A Walker’s Journal by Anthony Linick
The Westmorland Way is the third and final stage in Paul Hannon’s tripartite circuit of Lakeland. Or is it? As the route is essentially circular, or perhaps triangular in fact, there is no reason why the Westmorland Way has to be last – rather than the Furness Way or the Cumberland Way. I do believe that the route is best walked in a clockwise direction for this is the convention adopted in Hannon’s text – an essential guidebook that I would strongly recommend. The relevant OS maps in the Explorer series (two and a half inches to the mile) are sheets 5, 7, and 19.
As we discovered when we walked the route in 2005 and 2006, a good deal of planning is required, especially if you are interested in walking at the height of the summer season – when there is a great demand on Lakeland’s limited accommodation. To assist you the Internet will reveal a number of firms that will arrange your accommodation for you and transfer your baggage as well – as you cover the 98 miles between Appleby and Arnside. Start early in this process.
If you would prefer to do make your own arrangements or you if you are new to the walking enterprise then some hints on how to get started my be found in my book, A Walker’s Alphabet: Adventures on the Long-distance Footpaths of Great Britain – published in 2010 and available from the publisher at www.authorhouse.co.uk or from www.authorhouse.com or from www.amazon.co.uk or from www.amazon.com.
How strenuous is the Westmorland Way? It is true that Hannon takes hikers over some true Lake District summits, particularly in the stretch between Patterdale and Grasmere. But, as the narrative that follows will reflect, there is a lower level alternative if you do not feel up to this challenge. Elsewhere, the ups and downs are never too severe or protracted – if anything, the downs (as in the descent to Howtown) are more onerous than the ups.
It has to be said that much of the Westmorland Way lies outside the great ring of peaks that define the essential borders of the Lake District. Don’t be put off by this. The outlying districts are also very intriguing, full of interest and charm and well worth the effort. You can always let me know how you got on by using the Contact Page.
To follow the route in its north to south direction the following links may be useful.
Day 1: Appleby to Great Ormside – 3 miles
(I had hoped for a longer day on the trail – but a late train put paid to those plans.)
Day 2: Great Ormside to Shap – 15 miles
Day 3: Shap to Askham – 11 miles
Day 4: Askham to Patterdale – 13 miles
Day 5: Patterdale to Grasmere – 9 miles
(For us, this was a low level alternative via Grisedale Tarn; Hannon’s strenuous high-level route is listed at almost the same distance.)
Day 6: Grasmere to Skelwith Bridge – 5 miles
Day 7: Skelwith Bridge to Troutbeck – 8 miles
Day 8: Troutbeck to Underbarrow – 11.5 miles
Day 9: Underbarrow to Crooklands – 13 miles
Day 10: Crooklands to Arnside – 11 miles