Coast to Coast Walk UK

The Wild Beauty of the Coast to Coast Path

Lady Dike Head - Birkdale Common - Coast to Coast walk

Lady Dike Head - Birkdale Common

Lady Dike Head stretches defiantly across the route of the Coast to Coast path, a large boggy morass of tufted grass, deep gullies and sucking mud, atop the plateau of Birkdale Common. For most of the year it is covered in draping mist and hammering rain. Although an apt description, at the same time Lady Dike Head and its surrounds offer an adventurous and awesome hike, and challenges the mind, body, endurance and commitment. Carol and I walked it, and managed to lose ourselves for over an hour despite following an OS map on our smart phone and despite being able to see the Nine Standards in the distance each time the mist and rain cleared a little. But we would not have been happy forgoing the experience.

The path around Lady Dike Head, was, until recently, hardly discernible most of the time, and once off it, is difficult to retrieve. The gullies have a way of steering you away from the path and are difficult and hazardous to cross. The correct clothing is absolutely essential, even in good weather, and as the risk of losing one's way is significant, you should always carry safety supplies in your rucksack, including spare food, warm clothing, a torch and a whistle. We made the mistake of relying on a smart phone to navigate with OS maps and the phone's GPS signal. The cold and wet caused the phone to "die" and we had to navigate to an escape route. Please do not make that same mistake if you are considering such an adventure. We will forever take with us a backup paper map, suitably wrapped in waterproof plastic.

As you will see from the photograph below, taken in 2018, the path around Lady Dike Head has, since our visit in 2016, been entirely upgraded and is now paved and clear to follow.
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Lady Dike Head path improvements

Some of the gullies crossing the Coast to Coast path around Lady Dike Head are significant in size. The path even crosses one of them and although there are tall wooden path markers and the crossing area plain to see, actually coping with the crossing is difficult, and potentially dangerous. The area lies atop Colbergh Scar, Coldbergh Edge and Coldbergh Side and is a watershed for the passage of water into the becks and rivers further below. They comprise Crooked Sike, Coldbergh Sike, Mould Gill, Rowntree Gill, Little Gill, Little Cogill, Great Cogill and Long Gill. In addition there are many smaller gills that are not named, or at least not on my map.

These all eventually drain into the Birkdale Beck and the Whitsundale Beck, which in turn drain into the River Swale. This is a walk not to be missed. Don't be put off by the description above, but be well prepared.
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Wild Beauty of the Coast to Coast Path

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Coast to Coast eBook

The Wild Beauty of the Coast to Coast Path

The Wild Beauty of the Coast to Coast Path is designed both as a trail guide, and as an informative and adventurous travelogue. Written by Roy David McKee, this is a must-read for anyone contemplating the walk.

The book is available from the iBooks store and has been digitally enhanced.

Features of the Book:
  • Route described in detail
  • Large scale detailed digital Maps of the route
  • Hundreds of colour photographs that can be expanded to full page
  • Photo-galleries of particular areas of interest.
  • Research notes of Historic and Interesting places on the path.
Copyright © 2017 Roy McKee
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