Over 8 days in April 2017 Jan and I walked the Cumbria Way from Carlisle to Ulverston. To avoid a difficult return from the finish to the start in Carlisle to recover our car we travelled up by train and spent the night in Carlisle. That meant that we could just catch the train back home from Ulverston once we finished. Here are the logs for each day and some photos, mainly taken on my mobile phone.
We nipped out from the hotel for breakfast at Wetherspoons before returning to the hotel to pack up. Our bags were left at reception to be picked up by Suzi’z Taxis of Keswick, who was doing our luggage transfer again. We have used her several times and always found her to be very reliable.
It was a lovely day, mostly sunny but not too warm, as we set off at the crack of 9.30am. We stopped for a break after 7 miles at the Bridge End Inn near Dalston. It gave my aching back a rest.
Most of the walking was along the river on good tracks. Not much in the way of signs for the Way, we saw just 3 all day, no problem as we have the Harvey’s and OS 25k maps as well as a Satmap Active 12 GPS with OS 25k maps. All was fine until we reached Bell Bridge, a few miles from the end. It had been washed away in the floods of 2015 and hasn’t been replaced yet. The central span was completely missing, just the approach piers remain on each side. The alternative was along the road for a mile or so to the next bridge.
We walked down the hill and into Caldbeck village at 4.30pm, a total of 16 miles from the Travelodge in the middle of Carlisle. That’s the longest day done. Fortunately, the Oddfellows Arms pub where we are staying was open so I was able to have a medicinal pint before heading to our room.
Tomorrow is supposed to be another reasonable day but snow showers are forecast for Monday and Tuesday!
It was another good day today. Good weather and spectacular views from the tops on the Cumbria Way in the Lake District.
We had enormous breakfasts at the Oddfellows Arms before heading towards the hills just south. Then it was up High Pike and along to Knott and Little Calva. The descent from here was down a steep heather clad slope to rejoin the Cumbria Way below.
The last bit was across fields to Bassenthwaite village. Fortunately the Sun Inn was open so we called in for a short break before heading down the road to the Castle Inn Hotel for the night. Just 13 miles today.
Today was a shorter day, just 11.5 miles. Sunny spells all day but it was mostly cold with a fresh breeze.
We started by walking along Bassenthwaite Lake to the very grand Mire House. Then, to avoid the busy road, we walked up through Dodd Woods and down, past a few lumberjacks, to Portinscale. As luck would have it the Farmers Arms was open so a swift pint later we were on our way again.
It didn’t take long to reach our base for the night, the Swinside Inn. We were very well looked after here, and 6 real ales on too. The evening meal was excellent but the room could have been cleaner, lots of dog hairs everywhere.
The forecast was for snow showers on the tops from midday, so we set off shortly after 9am to try and beat the weather.
I have been up Cat Bells a few times but never in good weather. It didn’t look good today either!
I had made a mental note of the picture I wanted of Cat Bells 3 years ago, the last time I went over the ridge. It had to be from the corner of Maiden Moor so that Cat Bells was in the foreground with Derwent Water, Skiddaw and Blencathra in the background.
The light was changing a lot through the morning so I was hopeful of getting the shot. I took several shots en route to the main viewpoint just in case the weather let me down. It was quite dull with snow showers when I reached my viewpoint but I could see it was changing so I waited.
After about 40 minutes the light had moved onto Cat Bells and was still on the background peaks too, with a few cloud shadows to help the shot.
Job done after just 3 years!
We followed the ridge along with the odd snow flurry, over Maiden Moor and High Spy, before going down quite a steep track to Rosthwaite. We went into the bar at the Scafell Hotel for a sandwich and a beer before checking in to our hotel next door, The Royal Oak. Apart from the Youth Hostel, the Royal Oak seems to be the only place in this area that will accept one night bookings.
It was another brilliant day in the Lake District for day 5 of our version of the Cumbria Way. Cold but sunny with spectacular views through the cold air.
We started a bit after 9am from the Royal Oak in Rosthwaite, who looked after us very well.
Our route followed the Coast to Coast path for the first couple of miles to Greenup Edge then we headed off to High Raise. I can’t remember being on High Raise since we had a trip with our good friends from the Frythe, Welwyn 40 years ago. We had a photo of the view from the top on our wall at home for many years. The view hasn’t changed much!
From here it was a short walk across the plateau to Sergeant Man. Quite a lot of ice around on pools of water and on rocks. Also a few patches of fresh snow.
Next was Stickle Tarn for photos with Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark behind.
Then it was down the track to the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, our abode for the night. Not impressed with the hotel. They gave us a room with a shower they knew to be faulty and when we pointed this out (after the hot water turned cold during my shower) they gave us the key to the room next door, to use the shower in there, which they knew to be fine – the room was empty. Why didn’t they put us in there when we checked in?
Well it had to happen sometime, for the first time on this trip we put our waterproofs on! It rained for 5 minutes shortly after leaving the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel.
We hadn’t been to the New Dungeon Ghyll in 40 years and previously it was just visiting the bar. This time we stayed in the hotel. It was the most expensive night of the whole trip but we thought it would be worth it. Unfortunately, the friendly staff couldn’t compensate for the cold shower and very small room. We won’t be back.
I had followed a lot of the Cumbria Way from here in the past so routed us via Blea Tarn and High Tilberthwaite. The waterproofs came off just after the Tarn and weren’t needed again.
It was an easy walk over the hill to Tilberthwaite and then through woods and over fields to Coniston. We were in the Black Bull by 2.30pm, our hotel for the night. What a difference to the previous night, a nice big room with a modern en-suite where everything worked! The Coniston Stout was excellent too.
After checking in and relaxing with a pint we walked down to the lake, 8.5 miles wasn’t enough! It was a beautiful evening.
Coniston to Ulverston seems to be walked mostly in 1 day for the Cumbria Way. However the 17 miles was a little more than we wanted to do so we arranged to stop at the Red Lion in Lowick Bridge. That’s 10 miles from Coniston, so a relatively easy day with no hills to climb.
The first part was along the lake shore through woods. There was some light rain and we did put our waterproofs on but didn’t really need to and soon took them off.
After a few miles we turned away from the lake, crossed the road to Coniston from the south, and walked for miles without seeing anyone.
Mostly we stayed on the official Cumbria Way for a change but left it for the last mile or so to the Red Lion in Lowick Bridge.
Unfortunately, a bridge over a stream had been washed away in 2016 and our path was officially closed; there was no alternative route. We ignored the sign, to avoid a detour of several miles, and found an alternative crossing had already been installed next to the dodgy bridge. The stream was so narrow and shallow we could have walked or jumped across it anyway. What an unnecessary path closure!
Five minutes later (around 2.30pm) we were ringing the doorbell to the pub which officially opens at 5pm each day. Our room here is the cheapest on the route and much larger and in better condition than several of our previous rooms, and the shower worked!
Just under 74 miles and 8 hills/mountains in 7 days so far. We’ll be finishing in Ulverston tomorrow lunchtime.
Our final day on the Cumbria Way! It was a dull and chilly start as we left the Red Lion in Lowick Bridge. What a friendly little village pub owned and run by Steve and Lucy. Big room, good food, 3 real ales and fast WiFi. Highly recommended.
The route mainly crossed fields and rough ground, then quite a few wooded areas with lots of Bluebells.
Then we were coming down the last hill into Ulverston. I couldn’t believe it, there were flags everywhere. Obviously put out to welcome us at the end of the walk! Well it was a nice delusion for an instant, Ulverston is covered in flags.
We came down to the car park where the Cumbria Way starts and finishes but it was filled with a funfair. Difficult to spot the official end, after circumnavigating the car park we found it hidden by flags.
A total of 82 miles with my detours, 8 days walking, 8 mountains/hills, less than an hour of rain in total.
As far as the photography was concerned, I used 6 rolls of Ilford 400 Delta 120 film (60 negatives) in my Mamiya 7 camera with 65mm lens. The only other camera gear carried was a Sekonic 758 spot meter, spare batteries and 3 filters (yellow, orange and red) although I mostly used the orange as the skies were pretty good. It was all carried in a LowePro Toploader case on a shoulder harness. The lid pocket was large enough for my Satmap 12 GPS and whatever Harvey’s map I was using each day (OS maps are too bulky).
Note: We stayed an extra night in Ulverston because there were no trains on Sundays, apparently they often do line repairs on Sundays in this area and close large stretches of line at a time.