Caldbeck to Carlisle

May 29, 2013

Our last day on the Cumbria Way! After a very nice breakfast sitting by the patio doors watching the birds at the feeders, we organized our bags and went on our way. Today’s journey would be about the same length as yesterday’s, but it would be mainly flat, following the River Cardew to Carlisle.

Before leaving Caldbeck we found a footpath to The Howk, so we made a slight diversion to see the remains of the old bobbin mill ruins. The Whelpo Beck passes through a narrow limestone gorge here, so it was the perfect place to build factories in the 19th century. Now they are all gone, with only the bobbin mill’s ruins left. The walk along the river was lovely, with the scent of wild garlic in the air.

Back in the village we found the waymarks and continued on. The weather was cloudy again, with the leaden sky we had become used to. We passed St. Kentigern’s church and then headed out of the village into Parsons Park. There was a variety of trails including dry forest trails, wet and muddy riverside trails, and sheep pastures. There was some climbing and descending, but really not much in the way of elevation. In one sheep pasture we got to the far side and there was no gate leading out. So we looked around. Higher up there was a path, but it led into trees and you had to crouch to go along it. So we backtracked and looked even higher—nope, only gorse bushes up there. After about 15 minutes of getting out the map and discussing the possibilities we turned around and there was a large gate which was impossible to miss! We had a good laugh about that, but it was the last drama of the day.

For the next few hours we followed the river through sheep and cattle pastures, watching our steps to dodge the splats. After some time we came upon a large limestone rock conveniently situated by the river, so we ate our lunch there. We looked back for a last view of the fells, but Blencathra and High Pike were still shrouded in cloud. Goodbye, Lake District!

We continued on with the river on one side, passing Rose Castle, which has been home to the Bishops of Carlisle since the 13th century. Up to now we had only been going through sheep pastures, but now we were passing cattle. Whereas sheep bound out of your way, cows tend to stand and stare at you or even walk towards you. But they weren’t aggressive, only curious. At Dalston we had a few minutes of rain, but there were also public toilets which we ducked into. Here we met a couple of Americans from Missouri who were walking the Cumbria Way. As we passed through Dalston we noticed that they were having to stop and look for the right way to go at the same places we had to, but they were taking longer to arrive at the correct decision.

From Dalston the trail was a paved cycle way which was easy to follow, and we soon outdistanced the two Americans. We walked for two hours straight on the cycle way, which was fast and convenient but took its toll on our feet and legs. Approaching Carlisle we recognized the cathedral and the castle, and then we found some very new-looking waymarks for the Cumbria Way. We followed them past the castle and then down Castle Street, but then… nothing. No more waymarks, nothing to mark the end. Maybe tomorrow we’ll inquire at the tourist information centre.

We found our way easily to Cambro House, the same place we had stayed last year while walking Hadrian’s Wall, and were greeted by David. Our bags were waiting for us so we changed out of our somewhat muddy clothing and then headed up the road to Alexandros, the Greek restaurant that we had eaten at last year, for a very filling dinner.

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Next: Carlisle

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