About my walk
I walked the Cumbria Way in June 2005 as an organised holiday with HF Holidays (I had walked the Dales Way with the same company the year before). This meant that I stayed overnight in a comfortable hotel with good food (four nights at Portinscale near Keswick, three nights near Coniston), and had a minibus or coach to take our party to the start of each day’s walk and pick us up at the end. Consequently, we only needed to carry a ‘day sack’ with waterproofs, lunch, etc., rather than have to carry our overnight gear from place to place.
Our leader for the week’s holiday was the excellent Patience Cooper. The other members of the group were Clare (a friend of mine that I met on my Dales Way holiday the year before), Robert and Helga (Americans, though Helga was originally from Germany), Sally and Chris (mother and daughter), Ian and Judith, Alan and Kath, Nick and Anna (friends who’d met on another holiday with HF), Janet, and Derek.
HF Holidays do the Cumbria Way from north to south, whereas the guide books and most walkers do it the other way round. HF do this because they think that a last day walk along the Caldew river to Carlisle would be a bit of an anti-climax after five days walking through the Lake District. Having completed the walk from north to south, I have to say that I think they are right and all the rest of the group seemed to agree. Certainly our last day’s walk to Ulverston was far more interesting than our first day’s walk out of Carlisle. So if anyone reading this is thinking about walking the Cumbria Way, I would recommend considering the north to south option
I wrote this journal a couple of months after the walk, so I apologise if some of the descriptions are a bit patchy. I only decided to start writing journals part-way through my Chiltern Way walk, so this journal was very much written ‘after the event’. I think it is still reasonably accurate, though.
Click here to see a very rough map of the Cumbria Way (but only if you have already read my disclaimer and notes regarding maps).
(Update 9/7/06) Warning Note about Long-distance walks with HF Holidays: Although I have enjoyed all of the three walking holidays I have now done with HF Holidays, I am not sure whether I will do another long-distance path with them. To me, the very essence of walking a long-distance path is that it is a continuous path between A and B. HF (and to be fair, most of their customers) seem happy to miss bits of the walks out here and there. On both The Dales Way and on A Dales Walk, there were days when the leader intended starting the walk at a different place to that where we had finished the day before, thus missing out a short section. I have had to negotiate with the leader to be allowed to walk a continuous route from start to finish (in the case of A Dales Walk, we did eventually do a continuous walk, but in so doing we missed out a short section of the official route near Hawes). I have written and complained to HF, saying that in my opinion they should walk the whole route or else make it clear in their brochures that they might not walk 100% of the route - if they advertised that they were not doing the whole route I wouldn't have booked the holiday. I wasn't overly impressed with the response I got from their Head of Walking Operations, which said: "I think we will have to instruct our leaders to allow guests like yourself to walk the extra short sections, while at the same time allowing the majority of guest to omit the more tedious sections. As this will cause delay to those guests, we may have to review this if we start receiving complaints." So if anyone reading this is thinking of walking a long-distance path with HF Holidays, please be aware that they might not walk the whole route.