This is a photo guide to the Cumbria Way which we walked after completing Hadrian's Wall path in June 2008 to make a two week walk.

The 75 mile route takes you from Carlisle in the north, through the spectacular landscape of the Lake District national park to reach Ulverston at the edge of Morecambe Bay. The route heads south through the wild scenery of the northern fells above keswick before dropping down to Derwent Water to follow the beautiful Borrowdale valley. It then crosses Stake Pass to reach Great Langdale where it takes a more gentle journey around Elterwater and Tarn Howes to reach Coniston. Finally it passes along the edge of Coniston water, before heading over the southern fells past beacon tarn and through farmland to reach Ulverston.

This page contains full details of all stages, or you can use the links on the right to view each individual stage. We have also collected together details of the accommodation we stayed in. We hope it will be of some use to those who may be planning to do the walk themselves, or encourage others to give it a try.

Please enjoy our report, and sign our guestbook or leave comments - Rachael & Mark.

Day 1 - Carlisle to Caldbeck

Friday 20th June - 15 miles, 6 1/2 hours

As we had just finished Hadrian's Wall path we were starting the Cumbria Way from the north, the opposite direction to which most guidebooks describe the route.

We had returned to Carlisle from the end of Hadrian's Wall and stayed in Langleigh House for a second night. We set out from here just after 9.00 am and headed into town to pick up a sandwich for our packed lunch.

There is no definite point to really start the walk in the city so we followed the road out past the Citadel, through industrial buildings and gas towers to reach the River Caldew and the official start of the path.

We joined the footpath close to the weir and old mill buildings, now converted to apartments. This took us along the overgrown riverbank towards the prominent chimney at Cummersdale.

From Cummersdale we crossed the river and followed a tarmac cycle track between the river and the railway line. It was now quite sunny and warm as we progressed toward Dalston. We saw a variety of bird life, including reed bunting, yellowhammer, several swallows and a buzzard.

As we neared the village there was a very strong sweet smell emanating from the Nestle factory bordering the path.

Dalston was a large village with a central square surrounded by red sandstone church of St Michael's, a few houses, a handful of shops and the Bluebell pub.

Leaving Dalston behind we passed through the villages of Buckabank and Bridge End. The path headed up away from the river and entered the grounds of Hawksdale Hall. We followed a good track running through very pleasant open farmland.

Beyond the hall the footpath led across the landscaped area around Lime House school.

Soon the view ahead opened out towards the northern fells, although cloud was looming over the tops. We rejoined the river at a bend where sand martins darted to and fro above the water.

The grand building of Rose Castle is the formal residence of the Bishops of Carlisle. We stopped on the riverbank near here for our packed lunch and watched a herd of cows having a drink in the river.

The next stretch took us along the River Caldew for 2.5 miles, then we crossed over the river and followed a track up past Sebergham Hall.

The sun was still shining for us as we reached Sebergham church. The dark clouds still kept passing over the hills ahead. The small church was very pretty with roses growing along the fence.

We dropped down into Sebergham village and crossed the River Caldew for the last time.

We followed along the edge of Dentonside wood, initially on a good track which eventually gave way to a footpath through meadow land.

As the fields came to an end we entered into the mixed conifer and deciduous woodland to follow the ocasionally muddy riverside path. The woods were at times quite dense and provided only brief glimpses of the river. Where the trees thinned bright gleams of sunshine sparkled through.

Half way through the woods the path turned steeply uphill on a less well defined path. Where trees had previous been cleared here young silver birches were shooting up and wild flowers added a splash of colour.

We soon emerged from the woods onto open farmland with great views over the Caldew valley below.

We reached Caldbeck at 3.30. We were staying at the Oddfellows Arms and so headed there and sat in the beer garden to enjoy a cold drink in the afternoon sunshine.

We enjoyed a lovely evening meal in the restaurant at the pub and then had a stroll around the village afterwards.

Evening Meal: Oddfellows Arms - Good choice of tasty food

Day 2 - Caldbeck to Keswick

Saturday 21st June - 18 miles, 7 3/4 hours

The forecast was predicting rain so we set off from Caldbeck debating whether to take the eastern high route over High Pike, or the lower level route to the west. We followed the path and road up to Nether Row where we had to decide.

By the time we reached the farm at Nether Row the few patches of clear sky were quickly disappearing. We opted to take the lower route in the hope that by avoiding high ground we might avoid the worst of the rain also.

This first section was very pleasant with good views back to Caldbeck.

Despite the lower route being a few miles longer, it was very easy walking following the contours of Caldbeck Fells.

We also saw a variety of wildlife on our way including a fox slinking across the fields and a brief glimpse of a red squirrel darting through the trees.

As we rounded the slopes of Longlands Fell we got a view across to Over Water. We also now saw the thick band of grey cloud moving closer, with the hills disappearing one by one. Just a few minutes later we were stopping to put on our waterproofs.

Leaving the road at Orthwaite we dropped down through fields towards Little Tarn. On a nearby telegraph pole we saw a buzzard. We stopped to admire it for a short while before continuing on over a stile. As we did so, it took off and circled overhead and started swooping closely above us. It suddenly dived at us only missing our heads by a few centimeters. We increased our pace trying to keep an eye out for it but it continued to pursue us and after several near misses it walloped onto Rachael's head. Fortunately the only damage was a couple of small puncture holes in the waterproof hood and bit of a bruised head! We sped up and soon passed by what ever it was protecting as it left us alone and to our relief disappeared.

We soon dropped down into the wooded valley surrounding Halls Beck. Under the protection of the trees we stopped for some lunch.

After just a few fields we reached the track that began the ascent up the northern slopes of the Skiddaw fells following Dash Beck up towards Whitewater Dash waterfall. The rain was quickly filling the small streams that crossed the path.

A brief cessation of the rain provided a good view back down the valley.

The wind picked up as we passed up onto open moorland heading towards Skiddaw House youth hostel.

Cloud lingered over the summit of Skiddaw. As we neared Skiddaw House we were joined by the eastern path. The view back towards High Pike was dark and grey, and the rain began to fall much harder. The path followed around the contour of the steep slopes of Lonscale Fell. We could only imagine what good views there could be from here on a good day.

Foxgloves added a splash of colour to the view down Whit Beck.

The cloud occasionally lifted just enough to give us a grey view of Keswick and Derwent Water, with the surrounding fells disappearing into thicker cloud.

We were glad to arrive in Keswick late in the afternoon. We reached Heatherlea Bed & Breafast dripping wet and stripped off the soggy waterproofs into binbags. These were promptly taken away to be dried out for us in the tumble drier.

We had plenty of choice for food and drink in Keswick that evening. We decided on the Bank Tavern as it came recommended by our hosts.

Evening meal: Bank Tavern - Excellent food and great value

Day 3 - Extra Day in Keswick

We stayed for two nights in Keswick. The initial plan was to have a leisurely day walking without our bags and to enjoy Derwent Water. Unfortunately the weather changed our plans as the rain did not stop.

We ventured out briefly in the wet to walk down to the lake and a little way along the shore. The wind was very strong and hard to walk against. The lake was very choppy, looking more like the sea with large waves. There was no sign of the launch, and not much sign of people either. The water level had risen, flooding the lakeside path and so we soon returned to the warmth and comfort of our B&B for the afternoon.

Evening Meal: Star of Siam Thai Restaurant - Excellent food

Day 4 - Keswick to Great Langdale

Monday 23rd June - 16.5 miles, 8 1/2 hours

We were relieved to wake to a much brighter calmer day. With all our clothes washed and dried we were ready to set off again. We left Keswick just before 10am, passing over the very full River Greta to reach the lake side at the North West edge.

We followed the woodland path to Hawes End, then down to the waters edge at Victoria Bay. There were great views across the lake towards Skiddaw and Blencathra. The lake looked so calm and beautiful in the sunshine, a complete contrast to the angry uninviting one of the previous day.

The water level around Brandelhow Bay was very high, with the footpath underwater in places.

As we reached the end of Derwent Water the path headed through bracken and across boardwalks over marshy areas towards Grange. The wooded peak of Castle Crag stood directly ahead in the sunshine, marking the entrance to Borrowdale.

It was a very pleasant walk through the Borrowdale woodlands close to the River Derwent. The trees now mask much of the remains of the quarries that once covered Castle Crag. An amazing mix of colours are noticeable in the slate here.

Shortly after emerging from the trees, we crossed the River Derwent via a packhorse bridge and then left it behind to reach the pretty village of Rosthwaite.

The path leaves Rosthwaite via a walled track into the steep sided valley of Stonethwaite with Eagle Crag dominating the view ahead.

We stopped for our packed lunch looking back across Stonethwaite Beck with Dale Head and High Spy clearly in view.

We heard Galleny Force more than we saw it. There was far more water in the beck than the last time we were here (walking the Inn Way to the Lake District). At the base of Eagle Crag where Greenup Gill and Langstrath Beck converge the path crosses the smaller river to head up the beautiful wilder Langstrath valley.

The Herdwick sheep thrive well in these remote areas, and seemed to really be enjoying the afternoon sunshine.

We now felt really in the heart of Cumbria. This section proved to be our favourite of the walk with incredible scenery all around.

As we reached the footbridge across Stake Beck the path turned steeply upwards beside the tumbling beck, the view expanding with every step.

At the end of the climb up Stake Pass the path levelled out to cross Langdale Combe, the boggy watershed between Langstrath and Langdale. Ahead we could see the shadowy bulk of Bowfell Buttress and Great Slab. Very close to our left was the pointed peak of Pike of Stickle.

Very soon we began the steep descent beside Stake Gill into Mickleden, with amazing views along the length of Great Langdale.

The track along Mickleden was still very wet from the previous two days of rain. We passed by the Old Dungeon Ghyll hotel to reach Millbeck Farm B&B.

Evening Meal: Sticklebarn Tavern - Good basic food, good choice of beer

Day 5 - Great Langdale to Little Langdale

Tuesday 24th June - 10 miles, 6 3/4 hours

We left our bed and breakfast about 10 o'clock and headed across the valley to rejoin the path. There was a great view back along the valley towards Bowfell and Crinkle Crags. The distinctive outlines of the Langdale Fells could be seen close by and were to remain a dominant feature for much of the day.

From Oak Howe the walking was easy across low lying fields towards Chapel Stile and then woodland track to Elterwater village.

We had been told at the bed and breakfast that the valley had been flooded with the heavy rains two days previous. The effects of the floods could be seen clearly with debris washed against fences and trees.

It was all very peaceful and calm on Elterwater.

A sudden change occurs from the calm meandering river as it reaches the narrow gorge which creates Skelwith Force waterfall. Here we took the alternative route through the woods to avoid the main road at Skelwith Bridge. The path now changed direction and headed towards the quiet valley of Little Langdale.

We took the branch of the path closest to the river to see the falls at Colwith Force. Unfortunately the trees obscure much of the view, but glimpses can be seen at a few points. We sat nearby to have lunch, and watched a nuthatch foraging in a tree.

We had decided to break the section into two days, with a detour into Little Langdale for an extra day to explore the area.

From High Park we took the track down to the pretty spot at Slater Bridge near Little Langdale Tarn.

Continuing along this track we passed Bridge End Farm and then reached our booked B&B at Fell Foot Farm.

On arrival we found a note on the door for us to say that we would not be able to stay. Unsure what to do, we checked out the map and decided to walk down the road to Little Langdale village where there was a pub. This turned out to be the Three Shires Inn who were very helpful and luckily had a room available, and provided excellent food.

Evening Meal: Three Shires Inn - Lovely menu and great food