The Cumbrian Cistercian Way

2 day pilgrimages, North West England

The Cumbrian Cistercian Way – 25 miles – 2 days – Piel Castle to Cartmel Priory. *NB This route is a modified version of the now out-of-print guide by Ian Brodie, ‘The Cistercian Way: A South Lakeland Walk’. The blue line on the Google Map represents the section which has been changed.* A pilgrimage through the calming landscape of South Cumbria, in the footsteps of the Cistercian monks. Start your journey by boarding the tiny ferry to Piel Island, whose castle was built in this remote place to store and protect the grain, wine and wool of the monks of Furness Abbey. From there you ferry back to the shore of Roa Island and walk inland to Furness Abbey – a colossal red sandstone masterpiece, and once the second wealthiest and most powerful Cistercian monastery in England. After the Vale of Nightshade, via Dalton-in-Furness, you come to Great Urswick church, with its Arts and Crafts wooden carvings and Saxon ‘Tunwini Cross’. Now follow the BPT’s diversion from the original route over the brow of Birkrigg Common, to where its stone circle overlooks Morecambe Bay, which you then descend to, and walk along its shore to the modern Buddhist temple at the medieval site of Conishead Priory. From Swarthmoor Hall, the birthplace of Quakerism, catch the train from Ulverston across the bay to Cark, and from there walk the final stretch to finish at the magnificent 12th-century Cartmel Priory.

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Piel Island

Barrow from Roa Island Road

Piel Island and Roa Island from Rampside

Rampside Church and Windmill

Rampside Churchyard

Medieval Bow Bridge

Urswick Valley

Little Urswick Crags

Great Urswick Churchyard and Sheep

Saxon ‘Tunwini’ Cross in St Mary and Michael Church, Great Urswick

Birkrigg Stone Circle overlooking Morecambe Bay

Morecambe Bay Sands

Featured Great Routes

The Old Way