Wainwright’s Coast to Coast path set to be upgraded to National Trail status

After many years of campaigning, it looks like Wainwright’s Coast to Coast path is finally set to become a National Trail.

Campaigners, led by the Wainwright Society, had for decades supported the idea that the Coast to Coast should be a National Trail. But it was only in 2022 when the current prime minister (and MP for nearby Richmond, the largest town along the trail) Rishi Sunak backed the scheme, that the idea truly gathered momentum, and by November of that year work had begun on upgrading the path.

The work is expected to take just under three years, with the new National Trail opening in 2025. A press release from Natural England detailed the work that would take place in those three years. For while 85% of the trail already follows existing rights of way, Natural England will create  9.7 miles of new public footpath, as well as 9 miles of new public bridleway and 5 miles of realignment of existing rights of way. Nevertheless, the idea is that the trail will follow, as closely as possible, Alfred Wainwright’s original path.

That being said, there are rumours that a significant diversion from Wainwright’s trail will be in place for ‘many years’ just before hikers reach the North York Moors. One of the original stumbling blocks to the hike becoming a National Trail, so we had always been led to believe, was that it involved a hair-raising crossing of the A19. The authorities were resistant to giving the Coast to Coast National Trail status, as they were reluctant to encourage trekkers on any walk that involved such a dangerous crossing.

Unfortunately, building a bridge across the highway at the current crossing point would cost upwards of £10 million. So a five-mile detour to the nearest ‘safe’ crossing point is currently being mooted until they can find the cash to build the bridge.