Rucksack Readers

Rucksack Readers => Cumbria Way, Ulverston to Carlisle => Topic started by: Jacquetta on June 22, 2012, 08:28:50 am

Title: Experience of the Cumbria Way (June 2012)
Post by: Jacquetta on June 22, 2012, 08:28:50 am
Early in June was the first time I had walked in the Lake District, and it was very, very wet.  As Gillian Price comments in her Cumbria Way blog (, you are advised to choose a dry week! This is hard advice to follow because of the need to book accommodation, especially as a lone walker needing single rooms and being unwilling to pay 100% markup for not being accompanied.

Here are some highs and lows from my hike, officially of about 75 miles with 4 of the 5 days being 15+ miles; however I estimate that I walked at least 90 miles in practice and found the first day particularly long (and made longer by straying offroute).

  • going offroute at least 4 times on day one, mainly because this route has the least consistent waymarking I have ever seen but partly because I hadn't got my eye and brain into gear :-[
  • the rain, which was heavy and persistent on days one and two, and made everything take longer and seem harder, especially navigating
  • not being able to take any photographs for at least half the hike :(
  • leaving my favourite Paramo red hat in the splendid tea barn of Elterwater Park
  • finding that hardly any B&Bs in Ulverston, Coniston and Keswick take a single for less than £50 (and many expect you to stay for two consecutive nights at a weekend) >:(

  • the chat and fellow feeling of other wet hikers, especially the two lovely C2C guys whom I met in Rosthwaite, who were camping in the rain, carrying about 20 kg each and were great company, thus terminating any possibility of feeling "poor me";)
  • having the summit of High Pike to myself, with an amazing  summit panorama (,5503.0.html), and managing the descent without going offroute at all :)
  • my favourite Paramo red hat being posted back by the lovely people at Elterwater Park (, where I wish I had stayed
  • staying at welcoming B&B for singles at Great Langdale (Robinson Place Farm, £30), Caldbeck (The Briars, £35) and Carlisle (Fern Lee (, £35) with the latter especially high quality and great value
  • finding the last day of the hike into Carlisle an easy 16-mile day (I honestly didn't know there could be such a thing :o), with plenty of interest (River Caldew), in contrast to what other posts (,193.0.html) on this forum led me to expect

Overall, this is a great hike (albeit in a part of England that specialises in rainfall) slightly spoiled by neglect from the Ramblers who established it and so far haven't got in touch although I was keen to give them some feedback. Just a few decent waymarkers in a few crucial places would make an enormous difference!

Title: Re: Experience of the Cumbria Way (June 2012)
Post by: Stottie on June 23, 2012, 08:49:59 am
You do have a talent for picking wet weather in England (I refer to one of your Dales Way visits).

Cumbria Way is not well signposted from Ulverston to Coniston Water.  I walked it about 15 months ago using 1:50000 OS map and managed to find my way, but I had to turn back from a couple of false trails near farms, where an arrow or a rough-painted "FP" would have helped me get it right first time.

Readers may be assured that the Ulverston-Coniston section is delightful when the weather is good, though the flatter ground near the streams is ever prone to being mucky. The sections through the central part of the Lake District offer many opportunities for peak-bagging and other route variations, making the Cumbrian Way a good "spine" route whether you go south-north or north-south.

Title: Re: Experience of the Cumbria Way (June 2012)
Post by: Jacquetta on June 26, 2012, 08:31:42 am
Thanks, Stottie: without wishing ill to another walker, I'm reassured to hear that even somebody as experienced as you had to backtrack a couple of times. That makes me feel slightly less of an idiot. :-[

Also, I was delighted to discover a splendid set of blog entries ( about the Cumbria Way by Ronald Turnbull, who is a fellow member of the OWPG. I really enjoyed these, though the photographs make it clear that going a month sooner would have been a much better idea! Still, it's lovely to see some scenery taken in better weather than I endured.

Title: Re: Experience of the Cumbria Way (June 2012)
Post by: Paddy Dillon on June 29, 2012, 05:07:59 pm
The first stretch of the Cumbria Way catches a lot of walkers on the hop. Waymarking and signposting is reasonable, but it's not consistently standard. In other words, it takes a while to 'learn' how the signs and markers work, and I guess walkers quickly realise that after the first handful of 'Cumbria Way' signposts, you don't get a whole lot more of them. Instead, you have to read the 'small print' on the arrows in the middle of tiny waymark disks, which say 'Cumbria Way' when you get your face close to them, but aren't obvious when you're looking across a field to spot them. Some markers are of the home-made variety... helpful... but again non-standard.

I second Stottie's opinion that the Ulverston to Coniston stretch is delightful when the weather is good. However, I am extremely biased, because I live on the street next to where the Cumbria Way starts, and I can pick and choose my days for walking that stretch. I can honestly say that I would not have relished walking the route on the day that Jacquetta walked it, but I guess anyone travelling a long way with the intention of walking the Cumbria Way is just going to buckle down, grit their teeth, and get on with it regardless.

One thing I have noticed over the years, living so close to the start of the Cumbria Way, is that walkers start at all times of the day. Given the distance and nature of the terrain, I'd have to recommend an early start, meaning anything up to 9 am. However, I have seen people starting at 11 am, noon, and on a few occasions, even after 3 pm! It's a full day's walk to Coniston, and starting at 3 pm is going to mean a late-night finish!

Title: Re: Experience of the Cumbria Way (June 2012)
Post by: Stottie on July 01, 2012, 05:12:05 pm
Paddy: Perhaps the late starters had to travel from afar before hitting the trail and didn't have time/funds for an overnight stay in Ulverston, which is an interesting place?

I stayed at the hostel at the eastern end of town, but that has been reported as available only for group bookings. With your local knowledge, do you have any tips about budget accommodation in/near Ulverston?

Title: Re: Experience of the Cumbria Way (June 2012)
Post by: Paddy Dillon on July 04, 2012, 06:27:04 pm
Stottie - I'm sure that most late-starters have spent the whole morning travelling, and simply want to get cracking with the walking. That's fair enough, and I've done that sort of thing often enough myself on a variety of trails. However, that first stretch of the Cumbria Way is tougher than it looks on the map.

The former 'Walkers Hostel' in Ulverston is now known as 'Hoad View Cottage' and it's only available to pre-booked groups. Gone are the days when individuals could turn up on the doorstep unannounced and secure a bunk-bed and breakfast for £13. As I live in Ulverston, I don't have much need to use local accommodation, obviously, but I did spend a couple of nights at the 'Walkers Hostel' a few years ago when they asked me to lead a couple of groups along the Cumbria Way. As far as I can tell, the cheapest B&B in town at the moment is Sefton House, but you have to look carefully at their tariff, because they change by the room, rather than per person. Also, anyone staying for only one night, which would be what most Cumbria Wayfarers would do, pays an extra £5. So... at the moment they have a single room for £35 per night, but that would be £40 if you only stayed for one night. All their other rooms are double or twins, and they cost £65 per night, or £70 if only occupied for one night.