More and more accommodation providers are making extra efforts to meet the needs of visitors who want to walk. Places to stay that have confirmed that they provide an agreed range of facilities and services, including drying facilities, are shown with the walkers welcome symbol in local area accommodation guides and on the accommodation section of Go Lakes.
The Ramblers Association, a voluntary organisation with groups all around Britain, produces its own guide to bed and breakfast where walkers are welcome and has a section on Cumbria. Useful fact sheets and trail guides are also available. For more information look at www.ramblers.org.uk.
Safe and Sound
The weather in the Lake District can change very quickly, particularly on the fells where clear morning skies can rapidly give way to rain, sleet or even snow on the summits, so you'd better be prepared!
Appropriate clothing can make all the difference and four items are basic essentials for a day on the fells; boots, base layer, waterproofs and rucksack.
Your walking boots should give grip, comfort and ankle support. They should also keep your feet dry in wet conditions. Take time and advice when buying boots - halfway into a walk is no time to find that they don't fit properly.
The base layer is the next-to-skin garment that should ‘wick' perspiration away from your body, leaving you feeling dry and comfortable. Traditional cotton T shirts are a bad choice for outdoor use, so invest in a good base layer and feel the difference. A mid layer fleece would be useful in cooler conditions.
Go for well-made waterproof jackets and trousers that are really designed to keep out the rain, and look for materials that are both waterproof and breathable.
Your rucksack should hold everything you need and be able to be carried comfortably. Don't carry the weight only on your shoulders - a good pack should have a waist belt that allows the load to be taken by your hips. And don't believe anyone that says a rucksack is waterproof - put everything that must stay dry in a plastic liner, just in case.
Essentials for a day on the fells include hat and gloves, a spare warm layer, enough food and drink, and a first aid kit. A compass, map and the knowledge to use them will stop you getting lost. If you want to learn more about navigation complete a course - basic navigational skills can be learned in just a few hours.
Call the National Park Authority's Weatherline Service 0844 846 2444 or visit http://www.lake-district.gov.uk/weatherline to check the forecast before you leave.
If possible leave details of your route and expected finish time with a buddy. This could be a friend, member of your family or accommodation provider. If you are delayed but it isn't an emergency please contact your buddy to let them know. This will prevent mountain rescue, a team of volunteers, being called out unnecessarily.
If there is an accident or emergency and you need assistance call 999. Ask for Cumbria Police and give as much detail about the situation and your location as possible, an accurate grid reference would be ideal. Please do not contact the emergency services unless it is a real emergency.
Walking in winter brings a whole new set of challenges and you need to be even more prepared. Additional warm clothing will be needed and if you are walking at high altitude you may need an ice axe and crampons and be able to use them! Also make sure you are aware of the number of daylight hours and plan your walking route accordingly.
Where to Walk
Cumbria's public footpaths and bridleways are some of the easiest in the country to follow but it is always worth having a good map or guide with you. If you want to devise your own walk, or are sensibly supplementing a route described in a guidebook or magazine, Ordnance Survey (OS) maps are widely considered to be the best at helping you to get the most from the experience.
OS Explorer series maps, with distinctive orange covers, are highly detailed showing every town, village and hamlet, together with contours and public rights of way (footpaths, bridleways, byways and roads used as a public paths). Explorer maps also show other public access routes and access land.
OS Landranger series, which have distinctive pink covers, are also useful for more straightforward walking.
Tourist Information Centres, outdoor shops and bookshops usually have a good selection of maps and currently available guidebooks describing routes of different types and distance for you to follow. Some maps and guides are available from our online shop.
The OS web site www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/getamap can help you plan walks in Cumbria and allows you to print maps the size of the map box.
The land in the Lake District National Park, in common with the other parts of Cumbria, is nearly all privately owned and much of it is farmed. Because of this it is especially important that you follow the Country Code when you are out walking:
• Enjoy the countryside and respect its life and work
• Guard against all risk of fire
• Fasten all gates
• Keep your dogs under close control
• Keep to public paths across farmland
• Use gates and stiles to cross fences, hedges and walls
• Leave livestock, crops and machinery alone
• Take your litter home
• Help to keep all water clean
• Protect wildlife, plants and trees
• Take special care on country roads
• Make no unnecessary noise
Under the Countryside Rights of Way (CROW) 2000 Act, walkers were granted rights of access to mountains, moors, heaths, down and common land in England and Wales. Please click here for more information on open access land.
Walking for All
There are many places in Cumbria that are suitable for exploring by wheelchair and buggy. Visit Miles without Stiles for lots of routes!
Don't Wear Away the Fells
When out walking, please:
• Place your feet thoughtfully; every single footstep causes wear and tear on the environment. The slow-growing plants that can survive on mountains are particularly vulnerable to trampling.
• Keep to the path surface; do not walk along the vegetation at the edge of the path.
• Do not build or add to cairns - paths need stones more than cairns.
• Do not take shortcuts - water will soon follow your tracks and an erosion scar will develop. The eroded material may wash into local streams and lakes and cause further problems.
• Remember, there may be only one of you, but there are another 12 million pairs of feet treading Lake District paths every year.
Find out more about the work being done to protect the Cumbrian fells on the Fix the Fells website.