#coasttocoastrun What I carried and plans for doing it again

I have been asked about the equipment I was carrying on my coast to coast run. Not exactly coast to coast if I only got as far as Grasmere, though I like the idea of continuing it sometime. Next time I want to get the pack smaller and lighter but it would not be easy if I still want to carry camping gear.

First day was good going, the second day I could feel it in my legs from the previous day and the third day I felt I had got into my stride, the pack was sitting right and my legs were not feeling tired. I was getting used to it. This is me on arrival in Grasmere.

So here are some details of what I carried:

Packs: Vaude Rock Ultralight Comfort 25. Weight 475g without back stiffener, 625g with. Verdict, good. In the picture it is covered with a waterproof cover from a different bag.

Lifeventure Base Runner waist pack.

Tent: Coleman Rigel X2 Ultra Lightweight 2. supposed to be a 2 person tent but that would not be the case if you want kit stored inside with you in the rain, as I had to. Small pack size. Weight 960g. Bamboo chopsticks for tent pegs.

Sleeping bag: Snugpak Softie Chrysalis Micro 2 season. Pack size 16cm x 16cm. Weight 1kg. I also carried a silk liner as it would have been a way of keeping the bag fresh for the whole journey.

Cooking: Titanium mug with a spirit stove inside it.

Clothing: Just running gear, a change of gear and plenty good running socks. Pertex (Ron Hill) over-trousers that performed very well in the rain over tights. The Aldi lightweight windproof running jacket was excellent, and so cheap too at less than £10. Highly recommended. I took no other waterproof. I highly recommend Aldi running socks too, excellent price and I get no blisters with them.

Trekking Poles: I took lightweight poles. Not sure if they are designed for running or trekking. I had tried them out during a previous week of running in the Lake district and had found they speeded up the ascents and enabled me to be quicker on the descents giving me more stability, acting like a handrail. Mine are Black Diamond Distance, though the Fizan Super Compact gets good reviews. I think I must look like a running pretending to be a skier.

Shoes: This is what might have let me down. I wore my old Gore-Tex Asics Trail Lahar. the advantage of Gore-Tex is that once your feet are drenched (and I went through some heavy downpours) they seem to stay warm. The disadvantage is that they are hard to dry out so I was running in wet shoes for the three days. I had recently bought some New Balance 110 Trail Running shoes at on offer at SportsDirect.com (475g for the pair).

I had thought my old Asics would get me over the boulder-strewn paths of the Lake District when I could then ditch them and switch to the NB pair – that I had in my pack. I should have done it the other way around and used the NB for the trails and switched to the Asics for flat or road sections.

I wish I had been wearing the NBs and here’s why: the sole of the Asics is very grippy and sticks out at the sides. It was this that caught on rocks and boulders as I was running. A narrower profile sole would have been safer and, in my opinion, would have spared me turning my ankle which ended my journey.


Will I do it again or continue from where I got to? Probably, but there are things I have learned.

The choice of footwear will be better next time and I would like a lighter pack.

Instead of taking camping gear just for the option of using it, I could get rid of all that and use accommodation on the route. The problem with that is that most of it is full having been booked in advance for this popular long distance walk. I met two couples that had come from the USA simply to do the Coast to Coast. If booking accommodation in advance there is no flexibility, the distance planned has to be done.

Distance: How far should a runner plan to do per day? Crossing the Lake District is hard going because of steep climbs and the rocky paths (some badly eroded) A walker may do 12 – 20 miles a day. If that distance is done at a run that is a half marathon every day. It seems to me that I did not have more miles in me than the walkers did, I could just do it quicker (St Bees to Ennerdale in 2 hours).

Luggage transport: There are companies that will carry all personal luggage delivering it to the next stop. Costs a lot of money. And then we are back to the problem of distances to be covered again. If distances are planned beforehand and accommodation is fixed, the full distance would have to be done. Fall behind one day and all subsequent accommodation bookings would be forfeit. Mm a puzzle.



#coasttocoastrun Day 3 Rosthwaite to Grasmere

The youth hostel had a late cancellation so I was able to have a bed in the hostel. Great! No packing up a wet tent or a night in a storm.

I set of 8:45 am in sunshine and the fine weather continued for the whole route.

The rise out of Borrowdale was a delight to do. I only packed a litre of water as I knew there would be many mountain streams to drink from on the way, and there were, cool and refreshing.


Sadly as had just got over the top and had navigated many stretches of bog, I was going along a path littered with boulders when I turned my ankle. It was the very sort of injury I had been trying to avoid all along, aware of the problems of running along that terrain. It was not a complete sprain but it hurt for the remainder off the run and I could not see how I could safety get over the next section to Patterdale running alone.

I arrived in Grasmere at lunch time. For a birthday treat for one of my daughters she had decided that she and my wife would drive over with a picnic to meet up with me before I ran off.

As I waited for my family to arrive, while I drank tea and ate a slice off apple pie at a cafe, I came to my decision. I decided to return home with them and complete it another time.

I have been asked about my kit so I will do a post about it soon.

#coasttocoastrun Day 2 Ennerdale to Rosthwaite

My tiny tent survived the wet night in Ennerdale. At least it was not raining as I packed up. As I had camped in pub grounds they let me drape my tent over some chairs to dry it out as I had my breakfast there. Excellent food at the Fox and Hounds, highly recommended.

The route along the south bank of Ennerdale Water was slow going. It was a long stretch of scrambling over rocks with many of the paths having turned to streams of water.

This is one view along Ennerdale water with the footpath rising on the right of the photo.

Then the long climb lay ahead.


You should be able to see in the photo how far I had climbed by then. It was not until I had got to the top that I could start running.

No room at Barrowdale youth hostel so I am camping in their grounds, and the forecast for tonight is HAIL storms.

#coasttocoastrun day 1 York


8:42 am. Setting off to St Bees by train from York. I have to go from York to Newcastle, Newcastle to Carlisle, Carlisle to St Bees. So I won’t be able to start running until I arrive at 1:00, though I will need to find something to eat by then. It is raining and the forecast is torrential rain today, overnight and tomorrow. Whether to spend the night in my tiny tent is a decision for later. I am wondering how many miles I can cover on the first day. Certainly the first days will be slow as that is when I am climbing from sea level to the top of the Lake District.

Chafing and the long distance runner

Whether to shave around my nipples was something I was wondering about this morning as I ran in sunshine and stillness along the cycle track, with only the sound of my steady breathing and the padding of my feet accompanying me.

I was thinking ahead to the long distance run I am planning for later in my sabbatical. I am hoping to run as much as I can manage of the coast to coast walk.

The reason men are seen running wearing those black running tights, and sometimes tight thigh-length shorts underneath the baggy shorts is that they are avoiding chafing. It is no laughing matter. On a long run what starts as a bit of chafing progresses to raw bleeding flesh. As fabric jogs up and down, as the miles go by, the fabric rubbing against nipples cause them to bleed too.

One solution to prevent chafing is to wear tights on the legs and over the chest something with smooth fabric. Some running vest have a smooth section across the chest for this reason. Another solution is to stick tape over the nipples, with or without shaving around them first. Although there are good anti-blister tapes around, especially for feet, I have found this to be another great use for duck tape.

I had planned to be doing the coast to coast about now but I decided that all the recent rain will have made the route too boggy so I have postponed it until July. That will give me more time to get everything ready.

I plan to do it alone, carrying a small back-pack containing micro tent and sleeping bag. I will give a run down of the kit I have assembles in a separate post.

I have no idea how far I will get. I am not expecting to complete the whole 220 miles.