Written on 05/08/15 by Paul Oldham

Some thoughts on the Cumbria Way

Last week we launched our guide to walking the Cumbria Way which we had been working on since last summer. The Cumbria Way is a 112km (70 miles) linear long distance footpath through the heart of the National Park linking the two historic Cumbrian towns of Ulverston and Carlisle. The route cuts through classic Lakeland country via Coniston, Langdale, Borrowdale, Derwent Water, Skiddaw Forest and Caldbeck. It is a primarily low-level long distance footpath but does contain some high-level exposed sections.

Cumbria Way - 'Cairn and Compass' sculpture
Cumbria Way - 'Cairn and Compass' sculpture in Ulverston at the start of the Way

Cumbria Way map

The route can be walked in either direction but we described it from south to north beginning at the Cumbria Way monument in Ulverston and ending in Carlisle tourist information and our guide tackles it using the classic five day method.

  1. Ulverston to Coniston
  2. Coniston to Dungeon Ghyll
  3. Dungeon Ghyll to Keswick
  4. Keswick to Caldbeck
  5. Caldbeck to Carlisle

Overall the route can be characterised as being in three sections with two different characters. The southern section and the northern section are through pastures and this can cause problems for you in the summer as you will find cows in the fields which can be a problem, especially if you intend to walk with a dog, to the point where we would recommend not walking the Cumbria Way in the summer with a dog or if you are cautious around cows.

For us it meant that Jessie had to miss out of walking these sections leaving Beth to walk them on her own (I was providing logistics, dropping Beth off and picking her up again at the end of each stage, so Jessie stayed with me on those days much to her disgust).

Other than that the main difficulty is that the poor waymarking means that you need good map reading to make your way across the fields from stile to stile if you are going to make progress. It took Beth two days to survey the first one day section because of this. Hopefully you'll find it easier because of her good work.

The centre sections, over Stake Pass between Langdale and Keswick and across Back o'Skiddaw and High Pike to Caldbeck are much more classic Lakeland fell walking which Beth found much more to her liking.

In truth we weren't entirely convinced by the Cumbria Way: it is something of a route march - you have to cover a lot of miles every day - and it seems to be rushing forwards when, if it just took a little more time, it could be better. For example despite this being a walk through the Lake District, a country of lakes and fells, it's pretty lacking in the fell department, including just one Wainwright in five days. They take you marching round the back of Latrigg on day four rather than popping up it, so you missing the lovely view down Derwent Water. It seems to us that it's a walk for ramblers, not fell walkers ...

Tagged: walks

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