A fellow dog lover friend of my mine had a birthday party for her beloved pooch and I was invited. Who knew that by accepting that invitation I would begin a ten year journey toward what would become many long distance hiking adventures. A couple at the party was regaling others with their recent experiences hiking across England. This conversation immediately received my full attention since I had been fascinated by England for many years and had always hoped to spend more time in the lovely English countryside. Although I had never attempted a hike longer than twenty miles in the California Sierras, I made up my mind then and there that I would walk across the entire island of England on what I had just learned was England’s “Coast to Coast Path”! And I would do it the next year!
In an attempt to keep costs down, I would plan the trip myself and carry my gear. Now, I just needed to find someone to go with me. My son’s mother-in-law, Leslie, in Bozeman, Montana, heard of my intentions and jumped at the opportunity to join up. And springtime with its abundance of wildflowers seemed to be a perfect time to go. So, by that winter I began to train rigorously by hiking near our home in the San Francisco East Bay’s rolling hills. I knew that in order to thoroughly enjoy this trek I must work out all the bumps and kinks before, rather than during, the hike.
The Coast to Coast trek crosses three national parks, all with quite different terrains, the mountainous Lake District, the limestone river valleys and hills of the Yorkshire Dales and the high moors of the North York Moors National Park. I was advised to save the best, the Lake District, for last, which would mean hiking east to west. This direction does have the scenic advantage just mentioned, but most people hike this trail from west to east so as to walk with the prevailing wind at their back, which leads to what might be called a social advantage. With many people hiking the same direction, you occasionally walk with the same people for days at a time, so much so that they might become friends. After much consideration, I did decide to hike in the westerly direction. All in all, it was a wonderful trek either way, and I may just do it again!