This page has been put together to aid novice walkers or walkers new to the Cumbria Way to help plan
their trip. Hopefully the experienced long distance
walkers out there will happen along the site and maybe add some input and
feedback? If you would like to add some feedback then email me at email@example.com
Please note that this site is no substitute for a map/s covering
the route and it is recommended that you go armed on the route
with a map, compass and also a decent guidebook to help you along the way
and also point out some of the interesting features and places along the
There have been very few changes to the route over the years. Below I have detailed the changes that are listed on the Ramblers Cumbria Way page.
Permanent New Route at Newbiggin The public footpath which passed through the buildings at Newbiggin, some 2km north of Ulverston, has been diverted so the Cumbria Way now follows a cross field footpath to the west of the original route. After joining the public road at Higher Lath Farm (SD 276 802) walk downhill for about 170 metres to where a footpath signpost on your left shows the start of the new route. After entering the field head north towards two field gates. Pass through the gate on the right and continue in the same direction to go through a further field gate. Once you have passed through this gate, do not continue straight ahead but bear right to head diagonally to the opposite corner of the field. After passing through another field gate, continue on the same line to rejoin the original route at SD 278 808.
Two landslips occurred at Dentonside Woods, east of Caldbeck (approx. locations NY351 403 & NY355 404). A closure notice was issued but I walked this section April 2019 and can confirm that we encountered no problem at all.
Bell Bridge, north of Sebergham was destroyed by floods in 2015 and a new bridge was completed in 2017 making this section completely fine to walk.
Checklist of items to take
to change into after the days walk
- Personal hygiene items -
not all B&Bs provide these
- Guidebook, Map and Compass and the knowledge
to use it
- Water proof trousers and jacket
- Mid layers - fleece/sweater
- Sunblock / hat in summer
- Gloves / hat in winter
- Basic First Aid kit as well a whistle, foil blanket and head torch
- Sturdy walking boots / shoes preferably well worn in
- Money as not everywhere takes cards
- Drinks container / water
- Spare bootlaces
- Your lunch - there is nowhere to buy food between Ulverston and Coniston as well as between Keswick and Caldbeck.
- and last but not least a camera to record your trip
and send in some photos to this web site
Direction of travelThe general consensus seems
to be for a south to north trip and this is how the way the Ramblers Association have the walk in their official guide book and to me it is the logical way BUT many people prefer getting the Carlisle to Caldbeck section over and done with first and this means they are walking to the sea at Ulverston. The
prevailing wind comes from the west so it will be blowing across
the route whichever direction you choose. Likewise the gradients
are no easier in either direction and both Carlisle and Ulverston
have good links for public transport. My choice would be for the
southern start, not only because I live only 18 miles from Carlisle
but more importantly it just feels the right way to walk the route!
The Cumbria Way is a generally low level walk with only 2 major climbs along the way. The first is the unavoidable ascent of Stake Pass at the start of Day 3 and then on Day 4 the long slow climb up to High Pike - the only Wainwright fell on the route. The ascent of High Pike can be avoided but I have done both options and unless it is cloudy on the tops then I would always opt for the High Pike route.
There are, of course, other ups and downs along the route but nothing to unduly worry you. Fitness wise a fell walk once a fortnight is not going to be enough to see you through
5 days of walking and you will need to build up towards what
an enjoyable but relatively serious undertaking.
As a general rule of thumb once you can
manage a minimum of two consecutive, long days of fell walking
you are pretty much ready to tackle the route.
If you haven't walked any great distance before then you will
obviously need to do some serious training before you start.
golden rule is start off gently and build up and if you are in
any doubt about your fitness then check with your doctor.
Guide Books and Maps
There are many guide books dedicated to The Cumbria Way and although quite a few are out of print these can still be purchased online at decent prices. The route itself has not changed much since the 1970's and most likely will not change much in the next 30 years. There is a section on this page which lists any relevant changes. I have copies of most of the guide books but in all honesty the one that have I taken with me the most was The Cumbria Way by John Trevelyan which is now pretty tattered.
The standard of mapping in most guidebooks is pretty low so I would definitely suggest that you take a decent map with you to complement the guidebook. Again, I have listed some of these on the left hand side of the page.
Your feet are your best friends
Wear good quality, lightweight and preferably waterproof boots
and make sure they are well worn in before the big walk. It is also worth pointing out that socks are one of walkers best friends so invest in some decent ones.
Whatever the weather always carry adequate foul weather clothing with you as this is Lakeland and whilst you may be in bright sunshine in one valley the next one along could very well be bucketing it down. Before you set off ensure that your waterproof jacket and over-trousers are in good
condition and will actually keep the rain out.
Remember you will have to carry all your clothes and belongings
on your back so plan carefully and try not to take the kitchen
sink. Practice packing your rucksack and get used to carrying
it by walking with it before the trip a few times. Carry waterproof sacks to keep your gear dry or, a cheaper alternative is to take a couple of bin-liners with you to do the same job.
Baggage Transfer and Organised Holidays
There are companies out there who offer a baggage transfer service transporting your stuff between your chosen accommodation leaving you free to enjoy the route whilst traveling light. Other companies offer organised holidays, either guided or self guided. They will book your accommodation, transport your luggage between accommodation and provide advice, maps, guidebooks etc. If you are interested in any of the services offered I have compiled a list of companies for you to contact. More details at Baggage Transfer/Holidays
Especially if you are staying in B&B's, Camping barns, YH's etc then
you should always pre-book your accommodation especially
in the very busy summer months. Be aware that in some areas such as Langdale and Keswick there is a shortage of one night only stays with
most establishments asking for a minimum 2 night stay.
There are some places along the route, Caldbeck is a good example, which have a limited number of places to stay and therefore beds fill up quickly. If you are struggling then one tip is to try somewhere slightly further afield and ask if they are willing to pick you up and drop you off the following morning. I have done this in the past and never being charged extra for it.
So you can see why it is always advisable to pre-book your accommodation well in advance of your planned trip. Details of accommodation
providers along the route can be found on this web site by clicking
Know your Way
As a whole the Cumbria Way is pretty well way-marked and I have even spotted a few home-made markers along the route. However, I would always recommend carrying a map and a guide book for extra guidance - details of many of the available publications are listed down the left hand side of this page. Before you set off on your Cumbria Way adventure browse this web site for information on the route and spend those long winter evenings
poring over the map, your chosen guidebook.
What about the dog?Dogs are excellent companions
whilst out fell walking but you do need to be aware that there
aren't many sections of the route where 'Patch' will be allowed
to run free. Many B&Bs do not accept dogs and your back may
not take too kindly to carrying the dogs food either. Whilst I
was walking the route a few years ago from Langdale to Keswick with my dog I had
a scary 5 minutes whilst surrounded by very inquisitive
cattle near Rosthwaite - as well trained as our dog was he (or his presence) could
easily have made the situation worse.
If you are walking alone then let someone know your route
and estimated time of arrival and just as important don't forget
to let them know that you have arrived safe and sound!
When to walk The Cumbria Way
As we all know, the lake District can get wet, it can also be
very cold and windy but it also has a surprisingly large number
of glorious fell-walking days. Alas I can't guarantee when any
of these are going to happen and all I can do is say 'be prepared
for anything'! April through September seems to be the consensus for when to walk the route but bear in mind that the peak summer months will be very busy with an accompanying hike in the cost of accommodation.
All of the information given on this page are my own suggestions and advice which have worked well for me. However, I would urge anyone planning on walking The Cumbria Way to do their own research, gauge their own fitness levels and make their own choices based on what they find.