In the past two and a half weeks we hiked over 200 miles and did the equivalent of going up and down Mount Everest!!! Putting it that way makes it sound like a Gargantuan task only fit for fanatically fit folks. And it certainly is worthy of admiration, especially for kids as young as Jonah and Olivia. HOWEVER, I would say that anyone with the determination to complete this trek can certainly do so. We didn't see anyone as young as our kids ( 10 and 12 at the time of the hike) but we did hike with plenty of people on the other end of the spectrum, including Jimmy, who is 82!
So if our journey made you think that this is something that you would like to do by yourself, with a loved one/friend, or even with kids, I'd say to go for it. We don't give kids enough credit for what they are capable of when given the opportunity. If you have to get from point A to point B for your food and bed, you will get there. And if it happens to be on a trail as beautiful as the one we did, you will finish with a renewed love for this amazing planet on which we live.
We are grateful that we had the time to do this trip, and extremely appreciative for all of you who made donations to our charity, the Institute for Humane Education, in honor of this hike. If you haven't done so yet, but want to make a donation still, our website will still be live for a while to do so.
Overall, I'm thrilled with all of the logistics of our trek, but in case you were to plan your own C2C, here are some things I would keep in mind:
- you could do the trek in a few shorter days, but taking 15-17 days allowed us to get to locations early enough to take in the towns and relax. If you plan to do more miles per day than we did, you would want to add miles on the second half of the trek where it is a bit flatter and there are more towns to choose from so you have more options for how to break up that part of the trip.
- ideally leave your self a few days on the front end of the trip to get used to the time change before starting. It took us 3-4 days and gave us a good excuse to explore London.
- you don't need yoga gloves, socks, or mat! If Lara doesn't do yoga during the hike, mere mortal yogis like you and me certainly won't! We hadn't brought mats but did get gloves and socks that were never used.
- 1 or 2 cotton shirts and 1 pair of dry pants are more than enough for after hiking attire. We didn't get these clothes dirty since we only wore them after showers once we arrived so no need to stock up on these pieces of clothing. We each probably could have left one shirt back.
- bring at least 3 non-cotton hiking short sleeve shirts. We brought two each, but because many places didn't do laundry, it would have been nice to have one extra each.
- pack to layer so you are prepared for different conditions. And bring waterproof pants. We picked some up in London and are glad for it. Also bring your gaiters, they can keep your shoes a bit drier in a storm. We left our gaiters back home but wish we had them.
- trail running shoes are perfectly fine. My New Balance ones worked really well. But do make sure they are waterproof or your feet will get mad at you! Fortunately ours were. But if you are bringing kids, recheck their foot sizes before coming! Olivia had gone up a full size since we had gotten her trekking shoes in March and her toes were not so happy with her.
- a pair of light sandals for when you get to your daily end point is a good idea. I had my Keens, which are comfortable but added unnecessary weight.
- if you just want to walk but don't want to carry your stuff, you could do what 98% of the walkers do and use a baggage transfer. From what we learned, Pack Horse is much more reliable than Sherpa for this service. We preferred carrying our stuff, felt more of an authentic experience and taught the kids about packing lightly.
- avoid Vane House in Osmotherly, and definitely end your stay at The Grange in Robin Hoods Bay!
- become vegan BEFORE you come if you haven't done so already. If you call ahead to the various inns, most will be more than happy to cater to your dietary needs. The many sheep and cows along the path will be much more friendly to you and even let you do handstand photos in front of them. And if you can't do handstands, be sure to come to YogaStream for a few months before you go to learn how!😄
- book your train tickets to St. Bees and from Robin Hoods Bay 2-3 months in advance to get much cheaper tickets. We bought tickets to St bees at station and they were very expensive, got them a few days before for return to London and saved a significant amount ( but not as much if booked even earlier.)
- you can use a booking agent to plan whole trip but expect to pay at least 25-30% more for this because of VAT. I found it easy to do on my own - just need to book at least 4-7 months in advance to be sure you get rooms, especially during the summer months.
- if you do this hike for an awesome charity like IHE, you are more likely to have primarily great weather like we did!😋
- if you do this hike with kids, be aware that they will most likely be begging you to get a dog that can run and/ or hike with the family when you get home! The kids have been plotting for a week now. Heads up to our friend Annie Trinkle of Animal Alliance, you will likely be getting a call from the Heimanns very soon!
- you will usually be given the opportunity to buy pack lunches to bring. At the beginning we took this option but soon realized that I was carrying a few pounds of extra weight each day for most of the day's hike. Save your back and hold off on doing this unless you know you won't be arriving until late. We often got an early start, had a hearty breakfast and then just a light snack on the way. Then we would eat when we arrived at our destination.
- same holds true for water. Figure out how much you will need rather than just filling it all the way. You can often refill part way through if needed. And be aware that the taste of the water isn't so great for the second half of the trip. So bring some flavored drops (ideally with electrolytes) to make it taste better. We meant to bring from the US but forgot. Hard to find in UK, though we did find one, so be sure to bring this from the US with you.
- you can get the ordinance maps for he trip (need map compass) but I would also definitely get Henry Steadman's Coast to Coast book. It is extremely useful and most everyone carries them. I would tear out the days sections from the book so I didn't have to hold the whole book all of the time. And be sure to have a waterproof map case for looking at directions on rainy days. I found it very helpful to have a GPS watch. The GPS handheld is good to and provides better maps, but the watch with waypoints will give you your stats and let you know when you go off course.
- bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Believe it or not, there are some sunny days! And you will need protection to avoid burns.
- there will be tough days, days with body pains, and days with bad weather. But these are all elements of the magic of the trip. By the end of your trek you will appreciate these parts of the journey too. Lara used to have a poster in her room when she was growing up with a quote by Nadia Komenichi that said,"Don't pray for an easy life, pray to be a strong person ." Or more succinctly, Lara's new motto: T.S.B.T. (This shit builds tenacity!)
The Brits know how to heat water! Each B&B had these electric pots that boiled water in 15 seconds! We will definitely look for one of these when we get back to the states.
And they also know how to plug drains here. We Americans are so complicated with our drain plugs. Ours at home is constantly not working and needing tweaks. The basic drain plugs they have here are simple and always seem to do the job.
Final family thoughts:
Lara: A hiking adventure like the one we did is a wonderful way to bond with your family. I can't wait for our next adventure!
Olivia: I feel that this trip has brought us even closer as a family and let us open up and connect.
Jonah: I think that we have all grown a lot between the time we dipped our toes in at St. Bees and our toes in at Robin Hoods Bay.