Walking in Cumbria
Cumbria has to be one of the finest counties in England for walking. Everyone has their own favourite county, of course, but most country walking enthusiasts would put Cumbria high up on their list because of The Lake District National Park. If you are looking for information about this glorious gem of the English countryside you will find it is covered under Lake District National Park. In this section we are focusing on the part of Cumbria outside the National Park.
So, what is left of Cumbria once The Lake District National Park is removed? Well, the answer is an abundance of hidden gems where you can walk in peace and tranquillity, perhaps without seeing another living soul, except for the local fauna. In the main summer months of July and August the astute walker will avoid the Lakeland Fells and enjoy the delights of Cumbria's outer regions.
The Eden Valley, from the river's source at Mallerstang all the way to Carlisle, offers superb low level routes with fine views looking north to the Pennines and Alston, the highest market town in England. Along the wooded river valley are numerous picturesque sandstone villages set amongst green rolling fields. In all directions the views are stunning, the Lakeland mountains, the Howgills to the south and the northern Pennines. Eden's charm lies in its illusion of remoteness; the famous Settle to Carlisle railway follows the valley, and yet it is undiscovered by all but a few discerning walkers. The ideal way to discover this region is to walk The Eden Way (see guide below), but great satisfaction will be found just spending a day or weekend of discovery here.
In the west, the Solway Coast of Cumbria offers some spectacular sea views, broad stretches of splendid sand and interesting walks where you can discover the nature and wildlife of this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. At Silloth, where the excellent sands are backed by grassy dunes, there are glorious views across the Solway Firth to the mountainous panorama of Scotland. Inland too, there is great walking along delightful valleys leading into the western fells of The Lake District. With the exception of a few industrial areas, mainly Workington and Whitehaven, the coast south to Millom is a splendid mixture of rugged cliffs and sandy beaches. The southern peninsular extending into Morecambe Bay, flanked by the market towns of Ulverston and Grange-over-Sands, also provides good walking with the splendid backdrop of the Langdale Pikes.
The village of Cartmel comprises a huddle of winding streets radiating from the compact village square, resplendent with the village pump beside the market cross. Old coaching inns and tiny cottages pre-date the fine medieval stone Priory Gatehouse. The village is dominated by the Priory church of St Mary and St Michael, famous for having avoided Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries and thus having a continual history of worship since its foundation in 1188. Located in the lovely valley of the River Eea, Cartmel provides an ideal base to explore this quiet corner of Cumbria.
A Walk from Cartmel [SD 378787] OS Map: Explorer™ OL7
This walk takes you across Hampsfield Fell and visits Hampsfield Hall and Aynsome Mill. Leaving Cartmel via the Priory grounds the route heads east towards Pit Farm, following signs for 'Hospice of Hampsfell'. You soon start to ascend the Fell and can admire the views north and west including many of Lakeland's highest mountains. Once you reach the site of the Hospice you are treated to a vast panorama of most of the North West. Continuing through a conifer plantation the route passes Hampsfield Hall and then heads west to Old Hall Wood and then south back to Cartmel. About 4.5 miles.
Best Pub for this walk
King's Arms, The Square, Cartmel Tel: 01539 536220 (Good Pub Guide)
This is a rather grand old pub forming almost one side of the tiny village square. In summer there are myriad hanging baskets, window boxes and flower tubs creating a colourful display on the cobbled frontage. You can sit here on assorted tables and benches to enjoy a good choice of ales and wine and savour the delicious bar food. Inside the rambling bar also has a mixture of seating and tankards hanging over the solid bar counter where several real ales are served.
This walk is fully described in the guidebook 'Best Pub Walks in the Lake District' by Neil Coates.
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