The Cumbria Coastal Way

Location : Arnside / Levens / Grange-over-Sands / Ulverston / Aldingham / Barrow-in-Furness / Millom /Haverigg / RavenglassSeascale / St Bees / Whitehaven / Harrington / Workington / Maryport / Allonby / Silloth / Skinburness Newton Arlosh /Burgh by Sands / Carlisle / Rockcliffe
 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
 

This is the diary of a walk of some 180 miles on the Cumbria Coastal Way (CCW) by Peter and Jeanne Donaghy and John and Gillian Laidler, two couples verging on their seventies, reasonably experienced walkers and joint authors of 3 walking guides (Lakeland Church Walks, Northumbria Church Walks and Metro Walks).

 

Our overall impression of the CCW was one of delight in the opportunity to enjoy the splendour of the natural environment in a relatively isolated area with its accompanying peace and stillness. However, it has been rather neglected in parts and while the route generally hugs the coastline, minor deviations are hard to pick up and the route is not always clear.

 

Generally we relied on the Cicerone guide book: The Cumbria Coastal Way by Ian and Krysia Brodie. Naturally there have been changes since the book was published: stiles and gates have disappeared and new fences have been erected, but making allowances and using common sense we benefited enormously from its use.

 

We also used the following OS maps: Outdoor Leisure No 6 The English Lakes: South Western area; OL No 7 The English Lakes South Eastern area; Explorer 314 Solway Firth and OS Explorer 315 Carlisle . These were particularly important when for a variety of reasons we needed to deviate from the route as described in the guide book.

 

From time to time we found CCW waymarks, but these are inadequate in some sections. There was at least one part where the route was virtually impassable (see Day 12 Nethertown) so we feel there is quite a lot of work to be done by the Footpaths Officers and the Tourist Authorities in order to ensure the survival of this Way.

 

While it is clearly possible and indeed commendable to use the train service that parallels most of this section, we opted to use two cars, leaving one at each end of our daily walk. Although the daily walks are numbered below in sequence, time constraints in practice meant we had to complete the walk in three sections 1.Silverdale to Barrow (staying overnights in Ulverston; Barrow to St Bees (staying overnights in Broughton on Furness) and 3. St Bees to Gretna-Metal bridge (staying overnights in Cockermouth).

 

1. Silverdale to Milnthorpe Bridge: 9.5 miles

 

After a short climb along the roadside from Silverdale Station we soon found ourselves passing an unusual coin-lined tree trunk and descending on a pleasant woodland path to reach the sea shore. A pleasant walk took us along the sands until we encountered the old chimney at Jenny Brown’s Point and turned to rejoin a road.

 

The road led us past some attractive dwellings and to our delight a welcome break for refreshments in the pleasant surrounds of Kayes Nursery Gardens & Tea Rooms Centre on the outskirts of Silverdale proper. Once back to the shoreline we had to navigate our way across a stony area but we were rewarded by plenty of fine views across the Kent estuary and Grange-over-Sands.

 

At Arnside Point we climbed away from the shore and followed the cliffside path. Eventually as we got closer to Arnside we obtained splendid views of the Kent Viaduct. Arnside iteself was worth a visit in its own right and we had to resist the temptation to linger too long. Once over the railway line we made our way along an embankment and after a little more shore walking we reached Sandside. After which we found the last part of our journey a little tedious as we walked along the road to Milthorpe Bridge.

 

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

2. Milnthorpe Bridge to Grange-over-Sands: 12 miles

 

From the bridge, the early part of today’s walk consisted of road walking along a quiet country lane for about 2.5miles. This led to the busy A6 a path alongside of which took us in a short distance to Levens Bridge. Here Levens Hall with its famous topiary gardens and fine cafe provided relief in every sense of the word. Being well-refreshed certainly helped us to fight our way through the balsam on the path that led to the bankside of the River Kent.

 

We then followed the river for a short distance before more tarmac along a lane before more pleasant walking over fields with views back across the estuary towards the previous day’s route. Eventually we bore inland to arrive at the attractive hamlet of Meathop. From here there was a rather tiring stretch of road walking for some 3 miles before we reached the welcome sanctuary of Grange-over-Sands, but at least we had been blest with warm sunny weather all day!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

3. Grange-over-Sands to Haverthwaite: 9 miles

 

The day started with a gentle stroll along the long promenade with parkland on one side and the sea somewhere in the very far distance. No sign of sands! The climb out of Grange was alleviated by views of the fine dwellings that make this such a haven. After a short section along the saltmarsh we headed inland once more.

 

More quiet road walking followed until we arrived at the T-junction at the end of the lane (Willow Lane). Here the CCW turns left to make a big loop around Cowpren Point before turning inland again to Cark. However, we opted to take a short cut by turning right and following the road via Flookburgh directly to Cark.

 

Obviously we missed the views promised by the official route but we felt the saving of some 3.5 miles on such a long stretch was worth it in our case. After reaching the rear entrance to Holker Hall we climbed quite steeply through woodland to emerge on rugged moorland from where once more we obtained splendid views over the estuary and the Leven Viaduct.

 

Then with several ascents and descents we crossed farmland and spotted red deer at Speel Bank Farm. A gradual descent took us past Bigland Tarn through some woods and onto the road (B5278) that led us to the bridge over the River Leven just before Haverthwaite. A pleasant and varied walk but we were certainly very pleased to save those extra miles!

 

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

4. Haverthwaite to Aldington: 10.5 miles

 

This section was once again at sea level as we followed the Leven on quiet roads and footpaths to Roudsea Wood and Mosses Nature Reserve. Shortly after leaving the pleasant tree-lined road we crossed the river over a generous footbridge to arrive at the A590 near Greenodd. While the initial section was on a path by the river we soon had to take to the grass verge at the side of the busy road.

 

We then endured a rather tedious 1.5 miles or so as a stream of traffic hurried by until we found the lane that led us down to the Leven Estuary. It was a relief to join the path along the shore and walk the short distance to Ulverston Canal Foot. (As our lodgings for three nights were here we were able to explore the remanents of this once important canal, visit Ulverston, and enjoy excellent food and splendid views of the Leven Viaduct at the Bay Horse).

 

Unfortunately the CCW then turns inland and through an industrial area dominated by the GSK pharmaceutical plant until it returns to the shore after a a short distance. However we were soon rewarded with pleasant views across the estuary to Chapel Island on our left and into the grounds of Conishead Priory on our right. Eventually we reached the solid looking church of St Cuthbert at Aldingham and the end of a generally pleasant day’s walk.

 

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

5. Aldington to Barrow: 9 miles

 

Again most of the journey was along the shore of the estuary with a good section near Rampside, where we left the shore to walk along the sea wall where previous storms had deposited thin layers of sand. We then followed the road to the beginning of the causeway to Roa Island beyond which lies Piel Island and its ruined castle.

 

Resisting the temptation to follow the causeway we turned right and after a short distance we picked up the enclosed path that led us onto a tarmac track once part of a former railway. From here onwards the views were of gas terminals, industrial buildings and dockyard cranes glinting in the sunlight as interesting reminders of the economic significance of this area.

 

We made our way through the centre of the town passing the fine Victorian Town Hall and the imposing statue of Sir James Ramsden, the industrialist responsible for much of Barrow’s 19th century development, to arrive at the Dock Museum. In addition to an illuminating expose of industrial heritage, the museum offers the weary walker good cafe and toilet facilities.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

6. Barrow to Roanhead: 6 miles

 

On this occasion we had to restrict ourselves to six miles due to the fact that we began our walk in the late afternoon. We left The Dock Museum in damp, overcast weather to make our way along the canal side promenade passing an unusual pair of boots (Miner’s by Colin Telford ,2003) and taking in views across the muddy channel to Walney Island.

 

The clear path took us over the reclaimed slag banks before we left the shoreline to follow the footpath adjacent to the busy A590. However, the return to the shore was somewhat overgrown and the subsequent walk across the stony shore didn’t make for rapid progress.

 

In view of the shortage of time and poor visibility we decided not to go to the end of Scarth Bite. Instead we opted to use our map reading skills and pick up a waymarked path across country which led us to a lane a few hundred yards from the car park at Roanhead.

 

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

7. Roanhead to Broughton-in-Furness: 8.5 miles

 

We continued our journey again in disappointing weather conditions making our way down the track from the car park to the beach. This section over shingle and at times very sticky sand took us past the so-called Askam Pier, created from slag from the former iron works once of significant importance.

 

We eventually reached the raised landmass of Dunnerholme, on top of which is perched the sixth green of Holme Golf Course. After carefully following the waymarks across the golf course, we then came across a major hurdle. Our path lay alongside the railway line through a reeded area which because of heavy rain had become swamp-like. We struggled through for a while but the way ahead appeared endless and our spirits receded. However, we took advantage of a waymarked stile to cross the railway line and follow the public footpath to Sautergate.

 

This proved to be a wise decision and with the aid of the OS map we made our way through the delightful hamlet of Sandside and rejoined the official CCW at Kirkby-in-Furness. From here the Way was much easier as we proceeded inland over pleasant green sections and a quiet lane to Foxfield.

 

From here the final section was particularly attractive with splendid views over the estuary and then over and down to our destination, Broughton-in Furness. A day of mixed fortunes.

 

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

8. Broughton-in Furness to Millom: 7.5 miles

 

After a short tour of this delightful town where we were based for two nights, we set off just before midday to continue inland mainly on green paths and beside the River Lickle to Duddon Bridge. With care and the help of the traffic lights we crossed the bridge and left the busy road to find our way to the ruins of the Duddon Iron Furnace.

 

We climbed steeply through pleasant woodland and fortunately happened upon the partly hidden right of way sign that directed us towards to the main road. We were forced to revisit our limbo dancing skills in order to make our way through some fallen trees and heavy undergrowth before reaching the busy road. After a short section along the grass verge we were pleased to take the quiet lane to Ladyhall with its attractive dwellings.

 

From here we made our way to the embankment and once again further views across the estuary. The embankment virtually led us all the way to Millom with only sheep to obstruct our path at one stage. All in all this was an easy and pleasant walk.

 

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

9. Millom – Silecroft: 8 miles

 

We set out in glorious sunshine from the old railway bridge we had previously reached at the entrance to Millom. We followed the track which eventually broadened out and passed our first CCW sign and also an information board about the nature reserve on the site of the former iron works. We continued ahead with the estuary opening up on our left and after passing the wide expanse of the former quay we reached the beginning of the sand dunes and a notice warning of an underground cable. However, we noticed the stile on the right and walked along the grassy field edge.

 

This pleasant path eventually climbs between the hedgerows and passes a ruined windmill before descending to the Outer Barrier created in 1888-9 to protect the iron ore mine at Hodbarrow. We paused to read the information board and to admire the metal lighthouse built in 1905 and lovingly restored in 2002.

 

Then onto Haverigg along the sea defence wall and crossing over the bridge over the river to stop for some liquid refreshments in the pleasant beer garden of The Harbour pub after 2 hours of walking.

 

Back onto the coast, we found a convenient bench to enjoy our sandwiches not far from the Beach Cafe, public loos and childrens play park. Suitably reinvigorated we strolled along the top of well trodden path to arrive at the sculpture ‘Escape to Light’ in honour of those who lost their lives in sea rescues, appropriately located near the Inshore Rescue Station.

 

We descended to the foreshore and enjoyed a further 2 hours gentle walking along the wide clean beach. It was along this section that to their delight the sharp-eyed ladies spotted the rare fairy foxglove flower. With the tide out it was possible to walk as far as the car park beside the beach near Silecroft with only minor sections over stones. We got there shortly after 5pm just after the ice cream van moved off – but at least the public toilets were open!

 

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

10. Silecroft to Stubbs Place Farm: 8 miles

 

In ideal conditions on a beautifully warm and sunny day and with the tide well out, we started with 2 miles along the seashore on firm sand with the occasional shingle/stone section. We managed to spot the finger post to the track up through the last of the line of clay cliffs.

 

This led us to a stile and into a series of fields and tracks to pass over the top of Annaside Bank. We were then back on the beach for a very short section before walking parallel to the coast along a grassy track. Very comfortable walking here! We stopped for our sandwiches before tackling what was to be the first slightly difficult section of the entire walk.

 

After passing a small tarn at Hyton Marsh and crossing over the River Annas, via a pleasant bridge with attractive stone supports, the path took us below the cliffs. The path was very uneven and care was needed to pick our way along the eroded bankside before climbing a short way to a field as the river turned to the sea. The farm buildings at Selker appeared and we went through the gate to the left and descended towards the shore again along a farm track.

 

The guide book indicated that we should walk along the edge of the fields but unfortunately erosion has changed the topography, new fences had been erected and we were forced to walk over the shingle and stone strewn beach. There was considerable evidence of a damaged coastline, broken sea defences and lots of flotsam and jetsom. Occasionally we managed to find access to a grassy path but in the main we had to walk along seashore until we reached a metalled road and the car park at Stubbs Place Farm.

 

The stark warning signs about the MOD establishment at Eskmeals gave us something to talk and think about in anticipation of the following day. A great day’s walking. We like this Cumbria Coastal walk!

 

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

11. Stubbs Place Farm- Drigg: 12 miles

 

Again the weather was excellent. The red warning flags and warning signs were accompanied by two loud explosions out to sea as we followed the road past the MOD Eskmeals Proof and Experimental Establishment. After a little over a mile we took the public footpath along a drive past an attractive property (Eskmeals House) and then negotiated our way over a number of fields with the aid of our Guide Book. However, stiles had disappeared and we had to rely on experience and map reading before we reached the road at Newbegin.

 

From here to Hall Waberthwaite Church we were on more familiar ground as we found our way to the estuary and on to the church (featured in our own Lakeland Church Walks). Despite reference to a ford on the OS map it is impossible to cross at this point and instead we needed to walk inland to cross the River Esk higher up. As we left this rather desolate spot we were encouraged to see a notice for walkers warning us that this was a tidal area. At least someone seems to be aware of this route! However, again the lack of signs and overgrown paths made this a particularly tricky area to cover.

 

From Rougholme Farm and the attractive pack horse bridge we made our way back towards the River Esk. Happily we managed to reach the road (A595) without too many meanders and we were rewarded with fine views of Muncaster Castle.

 

The next  mile was by the side of this busy road with lots of side stepping onto the narrow grass verge – is certainly not for the faint hearted! Surly some traffic calming measures are needed at the bridge! We were relieved to enter the quiet access track past Hirst Lodge. Soon we were into the delightful woods and onto the permissive path in the castle grounds where waymarks helped us on our way. Here we divided into two parties to sample both the estuary and high tide alternative path neither of which presented any problems.

 

There were good views of Hall Waberthwaite Church and the Eskmeals viaduct before we were back along the estuary shore and our first sandy walk of the day-and into delightful village of Ravenglass. Getting short of time we resisted the opportunity to partake of refreshments and instead we continued with a mixture of road walking and enclosed grassy lanes to Drigg. From here there was a long and wearying stretch on the road down to the coastal car park from where we were rewarded with splendid views of seals on a half submerged sandbank. A tiring section which took about 7 hours but a really pleasant day with contrasting landscapes.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

12. Drigg to St Bees: 12 miles

 

Overcast but mild as we set out from the coastal car park after coffee at the Craft Shop at Drigg Station. A pleasant track across the dunes in a designated area of Special Scientific Interest where we saw some beautiful butterflies. Then easy walking on clean sands to Seascale with St Bees Head nearly always lying encouragingly ahead. Short toilet stop in ‘time-stands-still’ Seascales, then along the obvious path parallel to the railway as far as the Sellafield complex.

 

Fascinating to see this at close hand and no problem in crossing the River Calder via the bridge BNFL. However, refurbishment work on a pipeline completely obstructed the route just beyond Sellafield Station waymarked. However we managed to detour via Cycleway 72 where we found a conveniently placed picnic bench to stop for lunch. Here we delighted in the sight of a deer veering of the track and over a nearby field. Then along a disused railway embankment to rejoin the route via a bridge over the river. Stiles seem high around here and the ladies needed to take advantage of a dog flap at one stage!

 

We were soon on the beach again, only this time the going became tough underfoot as we made our way across shingle and stone as rain began to fall. Nevertheless spirits were raised as our nature-loving wives came across a nest with three eggs with almost buried in the sand.

 

A great variety of chalets dot the coastline near Braystones Station, and this did enable us to follow a more regular track from time to time. Weared by the difficult surface, we decided to leave the foreshore to take advantage of an alternative route offered through Nethertown. However, after we descended past the railway station we encountered a major obstacle in the form of huge boulders strategically positioned to protect the cliff around a new looking property.

 

How the route could be so effectively blocked made us frustrated and angry, and we wondered how those responsible for footpaths could allow this to happen. This was the only real downside on the whole walk. The onset of heavier rain and wind made clambering across the boulders particularly perilous, after which we were further endangered by very slippery rocks, stones and seaweed.

 

This section is not to be recommended!

 

With hindsight it would have been much better to have made our way to St Bees (3 miles) via the country road we spotted on the map. Perhaps we could have rejoined the beach closer to St Bees (planners and future walkers please take note). Nevertheless we managed to trudge over the uneven surface for a further couple of miles with occasional respite as we passed chalets, some of which had an amazingly permanent appearance. As St Bees came closer, with water-sports enthusiasts enjoying the swirling wind, the smooth sands provided a welcome finale to our day.

 

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

13. St Bees to Lowca: 8.75 miles

 

The route from St Bees starts with a climb to the highest point on the Way: the two Heads of Baruth. This coincides with the beginning of the Coast to Coast Walk that we had previously covered, but this time, although it was early October, we were blessed with excellent weather.

 

The views across the sea to the west and back to the fells on the east were clear and stunning and we appreciated the location indicators available in the old coast guard ruin. As we made our way we could appreciate the red sandstone that characterises these headlands and that has provided the stone for many of the older north-west Cumbrian churches.

 

Although there was a marked absence of bird life at this time of year, the RSPB Nature Reserve signs reminded us that this is a major nesting site. Approaching Whitehaven, a faded plaque recalled that this, the first section of the CCW, was opened in 1985. Then we became aware of the previous existence of coalmining along this stretch of coastline as we passed the Haig Mining Museum and an aptly named sculpture The end of an era as we descended into Whitehaven. Here the marina and promenade provided a pleasant contrast to the cliff top walking we had enjoyed earlier.

 

Leaving Whitehaven, we more or less followed the railway as we made our way in and out of the coastline and through Parton before climbing again quite steeply to Lowca, the former site of yet another colliery. Here we found the reclaimed spoil heaps now dotted with a new source of energy- wind turbines as we ended a very pleasant 5 hour-days walking.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

14. Lowca to Maryport: 12 miles

 

Happily a newly signposted bridlepath on your left, after about a mile from the top end of Lowca, reduced the need for road walking to a bearable minimum. Thereafter the route was well-marked and largely followed an old mineral railway track. Once again the sea lay within a short distance. By the time we reached Harrington, with its rather neglected-looking harbour, we were in need of some refreshments. Avoiding the temptations of the pub, we elected to divert under the railway viaduct that straddles the town, and explore the main shopping street, at the end of which we were rewarded with takeaway coffees and cookies at the Pat-a-Cake Bakery.

 

After enjoying a break by the harbour, we resumed our walk along the coast. The path took us beneath the railway line that accompanied us past the sadly abandoned Corus complex (formerly British Steel) – yet another symbol of the industrial heritage of this area. Eventually we reached the out-of-town shops and business units of Workington, whereupon we turned left to make our way quite steeply back to the coastline.

 

The path overlooked the still-active quarry before leading us up and over The Howe and down to the harbour entrance. Once again the lack of shipping provided evidence of the decline of the traditional sources of local employment as we followed the River Derwent around the once thriving port area. When the river turned inland we found ourselves walking for a considerable distance this time with the railway line on our right.

 

Newer industrial sites at Siddick and Flimby came into view behind the tall wind turbines as we walked along the edge of the stone-strewn beach. Eventually the coastal way led us into the renovated harbour area of Maryport and the end of a really varied and interesting seven hour walk.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 15. Maryport to Skinburness: 15 miles

 

Leaving the harbour area with its museum and information point we passed a sculpture recalling the ports fishing tradition before taking the long promenade stretch which leads to an undulating grassy path above the beach until you reach the golf course. Here we stopped at the club house for coffee before cautiously make our way along the edge of the course and onto the clear coastal path beyond.

 

Allonby provided the opportunity for further refreshment in the form of Twentymans famous ice cream. The way ahead was now straightforward. A short section on the roadside sea defences led to a mixture of paths through sand dunes with sections along the beach sometimes necessitating crossing streams with or without footware. Eventually we arrived at Silloth with its wide Victorian main street and old-style park, and childrens paddling pool. Again a good place to halt awhile and enjoy further nourishment while we coincided with a local festival.

 

Then along the extensive promenade cum-sea defence wall to continue along the path as it hugged the coast practically all the way to Skinburness.

 

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

16. Skinburness to Kirkbride 11 miles

 

We passed the sadly closed and boarded up hotel – a symbol of more prosperous times in this quiet hamlet. Then we had no hesitation in following the road rather than chancing our way across the marshy inland route with numerous water channels to circumnavigate. The tarmac road with a grassy sea protection mound alternating between the left and right hand side of the road offered good views. However, when we joined the more main road near Calvo Farm some high speed traffic caused us frequently to retreat onto the verge.

 

Then mercifully we were able to turn off onto a quiet side road signposted to Brownrigg. After crossing a bridge apparently the Rumbling Bridge – where we spotted a welcome CCW sign and met up again with the coastal route . We followed this pleasant path and eventually joined a road just behind the badly fire-damaged ruin of Holme Cultram Abbey.

 

We continued along the road behind the abbey and made our way to Newton Arlosh with its interesting variety of properties and its splendidly fortified church. At the Joiners Arms we branched right intending to pick up the footpath. However, deterred by the soggy nature of the fields we decided to continue along the road via the airfield and industrial estate to Kirkbride. (On subsequent reflection we realised that had we not turned right we could have followed a shorter road towards Angerton and saved 0.75 miles.!).

 

The village is surprisingly extensive with some beautiful cottages as well as a well-stocked PO/General Store, and the small church of St Bridget with its ancient font and Norman chancel arch is a real gem.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

17. Kirkbride to Beaumont 8.5 miles

 

We began by walking along a quiet road and over the River Wampool to the junction at Whitrigg and beyond. Then there was a much more pleasant stretch on a green path between hedgerows that led into Drumburgh Moss and its nature reserve. This was a pleasant area especially for wild flower enthusiasts but care was needed to keep our feet dry as we made our way over rather sodden ground.

 

A delightful lane brought us to the village of Drumbrugh where among the pleasant dwellings is a substantial house, once a 16th century border castle, standing within sight of the Solway Estuary. Between here and Carlisle the CCW now shares the same route as the more popular Hadrians Wall Trail. We followed the straight road for most of the next 4 miles or so, about half of which gives views of the estuary before turning inland to arrive at Burgh by Sands.

 

Here at the roadside next to the pub there is a splendid modern statue of Edward I who died in battle not far from here in 1307. We opted not to take the suggested path to the site of his death at Burgh Marsh and instead continued ahead past the church to leave the road and follow the path across the fields to Beaumont.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

18. Beaumont to Carlisle 6 miles

 

In Beaumont we found another splendidly solid-looking church standing as the village name indicates on a beautiful mound adjacent to a small green with a convenient bench..We made our way from St Marys Church down the lane and then onto a path that led us to the River Eden. We enjoyed the views both from the low level section by the river as well as from the undulating stepped path through the trees with its small bridges and kissing gates.

 

We took the shorter Hadrians Wall path to Grinsdale via Kirkandrews-on-Eden instead of following the suggested riverside route. Once through Grinsdale we found our way back to the riverside and followed the gently meandering path for some 2.75 miles to Carlisle. At the approach to the city we passed a sports ground before crossing a bridge over the Eden and we entered Bitts Park with its substantial Queen Victoria monument, pleasant gardens and playgrounds nestling below the castle.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

19. Carlisle to Metal Bridge: 9.5 miles

 

We crossed the road bridge at Carlisle over the River Eden and descended towards the river with splendid views over the cricket field to the castle. After a short section along the river bank we climbed back to make a detour along some pleasant streets before regaining the riverside.

 

We had assumed that on this, our last stage of the CCW, we would be following the River Eden virtually all the way until it reached The Solway. The reality was slightly different as we found ourselves making frequent incursions into the neighbouring fields with occasional struggles to cross overgrown stiles. However the way was generally clear. At Rockcliff we came across a further, but somewhat simpler, cricket field together with the first housing since leaving Carlisle.

 

Only the final section presented any challenge as we turned north-eastwards to leave the Eden through farmland to find the River Esk. After crossing the busy London-Glasgow railway line, we followed the riverside to our final destination, the Metal Bridge Inn (we decided not to be purists and continue into Scotland and Gretna). Our disappointment at finding the pub deserted and boarded up was, however, mitigated by the arrival of our ‘personal chauffeur’ who had managed to navigate the complicated road works at the adjacent section of the A74 and found an access road to our meeting place at the pub.

 

After mutual congratulations on our achievements we happily made our way via a B road to Carlisle and onwards to the comforts of our homes.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Conclusions

 

Perhaps because we had to undertake this walk in stages on separate occasions we did not have the sense of completing a long distance walk as with other routes we had followed. Our sense of achievement, however, lay in the fact that we had managed to cover the Way despite the lack of waymarks and the existence of physical obstacles in several areas.

 

Anyone expecting to walk entirely along the coast will be disappointed as the route meanders inland for substantial sections. Nevertheless there are some really attractive areas of coastline to explore and we hope that our descriptions will encourage others at least to follow the parts we have most enthused about. At the same time we hope that greater interest in the CCW might lead those responsible to re-invigorate the route with up-to-date waymarking and improved accessibility.

 

Good walking in Cumbria is not only confined to the fells!

 

See other walks by Peter Donaghy.

 

Overview of the Cumbria Western Coast.

Go to Menu :