Cumbrian Cistercian Way – 25 miles – 2-3 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 The orange-coloured route is a modified version of the now out-of-print guide by Ian Brodie, ‘The Cistercian Way: A South Lakeland Walk’. The blue route on the Google Map is what appears in Brodie’s guide.*
Scroll down to bottom of page for advice on logistics, and see Google Map waypoint descriptions more info for each holy place.
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.
Dalton-in-Furness, Great Urswick, Bardsea, Ulverston/Swarthmoor, Cartmel (in order of distance from start). Break at Urswick if doing 2-day version, or Dalton (1st night) and Ulverston (2nd night) if doing 3-day version.
Available from Amazon (but out-of-print…).
Footpaths, fields and small sections of road.