In April 1998, I walked the Coast to Coast alone using B&B's for the whole of the 12 days that it took me to complete it. I had booked these all in advance so that I knew that I had a definite stopping place and a bed at the end of each stage of the walk. On some of these, I finished at around 2.30pm when I could have easily walked for longer but was unable to do so as I had booked and paid in advance for most of my stops. After that walk, I decided that I would do it again in around ten years time but during this period, I moved to Tenerife in the Canary Islands and the idea was shelved until last year when I found I had the urge to do it again.
The following year, after my 1998 trip, I had walked a Scottish coast to coast route, the Southern Upland Way, with a friend and we had taken camping gear to give us the flexibility we felt was required for this remote walk. I decided that I would follow that same format of stopping where and when I fancied using either a tent or B&B for the Coast to Coast, which would give me the opportunity to dry out if the weather was unkind.
It was while walking in Tenerife with my friend Alan that he expressed a desire to accompany me on the walk so I was happy to welcome his company for the trip. Alan, who I had met in Tenerife but had since moved back to the UK, was an experienced walker but had never walked for more than a couple of days consecutively or carried camping gear and I had not done anything like it since 2001. We therefore began training for the trip by undertaking long hikes and walking more regularly, although we didn't do much training while carrying the full pack we would require for the trip. This proved to be a bit of an oversight as we found the first couple of days quite tough but we soon got into our stride as we became used to the weight of the packs.
Having flown to the UK from Tenerife on 30th June to my hometown of Luton, I caught a train to St.Bees from nearby Milton Keynes on Tuesday 5th July at 06.22 with Alan joining the train at Crewe from his home in Newcastle under Lyme.
Arriving at St.Bees at around midday after changing at Carlisle on a fairly uneventful journey, we checked into the Albert Hotel for our last night of home comforts before resorting to the privations of camping for the foreseeable future.