Me and my lovely wife generally take the first week of September off work as children are back at school and the weather is likely to be not too bad. Originally we had looked at cycling for a week, but due to a pandemic and such like we opted for just a few days away at Helen’s brother’s caravan in the south lakes. However, before we stayed at the caravan we had planned a mini adventure at a dog friendly hotel/pub in Caldbeck.
Saturday morning, wearing our running gear, we set off nice and early to drive to Caldbeck. The village of Caldbeck used to have daily buses to and from Keswick and Carlisle, now there are two buses on a Saturday and nothing on any other day of the week. First bus arrived at 8.30am and after a short loop to Hesketh Newmarket and back we were on our way to Keswick. A short stop to allow a herd of cows to pass and another brief stop for an Audi driver to get out of the way before we arrived at our destination. Keswick was very busy, even at 9.30am so we were happy to head off north out of the town and onto the Cumbria Way.
The Cumbria Way is a 73 mile route from Ulverston to Carlisle. We were using the Cicerone guide book which splits the route into 5 stages, with optional mountain versions. We were sticking to the regular route as the mountain route added an extra couple of miles.
As we walked past Fitz Park we noticed that there was an event on, although we only saw a couple of runners much later on. The start of the route was again busy as we walked up Spooneygreen Lane, the main walking path up to the start of Skiddaw. Fortunately when we reached the Skiddaw carpark most people headed off up the climb while we skirted Lonscale Fell, gently making our way upwards.
As soon as the route flattened a little bit we began to gently run. The idea was that we would walk the uphill sections and run the flat and downhill sections.
Soon the amazing Skiddaw House Youth Hostel came into sight, stuck out in the middle of nowhere. A former shooting lodge which could easily have become derelict, but was saved by volunteers and today thrives as a very out of the way place to stay.
From Skiddaw House we followed the river Caldew all the way to the end of Mosedale road, below the slopes of the formidable Carrock Fell. This brought back many fond memories as I went on a week long field trip at the start of my second year studying Environmental Science as an undergraduate at Lancaster University. Perfect place to stop for a sandwich.
From here the Cumbria Way headed up Great Lingy Hill, made harder by the torrential rain which had begun just as we had finished our lunch. (This is why there is a lack of photos from here to the finish). We sought refuge in the Lingy Hut, along with another man who was walking all 214 of the Wainwrights. He seemed in good spirits despite the weather, although he only had another 30 to do which he hoped would only take another three or four days.
The route from here to Caldbeck looked fairly straight forward, up and over High Peak and down into Caldbeck. However, during a nasty hailstorm at the top we managed to lose the correct route as we descended. At an unexpected junction a walker pointed us in the right direction as we could see the village in the distance. Another wayward footpath sign sent us off into a random field before we found the route once again. At least it had stopped raining at this point.
We ran the last mile into the village, and as I went into the Oddfellows Arms for our room key, Helen dried off Nelly, who had been the best dog in the world all day. The Oddfellows Arms has mixed reviews, and while the room was a little shabby it was very clean and the shower was hot. Additionally the staff were incredibly friendly and food couldn’t be faulted.
It had been a long tough day, with almost 17 miles under our belts in 6 hours. We had 8 very tired legs between us, although I don’t think it will be too long before we’re looking at doing other sections of the Cumbria Way.