Wainwright's Coast to Coast and other walks
St Bees is the start of the Wainwright Coast to Coast Walk, devised by Alfred Wainwright in 1973
Wainwright said that walkers should dip their boots in the Irish Sea, and the boat ramp is the place where everyone does it.
So just a few yards away is the “Wainwright Wall” which explains the walk and its history. So if anyone says “where does the Coast to Coast start?” we point to the wall. The original signboard has been restored by David Johnson, the Wainwright Society chairman and is on permanent loan to the Priory where you can see it in the baptistery, to the right as you enter.
This shows the new interpretation board and the steel banner which have been installed in summer 2013 by St Bees Parish Council and the Wainwright Society.
Coast to Coast – Setting out from the village
Whilst all Coast to Coasters have usually spent time planning their route, if you have time may we recommend that you follow this initial route to get to the start at the beach.
From the Station walk along to the Priory and start by having a look at the interior of this church, one of the best mediaeval buildings in the north west of England. When you leave turn right up the path and follow the wall round to the left (and left again at the end of it). This will take you through the graveyard to Priory Paddock. The Paddock joins the Dandy Walk where a right turn will take you along the path to join the road to the beach for the start of you walk. (See maps).
If you have come by train, or have been staying in the centre of the village, start at the station, go across the beck bridge to the Priory Church where you can have a look inside. There are extensive history displays, including the story of St Bees Man. Then continue round the graveyard to join the Dandy Walk which takes you to Beach Road and the beach.
You can then visit the Wainwright Wall and dip your boots in the sea before starting up the coast path up the South Head. Much better than starting with a road walk along Station Road.
St Bees is of course noted for being the start of the Coast to Coast Walk, but it has many other local walks for the visitor (and their dogs) to enjoy.
A collection of 7 circular walks, starting and finishing in the village and following public footpaths is available in print or as a download from this page. See Adobe PDF files. Those who are planning to undertake the walks are strongly advised to obtain the leaflets as these will help not only with the route but also with pointing out the features to be seen along the walks.
Staying in St Bees before you start the walk?
St Bees Priory has an display of village history and you are strongly recommended to visit the Priory. Admission is free and it is open all day, every day.
We can also offer short talks about St Bees history and the story of St Bees Man (~20-30 minutes) from St Bees History Group members by prior arrangement. We can usually include a brief talk and demonstration of the wonderful Willis Organ, one of the top organs in the country.These have proved very popular and the Sierra Group of USA for one has incorporated this into its regular itinerary.
A charge is made which is divided between the Priory, Organ Fund and History Group.
Contact the webmaster to arrange a talk and tour.
There are a number of other shorter walks based on St Bees. Guides can be printed from the links below or obtained from the Post Office.
Walk 1 – Coast & Village
Walk 2 – The beach & Scalebarrow brow
Walk 3– Fleswick Bay & St Bees Head
Walk 4– Coulderton & the Beach
Walk 5– Loughrigg & Outrigg
Walk 6– Rottington & Byersteads
Walk 7– Wood Land & Stanley Pond