Shake down on the Coast 2 Coast
Your doing what?
This is the usual response I get when I tell people that I’m going hiking. You see, in England our idea of hiking is very different to most other places in the world. For one, we call it Rambling, a gentle stroll through the countryside that usually ends at a country pub for a pint and a pie or fish and chips.
Don’t get me wrong this has started to change in the post covid world, but on the whole UK hiking is mostly a day hike affaire. So when I say I’m going away for two weeks with every thing I need in a backpack and will probably sleep in a tent under a hedge some where at least once, people tend to look at you like you like you are out of your mind!
When I tell them I’m planning to walk 2000 miles in the USA they mostly wonder why any one would do that and call it fun. I mean, just hire a car and do it in two weeks.
Still, needs must, and I really need to check my out gear, mostly to make sure that I have all I need to survive on a multi day hike whilst not being to uncomfortable or to cold. My gear has been a 4 year labor of love, so I know it all works as individual parts, but as I’m planning to set off in March, I just needed to know it will work in cold conditions. After all, I don’t want to die just yet.
The Coast 2 Coast!
The coast to coast is a 186 mile walk across England, starting in Cumbria at St Bees on the Irish Sea, passing through 3 of our national parks, The Lake District, The Yorkshire Dales and The North York Moors, and ending on the North Sea at Robin Hood’s Bay. It has a total ascent of 29,135 ft and should take around 13 days. The route was first suggested by Alfred Wainwright in 1973 and will become one of our national trails in 2025.
Due to the nature of the terrain that it crosses, I could think of no better way to shake down my gear.
Its not just my gear that needed testing.
In the back of my mind there was always the thought that actually its not just my gear that needs a shake down.
Now I’ve got a fair amount of hiking under my belt. In 2019 I walked the Camino from St Jean pied du Port to Santiago and then on to Finisterre, in 2022 I walked the Portuguese way from Lisbon to Santiago and this summer I walked with a church group for 140 km from Triacastela to Santiago. The issue here is that walking on the Camino has been described by one of my work mates as not so much a hike, but a glorified Pub Crawl, and he’s probably right!
I’ve also walked the Essex Way and the Ridge Way National Trail. These were with a full pack and camping. But how would I feel waking up every day, putting on wet boots and setting off again in the rain along the trail? After all, the AT is along way from home, and if I’m going to quit when the going gets tough, I’d rather save the air fair! Can I actually do this?
What I learnt…
I was walking for 14 days in total. I had good days and bad days. I had at least once where I was genuinely ready to quit! I was walking to the next village, getting a pint in the pub and figuring out the way to get home. Thankfully the pub was shut in the village I walked into, so I had no choice but to walk on!
I am a terrible navigator! I got lost, really lost, even though the guide books warns you not to get lost at that point! I also learnt that its always a good idea to retrace your steps when your lost.
I got hungry! I ran out of snacks and ran out of resupply options! This was not perfect planning on my part!
My gear works! I was never that uncomfortable and I could sleep in my tent. I always had every thing I needed (except snacks). Yeh, there are still one or two tweaks to be made, but I can live on a hike for 14 days and helpfully not die, and actually on the days I did wild camp, I can almost say I thrived.
I work. Yes I had my tough days and my wobbles. I got to the end though. Yes I stayed in a few (well more than a few) hotels. But I can do this. I knew I could hike for weeks on end, I’ve done that. I knew I would rough the weather, more or less. I knew I could set up a tent and survive. And now I know I can do it all together.
If I can do the Coast 2 Coast in November, I can sure as hell get to Katahdin!
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So, you’re doing the AT in 2024? Wishing you happy trails. When will you start?
I wish you well and will include you in my prayers!
Hey Craig…it’ll be a blast. As a 2023 NOBO from flat Cambridgeshire, I was in your shoes this March. It’s like jumping into a void to find out the trail supports you in ways you will find out
There is nothing in the UK to really prepare you for the ups and downs (Maybe the bits of the Lake District in the C2C), BUT, don’t worry, as you’ll find the AT (like any trek over 30days) is more mental than physical
Hi & I’ll be joining you on your hike through here. Enjoy n stay safe🙂
Not exactly a shakedown without a Lighterpack link or gear list