The Cumbria Way 2012

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Introduction

 

Photobucket I made a quick decision at the end of February to walk the Cumbria Way. I based my choice on the chance of the Azores high pressure pushing into the UK, giving some settled weather over the next 5 days or so. Well that’s the plan, and we’ll see soon enough if it was an inspired choice or turns out to be a damp squib. However come rain or shine I shall enjoy it, as I’ve been meaning to walk this way for a while now – a shimmy here and there.
I usually have plans in place long before I set out on a long walk, but this one has involved a lot of fast faffing, trying not to forget the essentials, and trying to forget the frivolous. I’ve had enough experience now in packing to keep the pack weight down to a minimum, with the reminder to myself that there are a few places to stock up on anything I’ve left at home.
I’ve cadged a lift up to the Lakes today which will let me have a relative lie in tomorrow before setting out for Coniston. As sunset is now around 5:30, there are plenty of daylight hours to wander along and enjoy the passing scenery, and hopefully I will be able to blog along the way to let the landscape unfold before me….weather permitting.
The trail is about 75 miles long and fits nicely into 5 days. The longest day will be from Coniston to Rosthwaite at a little shy of 19 miles, but this is tempered by the fact that a) it is glorious scenery, and b) there are several fine hostelries along the route which I will be able to savour as long as I get away to a good start in the morning. My main hope is that it is clear walking below the Langdale Pikes – my favourite part of the landscape in the Lakes.

Post walk thoughts

 

I came to this walk without any preconceptions or expectations as it was a last minute decision. I was lucky with the weather for the most part, but did miss out on the views of the higher peaks.
What about the walk itself? North to South or South to North – to be honest I would walk it either way as the start is farmland as is the finish. A lot has been made of the finish in Carlisle, but it’s only the last mile through the suburbs that is truly urban.
It lends itself to good access with a station at either end, so which direction isn’t really an issue. Walking North you are liable to have the wind at your back and no sun directly into your camera lens. Walking South would finish in a slightly more pleasant surrounding, but you’d have the sun in your eyes and camera. Finishing at Carlisle would also be at a mainline station which would help with logistics.
A good map and sense of direction would help as it’s not the best way marked path, particularly through the farmland. But generally it’s easy enough to follow, and there are some small round signs on posts here and there.I deviated from the Cumbria Way between Rosthwaite and Keswick, deciding that climbing higher was definitely the way to go.
Having now walked S to N, I intend to return and walk N to S, adding an extra day to the itinerary. The long day from Coniston to Rosthwaite was fabulous but hard on the feet down Langstrath. So I would space it to walk from Coniston to the New Dungheon Ghyll, NDG to Rosthwaite, and Rosthwaite to Keswick. The rest of the walk would stay the same. The advantage of this would be a choice of routes, taking in higher fells if required. The actual Cumbria Way route is fine through the lakes, and the only real difference is the way to Keswick.
That’s what I reckon anyway, and as always it’s horses for courses

The plan

 

Day Zero:       Leave Manchester and drive up to the Masons Arms at Strawberry Bank

 Day One:       Ulverston to Coniston. 16.6 miles. Ascent - 2063ft

 Day two:        Coniston to Rosthwaite. 18.8 miles. Ascent - 3242ft

 Day three:     Rosthwaite to Keswick 9.4 miles. Ascent - 2861ft

 Day four:       Keswick to Caldbeck 15 miles Ascent - 2935ft

 Day five:       Caldbeck to Carlisle 14.6 miles Ascent - 561ft

 Total Ascent at 11662ft .....Total mileage....75

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