Ellie Ross from The Guardian tackles the C2C Route with our owner Mark.
By Ellie Ross
Burning with exertion, I shuffle up the hillside, a sweaty mess. Beside me, the heather is also dripping – with morning drizzle. A fresh, Lakeland breeze envelops me as I climb out of the sheep-speckled valley, mud squelching under my feet. This is trail running in the fells – though right now the word “running” is a misnomer.
Mark Sandamas of Coast To Coast Packhorse, a company that helps walkers and cyclists, as well as runners, to tackle the 192-mile coast-to-coast route, doesn’t consider my plodding gait a problem. “The beauty of trail running is that your pace is dictated by the changing landscape,” he tells me as we pause to drink in views of majestic Crummock Water far below.
“You hike up steep sections to preserve energy, then let the brakes off and flow downhill.”
I’ve come to the Lakes to run part of the route devised by fell walker and guidebook writer Alfred Wainwright in 1973. The trail runs from St Bees on the Irish Sea to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea, traversing the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.
Long popular with walkers, the route is now opening up to a different kind of outdoor enthusiast: trail runners. This year, Coast to Coast Packhorse is offering guided running holidays along the entire route, with options of 10 days (averaging 19 miles a day) and 12 (averaging 16), as well as self-guided options. The first guided trip departs on 3 June, but I’ve joined Mark on a shorter soft launch. In four days, I’ll make it to just under halfway, to Kirkby Stephen, a total of 83 miles.