3rd August 2023 – The Big Launch
The website had been ‘live’ for a year, but folk were starting to come across the site while searching online, so it seemed the time was right to share it on social media. John Falcus, who had searched online for a walk from Patterdale, had come across the site by accident and contacted me on 20th June 2023, to say he was “hooked” on the route and was already in the “advanced” stages of booking his accommodation. John completed the walk on Saturday 29th July, and is officially the first person to walk the whole route in one go. I was absolutely delighted and privileged to cross the River Esk and walk with him for the last mile to Ravenglass.
After following John’s adventure and seeing him complete the walk, this was the ‘kick up the butt’ I needed to launch the Lakeland Way and finally share it with the world. Up to this point only a few of my close friends knew about the project; people that had followed the process and provided much encouragement and guidance over the last few years. Even though there was still lots of content to add to the website, there was enough information for any person wanting to give this long-distance walk a go. So, on 3rd August I nervously shared the Lakeland Way on social media, and to be honest I was totally overjoyed by the positive feedback I received that evening.
Some favourite comments and feedback:
“Fantastic achievement in devising this Richard. Great to see you unveiling it. Can’t wait to walk it.”
“Richard – you probably won’t remember me, but in 2012 I walked the Coast to Coast and you provided me with some maps and advice for my first ever long-distance walk. I did it and raised £1500 for the Miscarriage Association and two years later I completed the Hadrian’s Wall path with my father – a fantastic father/son bonding experience. The walk you have created looks beautiful and I am inspired by your positivity and kindness. I think it’s so important for our own mental and emotional health to be getting outdoors and doing what you do – very inspiring! I just wanted to write this to say thank you and well done. What an amazing thing to have created this and then to share it with all of us. I hope I will get to walk some of it before I get to old to manage it all!”
“Well done, Richard. Absolutely delighted to see The Lakeland Way launched. It has been a long time in the making, but that’s a reflection of the level of care and detailed planning that you have put in over many months and many more miles. I feel certain that The Lakeland Way will become the great success that you so richly deserve.”
“So pleased you’ve unveiled this Richard. It’s a wonderful and unique idea, all the research you’ve put into it is such a fantastic achievement. I’m sure it will attract lots of interest and I personally look forward to trying sections of it. Happy to have helped in a small way. Well done and best of luck.”
“Great news Richard and very well done for following what Alfred Wainwright wanted to see….People devising their own routes. I’m sure it will be enjoyed by so many others. Look forward to reading your book and seeing more of your pictures.”
“I couldn’t be happier that the walk you have spent so many years on has finally come together. Congratulations Richard.”
“Well done Richard, a lovely new long-distance walk for many to explore and enjoy for years to come. A great achievement.”
“That’s great – I really like the look of this, as somebody who likes travelling from valley to valley, but not too excited by going to the top of every mountain. And it looks like there are plenty of opportunities to detour to the top if you have a bit more energy that day.”
“Really looking forward to walking your route Richard and I will be sure to thank Lakeland (and you) along the way.”
“Good mileage in your itinerary. Time to enjoy rather than a route march, and also circular so double bonus.”
“Richard this looks interesting. Is there any chance of adding a single overview route map on the website? Apologies if I have missed this – I have seen the individual section maps, but an overview map would perhaps be useful. Thanks!”
“With your permission, the route and GPXs (both credited to you, with links to the website) will be on the LDWA’s LDP database as soon as possible.”
“Just looking at this in more detail and it looks like it can be done using all budget accommodation, with a bit of tweaking staying at Keswick, Ambleside and Patterdale with a taxi 2 nights . I’m also thinking of using the steam train to and from Eskdale YHA.”
“Looks good! I live in the Lakes so I’ll try to find a couple of weeks when I can to give it a go! Thank you.”
“Lovely looking route, especially for avoiding the Grassguards swamp! But the Old Coach Road? That has to be the most tedious section of the Lakeland 100 race. I’m definitely adding this route to my to-do list though. Thanks.”
“This looks really interesting. Just perusing the different days, and there appears to be lots of room for high level alternatives too. I look forward to seeing more about it. Thanks for putting it together!”
“Having completed the Cumbria Way a couple of weeks ago I was looking for another long-distance walk, and as this is circular it sounds great. Hasten to add that should I attempt this I will not be camping; I like to have a good shower and bed after I long days walking.”
“Wow, thank you for sharing, this looks great. I started planning a route taking in passes and valleys as I find them just as magical as climbing peaks, so I will definitely use some of your routes as inspiration. Looking forward to the book!”
“This looks amazing; we have done the first section on a mini trek a few years ago. Well done for all the hard work.”
“Well. . . This may need to make my website for a new guided route! Fabulous!”
11th August 2023 – Keswick Reminder
By Mike Addison
“New 144-mile route is gathering interest on social media.
A north Lakes man has devised a long-distance walk which has generated a lot of interest since it was uploaded on social media.
The 144-mile Lakeland Way has been conceived by Cockermouth’s Richard Jennings who reconnoitred the route over three years, and has now experienced the joy of seeing the first person complete the circuit which starts and finishes at the small coastal village of Ravenglass.
The route takes the walker through valleys and over passes and follows old coach and drove roads, corpse routes and tracks used by early travellers by packhorse. Many of the paths were once used by miners and quarrymen who walked from the neighbouring hamlets to reach their workplaces in the depths of the fells. On some sections the footsteps of Roman soldiers are followed as they marched over the fells to strategically placed forts.
“The Lakeland Way has been devised to take in the scenery, nature and history, rather than being a rush to bag summits along the way,” said Richard, 51, who is a cabinet maker.
“It is not an official route or waymarked, but is my own personal walk dedicated to the people that have worked and shaped this wonderful landscape.”
The walk passes close to Keswick, visiting Rosthwaite on the second day from Wasdale Head, before it makes its way through Buttermere to Braithwaite and then on to Dockray, Patterdale, Troutbeck, Grasmere, Coniston, Seathwaite and Boot.
“The website has been up live for a year but I was not expecting so many people to come across it,” said Richard. “The first person walked it officially last week and I have had a lot of interest from fell runners.”
The first person to complete the route in 8 days was John Falcus, who was accompanied by Richard on the last leg of the journey across the estuary to the Market Cross in Ravenglass. John has written a blog about the walk which can be seen on the Lakeland Way website.
“I wanted to produce a walk for my daughter Emily, who is six, and to be able to say to her: ‘This is daddy’s walk’,” said Richard, whose interest in walking really started when he was living in Barnsley, not too far away from the Peak District. “I then developed a love for the Lake District and moved to Cockermouth 10 years ago and I have got to know all the routes, villages and local folk really well.”
Richard’s companion while reconnoitring the walk was his border collie dog Frankie who sadly died earlier this year.”
10th October 2023 – LDWA
Since the ‘big launch’ of the Lakeland Way on 3rd August and sharing it on social media, the response has been so overwhelming and a total surprise. I wasn’t expecting so many people embracing the project and providing me with so much feedback. The most unexpected correspondence I received was from the Long Distance Walkers Association; while working on the project I had this hopeful thought that one day in the future, probably in a few years from the ‘big launch’, the walk would eventually be on their list. So you can imagine my surprise when only after two hours of my post going live on social media, that someone from the association contacted me to say that the Lakeland Way will be added to their database. I was gobsmacked, and to be honest a little emotional about the whole experience. I’m now happy to say that all the info has now been added to their website: ldwa.org.uk/Lakeland-Way