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The Cumbria Way (Walking Guides) Paperback – 15 Feb 2015
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The 73-mile Cumbria Way was the invention of local Ramblers groups over 40 years ago, and has been rather melodramatically described as "an arrow through the heart of the Lake District." In this beautifully illustrated new guide, John Gillham takes even more diversions from the already anything but arrow-straight route, which wriggles north through the Lakes from Ulverston to Carlisle. He makes a series of significant mountainous deviations from the original route, taking in the tempting Lakeland giants of Skiddaw, Walla Crag, Glaramara, Swirl How and Coniston Old Man, which should satisfy even the most frustrated peak-bagger. [I couldn't] wish for a more enthusiastic and comprehensive guide to take me there. Highly recommended. --Roly Smith, Outdoor Focus
About the Author
John Gillham has been a professional writer, illustrator and photographer since 1989. He writes for several outdoors publications, and two of his books have won the Outdoor Writers & Photographers Guild Award for Excellence.
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Numerous guidebooks have been produced with even a Harvey map dedicated to portraying the walk - and this Cicerone publication in 2015 ‘Walking The Cumbria Way’ is the latest. It is certainly the most up-to-date and probably the only guidebook so fully comprehensive that it need not rely on a separate map. It reproduces sections of OS Landranger (1:50,000) maps to identify the route, and though there may be greater detail on the OS Explorer (1:25,000) series I do not find these necessary. OS map extracts are enhanced by symbols for start/finish corresponding with route divisions, and the Way itself is highlighted in brown with alternatives in blue, and bold print is used in the text to match map features and places. Presentation is straightforward and easy to understand, and it is liberally illustrated with excellent colour photographs.
The Cumbria Way may be walked in either direction but it is usually from south to north as described in the Cicerone guidebook, and it is the way I have tackled the route. My approach has been to walk short stages to and from car-parking, and I must admit to not completing the Caldbeck to Carlisle section which is a bit of an anti-climax after the magnificent traverse of Lakeland fell country. ‘Walking The Cumbria Way’ describes the walk in 5 stages for a weekend to weekend schedule, plus suggestions for sub-divisions of ‘moderate’ and ‘easy’ to take up to 6 and 8 days respectively. Starting at Ulverston the basic 5 stages range through Coniston, Langdale, Keswick and Caldbeck to the finish at Carlisle.
Each section accurately describes the route but also provides detailed information on the countryside, farms, churches etc. adjacent to the route together with nearby attractions as historic buildings, waterfalls, particular viewpoints etc. and commentaries on farming, mining etc. To supplement the text there is a tabular route summary, and there are appendices with details of facilities, accommodation and useful contacts as valuable information for planning. With awareness of Lake District climate conditions there are ‘foul weather’ and ‘flood avoidance’ alternatives.
In addition to faithfully presenting the ‘official’ route as mainly easy low level walking the guidebook embraces more challenging high level alternatives, with itineraries for what it calls ‘The Cumbria Mountain Way’. There is an option to include the Coniston fells to Langdale instead of the Coniston Water lakeshore path and Tarn Hows, or to traverse Allen Crags and Glaramara instead of Stake Pass and Langstrath, or to take the heights above the east side of Borrowdale instead of the west of Derwent Water, and finally a wild country experience over Skiddaw and High Pike to reach Caldbeck from Keswick. Sufficient detail is available to prompt consideration of further mountain links, such as crossing Wrynose Pass and perhaps taking in Pike O’Blisco from the Torver to Langdale alternative.
As expected of a guidebook there is background information on geology, wild life, plants etc. plus advice on safety, clothing etc. and even on GPS units - and at 4½ inches x 6¾ inches with thin but serviceable card cover it readily fits the pocket. Together with the all-inclusive up-to-date particulars this endorses ‘Walking The Cumbria Way’ as the best of the various Cumbria Way guidebooks - and I recommend it as a 5-star publication
The book describes the ‘official’ route from south to north. Also included are some great optional mountain routes, so you can climb Coniston Old Man, Glaramara, Skiddaw, and others along the way.
It's a small compact size, so easily fits in a rucksack pocket, or in a map pocket of your coat. In the back of the book a handy table tells you what facilities are available along the way, such as campsites, shops, cafés, buses etc, alongside a cumulative distance so you can quickly work out how many more miles there are to go until you will come across somewhere to stay, or a place to eat. Peppered throughout the book are interesting snippets of information about the area, and the trail.
All in all a perfectly put together guidebook. Highly recommended for anyone walking this trail.