The Cumbria Way

A Walker’s Journal by Anthony Linick

Derwentwater’s Brandelhow Bay

Derwentwater’s Brandelhow Bay


The Cumbria Way is a seventy-mile south-to-north route which brings the walker through the heart of the Lake District from Ulverston to Carlisle – without too many challenging ascents or descents. We walked it in 1984 and 1985 and the journal of this venture may help you in planning the stages you may wish to undertake. If you are new to the walking enterprise you may also want to prepare yourself for this activity by checking out my A Walker’s Alphabet: Adventures on the long-distance footpaths of Great Britain – available from the publisher at or, from or – or from any of the other online booksellers.

The route still relies of use of guidebook and/or map ­– rather than detailed waymarking. A quick search of the Internet will not only reveal that there are several guidebooks covering the route ­– in addition to the original volume by John Trevelyan – but that today there are a number of companies prepared to organize your accommodation for you and move your baggage forward as well. Harvey publishes a strip map of the entire route; for greater detail you would want to use the Ordnance Survey’s Explorer series – sheets OL4, OL5, OL6, OL7 and 315. The line of the Cumbria Way does appear on these maps. Anthony Burton’s Aurum Press guide to the route contains relevant excerpts from these OS maps.

It will be noted that Tosh Lee and I began our first experience with the route as part of a three-day excursion with students. Not only did we join the CW in mid-course but it wasn’t until the second day of this trip (at Tarn Hawes) that we actually reached it. If you want to follow our narrative in the order you are likely to walk the CW today then the outline below will be useful. Remember that we often had to go off-route to find accommodation, which will explain some unexpected starting and stopping points. Also recall that our Day One was an attempt to reach the route rather than one spent on it – though its story does appear as a journal entry –

Day 1: Windermere to Hawkshead – 6 miles

For those intent on following the route in its actual south-to-north order the following outline may be useful

Day 4: Ulverston to Torver River – 13 miles

Day 5: Sunny Bank to Coniston and Tarn Hawes to Coniston – 6.5 miles

(though the second of these entries was undertaken north-to-south)

Day 2: Hawkshead to Elterwater – 9 miles

(remembering that we joined the CW at Tarn Hawes)

Day 3: Elterwater to Longthwaite – 12 miles

Day 6: Longthwaite to Keswick – 7.5 miles

Day 7: Keswick to Overwater Hall – 12 miles

Day 8: Overwater Hall to Bustabeck – 13 miles

Day 9: Bustabeck to Carlisle – 12 miles

The journal entries that follow can also be read in the order we undertook them, beginning with:

Day 1: Windermere to Hawkshead.

Whatever order is chosen for your walk I am sure you will be happy with the result on the ground. You can always let me know how you got on by leaving a note via the Contact Page.