Cumbria Way

The Cumbria Way is a 70 mile (112km) long distance path from Ulverston to Carlisle , crossing the Lake District National Park from south to north.  It’s usually described as 5 sections:

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

The route is largely low-level and avoids most of the fell tops – the principal exception being High Pike (658m / 2,159ft) on the Keswick to Caldbeck section (although there is an alternative route that avoids this). The lure of the walk is views of the mountains rather than views from them.  Apart from High Pike, the other main high point of the official route is Stake Pass between Langdale and Borrowdale, and unlike High Pike, this can’t be avoided.  The official route has around 10,000ft of ascent in it – a gradient overall of about 2.7%.

When I did the walk in March/April 2011, I wanted to take a more high level route, for a number of reasons:

  • I simply preferred a high level route.
  • I could use the walk to mop up some fells that I’d missed out in the south and north of the Lakes.
  • I wanted to use this as a training run for more serious treks along the Cambrian Way and Coast to Coast.

By increasing the difficulty and (because of deviating from the official route) the length, this meant that I broke my walk down into much different sections (each links to the relevant day’s blog entry):

  1. Planning
  2. Training
  3. Ulverston to Woodland (detour to pick up some outlying fells).
  4. Woodland to Coniston (detour to pick up some outlying fells).
  5. Coniston to Langdale (but via Holme Fell, and if I’d managed it, Black Fell).
  6. Langdale to Rosthwaite (half of official section 3).
  7. Rosthwaite to Keswick (the other half of official section 3, allowing a short day).
  8. Keswick to Skiddaw House.
  9. Day walk from Skiddaw House, not part of the Cumbria Way.
  10. Day walk from Skiddaw House, not part of the Cumbria Way.
  11. Skiddaw House to Caldbeck.
  12. Caldbeck to Carlisle.
  13. The End of the Walk
  14. Afterthoughts

In the end my route ended up being 147km (91 miles), excluding the two extra days (7 and 8).  My ascent figure ended up being about 13,000ft for that part, meaning an overall route gradient of 2.7%.  The extra two days walks brought these figures up to 16,000ft and 2.9%.  For anyone interested, my route coincided with about 69% of the official route, as measured by flat distance.  The 31% of the official route that I missed was mostly on the first day (I took a harder line over the Woodland and Blawith fells), a few corners cut due to my decision to include Holme Fell, and on the bit between Keswick and Caldbeck where eschewed the route along the valleys in favour of a high level route over Skiddaw.

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