Distance: 190 miles / 304 km

Grade: Difficult in places

Direction: St Bees Head to Robin Hood’s Bay

Time taken and distance per day arranged for the individual


Since the late Alfred Wainwright devised this challenging walk it has grown in popularity. It crosses England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, traversing three National Parks in magnificent upland scenery.

The 300ft high red sandstone cliffs at St Bees Head mark the western end and it is better to start here to keep the prevailing weather at your back.

The first days walk brings you into the Lake District at Ennerdale Water, then the climbing starts in earnest, over the High Stile or by a slightly lower route via Black Sail Pass. This leads to Borrowdale and on to Grasmere. There is an ascent of Helvellyn, 3,118ft and then dropping down to the shores of Ullswater. Another days walk leaves Cumbria behind at Shap Fell and it is then over the border to Kirky Stephen and into the smoother but equally steep limestone slopes of the Yorkshire Dales. There is some easier going ahead through Swaledale if you opt for Wainwright’s grudging ‘low level alternatives’. This is after the Pennines watershed is reached on Nine Standards Rigg at 2,184ft, but the climbing isn’t over. There is a long series of switchback hills over the Yorkshire Moors before the North Sea is sighted. The route finally follows the cliff line for the last few miles into Robin Hood’s Bay, a fishing village clinging precariously to the cliffs.