Category Archives: Cumbria Way

Back from finishing the Cumbria Way…

After completing the Cumbria Way last week I have put together the following as a summary of some of the wildlife I identified along the way (CLICK HERE for more information on the Cumbria Way and see the bottom of this post for the itinerary).

Birds

Spotted 41 different species during the walk, 8 of those for the first time (starred).

House Martin*
Swift*
Meadow Pipit*
Dipper*
Wheatear*
Song Thrush*
Bullfinch*
Siskin*

Mute Swan
Greylag Goose
Canada Goose
Mallard
Goosander
Pheasant
Grey Heron
Buzzard
Kestrel
Oystercatcher
Snipe
Black-headed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Common Gull
Woodpigeon
Collared Dove
Swallow
Skylark
Pied Wagtail
Dunnock
Robin
Stonechat
Blackbird
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Magpie
Jackdaw
Rook
Carrion Crow
Raven
House Sparrow
Chaffinch
Goldfinch

In addition, I heard the distinct call of the Cuckoo for the first time, heard an adult and juvenile Tawny Owl outside of my tent on one occasion and also the loud, shrill call of the Green Woodpecker and the loud, fast, very short drumming of the Great Spotted Woodpecker whilst walking.

Also found a Barn Owl pellet just outside of Gawthwaite. After each night’s hunting a Barn Owl regurgitates one or two black pellets typically about the size of a man’s thumb which contain the remains of what the owl has eaten but cannot digest – in this case the pellet had beetle wing cases inside, still intact!

Wild Flowers

Saw many different wild flowers during the walk. The following are some of the ones I have been able to positively ID for the first time:

Common Bistort(Persicaria bistorta)
Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea)
Water Avens (Geum rivale)
Crosswort (Cruciata laevipes)
Cuckooflower/Lady’s Smock (Cardamine pratensis)
Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
Ivy-leafved Toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis)
Lesser Periwinkle (Vinca minor)
Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium)
Common Tormentil (Potentilla erecta) 

And after some help:

Pink Purslane (Claytonia sibirica)
Yellow Corydalis(Pseudofumaria lutea)
Parsley Fern (Cryptogramma crispa)

Invertebrates

Saw a number of butterflies but only managed to positively ID two – the Small Tortoiseshell butterfly (Aglais urticae) and Orange-tip butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines).

Mammals

Unfortunately, not a great deal on the mammal front (apart from the common farm animals). Spotted two Wood Mouse in woodland close to Tarn Hows and heard the quite terrifying bark of a Fox outside of my tent in Parson’s Park just outside of Caldbeck. Also stumbled upon a Badger Sett near Orthwaite!

Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrive at Ulverston
Day 2 – Ulverston to Coniston (15 miles)
Day 3 – Coniston to Great Langdale (12 miles)
Day 4 – Great Langdale to Rosthwaite (10 miles)
Day 5 – Rosthwaite to Keswick (6 miles)
Day 6 – Whinlatter Forest
Day 7 – Keswick to Caldbeck (15 miles)
Day 8 – Caldbeck to Carlisle (14 miles)

Cumbria Way – Caldbeck to Carlisle (Day 8)

We were both woken at one point last night to the sound of a Fox continuously barking just outside of our tent! It was a weird sound, similar to a dog’s bark but more piercing and harsh and quite terrifying whilst equally amazing to hear. We think that it may have been a vixen with pups scaring away a dog! We also heard some other weird noises during the night, including the sound of snapping wood nearby, though we still don’t know the source of this noise. So, as you can imagine, not the best night’s sleep…

Anyway, today was the last day of walking the Cumbria Way and after breakfast we set off on our way to Carlisle.

We managed to get lost briefly coming out of Parson’s Park due to the poor upkeep of the Cumbria Way in this area (the path led us to a dead end in the woodland) but we eventually made our way through and joined the Cumbria Way again by the River Caldew.

We followed the River Caldew for much of today’s walk, through open countryside and farmland, passing the notable Rose Bridge and Rose Castle before reaching the village of Buckabank from which we again followed the River Caldew and parts of the local railway line into the centre of Carlisle.

The final 5 miles of the Cumbria Way were a bit of an anti-climax, passing through industrial areas and past a council estate to the unofficial finish line at Carlisle Castle.

We were met here by Ann’s mam and dad, who had put together a mini-feast for us, as well as a dish to wash our aching and smelly feet in before our journey home.

Overall, walking the Cumbria Way has been a fantastic experience, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. I will definitely be visiting some of the places I have seen along the way again…

So, for now, I will leave this special place behind and hopefully I will wander here again in the near future!

Cumbria Way – Keswick to Caldbeck (Day 7)

We started off today with a short walk from our campsite into the centre of Keswick (getting a little lost in the process) before making our way to the path of the Cumbria Way again and starting our journey to Caldbeck.

The path left Keswick and headed round the big bulk of Latrigg, with a stretch of uphill walking being rewarded with views opening up back over Keswick. We eventually passed the path which leads up to the mighty Skiddaw (the third highest mountain in England), avoiding this by crossing Whit Beck and skirting Lonscale Fell into Glenderaterra Valley, where the Cumbria Way became much rougher passing high through Lonscale Crags.

Once at the end of the valley (which interestingly had many remains of old ruins and stone walls), we had another uphill stretch to Skiddaw House. Skiddaw House was a weird place! A small building, currently a hostel, it is completely isolated and totally out of sorts in comparison to the barren surrounding area. We stopped here for a dinner (a pot noodle and hobnobs!).

From Skiddaw House the Cumbria Way splits in two, with a high route and low route both leading to Caldbeck. We were originally planning on taking the high route which passes over much tougher terrain, including climbing over High Pike (658 ft). However, after checking the weather report for the day after experiencing high winds, we found out that there were gale force winds blowing in the area so we decided that taking the high route would be too dangerous and started on the lower instead.

The lower route led us downhill past Dead Crags and Cockup, passing the impressive White Water Dash Waterfall. This section of the walk was quite pleasant, passing through a colourful landscape until we made it down to Peter House Farm where it all went a little bit wrong – we managed to get lost again. We somehow ended up following a wrong path in the opposite direction to the Cumbria Way (and ironically right beside Cockup) adding about an hour and an half to the journey before we backtracked and made our way back to Peter House Farm (we did stumble upon a Badger Sett on our way which was good) and back on the Cumbria Way following it to the small village of Osthwaite.

From here we walked a long and varied stretch through open farmland and roadside, predominately on flat terrain, until eventually reaching Upton and then Caldbeck.

By the time we strolled into Caldbeck we were both VERY tired. We walked about 20 miles today, including the walk into Keswick from our campsite and the times we got lost… Walking directly to the first pub we came across (Jennings) we had a well deserved beer and treat ourselves to an amazing pub meal (I had pie for the third night in a row).

We have just left the pub and walked a short way outside of Caldbeck and into Parson’s Park where we are wild camping for the night. It’s the last day tomorrow, a 14 mile walk to the finish line at Carlisle!

Cumbria Way – Whinlatter Forest (Day 6)

We made our way to Whinlatter Forest Park today, England’s only true mountain Forest which rises to 790 metres above sea level and offers some spectacular views of the Lake District and into Scotland.

One of the main reasons for visiting Whinlatter Forest was because, until recently, you could see Osprey here – a fish-eating bird of prey which had previously nested on the south west lake side of the nearby Bassenthwaite Lake. Unfortunately, and unknown to us until we arrived, the Osprey’s have recently moved nest to the opposite side of the Lake and can no longer be seen from the outdoor viewpoint at Whinlatter and the live video camera of the nest in the Parks centre now shows an empty nest…

Slightly dissapointed, we decided to still spend the day here and having the luxury of not having to carry heavy backpacks we tackled the Dodd Wood Green trail, a moderate 4.5 mile route through the Forest.

Along the trail we got some amazing views and at one point, overlooking Basenthwaite Lake, we spent about half an hour trying to catch a glimpse of the Osprey’s at their new nest on the opposite side of the Lake, but to no avail. We also hoped to catch a glimpse of the red squirrel that colonise the area, but again we were out of luck. Still, it was a great walk and we really enjoyed the day here.

We’re back at the campsite now, just about to order some food at the on-site bar. Tomorrow we set off for Caldbeck and our last night of camping…