During a wonderful trip camping the Lakeland Way in September 2023, I took the opportunity to record each section again with my GPS device, and also take note of any adjustments that I thought could be made to enhance the route. To give two examples, on Day 12, the routes over Barnscar and up to Stainton Tower are much improved. Also, after further reflection, I’ve included some alternative routes on the PDF maps to avoid areas where weather conditions could have an impact on your progress.
Because of these changes, any GPX files or PDF maps downloaded before 20.10.23 should be replaced from the following page: Downloads
Crossing the River Esk over the stepping stones near St Catherine’s Church in Eskdale, was always a little tricky; not much sunlight penetrates the canopy of trees along the river, so the stones tend to be slippery most of the time, and it doesn’t take many days of rain for these stones to be submerged. However, during a storm in spring of 2022, two of the boulders dislodged from their position making the crossing even more difficult. It is not known if or when these stones will be put back in line, but a safe alternative route (purple) is to cross the river a little further upstream over Girder Bridge.
At first glance you may wonder why the Lakeland Way doesn’t carry on down the road to Dockray? Well, after walking 5 miles along the rough terrain of the Old Coach Road, the grassy pastures leading to Matterdale Church are very rewarding on the feet. This route is of course optional, hence the alternative, but personally a visit to the 16th Century church is worth the extra half mile of walking. A pleasant roadside path along the A5091 then leads to Dockray.
Please note that Matterdale Church, as the crow flies, is the furthest point from Ravenglass on the Lakeland Way.
Like Matterdale Church, a visit to Walna Scar Quarries is an optional diversion. If time allows, exploring these old quarries and ruins is highly recommended.
Traversing Wallowbarrow Gorge is one of the highlights of the Lakeland Way, and is highly recommended if the conditions are suitable. At one section the path is very narrow above a steep drop, so care should be taken especially if the ground is wet. On arrival at Fickle Steps (stepping stones) over the River Duddon, a decision can be made whether to continue down the gorge or to take the alternative route down the road to Seathwaite. Please note that it would take many days of extreme weather for the Fickle Steps to be not possible to cross.