Cumbria Way Day 5
Conistion to Ulverston
This was a section of the Cumbria Way that we had walked on two previous attempts of the Cumbria Way. On both occasions it had rained for the duration of the day resulting in the abandonment of the walk (the only trail to beat us yet). Fortunately this was our last day, so as far as we were concerned the weather could do what it wanted. It did, but more of that later.
As we started out from Coniston the weather was calm and pleasant, making the walk down Coniston Water a very enjoyable experience. I seem to remember on the previous attempts (in the other direction) trudging along the never-ending lake side looking like a drowned rat and being thoroughly miserable.
Nice to see was a huge Duke of Edinburgh expedition heading towards Ambleside along the Cumbria Way. There must have been at least 25 kids in the group and they seemed to be having a whale of a time, although by the look of it some of their rucksacks needed a helping hand in packing. It was along the Lakeside that we managed to take the only photos of the day also.
Soon enough the path drifted away from the water side, crossed a road and entered the rather bleak looking Torver Low Common. The way up to Beacon Tarn was a mixture of bog stone and firm ground. Gradually the rain started to fall, and as we reached the Tarn a heavy persistent drizzle started that signaled rain for the rest of the day. Somethings never change. The common, in places, is criss-crossed with other paths, and like many other places on the Cumbria Way the waymarking is almost non-existent, meaning regular checks of the map were important.
The temperature had dropped and for the first time since leaving Keswick the wind picked up too forcing on the waterproofs and some warmer clothing. The walking on this section, although easy was now being marred by a succession of styles which had the effect of really slowing us down, not really being totally recovered from the long day that we had to Elterwater.
I’m sure in fine weather the route is thoroughly enjoyable – there was certainly the suggestion of fine views, but with the weather closing in the walk had become a slog, including a number of fields that were doing a fine impression of a WW1 battlefield. Just when things couldn’t really have been much more miserable it rained. Not just any old rain but rain. Imagine standing under Niagra Falls for an hour, that is probably the closest description I can think of that gets anywhere near how heavy the rain was. Close to the end there is quite a steep climb up a narrow road for around half a mile. The water was running down the road up to our ankles. In the end we just had to laugh as the last 3 or 4km were almost swum. My backpack cover had even managed to create a pool of water inside itself. This was taking great delight in sloshing itself over the back of my legs, until it was noticed and forcibly removed.
We got soaked.
It really was nice to get to the finish!
The pub though, was selling pints of Wainwright. What a lovely pint and very appropriate to finish the Cumbria Way. We only stopped for one however, it was getting a bit chilly sitting there in the wet gear!
Day Rating 7/10
Generally poor waymarking again, and really the only section of the whole way that was blighted by stiles. The weather? Not much you can do about it really so doesn’t affect the score.
There are some really nice sections of this walk, not least the Lakeside path contrasted with the bleakness walking over the common. The final section sees a return to the fields of “Cumbria” of day one, this time with a real upland feel to it. There would have been some fine views along here, but, with the weather as it was, there was nothing really for us to experience.
One last point to make, there are many places along this section that suffer badly from mud, and there are certainly 3 places I can think of that will have unwary walkers up to their knees in mud if not careful – you have been warned!
The view as the way starts its descent into Ulverston is quite stunning, or would be if you could see it. On a fine day it would certainly be a place to linger and contemplate the journey from Carlisle. Taylor made for your fun!
Trail Rating 43/50 (86%)
It’s a difficult choice but I would place this as the second best trail I have walked after the South Downs Way. It is consistent, and there is a real sense that the walker is experiencing all that Cumbria has to offer. There are no tedious section, especially walking North to South, although I can understand why if walking the opposite way the last day to Carlisle would be disappointing. An extremely enjoyable walk that will last a long time in the memory.
So which direction?
Certainly walking South made a well-balanced walk. The big problem, especially when walking in the aftermath of a hurricane, is the prevailing wind. It is literally in the face, but I think a small price to pay walking it this way round.
Any arguments for or against?