Cumbria Coastal Way
The Cumbria Coastal Way links two of England's great estuaries; Morecombe Bay and the Solway Firth; and provides 182 miles of coastal walking. Leading north from Lancashire around the edge of the Lake District and towards the Scottish border, the route reveals the frequent gems of landscape, wildlife, archaeology and history to be found along this little-known coastline. The walk can be completed in its entirety, or walked in sections, by people of all ages and abilities, and it is well supported by public transport. The entire route can easily be walked within two weeks and provides a good introduction to long-distance walking.
The Cumbria Coastal Way was officially opened in the early 1990's, but there has not been a proper guide to the route, just leaflets published by the local councils. The new comprehensive guide is now the perfect companion to exploring Cumbria's coastline with its wonderful views and many points of interest and contains everything you need to plan and execute the walk.
Much of the route finding is easy, but care is required underfoot in some sections and consideration has to be given during planning to sections where the tide may affect the route. The path rarely climbs more than 100m above sea level and there are a number of beach walking sections where sandals may be more appropriate than normal walking boots.
Morecombe Bay is a major gem of the northwest coastline in terms of history, natural history and scenery. There are superb backdrops of the fells of the Lake District and Forest of Bowland. The bay is ringed with nature conservation sites of European and National importance. The Silverdale and Arnside Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a joy to explore, providing some magical walking.
Later, the route encircles the Duddon estuary; one of England's most secret. It passes through the market town of Broughton-in-Furness and then, following the opposite shore of the estuary, heads south to Millom. From here the route follows the quiet Lake District Coast, noted for its wildlife and prehistoric sites. Inland are the dales and fells whose waters gather to enter the sea at Ravenglass. From here you can take an excursion to Eskdale in the fells by means of the toy-like narrow gauge steam railway.
From Seascale to Maryport green spaces intermingle with industrial towns and complexes. The historic towns of Whitehaven, Workington and Maryport all possess some superb architechture and are close to sites, such as St Bees Head, where nature is profligate. Along this stretch of the walk the striking interface of economic development and natural beauty is at its most dynamic.
North of Maryport the route enters a wild landscape with the Scottish hills enticingly close across the most spectacular of estuaries, the Solway Firth. This is an area of big and imposing skies and plentiful wildlife where walking is a privilege. Steeped in history and literary associations it is still sufficiently secretive to warrant reverent attention.
The guide breaks the route down into 15 day sections, although several could be combined to complete the walk in 10 days without causing too much strain to most regular walkers. Assuming a 15 day itinerary is chosen the overnight stops would be: Silverdale, Grange over Sands, Ulverston; Barrow-in-Furness; Broughton-in-Furness; Silecroft; Ravenglass; Seascale; St Bees; Whitehaven; Workington; Maryport; Siloth; Kirkbride; Carlisle. The walk ends at Gretna.
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