This fabulous trail runs from the West to the North East of The Lake District National Park, where it continues on to the edge of the North Pennines.
It’s a pretty straightforward trail to plan. Travel is easy as stations at the start and end provide good connections to the rest of the U.K.
The Lake District is very popular, so if you need accommodation it’s a good idea to book it ahead of time, to be on the safe side. I also found I had to book ahead and research our back-up campsites (we were hoping to wild camp at least one of the three eves) as many have a strict two or even three night minimum stay policy.
When should I hike the Cumberland Way?
The trail can be completed between April and October, although weather can be temperamental. I did it mid April and was treated to incredible sunny weather every day – which is somewhat unusual for the Lakes.
Cumberland Way four day itinerary
This four day itinerary gives a great base to start from. You could consider a side trip or two – perhaps allowing an extra day to climb Skiddaw from Keswick, or Scafell Pike from Wasdale.
We decided to cover 46 miles over four days, finishing in Dockray, close to the edge of the National Park. I was keen to stay within the park and there looked to be a lot of road walking once you passed Penrith, but you could continue on the trail for another 20 miles or so.
Ravensglass to Nether Wasdale – 9.5 miles
We took a bit of a detour to wild camp near Ilgill Head. There are a couple of nice looking campsites in Nether Wasdale.
Nether Wasdale to Buttermere – 13.5 miles
We stayed at a cute campsite that reminded me of Hobbiton – Syke Farm. Our attempt to wild camp failed somewhat, but if I went again I’d aim for Innominate Tarn. Or re-jig the itinerary to stay at the amazing looking Black Sail Hostel a couple of miles before Buttermere.
Buttermere to Keswick – 10 miles
We stayed at the wonderful Castlerigg Farm which has beautiful views and underfloor heating in the bathroom..! Pimp.
It had been my original – and perhaps slightly ambitious – plan to wild camp up towards Skiddaw. This would have been a couple of miles detour (and a bit of a climb!) But my friend was Romeo Done by the time we got to Keswick so the campsite was a great backup.
Keswick to Dockray – 13 miles
We treated ourselves to a night at the Royal Inn in Dockray at the end. It’s quite an old fashioned place, super friendly and with surprisingly great food.
As you will see in my walk report, I wasn’t such a fan of the last day. It wasn’t very scenic and the cart road to Dockray was endless and uncomfortable underfoot. There aren’t many alternatives, although you could consider a version of our crazy detour, which actually, mad as it was, was brilliant!
A more sensible alternative would be to take the Cumbria Way north out of Keswick and finish in Caldbeck. This was my favourite day of the Cumbria Way, and is a much better showcase of the area than the walk to Dockray. Just remember to arrange onward travel from Caldbeck as there is no public transport. However, you can walk six miles to the nearest town and bus service in Dalston.
Read more about our hike along The Cumberland Way here.