CW01:  Ulverston to Blawith;    
Monday, 18th February 2008

"So, have you given up on the Dales Way?  Or did I miss something after DW13?"

Well, thank you for asking, but actually neither.  It's just that finishing off in the style that we have planned has proved logistically challenging, both domestically and weatherwise. 

It will happen in the near future and you will hear about it, don't fret!

But meanwhile, Margaret and I have made a start on our next and logistically more manageable challenge- the Cumbria Way from Ulverston to Carlisle through some of the most beautiful countryside England has to offer.  

The new challenge commences

Our first stage was to be from Ulverston to Blawith, which I acknowledge is not exactly on the Cumbria way but it made a convenient "escape" point at which to leave the car as the bus from Coniston stops there.  It arrived exactly on time at 10:47 a.m., which was fortunate as we had arrived half an hour early and had run out of entertainment in the tiny hamlet in its sub zero temperature.  Still, St John the Baptist Church did look like a pretty Christmas Card with the trees all covered in heavy frost and, it being a Monday morning, we saw the first of several sets of washing!

St John the Baptist Chruch in frost

Frosted washing at Blawith

The bus driver was extremely helpful.  She guessed what we were doing and promised to drop us off at the best place in Ulverston and to give us detailed instructions as to how to find the start of the Cumbria Way.

She was as good as her word and it was a pleasant stroll through a sunny Ulverston past the now rather sad looking Laurel and Hardy Museum to the Gill car park and the start of the Cumbria Way.  Except that we found there are two points that claim to be the start so to avoid future argument we photographed them both.

The Museum

The first and "new"start

The second and "old" start

We strode off with the Cicerone Guide "The Dales Way and the Allerdale Ramble" by Jim Watson.  Unlike the Dales Way Guide, this has not been recently updated so it remains in its slightly too large to fit conveniently into the pocket in which you would prefer to carry it size.  It also remains somewhat old fashioned, almost Wainwrightian in its design with its line drawings and lack of photographs.  More importantly, however, it is getting out of date.  In the twelve years since its publication, metal gates have been replaced by wooden ones, walls have fallen, fences have been erected and it is unaware of the great strides that have recently been made in waymarking.  Like all guidebooks I have seen, it also suffers from not saying how far the distance is between instructions.  These days, with the advent of the gps, it is child's play to state how far to (or even the exact co-ordinates and direction of) the next turn.  Perhaps that is too much spoon-feeding and we should go back to just using a map, relying on the guide book for supplementary and interesting information about the sites on route, which in this case is fairly sparse other than in respect of the larger villages.  A major revision is urgently needed.  But is there the demand?  We hardly saw a soul en-route and the ground in parts had little evidence of heavy usage.  In comparison with the Dales Way, the Cumbria Way is seriously under promoted.

Climbing up out of Ulverston, the views initially were more towards the sea and the Sir John Barrow Monument, a 90 foot replica of the Eddystone Lighthouse- is a prominent feature for many miles (another Cicerone revision point- Jim Watson attributes the monument to Sir John Barry!!!).

Sir John Barry monument

Bortree Stile

However once you get beyond the very impressive house, Bortree Stile, and its wild primroses already in bloom, a huge panorama starts to unfurl.  So impressive that we took an early coffee stop to admire the view and the curly haired sheep.

It was wash day too at Higher Lath Farm!  And at Newbiggin!

High Lath Farm  washing

Newbiggin washing

The Way wanders pleasantly across fields and through farms and lovely little hamlets such as Broughton Beck.  St John's Church at Osmotherley looked nice across the fields but was a bit of a disappointment on arrival- locked and fairly modern.  The once-red squirrels on the benches, however, were amusing!

St John's across the fields

A pink squirrel

We took lunch on the "long lane" to Keldrey in a lovely open position in full sun. By this time the Lakeland Fells, particularly Coniston Old Man and Wetherlam inevitably had become increasingly dominant but it was a reminder of how far west we were to see the Scafells peeping around the left hand side of Dow Crag

Gawthwaite was another nice hamlet where we crossed the main road from Greenodd to Broughton-in-Furness.  

Panorama at High Stennerley

At High Stennerley there was yet another magnificent panorama point with a strange statue in the field off to our left.  I was not sure whether it was a peculiar shaped tree or, more likely, some kind of giant scarecrow stood motionless like a caped crusader.  Click on the photo to reveal what it really was!

Team picture at High Stennerley.....

.....watched by the caped crusader!

The guide book is somewhat confused in its description of the route past Kendal Ground and I don't know what went wrong but it didn't half confuse us until we realised we had actually passed that area and were a fair bit further on without realising it!

Kiln Bank

Just before Kiln Bank was our decision point.  The sun was lowering and the air was getting colder.  We could see the Way winding up around Subberthwaite Bank so we decided that was an excellent point to rejoin it on the next instalment. Instead, we finished off the coffee and took the Raisthwaite Lane back to Blawith and the car.

True, we could hardly have asked for a better day, but as an opener for the Cumbria Way it was a stunning introduction.

Don, 18th February 2008

For the next stage see
CW02:  Blawith to Coniston


8.8 miles

Height climbed:
1,179 feet





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 These pages log
the progress of
Don and Margaret
along the Cumbria Way.

 Click on the photos
for an enlargement or related large picture.


CW01:  Ulverston to Blawith

CW02:  Blawith to Coniston

CW03: Coniston to
Skelwith Bridge

 CW04: Skelwith Bridge to
the Old Dungeon Ghyll

CW05: Old Dungeon Ghyll to Rosthwaite

CW06: Rosthwaite to
High Brandlehow

CW07: What's Thirlmere
got to do with it?

CW08: High Brandlehow to

CW09: Keswick to Gale Road Car Park (and back)



The Washing Lines

as seen by Margaret:




BOOT boys

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