The Cumbria Way is a footpath in Cumbria, England which passes through both the towns of Coniston and Keswick. In addition it also passes through the Langdale and Borrowdale valleys. The bulk of the route lies inside the boundaries of the Lake District National Park. The two historic Cumbrian towns of Ulverston and Carlisle are linked by the 112 km route through the heart of the Lake District National Park.
The route cuts through classic Lake District country via Coniston, Langdale, Borrowdale, Derwent Water, Skiddaw Forest and Caldbeck. It is predominantly a low-level long distance footpath but does contain some higher exposed sections. The Cumbria Way was originally conceived of in the 1970s by local Ramblers’ Association members. The waymarking of the entire route was carried out by volunteers and national park staff during May 2007. The route can be walked in either direction but in the description here it runs south to north beginning at the trailhead of Ulverston and ending in Carlisle. The various stages are outlined below:
First Stage: Ulverston to Coniston The route leaves the urban area of Ulverston, birthplace of Stan Laurel rather suprisingly, and heads north towards the village of Gawthwaite and the boundary of the Lake District National Park. The route comprises mainly of field paths at this stage, then progresses towards the settlement of Sunny Bank and the shores of Coniston Water. The western bank of Coniston Water is followed before reaching the settlement of Coniston. Grizedale Forest can be seen to the east of the lake with Coniston Old Man being visible to the west on approach to Coniston. In total, this stage is approximately 24km.
Second Stage: Coniston to Langdale The route leaves Coniston heading due NNW through woodland in the direction of Tarn Hows. The route involves some road walking as it ambles through the villages of Colwith and Skelwith Bridge. The Langdale Pikes can be seen as the route leaves Skelwith Bridge in a NNE direction, passing Elterwater before entering the Great Langdale valley. In total, this stage is approximately 17.5km.
Third Stage: Langdale to Keswick The route departs Langdale and travels alongside Mickleden beck. After a significant gain in elevation the route crosses Stake pass before descending via Langstrath beck and heading towards the village of Rosthwaite. The route subsequently follows the River Derwent before arriving at Derwent Water where it follows the shoreline path to the town of Keswick. The mountains Skiddaw and Blencathra can be seen to the north, visibility permitting. In total, this stage is approximately 24km.
Fourth Stage: Keswick to Caldbeck After some urban walking on the departure from Keswick, the route crosses the A591 road before ascending past Latrigg towards Skiddaw House. After crossing the area of fells known as Back o’Skiddaw the route then goes through High Pike and the Caldbeck Fells before descending towards the village of Caldbeck. In total, this stage is approximately 22.5km.
Fifth Stage: Caldbeck to Carlise After leaving the village of Caldbeck this final low-level section of the route follows the River Caldew to the largest Cumbrian town of Carlisle. The route winds its way through the villages of Sebergham, Buchaban and Dalston following primarily woodland and farmland public footpaths and bridleways. In total, this stage is approximately 24km. The tarns one encounters on the route provide a habitat for an extensive range of species including vendace, charr, crayfish and schelly and the red squirrel can be found in the surrounding woodlands.