Cumbria Way – The End of the Walk

So that’s it. As I limp away from Carlisle Castle through the urban ugliness of the city centre, I’m not feeling any sense of achievement. That came about 4 miles out from Carlisle, when I knew I’d make it (somehow), but completely evaporated on the slog over the tarmac.

If the Cumbria Way finished in Dalston, that would have suited me fine, and I don’t think it gains anything from the extra spirit-crushing crawl into Carlisle. Clearly the planners needed it to have a recognisable end point, but there is little of value in the last bit, unless you count industrial estates.

My mind was empty of everything except the need for a hot shower, food and a beer. I didn’t venture far for the latter and dined in one of the many “meals for under a fiver” pubs that seem to make up the area around Carlisle station. I then retired to the Travelodge and vegged in front of the tv.

I was gently aroused from my slumber this morning by sirens. I always regret having the breakfast in a Travelodge, and today was no exception. And my feet are still killing me, and I’m glad I don’t have to walk today. Rather than spend any more time than I had to in the Travelodge, or the centre of Carlisle for that matter, I chose to spend it instead at the station.

Waiting for the train I reflected on the walk. I’d met the goal of a longer (170km compared with 124km), harder (22 summits compared with 1)walk than the official route, but missed my plan. I’d planned 200km, and 36 summits. Even excluding the two extra, non-Cumbria Way, days I’d fallen slightly short (8km of distance, 1947m of ascent and 7 summits) of plan, which can be put down to 2 main things:

  • rejigging my walk on day 7, saved me some distance and climbing overall with no loss of summits. Ie it was more efficient.
  • various peakbagging detours that I ditched along the way (Black Fell, Black Crag on Rosset Pike, Swinside, Carrock Fell and Faulds Brow).

Neither of these detracted from the walk, and indeed none of the bits I omitted are part of the official route anyway.

Stats for the whole walk:

My total distance: 170.32km
My total for just the CW: 147.22km
Official distance: 124km
Ascent: 4926m
Total time: 55 hours 50 minutes.
Average speed: 3.05km/h
Photos taken: 212
Total summits: 22
…Of which…. Trail 100s: 1 (High Pike)
….Wainwrights: 11
…Wainwright Outlying Fells: 6

Finally the awards……

Best summit: Latrigg (because of the views)
Best tarn: Beacon Tarn
Best view: the panorama from Latrigg.
Hardest day mentally: Day 10.
Hardest-fought day: Day 9 In the wind and mist on High Pike. This was the nearest I came to a mountain rescue scenario. Runner-up Day 4 into the wind up to Stake Pass.
Scariest moment: descending Holme Fell down that inappropriayte gully.
Worst moment: my accident in Ulverston. I thought the walk was torpedoed before it had even started.
Best moment: seeing down into a sunlit Langstrath from Stake Pass.
Best value accommodation: Hudscales Camping Barn £8. This won because it was better equipped than the other barns which cost about the same. Skiddaw House is the runner-up.
Best accommodation overall: YHA Coniston Holly How, Millbeck Farm and Latrigg House.
Best meal: The Old Crown, Hesket Newmarket.
Best day: a tricky one, but I’m going for Day 6. The walk over Skiddaw I was worried about because of the weight and the wind, but was ultimately a triumph and had the best views of the walk.

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