The Cumbrian Cistercian Way

2 day pilgrimages, North West England

The Cumbrian Cistercian Way – 25 miles – 2 days – Piel Castle to Cartmel Priory (or Grange-over-Sands). 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 stretch to culminate at the magnificent 12th-century Cartmel Priory. If you walk 2.5 miles further to the train station at Grange-over-Sands you can experience the panoramic views of Hampsfell looking south over Morecambe Bay and north towards the Lake District.

*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.*

Scroll down to bottom of page for advice on logistics.

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Piel Island from Roa Island

Barrow from Roa Island Road

Piel Island and Roa Island from Rampside

Rampside Church and Windmill

Rampside Churchyard

Medieval Bow Bridge

Furness Abbey

Dalton Font

Urswick Valley

Little Urswick Crags

Great Urswick Church

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

Chapel Island

Cartmel Priory

Sheep in Cartmel Priory Graveyard

Cartmel Priory from East End

Hampsfell Hospice

Morecambe Sands from Hampsfell

Transport
Train to the start at Roose station, then taxi to Roa Island Ferry. Park car in Grange-over-Sands (or Cartmel), then train to Roose, OR park car at Roa Island and make way back to start from destination at end of pilgrimage.

Accommodation
Great Urswick, Bardsea or Swarthmoor (in order of distance from start).

Guidebook
Available from Amazon (but out-of-print…).

Terrain
Footpaths, fields and small sections of road.

Featured Great Routes

The Old Way