Cross nation: path working the coast-to-coast route | Travel

The 192-mile route over the Lake District and Pennines is normally plodded by hikers however our author zips throughout on a brand new guided working journey
Plus: 5 extra working breaks

Ellie Ross and information Mark Sandamas on a fell path within the Lake District.
Photograph: Chris Ord

Burning with exertion, I shuffle up the hillside, a sweaty mess. Beside me, the heather can also be dripping – with morning drizzle. A recent, Lakeland breeze envelops me as I climb out of the sheep-speckled valley, mud squelching beneath my toes. This is path working within the fells – although proper now the phrase “running” is a misnomer.

Happily, Mark Sandamas of Coast To Coast Packhorse (pictured above, with the author), a company that helps walkers and cyclists, in addition to runners, to sort out the 192-mile coast-to-coast route, doesn’t take into account my plodding gait an issue. “The beauty of trail running is that your pace is dictated by the changing landscape,” he tells me as we pause to drink in views of majestic Crummock Water far beneath. “You hike up steep sections to preserve energy, then let the brakes off and flow downhill.”

C2C map

I’ve come to the Lakes to run a part of the route devised by fell walker and guidebook author Alfred Wainwright in 1973. The path runs from St Bees on the Irish Sea to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea, traversing the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.

Long in style with walkers, the route is now opening as much as a unique type of out of doors fanatic: path runners. This 12 months, Coast to Coast Packhorse is providing guided working holidays alongside the whole route, with choices of 10 days (averaging 19 miles a day) and 12 (averaging 16), in addition to self-guided choices. The first guided journey departs on three June, however I’ve joined Mark on a shorter tender launch. In 4 days, I’ll make it to only beneath midway, to Kirkby Stephen, a complete of 83 miles.

Running down Grisedale Pike behind. Coast to Coast fell running, Lake District with Coast To Coast Packhorse

Running down Grisedale Pike within the Lake District. Photograph: Jon Sparks

I’m glad to be taught that the journeys are usually not all heads-down working: there are many stops and simpler choices. You can hop within the van which additionally transports your baggage, or rent a motorcycle to cowl extra floor.

“Trail running is accessible, requires little kit and immerses you in nature,” says Mark. “You don’t have to be a hard-core runner, just after adventure.”

A problem like this requires coaching. Mark recommends constructing as much as working round 45 miles per week, together with two back-to-back off-road runs of round 14 miles every. “The key is regular training, not high intensity. Following an intermediate half-marathon or marathon plan would get you to a sufficient level and build a good stamina base,” he says. Guided teams will have a most of 10 runners, plus a information.

Leaving St Bees - fell running on the Coast to Coast trail

Leaving St Bees. Photograph: Chris Ord

We set off from St Bees, selecting up a pebble for eventual deposit at Robin Hood’s Bay as custom dictates, earlier than striding up the towering crimson cliffs. We cross nesting puffins and the hulking St Bees lighthouse, Britain’s final to be fired by coal.

Trotting on, we head east, with the climate at our backs as Wainwright supposed. We wolf down a meat pie in Cleator, a former mining village, earlier than mountaineering up Dent Fell for our first view of the Lake District mountains.

Five hours and 16 miles later, we’re on the Shepherds Arms in Ennerdale for our first night time. Accommodation is completely different each night time, and features a 17th-century inn in St Bees and a Quaker assembly place in Grasmere, however all of them serve good meals to energy us up the hills.

Ascent out of Grasmere. Coast to Coast fell running, Lake District with Coast To Coast Packhorse

Ascent out of Grasmere. Photograph: Chris Ord

Jelly-legged and mud-splattered, I’m exhausted however really feel an enormous sense of satisfaction. I wolf down a steak-and-ale pie and a neighborhood beer, swapping tales with Mark and the 2 different (Australian) runners on the journey. Despite aching limbs and the prospect of doing all of it once more tomorrow, there’s a cheerful ambiance, and I recognize the camaraderie on powerful sections the next day.

Going that bit sooner additionally means we have time to discover. On our second day, a beautiful part skirting Ennerdale Water and passing Haystacks – the hill the place Wainwright’s ashes have been scattered – I arrive in Grasmere early sufficient to grab an hour within the Wordsworth Museum. I’ve already toured the poet’s home, Dove Cottage, and found his headstone within the churchyard earlier than weary walkers seem.

Starting out across the fields from Bampton Grange. Coast to Coast fell running, Lake District with Coast To Coast Packhorse

Leaving the Lake District, on the way in which to Kirkby Stephen. Photograph: Jon Sparks

We splash via streams, clamber over stiles and jog previous numerous walkers, who stare curiously. While we bounce alongside in mild path footwear and small packs, they appear weighed down with heavy rucksacks and stiff strolling boots.

I run and stumble and trudge and stroll, and all of the whereas Mark factors out landmarks and provides me ideas to enhance my downhill approach. “Look ahead, lean forwards and don’t overthink it,” he says.

I change off my mind and let my legs take management. Soon I’m selecting up the tempo and whooping because the surroundings rushes by. As I hurtle downhill, a Lakeland panorama is unveiled, rugged inexperienced fells in golden daylight. “Running here makes me feel like a millionaire,” Mark calls. I’m inclined to agree. Sweat, mud and all.

• The journey was supplied by Coast to Coast Packhorse (, whose 12-day guided excursions begin on three June from £1,310. The 10-day journey, departing 11 August, begins at £1,200; self-guided packages from £686 for 9 nights. All embrace B&B lodging and baggage transfers


Run across Scotland with Running the Highlands.

Run throughout Scotland with Running the Highlands.

Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Derbyshire-based company Contours organises self-guided working holidays alongside nationwide trails in England, Scotland and Wales. One of the preferred is the 180-mile Pembrokeshire Coast Path, from St Dogmaels to Amroth over 4 to 12 days, relying on working degree.
• From £595, together with B&B, baggage transfers and maps,

Run throughout Scotland

Endurance runners can cross Scotland in 5 days on a guided journey with Running the Highlands. The 85-mile route goes from Inverness to Skye through Loch Ness, Drumnadrochit, Glen Affric and Kintail, masking 17 to 21 miles a day, with a nine-mile “rest” day.
• 13-18 May and 14-19 Oct, from £820, together with two guides, all meals and baggage transfers,

Tour du Mont Blanc, Alps

Run the Wild’s circumnavigation of Mont Blanc covers 104 miles over six days, with a complete ascent of about 9,000 metres. The journey begins and finishes in a four-star spa lodge in Chamonix, France, and contains nights in Italy and Switzerland in village resorts and mountain refuges.
• Next journey 6 July, €1,975, together with all meals, lead runner, baggage switch and champagne on the end, flights additional,

Trail working, Mallorca

The Healthy Holiday Company has a four-night path working holiday within the Tramuntana mountains. The itinerary usually contains three runs, three yoga classes and a sports activities therapeutic massage. Accommodation is the country Finca Es Castell within the foothills.
• From £895, together with B&B, return flights and automotive rent,

Running retreat, Greece

This week-long retreat on the island of Symi focuses on conscious working, led by a “chi running” (based mostly on tai chi) teacher. It options every day runs and drills, night yoga and meditation, an island hike and a ship journey.
• Four-11 May, from €1,419pp, together with B&B in a waterfront lodge, three dinners and two lunches, and training, flights and transfers additional,
Rachel Dixon

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