Cumbria Way Ulverston to Coniston

 

Difficulty : ModerateDuration : 7 HrsDistance : 24 Km

 
The Cumbria Way is one of Britain's most popular long distance footpaths. The seventy mile long distance route runs from Ulverston in south Cumbria to Carlisle in the north, passing through and over the heart of the Lake Disrtict, England's finest countryside. The way is usually walked from south to north making this the first stage of the route. This stage is in terms of terrain one of the easiest but is still a tough walk with a total distance of twenty four kilometres. This stage that starts in the town of Ulverston will take you on a pleasant journey through farmers fields and country lanes before eventually reaching more familiar Lake District terrain at Beacon Tarn. The final part of the walk takes you along a lonely lakeside path beside beautiful Coniston Water towards the village of Coniston where a campsite and local B&B's will welcome your tired feet.


Full route description for this walk

 

The Cumbria Way starts its seventy mile long journey from the old market town of Ulverston situated to the south of the Lake District National Park boundary. The start of the walk is marked by a fantastic sculpture representing a compass with a cairn in the centre. The sculptures cairn in the centre contains rocks representative to the geology along the Cumbria Way route which is shown on the side of the cairn together with Ordnance Survey map references on key points along the route. The Sculpture was made and installed by sculptor Chris Brammall in February 2000.

Start Point Sculpture

Start Point Sculpture

Start Point Plaque

Start Point Plaque

To find the sculpture and the start of the Cumbria Way from the town centre simply follow the signs for the Glass Blowing Museum, next to the museum there is a large car park with a toilet block in the centre. Incidentally I will recommend that anyone doing this route in hot weather fills up with drinking water from these utilities as most of the walk is lowland lacking fresh drinkable water and has no refreshments along the way. You will see the sculpture at the far end of this car park. From the sculpture head towards a footpath sign that points in the direction of a small road leading up the side of a beck. This is known as The Gill and is the actual start of the Cumbria Way as noted on the sign on the bridge crossing the gill. Follow this road as it turns into a track and winds through the valley following the beck and the woodland on your left hand side. Once at the end of the woodland on the left you will see another footpath sign go off to the left crossing the beck, follow this stone walled path as it heads uphill edging the woodland now on your left. When you reach the top of the steep path you will come to a quiet road, just before you reach the road go through a tight opening in the stone wall on your right into the open fields. Follow the faint path now through the fields heading north all the time with the wall on your left, after several fields and about a kilometre you will reach Old Hall Farm, once you join the farm track follow it through the farm and out of the other side to the farms main entrance track until after the farm where you need to turn left where the path is clearly signposted to the left at a small stream.

Above Old Hall Farm

Above Old Hall Farm

Way Sign at Old Hall Farm

Way Sign at Old Hall Farm

Now head along the side of the waterway for a few metres before crossing a stile in the wall and then off in a north west direction over the muddy farm field. The path reaches the other side of the field and then heads uphill on a steep ascent keeping the Old Hall Wood on your left until you reach a wooden stile. From this stile you will get your first view of the Lake District's higher fells. Take the path to the right until after a few metres it bends off to the left and continues its ascent uphill as it passes Bortree Stile House, a house with views and location to make anyone jealous. The path passes to the left of the house still going uphill making its way up to a small rocky knoll, the path here is absolutely gorgeous in summer months with gorse, foxgloves and heather. After going through gates and crossing stiles the path is clearly marked through the gorse and heather and once on the top of the small rocky knoll you can now take in some impressive panoramic views over Ulverston to Morcombe Bay. You will notice to the left of Ulverston the tall lighthouse monument for the Arctic Explorer Sir John Barrow that sits above his home town of Ulverston on Hoad Hill.

Calla Lily at Old Hall Wood

Calla Lily at Old Hall Wood

Hoad Hill Monument

Hoad Hill Monument

Follow the path down the other side of the knoll over two stone walls and you will eventually reach a small road at Higher Lath Farm. Take care now as you head right following the road downhill for approximately half a kilometre, just after the road swings to the right and before the next buildings take a sharp left turn signposted for the Cumbria Way, go through the gate here and keep on the path with the stone wall to the right until it reaches the surfaced farm track, follow this track until it turns sharp right and as it does instead follow the path into the fields and follow it heading north for half a kilometre through fields and over a small stream until it reaches Stony Crag Farm. At Stony Crag Farm stay to the left of the buildings and continue along the path to the next farm just a few hundred metres away known as Hollowmire. At Hollowmire Farms follow the tracks out of the farm to the right heading towards the quiet road. Once at the quiet road turn left and follow the road for approximately 400 metres until the road starts to turn left, here there is a footpath leading of to the right sing posted for St John's church, take this path and you will reach this quaint little church with its slate roof and stone walls looking more than at home in its beautiful surroundings. Note that the gate to the path over to St Johns church is slightly hidden in summer by trees and bushes.

St John's Church

St John's Church

Coniston Fells

Coniston Fells

From St John's Church turn right onto the quiet road heading north east and walk until you reach the B5281 road. At the B5281 road take care and head left down the road until you get to the right turn to Brougton Beck. Head into this pretty little hamlet, the road will turn of to the right, however stick to the road on the left signposted as a dead end. Where the path now divides turn left down the track that runs down to Broughton Beck, don't go over the stone slab bridge but instead turn left through a gate and head uphill passing farmers sheds on the left. I have to admit that on my first attempt at the way this was where I got confused so I would recommend looking at the map for the ascent out of Broughton Beck. Look out or the yellow way signs here too.

After navigating through the stiles and footpaths the path eventually crosses the beck at some stepping stones and heads north following the wall on the left towards Knapperthaw. The path reaches the entrance road to Nettleslack that you must follow up to Knapperthaw. Walk past Knapperthaw Farm and take the road immediately after the farm that will take you to another road junction, at this second junction turn left and after just a few metres on the other side of the road to the right the Cumbria Way follows a track that crosses a cattle grid and on towards Keldray. At Keldray the path on some maps and guides goes through the property itself, however the actual path goes to the left, through a small stile and round a top field above the house. Once past the house follow the path of slightly to the left through a field and a few more stiles in walls until it heads down past another farm and onto the main A5092 road at the village of Gawthwaite and the border of the Lake District National Park.

Kiln Bank Foxgloves

Kiln Bank Foxgloves

Swan on Beacon Tarn

Swan on Beacon Tarn

At Gawthwaite take care crossing the main A5092 road and head for the opposing road that turns right and through the tiny hamlet then after bending round to the left turn left onto a road turning into a track heading uphill and away from Gawthwaite. As the track follows the contours around Gawthwaite Moor the Coniston Fells come into view ahead. About a kilometre after Gawthwaite a line of trees come up from the valley to join the track and a rough path signposted as 'Footpath Only' appears to the right, follow this path now downhill to High Stennerley as it zig zags round the buildings and then on through woodland and down to the quiet road at Kendall Ground. Once you get to the road turn right then immediately left signposted for the Cumbria Way. This next few hundred metres are a bit of a messy affair with mud and no clear path, simply head north then north east until you reach a stile onto a very quiet road. Turn left onto the road and follow it for about half a kilometre until it comes to a very sharp bend to the right. At this sharp bend instead of following the road take the bridleway straight ahead then left called Long Lane and signposted to Kiln Bank. Once you reach Kiln Bank turn right and pass the farm buildings, then go through the gate and take the path to the left. After a few hundred metres the bridleway splits, take the path to the right heading uphill away from the stone wall. The path follows a track now rounding Subberthwaite Bank to the right, once on top of the small ascent you will now be able to look north and see the buildings at Tottlebank. Simply head towards Tottlebank now using the many tracks through the fields here until you reach a quiet road that will lead you up towards Tottlebank.

Beacon Tarn

Beacon Tarn

Water Lillies

Water Lilies

At Tottlebank just behind the buildings on the other side of the quiet road is a public footpath sign, follow this path as it joins a track that leads you round the right side of Tottlebank high through lush bracken and ferns. After a kilometre you will descend into Cockenskell. At the bottom of the descent the track turns left at the stone wall, a few hundred metres on turn right through a gate signposted for the Cumbria Way and follow the stone walled path. At the end of the stone wall section go left down towards Greenholme Beck and cross it at a little stone bridge and then over a wooden stile. Follow the path uphill on the other side taking the left path as the path suddenly splits in two directions. This path then follows a very direct but also steep route uphill through heather and bracken and very quickly reaches the remote Beacon Tarn. Beacon Tarn is a beautifully wild, remote and quiet tarn, rarely visited except for walkers of the Cumbria Way as it is quite far from any main roads or car parks and much lesser known than many.

Trover Beck Footbridge

Trover Beck Footbridge

Trover Beck

Trover Beck

There are two paths round the tarn, the one on the left is usually the known route, however there is also a less boggy route to the right side of the tarn aswell. Either path will reach the far end of the tarn which is often covered with white water lilies and home to beautiful white swans. The path now leads away north from the tarn to an obvious col and then drops through a pleasant valley following a small stream down to boggy marshland. The path heads downhill and crosses a small stream before reaching the tarmac service road for Stable Harvey. Walk up the road for only a short while until you seen the track heading off left towards the edge of Tottle Bank, take this track edging the marshland of Stable Harvey Moss to the left. After a kilometre you will start to hear the rolling waters of Mere Beck, a fast running stream heading down towards Coniston Water. Once near the beck head to the left and cross it until you come to a path heading right following its left hand bank. Head down hill into the valley now following the Mere Beck on its left hand bank. After the quick descent down the Mere Beck valley you will come to the even bigger and faster Trover Beck. Follow the path over a wooden footbridge and up on to the A5084 main road.

Coniston Hall

Coniston Hall

Coniston Village

Coniston Village

Carefully cross the A5084 main road and take the footpath signposted for Coniston Water or lake shore. Once you get to the shore of Coniston Water the navigation couldn't be easier, simply turn left and walk the full length of Coniston Waters shores on an easy but rough path for approximately five kilometres until you reach Coniston Hall campsite and then follow the obvious route to the village itself.

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Photos taken on this walk

 
Images from March 1st & 2nd 2008.

Myself & Nicky at Cumbria Way start sculpture Nicky & Mum at Cumbria Way start sculpture The Gill Narrow stile in stone wall Cumbria Way sign behind Old Hall Farm Bortree Stile Hoad Hill monument Hollowmire South Farm St Johns Church Lambs and mother near Broughton Beck Highland Cattle at Bay Bottom Birch Bank Farm Campsite Nicky making breakfast Gloomy skies above Subberthwaite Bank Tottlebank road Tottlebank Cumbria Way above Cockenskell Greenholme Beck stile Beacon Tarn Beacon Tarn Skies above Beacon Tarn Stable Harvey Moss Mere Beck Torver Beck Coniston Water Coniston Water lakeside path Torver Common Woods reflections Torver Common Woods reflections Torver Common Woods reflections Lakeland House B&B
 
Images from July 3rd 2005.

Cumbria Way starting point sculpture Cumbria Way sculpture plaque Dead tree above Old Hall Farm White Calla Lily Cumbria Way sign post Hoad Hill monument Coniston Fells from Hollowmire St Johns Church Foxglove Coniston Water from Tottlebank Beacon Tarn Beacon Tarn White Water Lilies Torver Beck footbridge Torver Beck



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Images from March 1st & 2nd 2008.




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