Route Summary

Cumbria Way Route Summary

This page is designed to give you a brief overview of the route and how it breaks down into separate stages. The Cumbria Way route summary page offers basic information on each stage. For detailed information on each stage simply click the link on each stage summary below.

At approximate 73 miles long the Cumbria Way is typically walked over 5 or 6 days covering an average distance of 14 miles or so per day. The route seems to naturally break down into 5 stages giving an easy introduction to long distance walking. You can of course spread the trip over less or more days depending on your fitness, experience and inclination. Some walkers take seven or eight leisurely days on the route taking time out spend more time in some of the places en-route such as Borrowdale or even to climb Coniston Old Man, the Langdale Pikes or Skiddaw!

day one - Ulverston to Coniston

distance: 15.5 miles / 25 km (approx)
ascent 640 metres / 2,100 ft (approx)

Starting at the Cumbria Way marker sculpture in The Gill at Ulverston, a short, sharp climb out of Ulverston follows before the route heads over farmland for the first few miles before a gradual climb up to the rugged moorland of the Blawith Fells and Beacon Tarn. A sometimes damp, descent leads you off the heights before traversing the slopes of Coats Hill and descending further alongside a delightful beck and onto a magical wooded lakeside walk alongside the shores of Coniston Water. This 4 mile stretch of lakeside walking, although level, has been known to sap the strength of walkers but the scenery more than makes up for the tiredness. Upon reaching Coniston Hall a fenced path brings you out at your first stopover in the village of Coniston.
click for further details on the Ulverston to Coniston stage

The Hoad overlooks Ulverston at the start of the Cumbria Way © David Harrison
The John Barrow Monument atop the Hoad overlooks Ulverston at the start of the Cumbria Way
© David Harrison

day two - Coniston to Langdale - 13 miles

distance: 11.5 miles / 19 km (approx)
ascent: 500 metres / 1,650 ft (approx)

Day 2 begins with an easy climb to the popular chocolate box scenery of Tarn Howes with stunning views of the Coniston fells. After a delightful walk alongside Tarn Howes a gradual descent leads you eventually to Skelwith Force. There then follows a level walk close to lonely Elterwater which brings you out in the village of Elterwater and a chance for refreshments. This is then followed by a fantastic final 4 or 5 miles up the valley of Great Langdale with stunning views of the Langdale Pikes ahead of you before you reach the end of your second day at the Old Dungeon Ghyll.
click for further details on the Coniston to Langdale stage

The Old Dungeon Ghyll nestles at the foot of the Langdale Pikes © David Harrison
The Old Dungeon Ghyll nestles at the foot of the Langdale Pikes © David Harrison

day three - Langdale to Keswick - 15.5 miles

distance: 15.5 miles / 25 km (approx)
ascent: 650 metres / 2,150 ft

The first real climb of the Cumbria Way comes at the end of a secluded walk into the wonderful valley of Mickleden and its glacial moraines. After ascending the zigzags of Stake Pass and winding your way across Langdale Coombe there follows a descent alongside delightful waterfalls into the equally secluded Langstrath valley. After crossing Stonethwaite Beck which you then follow for 2 miles you reach Rosthwaite and a chance of a cuppa before a scenic walk through the finest scenery that Borrowdale can offer leads you to Grange. A short section of road walking a wooded trail alongside Derwentwater takes you through Portinscale and into the bustling lakeland town of Keswick and the end of day 3.
click for further details on the Langdale to Keswick stage

Looking back to Eagle Crag © Roger Hiley
Looking back to Eagle Crag from near Stonethwaite
© Roger Hiley

day four - Keswick to Caldbeck - 16 miles

High level: 15 miles / 24 km : Ascent 890 metres / 2,919 ft (approx)
Low level: 18 miles / 30 km : Ascent 900 metres / 2,952 ft (approx)

Today starts with a climb alongside the flanks of Latrigg and around the shoulder of Lonscale Fell before arriving at isolated Skiddaw House where you make the decision to follow the high level route over High Pike or opt for the more more cautious low level route which skirts the base of the fells. Unless you an experienced navigator In bad weather the choice is almost always straightforward – go low as navigation can be tricky on the tops here when the mist comes down. In fair weather I would always opt for the high level route through the valley and a delightful climb alongside Grainsgill Beck leading to a perfect butty stop at Lingy Hut. A gradual ascent tops you out on High Pike, the only Wainwright 214 fell on the whole route, before a grassy descent and short road walk fetches you out at Caldbeck and the end of day 4 of your Cumbria Way walk.
click for further details on the Keswick to Caldbeck stage

Looking back from the ascent on the flanks of Latrigg © Neil Lockier
Looking back from the ascent alongside Latrigg
© Neil Lockier

day five - Caldbeck to Carlisle - 15 miles

15.5 miles / 25 km (approx)
ascent: 160 metres / 525 ft (approx)

Just as the first day of your Cumbria Way trip started with gentle rolling farmland and easy tracks so the last day ends – until you hit Dalston. Keeping for the most part to farmland, woodland walks and tracks the route follows the River Caldew towards Carlisle. Dalston to Carlisle is on a cycle way and although many people complain about this section I find it to be thoroughly enjoyable and a final chance to stretch those legs before the end of your Cumbria Way adventure. However, although this section looks relatively easy on paper remember that looks are deceptive. Although relatively level all the way to Carlisle you have to remember that you have four days walking under your belt already and maybe the energy levels are dropping a bit! Finally you reach Carlisle and the Market Cross, take a photo and congratulate yourself on completing a fine walk through the best that Cumbria has to offer.
click for further details on the Caldbeck to Carlisle stage

Walking through fields at Parsons Park near Caldbeck © Dik Stoddart
Walking through fields at Parsons Park near Caldbeck
© Dik Stoddart

Check for potential route changes

Although I will endeavour to issue notice on this website of any route changes it is always advisable before you set off on your Cumbria Way journey to visit the Ramblers Cumbria Way page for the most up-to-date route information. The Ramblers are the organisation deemed responsible for the route and therefore it makes sense that they will be aware of any changes/diversions to the route before anyone else.