Cumbria Way "High Ridge" Route 2010

Cumbria High Ridges 


The announcement said doors were closing for my flight to Manchester, so I sprinted down the hallway with several other panicked passengers. Just made it.

My flight from San Francisco to Heathrow was late, customs was short but the security line was long. I cut in front when I heard my flight called, then another line for photos, another for a paper check. I was lucky to make it onto the plane.

A quick exit at Manchester, 15 minute walk to the train station and a two hour ride to Ulverston where the Cumbria Way begins its journey north to Carlisle. Now that the rush was over, I could relax and enjoy.

Selecting The Walk

I have walked many of the major paths in the UK, but never the Cumbria Way (CW). Perhaps I was never particularly interested because it wasn’t long enough (5 days) or seem challenging enough to warrant a trip from California. But then, I started looking at the route from a different perspective.

The Way passes through some terrific countryside from Ulverston to Carlisle (including the heart of the Lake District) albeit mostly at a lower altitude than the surrounding mountains. What if I extended the walk by taking extra days to walk the high ridges and mountains east and west of the path? In effect, making the walk a “high ridge” Cumbria Way. This was an exciting prospect, but would take a lot more planning than simply following a guidebook.

Cumbria Way (w/o Deviations)
Standard Cumbria Way Route

Here Was My Rough Plan

  1. I could add Coniston Old Man and Swirl How (west of the CW)
  2. I could add two days going from Elterwater to Patterdale via St Sunday and returning
    over Striding Edge (east of the CW).
  3. A fellow UK walker alerted me to the glorious Glaramara ridge on the way to
    Borrowdale. This sounded too inviting to pass up (west of the CW).
  4. There is the Dale Head ridge walk from Borrowdale to Buttermere, then I could take
    an extra day to climb Haystacks and possible High Stile (west of the CW).
  5. There is the incredible Whiteless Pike/Causey Pike ridge walk from Buttermere
    that has been beckoning to me for a couple of years (west of the CW).
  6. I would like to spend an extra day at Keswick to climb Blencathra via Hall’s Fell
    (east of the CW).

Based on these deviations, the most I’ll see of the Cumbria Way will be the first two days out of Ulverston and the last two days from Keswick to Carlisle. Because I’ll be deviating most days, route descriptions are written in quite a bit of detail so that other walkers can easily reproduce this walk if they choose.

Preparation And Ulverston Arrival

As usual, I pre-booked all my accommodations and purchased my train tickets on-line six weeks in advance (for lowest fares). I’ll be walking with 15 pounds in my Osprey pack, a Marmot jacket, Lowa boots and Komperdell carbon ultra-lite poles. I’ll be using OS maps along with the Cumbria Way guidebook by John Trevelyan.

When I arrived in Ulverston, I found my B&B locked tight so I toured the indoor market, shook hands with the Laurel and Hardy statues (Stan Laurel is the hometown celebrity), saw some interesting old buildings, picked up £200 at the bank ATM and purchased a box of Compeed to care for any future blisters on my feet.

I was hungary so I popped into the King’s Inn. I had a pork dinner for only £3.95. The Tetley’s XB (a dark ale) wasn’t well kept, so I wish I had chosen the more local Robinson’s. The owner was very friendly and gabby. He was telling me how this part of Yorkshire was the best, south is too urban, north is too skint, east is too ethnic and west is too close to Iceland (?). Also, he bragged about making the best Yorkshire pudding (it was terrible). At least he was entertaining.

Finally, I went back to the B&B and saw the kid coming home from school. He was surprised the door was locked so went next door for the key and let me in. Soon the daughter came home all apologetic; her mother was out of town so she is running the place. I took a shower and crashed about 6:30 pm. I didn’t wake until 6:30 the next morning, a solid twelve hours sleep.

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