The Cumbria Way takes walkers on a 70 mile (112km) adventure through the heart of the Lake District National Park. It can be walked from south to north or vice versa. Most of the route is low level but there are some higher, more exposed parts and good map reading skills are essential as the route is not well way-marked.
Whist the early sections are in low lying pasture type landscapes the middle section from the Langdales to Keswick and on to Caldbeck are more traditional Lakeland fell walking routes here the route goes up to 600+ metres and walkers should be aware of weather conditions and ensure they are correctly attired for serious hiking.
Walkers can complete the route in 5 days if they break the first day at Coniston, however it is possible to do the whole route using independent hostels and bunkhouses over 6 days. Details of the route are available on the LDWA website.
The Cumbria Way starts in the market town on Ulverston on Morecombe Bay. There are no independent hostels in the town but walkers could spend the night before the start at Kendal Hostel which is connected to Ulverston and Coniston by the X6 bus or at Arnside Independent Hostel which is just 25 minutes away by regular train service. On leaving Ulverston the route winds its way through lowland pasture until it enters the Lake District National Park. Here you are less than a kilometre from Lowick School Bunkhouse which is a great first night base for groups of walkers. For those happy to carry bedding Fell End Camping Barn is also in this area. The route continues to the official end of day one at Coniston. Groups as small as 8 can stay at High Wray Basecamp north of Coniston and there are a couple of YHA Hostels near Coniston. Alternatively you can catch the the X6 bus from Coniston to Kendal and spend the night at Kendal Hostel. This gives the option of walking without a pack on the first day for those who have already stayed at Kendal Hostel. This is a 25km 15 mile first day.
The next day takes you into the heart of the Lake District Fells with some higher walking finishing at Elterwater Hostel or Great Langdale Bunkhouse. Walkers can also venture further from the route to Thorney How Hostel or Grasmere Hostel in Grasmere. At this point the route is through stunning lake district countryside past tarns, across rivers and through woodland and you find your self in the heart of the Cumbria way countryside.
The next day takes you to Keswick. Groups have the choice of Bowderstone Bothy (recognised groups only), Hawes End Centre and the Coach House at Old Windebrow or if they fancy going further afield to the Carlisle Diocesean Youth Centre. Small groups on individuals can stay at Denton House. Indivudals are welcome at Catbells or Dinah Hoggas Camping Barns if they are bringing their own sleeping equipment.
Cumbria Way walkers should really take the opportunity to stay at Skiddaw House Hostel high on the side of Skiddaw mountain. This hostel may be totally off grid but it does not stint on comfort and hospitality. Don’t forget to stock up on provisions in Keswick before you set off though as it is self- catering only. The Whitehorse Inn Bunkhouse is a catered option but a little off the route.
The northern section of the Cumbria Way is really only catered for by Hudscales Camping Barn which does require visitors to bring their own sleeping bags and mats. For the less intrepid there are a number of B&Bs etc on the Long Distance Walkers website page for the route.
The final day brings you down from the high fells into the Eden Valley and Carlisle where the staff at Carlisle City hostel will make individuals and groups alike very welcome after their long adventure.
The table below shows all the accommodation in the Independent Hostel Guide which is on or within 5km (3miles) of the route.
|Hostel name||Distance along route (S-N) km + distance from route||miles incl. distance from route||Group only?||Bedding provided||Meals provided?||Food available locally?|
|Lowick School Bunkhouse||10||6||yes||no||no||yes|
|Fell End Camping Barn||13 + 2||9||no||no||no||no|
|High Wray Basecamp||29 + 4||21||yes||no||no||no|
|Thorney How Hostel||37+3||25||no||yes||yes||yes|
|Grasmere Hostel||37+4||26||no||yes||yes breakfast only||yes|
|Great Langdale Bunkhouse||41||26||no||yes||no||yes|
|Dinah Hoggus Camping Barn||53||33||no||no||no||yes|
|Hawes End Centre||62||39||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Catbells Camping Barn||62||39||no||no||no||yes|
|The Coach House at Old Windebrowe||67||42||yes||yes||no||yes|
|Carlisle Diocesean Youth Centre||67+4||44||yes||no||no||no|
|Skiddaw House Hostel||74||46||no||yes||no||no|
|White Horse Inn Bunkhouse||71+5||48||no||yes||yes||yes|
|Hudscales Camping Barn||86||54||no||no||no||yes|
|Carlisle City Hostel||111||69||no||yes||yes||yes|
Hostels and Bunkhouses on the Cumbria Way
118-120 Highgate, Kendal, Cumbria, LA9 4HEKendal Hostel is a family run hostel set in a Georgian townhouse in the historic market town of Kendal. The well known Brewery Arts Centre is right in front and the town centre is only a stone's throw away. The gateway to the Lake district Kendal has lots to offer its visitors.
36 Abbey Street, Carlisle, CA3 8TXCarlisle City Hostel, Carlisle's only independent hostel, is located on picturesque Abbey Street in the centre of town. A great place from which to explore Carlisle, The Tuille House Museum, Eden Valley, Hadrien's Wall and more. The staff look forward to welcoming you as their guest.
High Wray, Ambleside, Cumbria, Lake District. LA22 0JEThe National Trusts High Wray Basecamp provides self catering group accommodation in secluded woodland, 4 miles from Ambleside. An ideal base from which to explore the Lake District and enjoy rambling, fell walking, climbing and water sports.
The White Horse Inn, Scales, Nr Threlkeld, Keswick, CA12 4SYThe White Horse Inn Bunkhouse, Scales near Threlkeld & Keswick, provides accommodation in the converted stables of this traditional Lake District inn at the foot of Blencathra. Guests are welcome to socialise in the Inn which has great pub food, open fires & local ales. Walks & C2C route pass the door.
Stonecroft, Borrowdale, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 5XBDinah Hoggus Camping Barn lies on the old packhorse route to Watendlath on the edge of the village of Rosthwaite in the Borrowdale valley of the Lake District. Ideal for walkers and families it is located right on the Cumbria Way and the Coast to Coast walk. Pub and village shop just 300m away.
St John's-in-the-Vale, Keswick, Cumbria,CA12 4UBThe Carlisle Diocesan Youth Centre in the valley of St John's-in-the-Vale near Keswick in the Lake District offers great value accommodation for groups in modern en suite bunkrooms. Fell walking, climbing, orienteering, geo-caching and cycling on the doorstep and amazing views from the windows.
School Road, Bassenthwaite, Keswick, CA12 4QJBassenthwaite Parish Room, built in 2017, provides accommodation for visitors with their own camp beds in a fantastic location with Skiddaw rising just a few fields away. Self-catering for small or large groups is easy in the modern and well-equipped kitchen.
Great Langdale, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 9JUGreat Langdale Bunkhouse by the Sticklebarn Tavern in the Langdale Valley, is set amidst some of the finest mountain scenery in the Lake District with access to mountain biking, cycling, walking, fell running and climbing. Recently refurbished with private rooms, ideal for small groups & families.
Thornthwaite Farm, Woodland, Broughton in Furness, Cumbria, LA20 6DFCome and witness the star filled skies, a truly breathtaking sight, and experience tranquil and calm at Fell End Camping Barn. This 18th century Lakeland stone barn has no electricity and is set within its own grass courtyard approximately ½ mile from the Thornthwaite Farm in the Lake District.
Bassenthwaite, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 4QXSkiddaw House is a remote mountain hostel on the shoulder of Skiddaw Mountain in the Lake District. No roads, no buildings, just uninterrupted views of beautiful mountain wilderness. Enjoy the comfort of made up beds, wood burning stoves & a well-stocked bar an hours' walk from Keswick or Threlkeld.
Lowick Green, Ulverston, LA12 8EBLowick School Bunkhouse nestled between Coniston and Ulverston, has a lounge with wood-burning stove, large kitchen/dining room, great views of the mountains and an outdoor area with campfire. River Deep Mountain High Activity Centre provides outdoor activities for groups and families on site.
Keswick, CA12 4NTOld Windebrowe, on the outskirts of Keswick, provides self catering group accommodation in the listed Tithe Barn that was once home to William Wordsworth and now belongs to The Calvert Trust. Fully accessible and 20 minutes from Keswick by foot or wheelchair.
Elterwater, Ambleside LA22 9HXElterwater Youth Hostel, now independent, is located in the peaceful village of Elterwater, in the Langdale valley, 15 mins' drive from Ambleside. A friendly welcome awaits individuals, family and groups enjoying the gentle riverside meanders or the Langdale Pikes, Bowfell and Scafell. Pub nearby.
Penrith Road, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 4JWDenton House provides warm and well equipped self-catering accommodation in the centre of Kendal, designed for groups but also available to individuals and families. Outdoor activities and equipment storage can be arranged and there is access to the River Greta across the road.
Thorney How, Off Helm Close & Easedale Rd, Grasmere, Cumbria, LA22 9QWThorney How, the old Grasmere YHA, offers a range of self catering accommodation in the house and grounds of a charming gentleman's farmhouse. Close to the Coast to Coast path, Grasmere village and lake it is your perfect Lake District base. Enjoy the bar, restaurant & spacious grounds.
Portinscale, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 5UEHawse End Centre sits at the head of the magnificent Borrowdale Valley on the shores of Derwentwater with easy access to Keswick via launch or lakeside walk. A comfortable country mansion, cottage for smaller groups & families and yurts with transparent domes for star gazing. Everyone welcome.