One of the Newest Sections of the England Coastal Path Is in the Under-the-radar Lake District — With Cozy Inns, Mountains, and Scenic Small Towns

One travel writer hiked a new section of the England Coastal Path in West Cumbria, U.K. to find the best stops along the way.

Sign for the England Coast Path

Amanda Eyre Ward

The England Coastal Path will be the longest continuous walking path in the world, at 2,795 miles, when completed. While currently unfinished, various stretches are opening across the country, many overlooking vast beaches and passing by ridiculously charming towns, pubs, rolling acres of green, restaurants serving sticky toffee puddings or fresh seafood, castles, and wildlife.

This August, my husband and I flew to London, where we boarded a train north to explore a new section of the England Coastal Path in West Cumbria, part of the U.K.'s Lake District, only two hours south of Scotland. This 11-mile stretch of path was just completed in February 2022. We reveled in discovering a largely under-the-radar area full of jaw-dropping beauty and locals friendly enough to sit down with you, pour a whiskey, and unfold a topographical map to help you find your way.

A man hiking the England Coast Path

Amanda Eyre Ward

As Peter Pennington, a Scotsman who married into the family who's lived in Cumbria’s Muncaster Castle since 1492, says, “It's not so easy to get here. But to me, the best things are always on the edge, don’t you agree?”

I absolutely do.

We hiked parts of the trail over the course of four days. We began in Silecroft, a small village with a long and rocky beach. As we hiked, we kept an eye out for local birds like the red knot and ringed plover. A gravel path gave way to sea dunes as we walked toward Hodbarrow Pier in the adjacent small town of Millom. We stopped in Millom, where a multimillion-dollar project called the Millom Iron Line is underway, aiming to turn the small town’s quiet seafront and forgotten infrastructure into an attraction akin to New York City’s High Line. Hiking through the Millom Marsh led us through fields and along seafront to the Green Road Railway Station and the end of the newest portion of the trail.

On our last day, we summited Black Combe fell (or mountain). William Wordsworth wrote that from the top of Black Combe "the amplest range of unobstructed prospect may be seen that British ground commands." He has a point; it was one of my favorite sights along the trail. After about four hours of hiking, we were thrilled to enjoy our ham sandwiches overlooking the Isle of Man, the hills of Wales and Scotland, and the glittering Irish Sea.

As we explored bits and pieces of the trail around Cumbria, these were our favorite spots along the way for those looking to plan their own Lake District adventure.

The Pennington Hotel, Ravenglass

A couple standing in front of The Pennington Hotel in Ravenglass

Amanda Eyre Ward

I fell in love with tiny Ravenglass, the only seaside village in area's scenic Lake District National Park. The Pennington Hotel is located in the center of town with 22 rooms and views across an estuary. After a gourmet dinner at the Estuary Bar & Grill, we took an evening stroll along the wide tidal flats, gazing at a striated sky and finding the perfect stones to bring home. It seemed that we were the only tourists in town.

The Wayside Inn and Whiskey Barn

Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and built in approximately 1637, the Wayside Inn and Whiskey Barn is a serene and secluded bed-and-breakfast with four lovely rooms, one in its own self-contained building. We loved the farmhouse interior design, thoughtful and luxurious amenities (like whiskey-scented soaps, thick towels, a library of local poetry, and deep soaking tubs) and will always remember our evening with the inn’s owner, relaxing in the whiskey barn and looking at maps as we planned our morning summit of the Black Combe fell, which we could access via a private trail right from the inn.

Muncaster Castle

The bird and owl show at Muncaster Castle

Amanda Eyre Ward

Have you ever wanted to sleep in a castle, then wake up and look out the window, pretending you are a queen? Muncaster Castle can fulfill these royal dreams with its Coachman’s Quarters rooms and (in the summer months) glamping tents on property. We watched the spectacular bird and owl show and spent hours roaming the castle, hearing tales of ghosts and famous visitors (like King Henry VI). We were also told about the “Luck of Muncaster,” which was bestowed with a “curious cup” by King Henry VI. We certainly felt lucky to visit West Cumbria and have vowed to return — perhaps to hike the entire England Coastal Trail with our children someday.

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