Coast to Coast

Alfred Wainright devised the notion of a walk which would cross England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. Although most walkers follow a specific route this is not set in stone, only the starting point on the beach at St. Bees in Northumberland and finishing at Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire.  In 2019, over fourteen days in September, I and an old school friend, completed the 192 miles passing through three National Parks; the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North Yorkshire Moors.  As a landscape painter I was constantly seeing potential paintings in this dynamic, ever changing scenery and began to formulate the idea of representing the walk in a series of paintings.  Over the next two years I completed a number of landscapes which although not totally comprehensive will hopefully give an impression of my walk.

It is customary to pick a pebble from the beach at St. Bees and carry this with you until on reaching Robin Hoods’s Bay it is tossed into the North Sea.

The Paintings

All dimensions are in centimetres and are the image size.  Prices are for the framed painting.

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The Irish Sea at St Bees
A beautiful clear day and a deserted beach for the start of the Coast to Coast.
48 x 21.5

As we approached the end of the first day, Ennerdale came into view bathed in the late afternoon sun.
67 x 33.5

Honister Pass
The old slate workings make for interesting subject matter but I confess, this painting was produced on an earlier occasion as our day was one of torrential rain and on arrival at the Pass we could do little but take shelter at the slate museum in our sodden clothing.
35.5 x 25.5

The Borrowdale Fells from above Seatoller
Towards the end of the day the rain eased and this dramatic view over the fells emerged from the mist and cloud.
73.5 x 49

Eagle Crag, Stonethwaite
The imposing outcrop of Eagle Crag was an obvious subject to paint in the morning light.
35.5 x 26

Grisedale Tarn and St. Sunday Crag
I spend my time in The Lakes saying "I need a bigger canvas" and only one of my largest watercolours could hope to do justice to this stunning view overlooking Ullswater.
73 x 50

One has to detour off the path to look up the lake towards Patterdale but the late afternoon sun lighting up the hills made it worthwhile.
36 x 26

Low sun and rain near Ullswater
A glowering sky marked the start of our final day in The Lakes, the landscape reduced to a monochrome of abstract shapes.
35.5 x 26

Kidsty Pike and Haweswater
Another large format was required to capture the massive bulk of Kidsty Pike; Haweswater still and silent beyond. A string of walkers approach the summit from where, on the distant horizon, twin plumes of smoke from the Shap lime kilns mark our destination.
73 x 53

Nine Standards, Hartley Fell
Climbing out of Kirkby Stephen this strange array of large cairns are encountered on the desolate moor.
40 x 22

Whitsun Dale and Birkdale Tarn
We had been warned that we could sink to our knees as we crossed the high boggy ground from Nine Standards, but we negotiated it without problem and descended to Whitsun Dale on a bright and breezy day.
35.5 x 26

Swaledale near Keld
A stiff climb out of Keld marks the start of Swaledale, the river a ribbon of light below.
35.5 x 25.5

River Swale near Reeth
With 11 miles before we reach Richmond we walk along the banks of the River Swale.
17.5 x 11.5

Last man standing
A complete change of landscape as we cross the rich farmland beyond Richmond. I captured the wide sky with my one oil painting of the series, the scarecrow a personal statement of intent!
60 x 40

Broughton Bank and the Cleveland Hills
The contrast of wild uplands with cultivated lowlands, lit up by the sun through scudding clouds made for an interesting composition. There followed a long slog across bleak moorland to the isolated outpost of the Lion Inn on Blakey Ridge. That first pint of Black Sheep; nectar!
53.5 x 35.5

Go to the 'Working Method' page, under 'About' to see the stage by stage development of this painting.

After the high desolate moor we descend into the more welcoming fields of Glaisdale. To the left, spoil heaps stand in the shadows as a memorial to past industry, but the fields are lit by the September sun.
38 x 21

The North Sea
After another day of rain we eventually reached the coast and looked out over a drab, grey sea beneath a lowering sky, deserving of a minimalist watercolour.
35 x 25.5

Robin Hoods Bay
A walk along the coast brought us to our destination and my final painting. Seen from the hotel at breakfast the sun briefly broke through cloud in a dramatic finale.
36 x 22

This page is dedicated to my walking companion and friend of over 60 years, Michael Clarke 1952 – 2023