Wainwright and how the walk has changed, but by page 8 we’re into the walk.
I particularly like the fact that this walk is broken into the original 12 stages defined by Wainwright; this makes it perfect for a fortnight’s holiday. Each section starts with an overview map of the day and the following pages are covered with annotated full-colour maps in superb detail. These aren’t as detailed as the Trailblazer maps and the annotation isn’t as verbose either, but it’s much better than the usual OS 25k scale map with a yellow line on it. The maps use colour coding to display the height of the terrain and they’re accompanied by colour photos of the areas you’ll pass through on the day. You’d be hard-pressed to get lost using this book.
The only slight niggle I have with the mapping is that north is rarely where you’d expect to find it. The maps are aligned to make full use of the space available and as such I found I needed to spin the book to keep north upwards, but then the text was side-ways on. It’s a compromise of space and functionality, but it’s a minor point and shouldn’t deter you from buying this excellent guide book. Available from the publisher here.
Alfred Wainwright – A Coast to Coast Walk: A Pictorial Guide
Our view: The eagerly anticipated re-write from Chris Jesty finally arrives in stores. In the same way that the Lakeland Fells Pictorial Guides have been revisited and updated, the Coast to Coast has also been brought right up to date. The route is now colour-coded in red and is much more visible (we also have green and blue for the Nine Standards seasonal routes). The book now looks much more consistent, with modifications all done in the “Wainwright” font, rather than the typeface updates in the previous edition. And for a couple of years at least you can be reasonably sure that the words and maps match the route on the ground. Wainwright is back – thanks to Chris Jesty.
Official synopsis: This is the first fully revised and updated edition of A. Wainwright’s pocket-sized guide to the Coast to Coast Walk which he devised in the early 1970s. Over the years this 190-mile walk – from St Bees Head on the Irish Sea by way of the Lake District, the Pennines, Swaledale and the North York Moors, ending at Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea – has become one of the best-loved long-distance routes in the world. It has prompted countless enthusiasts to lace up their walking boots and follow Wainwright’s example, and inspired a TV series too. This brand new edition of the Pictorial Guide contains Wainwright’s hand-drawn route maps and his inimitable commentary, completely revised where necessary by Chris Jesty. The route is picked out in red for greater visibility on the page, and every step of the walk has been checked and updated.
Sandra Bardwell & Jacquetta Megarry– Coast to Coast: St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay
There’s a new (July 2018), much improved edition of the Rucksack Readers C2C guide book, written by Sandra Bardwell & Jacquetta Megarry. It’s available on Amazon for about £14.99, but just make sure you’re buying the second edition.
Our view: This is a very readable and visually attractive book, and if you prefer to walk using route descriptions rather than maps then you are better served by this book than you are by many of the other guides. The lack of accommodation information within the book is almost a moot point, as nowadays so many people use the Internet to arrange bookings. The new edition includes many of the Wainwright alternatives such as the Helm Crag route and a supporting website allows you to download a PDF version of the maps and route notes. The spiral bound book has rain-resistant pages, making it very “UK Summer” friendly. There is a full review of the book here, from Lone Walker.
Official synopsis: This challenging walk of 184 miles (296 km) crosses the north of England from St Bees on the Irish Sea to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea. It passes through three National Parks – the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors – with fine scenery, welcoming pubs and plenty of accommodation. Devised by the legendary Wainwright, the Coast to Coast is England’s most popular walk. This new edition is lavishly illustrated with 150 photographs, many by professional photographer Karen Frenkel, 25 pages of mapping (scale 1:55,000) and 16 altitude profiles. Route descriptions have been updated and clarified, high-level options added and many route updates included. The format is lightweight, robust and waterproof. There is also support for navigation by GPS and a special download feature that lets you print just the pages you need for the day’s walk.
Terry Marsh – Coast to Coast Walk
Our view: The only reason to get this book, in our opinion, is for the East to West route description. There are certainly not enough maps in this book to guide you visually and we found the route descriptions were not always easy to follow. The lack of any supporting information such as refreshments available en-route means it doesn’t stack up against Stedman.
Official synopsis: Cicerone’s guide to the Coast to Coast trail popularised by Wainwright. The guide includes an accommodation listing. The guide is in three sections. The first gives the route description, from west to east, annotated as appropriate with notes of geological, historical, industrial, sociological and natural history interest. The second section gives the route description only in an east to west direction, cross-referenced to the points of interest. The final section comprises a description of variant routes and lists useful addresses.
Martin Wainwright – The Coast to Coast Walk (Recreational path Guide)
Reader’s view (courtesy of Milwalks): The book includes 1:25k OS maps of the terrain, with the route marked with “yellow highlighter”. Comparing with the “real” Wainwright each evening, these seemed far clearer than the hand-drawn maps he (and successors) use, and give similar levels of detail – contours and fences etc. There is also an OS key inside the cover, for those unfamiliar with the symbols. We took the OS 1:50k maps as backup, but only needed these once, when we went seriously off-route (and hence off the strip map). Commentary: the text (and maps) draws attention both to tricky navigational spots, and interesting scenery. Also includes a healthy smattering of local and natural history, written in an engaging style. Planning: the text draws attention to pubs etc that might otherwise be missed en route, and there is a useful info section, for pre-planning before you travel up to St Bees. Overall: one of the Aurum series, designed for use on the trail (rounded corners to the book, so it doesn’t get quite so dog-eared!) and OS map-sized, to fit in cagoule map pocket. I think it’s the best book out.
Official synopsis: The Coast to Coast Walk is unique among Britain’s long-distance footpaths in that it was the invention of one man, the legendary Alfred Wainwright, and enjoys no official status like, for example, the National trails in England and Wales. Nevertheless, it has become one of Britain’s most popular long-distance walks, which is hardly surprising as it traverses some of the finest walking territory in the country. As well as the main route, there are also alternatives available at several points. Martin Wainwright’s description of the route is divided into fifteen chapters, each covering one day’s walk (though alternative stopping places are identified for those who wish to spread their journey over a longer period) and each section of the route is described in detail with accompanying Ordnance Survey 1:25 000 mapping and colour photographs. There are also brief feature essays on features or places of particular historical or landscape interest and a Useful Information section at the end which gives details of organisations which provide advice or information on matters such as travel and accommodation.
Paul Hannon – Coast to Coast Walk: 190 miles across Northern England
Our view: The best route descriptions of the non-Wainwright books, but the use and modification of Wainwright’s maps make this book difficult to navigate by. The original maps created by Wainwright were, as already mentioned, a little difficult to decipher at times, in our view the modifications made by Hannon do nothing to improve this situation. If you are more comfortable following a written route guide then this book should suit you, if you prefer to navigate by maps then consider Stedman.
Official synopsis: From the Cumbrian coast to the Yorkshire coast, this long distance walk encompasses over 190 miles, crossing the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. Packed with information, this guide will appeal to keen walkers.
Life on the Run: Coast to Coast
Official synopsis: After a charity run in the Peak District, Matt, Vin and Mal decide to raise the stakes by running from St Bees Head on the Cumbrian coast to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire. On a sunny May morning in 2006, they set off on a seven-day, 180-mile west-to-east coast challenge to take in the Lakeland fells, the limestone dales, the wild North York Moors and all points in between. With Mal in competition on his mountain-bike and the other two on foot, supported by Andy and Justin in a chase-car, they find themselves, despite 18 months of rigorous planning, facing a variety of unforeseen situations involving the weather, the terrain and the local wildlife. However, as Matt realises in this lively and detailed mile-by-mile account, their biggest challenge comes from themselves. Pushing their levels of endurance to the limit, they undertake the equivalent of seven consecutive mountainous marathons with all the attendant pain and despair and the ultimate goal of reaching the North Sea – on time, on course and still on their feet.
A Coast to Coast Walkers Notebook
Our view: Another book that is not strictly a guide book. This is a book to record notes of the walk you make, along side notes from the author of the original guide book, Alfred Wainwright. A novelty item really, but a memorable way to make a journal of your walk.
Official Synopsis: A Coast to Coast Walker’s Notebook is the place where you can record details of your journey from one side of England (St Bees Head to Robin Hood’s Bay) to the other. This walk is the most popular long distance walk in Britain and by writing up what you saw, who you met, where you spent the night or stopped for a cup of tea, you can re-live your experience over and over again. A tick lists allows you to record when different stages are completed (allowing you to do any bit of the walk at any one time rather than sequentially), flexible journal space enables you to write up your experience and sketch pages provide the opportunity for doodles, sketches or for you to stick in photos. A companion volume to Wainwright’s A Coast to Coast Walk A Pictorial Guide and Coast to Coast with Wainwright or it can be used independently.
Coast to Coast – Jan Minshull
Official synopsis: Annoyed at yet again being taken for granted, fifty-year-old Linda refuses to accompany her successful, executive husband on a Rotary trip. The more Jim tries to manipulate the situation, using friends and their adult children to persuade her to go, the more she digs in her heels. Instead, she sets off on her own to walk from East to West coast. The ups and downs and climatic changes of the walk, across wild open moors, fertile dales and the mountainous Lake District, provide time and space in which to reflect on her life and consider her future. Her outlook is totally changed when she meets Nick, another lone walker. But the walk, like life, is not a clearly defined path. Full of challenges and decisions, it is sometimes an easy stroll, at others a hard climb for little reward; sometimes it offers dangerous diversions, or is shrouded in the mist of past experience. As the walk progresses Linda discovers that life offers more than one route to happiness.
The author’s words: There is a saying to the effect that life is a journey and that the journey is more important than the destination. The idea for COAST TO COAST came to me on a walk. I had walked to the top of a mountain and although I could see for miles, my starting point had become obscured by the ups and downs of the ground I’d covered; my finishing point was concealed by the challenges yet to be faced. I knew where I was heading but the route I had planned had already undergone changes to overcome obstacles. Just like my life, really. So, I plotted my story to fit the landscape. It’s about a woman in her middle years, with all the joys and regrets of half her life lived and a future ahead, but for whom recent events have caused doubts about her chosen route. To a greater or lesser degree, I think most women have been there.
Coast to Coast on an In-Growing Toenail – Mike McKever
Official synopsis: Follow a diary of one couple’s progress through the magnificent scenery of Lakeland and North Yorkshire – landscapes that have made this one of the most popular long-distance walks in the world. And then see how quickly the sublime can be reduced to the ridiculous as they get into all sorts of scrapes, or entertain us with numerous comic asides, witty reflections and grumpy old rants – not to mention amusing portraits of their fellow ‘Coasters’ and the people who offer accommodation along the route. A perfect gift for all successful or would-be ‘Coasters’, an ideal travelling companion for first-timers, or a delightful memory-jogger for experienced old hands with a sense of humour.
Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk (with Pictures by Derry Brabbs)
Our view: This book has just been relaunched after Derry Brabbs revisited many of the locations to retake photographs he was previously not happy with. This is not a guide book in the strictest sense of the term as it is too big to carry with you on the walk. It uses the text from the original Wainwright guide however and makes a fantastic coffee table book. Currently, the old version of the book is selling on Amazon Marketplace for over £200 – staggering.
Official Synopsis: This is a book containing the walk A. Wainwright devised in 1973, covering rights of way and areas of open access between the Irish sea and the North Sea. The route passes through three National Parks: the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors, all areas of outstanding beauty. The book provides a wide and varied range of scenery with changing landscapes over a distance of 190 miles. It is one of the most challenging of long-distance walks.
Wainwright’s Coast To Coast Walk
Eric Robson joins the master fellwalker and shares the highlights of his 190 mile walk from St. Bees Head in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Yorkshire coast. This classic, but unofficial, long distance was devised by Wainwright in 1972 and traversed what he described as “the grandest territory in the North of England”. Two thirds of the route lie within three National Parks and today Wainwright’s achievement is regarded by discerning walkers as the finest long trek in Britain.
This programme is looking very dated now, especially when viewed on a widescreen TV. If you want to see the route on TV it’s probably time to look at the new Julia Bradbury version – see below.
Wainwright’s Coast to Coast DVD
Beautifully simple, beautifully defined and providing a complete spectrum of northern England. Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk is 190 miles that have become one of the classic long-distance challenges of the British Isles – a challenge that now faces Julia Bradbury.
The series has proved to be a great success for the BBC and has already been repeated on their satellite channel BBC4. The DVD is available from both the BBC directly and other major retailers, including Amazon.
Downhill – The Movie
Official Synopsis: Gordon (Richard Lumsden – Sightseers, TV’s The Catherine Tate Show) is determined that he and best friend Keith (Karl Theobald – TV’s 2012, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa) will conquer Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire. But when a stray conversation determines that old school friends Steve (Jeremy Swift – Jupiter Ascending, TV’s Downton Abbey) and Julian (Ned Dennehy – Tyrannosaur, TV’s Luther) join them on the trip, their best-laid plans reveal multiple mid-life crises. DOWNHILL is a comedy of errors, a testament to the tragically incompatible and a blow-by-blow account of the highs and lows of decades-long friendships.