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St Bees to Ennerdale

Hiking route · United Kingdom
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  • Steep Descent from Dent Hill
    Steep Descent from Dent Hill
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
m 500 400 300 200 100 -100 20 15 10 5 km Dent Hill Mile Zero St. Bees Priory Church
Kickstart your Coast to Coast adventure by leaving the shores of the Irish Sea behind, but not before a dramatic section along the cliffs of St Bees Headland. The rest of the walk heads east towards the imposing peaks of the Western Lake District. There is a sharp ascent up Dent Hill, rewarded with great views, a taster of things to come!
Distance 23.5 km
7:00 h
675 m
580 m
352 m
9 m

Once you’ve dipped your toe in the Irish Sea and selected a pebble to lug across the mountains and drop in the North Sea, you’re finally ready to begin your epic journey across some of England’s most prized countryside.

The first section is along the cliffs of St Bees Head, rich with wildflowers and rewarded with views to the Isle of Man on a clear day. After a few kilometres the path turns abruptly right and heads inland; wave goodbye to the sea – except for a few distant glimpses from mountains peaks, it will be nearly 190 miles before you see it again!

You will soon notice the formidable mountains that lay ahead like a row of jagged, fearsome teeth; as you get closer they loom larger, appearing to block all forward progress.

After Cleator, there is a sharp climb up to Dent Hill - 352 metres above sea level and a mere taster of what’s to come – before dropping into the Nannycatch Valley and walking with the Nannycatch Beck trickling beside you. You will emerge into Ennerdale Bridge at the head of the Ennerdale Valley, poised to enter the Lake District proper tomorrow.

Author’s recommendation

Be sure to complete all the customary initiations before beginning the walk from Mile Zero; dip your walking boots in the Irish Sea, select a stone from the beach to carry across and drop into the sea in Yorkshire, and have a photo with a beaming smile beside the ‘Start of the Coast to Coast’ monument.
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Macs Adventure
Update: May 25, 2022
Highest point
352 m
Lowest point
9 m

Track types

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Safety information

There are a few stretches where you must walk on the road as there is no pavement or verge. Walk on the right side facing the oncoming traffic unless there is a right-hand turn, in which case you should cross to the outside edge to allow drivers the maximum chance to see you.

There are lots of river crossings in today’s walk. There were always stepping stones available but these may be slippery. Take extra caution on these crossings.

You must cross a cattle grid; go slowly here and be careful with your foot placement.

After climbing to the top of Dent Hill - you must descend the infamously-steep Raven Crag, one of the steepest gradients of the entire Coast to Coast. Please take extra care as you walk down this section. Walking poles will be an enormous aid here. Utilise the ruts from other people’s footsteps to provide more grip. If necessary, zig-zag down the slope to reduce the steepness. Bear in mind that the slope may be slippery when wet,

Tips and hints

Points of Interest

St Bees Priory Church

Before leaving from St Bees, the Priory Church is well-worth a visit. It is constructed with red sandstone like you will see at the nearby St Bees Head. Inside is a display of some artefacts dating to an excavation in 1981, where several burial effigies and a lead coffin with a perfectly preserved body were unearthed. Information boards describe the mystery that surrounds the lead coffin burial. The figure inside has come to be known as the St Bees Man.

More information available here:


Food and Drink

There isn’t an abundance of choices for food today. There is a small convenience store in St Bees where you can grab some snacks before you set off. Along the way, You pass Sandwith (8km), Moor Row (13km) and Cleator (15km), all of which have a small village store where you can pick up basic supplies. Sandwith has a village pub, the Dog and Partridge, but the food is only served some days throughout the week, so if you want to rely on this, be sure to check in advance. Moor Row and Cleator have pubs, but you must detour from the Coast to Coast path to access these.

It may be worth bringing a packed lunch from St Bees for today’s walk.

There are several options for food and drink in Ennerdale Bridge.


'Mile Zero', St Bees Lifeboat Station (10 m)
OS Grid
NX 96029 11792
54.490771, -3.606605
54°29'26.8"N 3°36'23.8"W
30U 460706 6038296
Show on Map


Ennerdale Bridge

Turn-by-turn directions

*** To help you follow the route with confidence we have provided full written turn by turns to aid you on your walk from St Bees to Ennerdale. Whilst, the Coast to Coast is waymarked it can be featureless and off the beaten path at some sections so we strongly suggest that you follow the GPS tracks in the Macs Adventure smartphone app to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable and problem-free day.  The daily maps can also be printed from the web version of the app should you wish to take paper copies with you. ***


0.00km – Once all the necessary initiations are complete, start at the ‘Start of the Coast to Coast’ Monument beside the Lifeboat Station, also known as ‘Mile Zero’. Walk towards the headland on the gravel path, keeping the caravan site on your right and the sea on your left. To get to Mile Zero from St Bees Village, you can follow the road signposted to the ‘Beach’ beside the train station.

0.14km – Proceed over a bridge and CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON to climb the steps ahead and walk along the cliff-tops.

0.54km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON through the kissing gate, heading uphill and walking with the fence on your left.

0.90km – The gate on your left is an old coastguard lookout point. BEAR RIGHT to continue following the cliffs and keeping the fence on your left. On a clear day, the Isle of Man is visible on your left from here. CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON for 1.7 kilometres, walking parallel to the coastline and passing through four kissing gates.

2.60km – With Fleswick Bay, the small inlet, just ahead, BEAR RIGHT through a gate to head downhill and away from the sea on a set of steps and gravel slope. After 100 metres proceed through a second gate and then immediately BEAR LEFT to continue through a third gate, and head uphill and back towards the sea on the other side of Fleswick Bay. This is where you cross from South Head to North Head, the two sections which comprise St Bees Head.

2.80km – Once at the top of the steps CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON keeping the fence and cliffs on your left, and continuing through a gate directly ahead to cross from one field to the next. Over the next kilometre, you will pass by three gates through the fence on your left; each will take you to a bird hide where you can observe birds nesting in the cliffs. The path is a mixture of a mud track and trampled grass, but it is generally easy to follow.

4.00km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON across a paved path and through a kissing gate into a field. Ignore the paved path which takes you to St Bees Lighthouse. After 300 metres you will proceed through a gate; for this next section there is no fence on your left, but just the exposed cliff-line. Be careful not to stray from the path.

4.60km – After the exposed cliff-top section, proceed through the gate and CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON following the yellow footpath arrow on an upright stone pillar. The path goes uphill steadily and then curves slightly left to pass through another gate, where you will once again have an exposed drop on your left.

5.50km – As a grassy path forks off to the right, towards a gap in the drywall and a mast, BEAR LEFT to remain on the muddy path along the cliff-tops.

6.30km – After passing the quarry on your right TURN RIGHT onto a paved road, following the Coast to Coast public footpath sign towards Sandwith and immediately passing a house on your right. After 500 metres TURN LEFT at the T-junction. You have now left the sea, and apart for a few distant views from the mountain peaks, won’t see it again for 180 miles!

7.50km – When you reach Sandwith at the T-junction with a telephone box, TURN LEFT onto the main road. After 200 metres BEAR RIGHT to remain on the road as it curves beside a pub. Walk on the right-hand side of the road facing the oncoming traffic.

8.00km – At the crossroads CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON to follow the narrow lane past several houses on your right, and after 100 metres it will lead onto a grassy track. There is a wooden footpath sign towards St Bees Via Demesne.

8.40km – TURN RIGHT to walk along the vehicle tracks headed towards a farmhouse, ignoring a farm gate on your left and a footpath gate on your right after 20 metres. After 300 metres BEAR LEFT to follow the path through the courtyard of the farm. Once through the courtyard, TURN RIGHT onto the paved road to pass barns on your left and stone houses and a big silo on your right. There are Coast to Coast Footpath signs at this junction.

9.10km – At the crossroads near the ‘Welcome to Whitehaven’ sign CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON to cross over the paved road, following the public footpath to Stanley Pond. By now the hills of the Western Lake District are beginning to form and loom large directly ahead. After 200 metres, having just passed a house TURN LEFT and follow the gravel path.

9.40km – After passing a cattle grid on your left and with a house directly ahead, TURN LEFT to pass through a gate and head downhill. Once through the gate, continue downhill along the gravel road. After 100 metres the path forks and from here you can see three gates. BEAR RIGHT to head beside the fence and to the right-most gate in the corner of the field.

9.70km – TURN LEFT to head downhill on the vague grassy tracks towards the train tracks, following the arrow on a wooden post.

9.80km – Once through the gate at the bottom of the field BEAR LEFT to head downhill towards the rail tracks, keeping the barbed wire fence on your left. You will soon cross through a tunnel under the train tracks.

10.10km – Once under the train tracks and immediately across the stream, BEAR LEFT to head diagonally across the field on the vague grassy track. You are heading toward overhead lines and a gate in the corner of the field. Pass the gate and immediately cross over a bridge, then CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON walking along the mud path that meanders beneath the overhead lines. When the overhead lines bend right, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON keeping the fence on your left as a guide.

10.70km – With the woodland directly ahead, TURN LEFT by the stile to walk keeping the fence and stream on your right. After 100 metres ignore the gravel road and gate on your right.

10.80km – As the path forks BEAR LEFT to follow the vehicle tracks away from the fence and towards a gate. After 200 metres cross a stile (steps over a fence or gate) on the left of the gate and CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON towards the woodland ahead.

11.20km – Cross a set of stepping stones over a stream and after 50 metres TURN LEFT to cross a stile and head through a tunnel. Once through the tunnel immediately TURN RIGHT to squeeze between two stone pillars and then TURN LEFT to walk along a cycle track toward Moor Row and Cleator Moor to follow the ‘Alternative Coast to Coast Route’ which avoids a busy road. Continue along this cycle path for 1.7 kilometres ignoring all side paths. Bear in mind that you are sharing the cycle path with cyclists, so be prepared to step aside to let them pass.

12.90km – As the cycle path forks BEAR RIGHT towards Moor Row, ‘Coast to Coast Alternative’ and Hadrian’s Cycleway Route 72, and then BEAR LEFT as it immediately forks again. After 200 metres CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON over a bridge.

13.70km – 20 metres after passing a swing gate on your right, TURN LEFT as the cycle path makes a sweeping right turn. Head downhill on stone steps, cross over vehicle tracks and then pass through a swing gate to CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON across a field towards a gate on the far side. There is a Coast to Coast arrow on the first gate.

13.80km – Once across the field proceed through a gate and then TURN RIGHT onto the footpath.

14.10km – This footpath will lead onto a paved road. CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON as you pass a cricket club on your left, and football fields and a church on your right.

14.50km – At the T-junction in Cleator, TURN LEFT to walk beside the pebble-dashed terrace houses and then TURN RIGHT onto Kiln Brow after 50 metres.

14.70km – TURN RIGHT onto Millers Walk, and then BEAR LEFT onto the footpath as it crosses a bridge over a stream. Once across the bridge TURN LEFT and walk along the stony path ignoring gates and stiles on both sides.

15.40km – As the path reached a barn, BEAR LEFT to enjoy a flatter section between barns and a house. After 100 metres with a house immediately on your left, and a gate ahead, TURN RIGHT to walk between barns and houses towards a paved road.

15.60km - CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON across the paved road and through the footpath gate into the woodlands. Once through the gate BEAR RIGHT onto the gravel road following the sign for ‘Coast to Coast Permissive Path’. This is the start of the uphill climb toward Dent Hill; ignore all sidetracks.

16.40km – After a long uphill, as the path appears to begin to flatten out, BEAR LEFT at the fork which will bring you out of the woodland and continue steadily uphill. The path will curve to the right keeping the woodland on your left and dry-wall on your right.

16.60km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON over a stile and head uphill with a fence and the remains of a dry-wall on your right. When the barbed wire fence eventually makes a right-hand turn, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON beside the dry-wall remains.

17.30km – Two cairns mark the top of Dent Hill. From here you can enjoy great views; in one direction you can see the sea, where you began today, and in the other, you can see the mountains that lie ahead. There are also lots of villages nestled in the pockets between a patchwork of fields. From the summit CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON. There is a slight downhill followed by a slight rise before you head downhill towards woodland. The path is fairly well-worn and easy to follow, but this area is featureless, so in cloudy conditions be sure to check the map regularly to ensure you stay on track.

17.90km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON through a kissing gate into an area that has been recently replanted. After 300 metres of downhill, you will reach a section of more established, older woodland. TURN LEFT and then BEAR RIGHT keeping this older section of trees on your right.

18.50km – TURN LEFT onto a wide gravel road towards a tall A-frame stile. After 100 metres TURN RIGHT at the stile to cross into the field. There is a makeshift gate a few metres further which is easier to cross than the stile, and then CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON through the field on a muddy track. Initially, this path is flat but then it becomes the infamously steep Raven’s Crag Descent. This downhill is very steep, and when wet the grass can be slippery so be careful on this section. Walking poles will be an enormous aid here. Utilise the ruts from other people’s footsteps. If necessary, zig-zag down the slope to reduce the steepness.

19.10km – At the bottom of Raven Crag TURN LEFT onto the flat path that shares a small valley with a stream. You will cross a bridge over this stream after 100 metres, and a second bridge after 200 metres.

19.50km – Once through a gate TURN RIGHT onto a well-established path keeping the dry-wall on your right. A stream tinkles through the valley beside you and you must cross it several times at stepping stones; be careful as these rocks may be slippery when wet.

20.50km – Immediately after crossing a stream BEAR RIGHT as the path forks, keeping that stream on your right, and crossing over it after 100 metres and a second time after another 100 metres.

20.70km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON ignoring the sharp right turn.

21.10km – TURN RIGHT onto the narrow paved road. There is a big boulder with ‘C2C’ painted on and with an arrow pointing right. After 100 metres TURN LEFT onto the wider road to pass the 40mph speed limit sign and a cattle grid. Be careful on the cattle grid.

21.30km – TURN LEFT once across the cattle grid to join a footpath that parallels the road towards Ennerdale Bridge, 1¼ miles away.

21.70km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON crossing over a driveway and resuming the footpath on the far side.

22.40km – After passing a house on the right, the footpath crosses over the road and then BEAR LEFT to keep the road on your left. After 100 metres CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON over a paved lane and continue keeping the road on your left.

22.60km – As you meet a road the footpath continues on the far side, just to the right of the Old Vicarage.

22.90km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON walking on the road towards Ennerdale.

23.50km – Finish in Ennerdale Bridge, on the bridge over the River Ehen. Why not go to a local café to get a coffee?


*** This is the end of our St. Bees to Ennerdale route, please use your included documentation to find your overnight accommodation. ***


all notes on protected areas


OS Grid
NX 96029 11792
54.490771, -3.606605
54°29'26.8"N 3°36'23.8"W
30U 460706 6038296
Show on Map
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


Sturdy hiking boots, warm clothes and a waterproof/wind-break layer are all required. The weather can change quickly so be sure to take all equipment even if the weather looks okay. Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of these ascents and descents.

Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.

This walk is isolated with few opportunities to buy food or water so be sure to bring enough with you.

Questions and answers

Question from Mike Gahan · September 13, 2021 · Community
How can I down load this whole route
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Answered by Jacqui Hogan · September 13, 2021 · Community
Macs Adventures send you Q codes which has your daily walk on it. Just follow the instructions ;)
3 more replies
Question from Liria Araujo · July 14, 2020 · Community
How difficult is the first day of the Coast to Coast?
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Answered by William Hazelton · July 13, 2021 · Community
Fairly easy going, with Dent Hill being the only real climb & then a pleasant walk down to Ennerdale Bridge. The Lake District proper starts the next day.


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23.5 km
7:00 h
675 m
580 m
Highest point
352 m
Lowest point
9 m


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