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Cicerone – Coast to Coast

win with cicerone
Robin Hoods bay

This carefully researched, comprehensive, well-illustrated book is the ‘Rolls Royce’ guide to the Coast to Coast walk. 

Of course, anyone undertaking the route should also carry Wainwright’s classic book, but for up-to-date well-informed content walkers need also to take Terry Marsh’s fully revised guide in their pack – not just in their luggage, if this is transported for them between overnight stops.

Lancashire-based writer and photographer Terry Marsh has updated his guide, published originally in 1993, to produce a fourth edition. That he has a particular interest in Cumbria, the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, is evident from the level of well-informed detail, and reflects his academic background, with an MA in Lake District Studies and a PhD in Historical Geography.

The route sticks closely to the original line proposed by Wainwright, while accommodating changes that have since become possible, sensible or necessary, including those made available by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, and the introduction of Access Land across much of the high ground of the route.

Marsh’s version follows a more agreeable line across the Vale of Mowbray, to avoid many of the roads used by Wainwright, and makes a 1.5km detour off route to Osmotherley. this creates a comfortable two week itinerary, give or take a day or so, plus whatever time is linked to start and finish points. The total distance is 302km (187¾ miles), and involves an ascent (and descent) of more than 8,900m (29,000ft), almost the exact height of Everest!

Terry’s own photography is of a high standard and, as might be expected of a geographer, the maps and vertical cross-sections are excellent.

There is helpful guidance on a wide range of topics, so that essentials are not overlooked: cash management (many places do not accept payment by card), public transport, what to take, first and last days, emergencies and more. Historical detail and information add colour and texture to one of the most varied and attractive long distance walks in Britain.

Any book that lists accommodation and other changeable information should, as this one does, carry a ‘health warning’ about details changing. For example, the comprehensive list of places to stay includes The Greyhound in Shap, which has closed (probably permanently). Equally, it could mention Castle Farm Barn at Hardendale, available via Air BnB, which is run by a sports massage specialist (which could be useful!). The underlying message is that it is essential to check and pre-book accommodation when planning your walk. Highly recommended.

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