Cumbria Way and High Way

Key information: Cumbria Way and High Way

    • A fine and interesting walk, traversing one of the world's most beautiful and best-loved places. Said to be the least demanding of the UK's long-distance routes, following valleys and crossing low passes. 
      • The informal Cumbria High Route is a superb alternative for the more adventurous walker. 
        • Either way, you will enjoy some of the best the region's glacially scoured scenery, with gorgeous lakes winding between ancient, wild hills sporting soft woodland, foaming streams and waterfalls on their lower slopes. 
          • Both routes run between Ulverston in the south to Carlisle in the north, in 5 or 6 days - although, if time is short, you can cut out the first and last days, and cross the heart of the Lake District, in 3 or 4 days.

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Vital Statistics

  • Length: 75 miles
  • 5-6 days
  • Maximum Altitude: 2,000ft; 3,000ft(Skiddaw) on the High Way
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable

This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.

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WALK SUMMARY

The Cumbria Way is a fine and interesting walk, traversing one of the world's most beautiful and best-loved places, but/and (depending on your viewpoint) it is said to be the least demanding of the UK's long-distance routes, following valleys and crossing low passes, "a leisurely walk punctuated by teashops and country inns", as John Gilham says.

The informal Cumbria High Route, created by John Gilham for Cicerone Guide Books, is a superb alternative for the more adventurous walker, taking in some of the Lakes' finest landscape.

Either way, you will enjoy some of the best the region's glacially scoured scenery, with gorgeous lakes winding between ancient, wild hills sporting soft woodland, foaming streams and waterfalls on their lower slopes.

Both routes run south-north (or vice versa, if you like the sun (and wind) on your face), from Ulverston in the south to Carlisle in the north, in 5 or 6 days -although, if time is short, you can cut out the first and last days, and cross the heart of the Lake District, from Coniston to Caldbeck, in 3 or 4 days.

Day 1: Ulverston to Coniston. A long day, in attractive, undulating countryside, with the pleasures of Coniston Water toward the end. The High Route diverts to Torvers to set you up for day 2.

Day 2: Coniston to Great Langdale. Cross some of the loveliest landscape in the Lakes between these gorgeous valleys. On the High Route, you can take in the marvellous ridge that includes Swirl How (and the Old Man of Coniston if you feel like a further diversion), Wether Lam and Great Carrs and Wet Side Edge. A long day ending in Great Langdale.

Day 3: Great Langdale to Rosthwait in Borrowdale. Head west up the grand, gorgeous Mickleden valley toward the horseshoe of cliffs at its head. Climb to the right to cross Stake Pass to descend the lengthy remoteness of Langstrathdale to reach Rosthwait/Stonethwait in Borrowdale . Note: you can head on to Keswick (and the next day on the Caldbeck) if you want to save a day and challenge yourself more. High Way diversions: the Langdale Pikesand High Raise, or up the head of Mickleden to Angle Tarn and over Glaramara, which sinks to Borrowdale. Or, for the really keen, over Bowfell and Esk Pikemthen either down by Grains Gill to Seathwait or, for a longer day, over Glaramara to Borrowdale.

Day 4: Rosthwait to Skiddaw House, north of Keswick. A gentler but still gorgeous walk by the shores of Derwent Water to Keswick and then on to this high, remote former shooting lodge.

Day 5: Skiddaw House to Caldbeck Head down the Caldew valley, then climb to Lingley hut and High Pike, the highest point on the Cumbrian Way at 2,000 ft or so. If you have started the day near Keswick, it will be a longer day. The High Route diverts overSkiddaw.

Day 6: Caldbeck to Carlisle. Follow the Caldew valley to Carlisle. Attractive and interesting, but you are out of the grand country now.

The Lakes have lots of weather. While there are periods of glorious sunshine, come prepared for cloud and rain. Some of the Lakes' most beautiful light is on showery, broken cloudy days, so don't be disheartened by a mixed forecast!

The Cumbria Way - Cicerone, John Gilham, covers both routes. As usual, an inspiring book (indeed Walkopedia was alerted to the concept of the High Way by the Cicerone), packed with valuable information, including excellent detail on the route. Recommended. Find relevant books by using our Amazon search function:


See our Lake District page for further photos and lots of general and practical information.

ANYONE GOT ANY GOOD PHOTOS? WE WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO POST THEM!

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Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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