Cumbria Way

“The Cumbria Way mirrors an arrow through the centre of the spectacular Lake District”

(70 miles, 5/7 days)

Yew Tree Cottage, Coniston
Yew Tree Cottage, Coniston


The Cumbria Way is a mainly low level route. It passes through the heart of the Lake District, starting in Ulverston, near Morecambe Bay and finishing in Carlisle 70 miles later. However these bare facts hardly tell the story of one of the most popular long distance paths in the country. Coniston, the Langdale Valley and Keswick are the headline makers on the route along with the passes and valleys which link them.

No less enjoyable are some of the less frequented areas at each end of the walk, the route connecting Keswick and Caldbeck to the North being a particular favourite of mine.

The Cumbria Way offers many temptations to the walker. The official route sticks to a low level but is surrounded by magnificent highland scenery. Taking a little longer on the route and visiting the summits of such beasts as Coniston Old Man, the Langdale Pikes and Blencathra may be too hard for many to resist. I don’t blame them.


The number of places to stay are endless in the central section of the walk but less so south of Coniston and north of Caldbeck. The suggested itineraries are therefore just that, suggestions. However they are based on an in depth knowledge of the routes and the underfoot terrain. One thing to always remember is that the rough, often rocky paths makes a day take longer than you may expect.

It is also perfectly possible to complete the trail ‘the wrong way’ and start off in Carlisle. However I prefer walking north as a rule with your back (hopefully!) to the sun offering the best views and least discomfort.

High Tilberthwaite
High Tilberthwaite

Most Popular Itinerary

Day 1 Ulverston to Coniston 14 miles

A straightforward start to the walk. Soon after leaving Ulverston the path winds its way through some lowland fells before arriving at lovely Beacon Tarn. From here the Coniston fells dominate the views as the path drops to the shores of Coniston.

Day 2. Coniston to Langdale 11 miles

The walk leaves Coniston and heads through woodland to the pretty setting of popular Tarn Howes. Continuing in the woods the path meanders its way towards Elterwater. I certainly would suggest a detour to Loughrigg Tarn at this stage before continuing west along the Langdale valley.  Before long the views open to the grand amphitheatre of fells that enclose Langdale itself.

Britannia Inn, Elterwater
Britannia Inn, Elterwater

Day 3. Langdale to Borrowdale 8 miles

Start the day by heading along the Langdale Valley. The route ten climbs steeply to the col at Stake Pass, signifying a half way point of the walk. From the col drop in to Langstrath which winds its way between 2 high ridges. It is a long valleyt and a relief when it arrives in the main Borrowdale valley near Rosthwaite.

Day 4. Borrowdale to Keswick 7 miles

If you follow the traditional route this is a simple day. Keeping to the woodland it then skirts the attractive western shore of Derwentwater before entering Keswick. An alternative route to the east heads past such famous sites as Watendlath, Surprise View, Ashness Bridge and Walla Crag before heading in to Keswick. A classic and better route.


Day 5 and/or 6 Keswick to Caldbeck 14 miles direct

There is a choice on Day 5 depending on whether you are keen to avoid the higher fells, or not.

a) Overnight stay in Bassenthwaite.

Skirting the flanks of Skiddaw, passing lonely Skiddaw House and then spectacular Dash Falls before dropping down to the little village of Bassenthwaite.

The next day is shorter and takes a direct route in to Caldbeck, skirting the Skiddaw fells.

b) Direct.

A lonely and remote area of rolling fells at the back of Skiddaw is the setting for an excellent and challenging day. High Pike has to be overcome before the direct descent to Caldbeck village.

Dash Falls, Bassenthwaite
Dash Falls, Bassenthwaite

Day 6 or 7 Caldbeck to Carlisle 14 miles

The final day starts well but rather loses interest as it heads north. Rolling fells become rolling farmland and before long enters the outskirts of Carlisle. Carlisle does have an excellent castle and sits on the main train line.

It is quite straightforward to combine Day 3 and 4 making a 15 mile day.

A Higher Level Itinerary

An alternate (High Level) itinerary should not be shorter but include some of the fantastic Lakeland Fells enroute. My suggestions are:

Causey Pike from Skiddaw
Causey Pike from Skiddaw

Day 1. None

Day 2. Coniston Old Man and rejoin the path in Little Langdale

Day 3. Start with a steep climb on to the Langdale Pikes and then join the path at Stake Pass.

Day 4. Maiden Moor and Catbells offer a pleasant alternative to the lakeside route.

Day 5. Skiddaw is a must on the crossing to Caldbeck.

Day 6. None.


Cumbria Way map

Most Popular Route: from South to North

Maps: O/S 1.25,000 Explorer Series OL 6, OL4 and OL5 going south to north. Alternatively buy the Harvey strip maps but they do not show any detours. 

Places to Stay

The Crown Inn. Coniston

Ambleside Backpackers, Ambleside

Mary Mount Hotel, Derwentwater

Old Rectory, Caldbeck

Personal Journey

Coming soon…


Day 1.
Coming soon…

  • Vivien Fisher says:

    Just booked my accommodation and ready to go! Unfortunately a long wait until September but Shanti (Border Collie) and I will be counting the days. Looking forward to reading your personal journey.

  • Mike Luxton says:

    The Cumbria way is one of favourite long walks in the Lakes, done it 3 times. So I look forward to your view on the walk.

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