Classic walks in the North East of England

At this time of year, it’s easy to get cabin fever, and feel desperate to break out of the confines of our houses to be reacquainted with the great outdoors. Well, it’s never too early to plan. At BCH Camping we’re often asked for recommendations or information on where to go walking. We recently published a blog [link] about walks in the South West of England, so we’re now looking at the opposite location, the North East, to feature three classic walks from that area.
Before you set off, you need to be sure you have all the clothing and equipment you need. As a starting point, do you have the basic essentials of a waterproof jacket, walking boots and a rucksack? BCH Camping supply a wide range of all of these, along with many other items that will help you to enjoy your walks, knowing that you have everything you need with you. These classic walks can cover some challenging terrain in unpredictable weather, so you can never be too prepared.
The Coast to Coast Walk
The 190 mile route of the Coast to Coast walk was the brainchild of Alfred Wainwright, the renowned walker and writer. The walk takes you from the west coast to the east coast of England. Starting at St Bees on the west coast, it stretches through three national parks; the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North Yorkshire Moors, ending at the village of Robin Hood’s Bay.
Experienced walkers should be able to complete the full walk without too much difficulty, but less experienced adventurers may find some of the terrain in the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales quite demanding. As long as all walkers are fully equipped, the terrain is not underestimated, and maps and a compass are at the ready, there should be nothing to fear.
In the area between the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, there is a range of farmland. The route from Kirkby Stephen climbs the Pennine Hills to Nine Standards Rigg at the summit of Hartley Fell, not far from the border of Cumbria and North Yorkshire.
The route continues through stunning Swaledale, one of the northernmost dales in Yorkshire, and on to the market town of Richmond. From here you cross the Vale of Mowbray to the North Yorkshire Moors, at which point you encounter frequent ascents and descents of heather covered hills which lead you to the Robin Hood’s Bay and the North Sea.
There is a mixture of terrain on this route with rocky mountain paths, limestone plateaus, country lanes, rolling hillside and farmland. As you walk along you will meet other “coast to coasters” with which there seems to always be a unique camaraderie. There are many B&Bs on route to help you refuel for your next day’s adventures.
The Pennine Way
Considerably longer than the Coast to Coast walk, at 270 miles the Pennine Way could be considered an endurance test, but the rewards are worth the effort. It takes you from the Peak District National Park along the Pennine ridge, through the Yorkshire Dales, up into Northumberland, across the Cheviots and into the Scottish Borders.
There are plenty of points of interest to whet your cultural appetite. After you pass the site of the 1930s Mass Trespasses of Kinder Scout, a significant incident of wilful trespass by ramblers, you walk through the Southern Pennines to Haworth, home of the Bronte sisters.
From here the path crosses the limestone landscape of the Yorkshire Dales to follow the Settle to Carlisle Railway into mining country, eventually reaching the Roman Wall and the Scottish Border rivers.
Because this is a well known walk, it is highly advised that you book any accommodation well in advance. As mentioned above, you should always be prepared for all the British weather has to offer, particularly as some sections of this walk are through isolated areas, and you will be walking on consecutive days, each with its own conditions.
Certain sections go through wild ascents which can be dangerous so ensure you have suitable equipment, take a compass and know how to use it!
The Cleveland Way
At 109 miles long, The Cleveland Way is the baby of our featured classic walks in the North East. If undertaken in one go, it should take 7 – 10 days to complete. The route takes in moorland, cliff edge walking, rivers and many sites and scenery that typify the North Yorkshire Moors. Its unique appeal is that, unlike other long distance routes, it combines moorland and coastal paths seamlessly.
The walk begins at Helmsley, a market town in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire and finishes in the coastal town of Filey, in the borough of Scarborough. Rievaulx Abbey, a stunning example of a Cistercian monastery, is one of the first sites you will encounter on this walk, followed shortly by the White Horse at Kilburn, where the limestone has been exposed in the shape of a horse.
As you embark on the high level walk over Sutton Bank to Osmotherley, the far reaching views to the west are spectacular. Hambleton End, at 1300 ft, is the high point of this section. Osmotherley to Great Ayton is a roller coaster of moorland, sometimes bringing you down several hundred feet to a road or stream so this is where your stamina is tested. The challenging windy moors expose you to breath-taking views which can be enjoyed from flagged paths.
After starting out from Great Ayton your first culture stop is Captain Cook’s monument, after which the path leads to the most iconic peak in the Yorkshire Moors, Roseberry Topping with its wildlife, history and geological wonder. The path itself doesn’t pass through its summit, but if you’re feeling inclined, it’s well worth taking in. There is, however, a sudden drop so take good care.
You’ll soon start to smell the sea as you head towards the Victorian seaside town of Saltburn. The initial coastline to Skinningrove has crumbling cliffs and an old railway before eventually climbing up Boulby Cliffs, the second of which is the highest cliff in England.
The fishing village of Staithes, which has many historical features, precedes the cliff top walking of Runswick Bay and Port Mulgrave. You can reward yourself with lunch in the town of Whitby after which you return to the cliffside path with its spectacular backdrop of Whitby Abbey.
After this you have a 6 mile walk towards Robin Hood’s Bay, past the lighthouse and old radar stations of the second World War. Robin Hood’s Bay is a dramatic section of coastline which leads you to a steep climb to Ravenscar, a quirky village built on spectacular cliffs. From this point there are spectacular views, with only one major drop to Heyburn Wyke through picturesque woodland.
As you climb out of the woodland, Scarborough can be seen in the distance, but you still have some ascents and descents to tackle before reaching the iconic sea front. From Scarborough you take the path to the twin resort of Filey where the path ends.
Please do enjoy your walking, but also be mindful that you must put in the necessary preparation for multi-day walks. We hope you have found this guide interesting and useful, and do let us know if you undertake any of our suggested paths.
If you need any advice or help in your preparation, we’d be delighted to help.