Following on from the first post in this series on OS Maps of Northern England, this is the Cumbria one. In this post I will look at what maps cover Cumbria and what the interesting features are on each. I will also highlight which maps cover the Lake District National Park Park.
Other articles in this series:
- OS Maps of Northern England – Intro
- OS Maps of Northern England – Northumberland
- OS Maps of Northern England – Tyne & Wear
- OS Maps of Northern England – Durham
- OS Maps of Northern England – North Yorkshire
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This is probably the biggest task in this series of posts. It is also one of the most interesting for me. I love the other parts of the north of England but the Lakes is different. Even though, on a world scale, the hills in the lakes are still small, they are the only mountainous terrain in England.
OS Grid references
In the text beside the maps, I have added some OS Grid References. These are the figures with two letters, followed by six numbers. If you’re familiar with OS maps, you’ll know what they are. If not, no matter. The Ordnance Survey have a great beginner’s guide to OS Grid References. Anyway, each one of these Grid References is a link. If you click it, it will open the OS online map and centre on the place linked to the reference. Try this one (NY 215 072). It is the triangulation point at the highest place in Cumbria and England, Scafell Pike.
It takes in total 13 maps to cover the majority of Cumbria. The special maps here are the four that cover the Lake District National Park. They are even labelled as The English Lakes. These are special to me and many others in being the ones with the fells and lakes on. The maps are Explorer OL4, Explorer OL5, Explorer OL6, Explorer OL7. Explorer 324, Explorer OL42, Explorer 314, Explorer 315 and Explorer OL43, cover the Northern part of Cumbria, that is outside of the Lake District maps. Explorer 303 covers a small section of Cumbria to the west of the Lake District. Explore OL31, Explore OL19 and Explorer OL2 cover the remaining areas to the east of Cumbria.
- OS Explorer 324 Liddesdale & Kershope Forest
- OS Explorer OL42 Kielder Water & Forest
- OS Explorer 314 Solway Firth
- OS Explorer 315 Carlisle
- OS Explorer OL43 Hadrian’s Wall
- OS Explorer OL4 The English Lakes – North Western Area
- OS Explorer OL5 The English Lakes – North Eastern Area
- OS Explorer OL31 North Pennines – Teesdale & Weardale
- OS Explorer 303 Whitehaven & Workington
- OS Explorer OL19 Howgill Fells & Upper Eden Valley
- OS Explorer OL6 The English Lakes – South Western Area
- OS Explorer OL7 The English Lakes – South Eastern Area
- OS Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales – Southern & Western Areas
Where to buy OS Maps of Yorkshire
The maps are available in both paper and electronic form and from many sources. For convenience though, they are available on Amazon and at very reasonable prices. All of the maps below are linked directly to the maps available from Amazon. Just click on them and you can quickly have them delivered directly to your address.
I have prepared a gazetteer to allow you to check which map that places in Cumbria are on. This is a useful reference if you know the place but aren’t sure where it is or what map it appears on. Take a look.
This map occupies part of the north east of Cumbria. The Scottish border stretches from the bottom left of the map, near Longtown, to the top right, west of Kielder.
The border follows Liddel Water, a small river that runs south-west, from its source in the Scottish borders to where is meets the River Esk. The River Esk ultimately runs into the Solway Firth.
As this is a relatively small and sparsely populated area, there isn’t much of note here. The Kershope Forest is a significant feature and forms the western end of Kielder Forest.
This map covers about 8 square kilometres of the far north east of Cumbria. This tiny piece of land is not on any of the other maps and simply contains a small area of Kershope Forest and a minor peak called Sighty Crag (NY 601 809). This crag does have a triangulation point because it is the highest point in the immediate area.
The Solway Firth is a subject of its own. This site describes it better than I can.
It is the meeting place of several rivers from both the Scottish and English sides. The Firth consists of mud flats and salt marshes and is an Area of Outstanding Beauty.
The Firth forms part of the England/Scotland border and as a border territory, it has been fortified over time. This gives rise to the most significant place, for walkers at least, in the area. This place is Bowness on Solway.
Bowness on Solway (NY 224 627) sits on the northernmost point of this map. It juts out into the Firth and is the western end of Hadrian’s Wall. It is also the usual starting point for those walking the Hadrian’s Wall Path.
The low lying nature of the area on this map mean that it is filled with nature reserves. The main ones being Glasson Moss (NZ 235 605), South Solway Mosses (NY 225 601), Campfield Marsh (NY 207 602), Drumburgh Moss (NY 256 584).
There are several old airfields in the Silloth area. These are Silloth airfield (NY 127 540), Kirkbride airfield (NY 228 549) and Anthorn airfield (NY 180 581). They were built in WWI or WWII and are now either disused or turned over to civilian use. Anthorn airfield is most famous now as being an antenna site and the source of the National Physical Laboratory time signal, which was moved from Rugby in 2007.
The name of this map is Carlisle. That’s a bit of a giveaway that the only city in Cumbria, Carlisle (NY 403 561), is on this map. As a result, the West Coast Mainline and the M6 run directly through this map. The minor arteries of the Tyne Valley Line and the A69 also run through this map.
The course of Hadrian’s Wall passes right through the centre of Carlisle, just to the North of Carlisle Castle (NY 397 562). So, obviously, the Hadrian’s Wall Path runs through Carlisle, following the River Eden for much of its route.
Another long distance path terminates in Carlisle. This is the Cumbria Way. If you have walked in the central areas of the Lake District, you will have likely seen signs for the Cumbria Way. It starts in Ulverston and runs 70 miles, almost directly north, across Cumbria and the Lake District.
Another map on the edge of Cumbria. Up in the north eastern corner again.
The River Irthing flows through Gilsland, from the hills around Kielder to the River Eden. Just north of Gilsland is a spa hotel (NY 636 677). This hotel makes use of the beautiful wooded river valley adjacent to the hotel.
RAF Spadeadam is still an active RAF station, for Electronic Warfare testing, so there is typically no access. Although, at various places you can see dummy targets scattering the area.
This is the first of The English Lakes maps. For many, this will be the first one they buy, as it covers Keswick and the fells around there. It was my first Lake District map.
The cover photo is taken from Dodd Fell (NY 244 274), overlooking Derwentwater, with Catbells (NY 244 199) on the right. You can see the memorial stone at the summit. This stone is marked “In memory of John Lole and Ian Sandelands, Ist Seaton Scout Group“. I couldn’t find any information on these men.
Skiddaw lies just north of Keswick. It is the fourth highest of the Lakeland Fells. The summit is easily accessible from Keswick and gives incredible views all round.
Great Gable is the sixth highest summit in the Lakeland Fells. Easily accessible from Honister Pass, it gives spectacular views of Wasstwater, when the clouds disappear at least.
Haystacks is famous for being the favourite of Wainwright. It’s not particularly high and there are much bigger ones near it. It does have its own charm though, which is aided by the lovely tarns near the summit. Innominate Tarn (NY 197 130) is where Alfred Wainwright’s ashes were scattered, as per his instructions.
The major settlements on this map are Wigton (NY 255 484), Aspatria (NY 143 418), Cockermouth (NY 121 307), Keswick (NY 265 235). Cockermouth and Keswick are both market towns and tourist centres. Whilst Cockermouth sits just outside the National Park, it has a similar feel to Keswick.
The Honister Pass (NY 222 139) is one of the main passes over the fells. It connects the Buttermere Valley with Borrowdale. The Honister Slate Mine and adventure centre is situated at the top of the pass, at Honister Hause (NY 225 136).
This map covers an area just south of Carlisle to just north of Grasmere. For many travelling from the North East, this is the area that they first see.
Helvellyn is a favourite of many. It is the third highest summit of the Lakeland Fells. It’s evocative name, Striding and Swirral Edges and Red Tarn all add to the spectacular beauty of this fell.
Blencathra is the name that this fell generally goes by, although the map also shows it as Saddleback. It is the ninth highest summit but has the feel of a much higher one. As it sits by the A66, it is often the first big fell that people see as they drive in to The Lakes.
Less than 5km from Helvellyn summit, Fairfield is a mere 5m higher than Blencathra and is the eighth highest summit. Often included as the main part of a horseshoe walk from Patterdale, it is a wonderful place to be on a good day.
The major settlements on this map are Penrith (NY 514 304), Pooley Bridge (NY 471 244), Glenridding (NY 385 171) and Patterdale (NY 396 159). Penrith is just outside the National Park but is still a place for visitors who prefer a town with more than the average facilities of one in the National Park. Pooley Bridge sits at the northern end of Ullswater. Glenridding and Patterdale sit at the southern end of Ullswater and are centres for tourism and walking.
The major bodies of water on this map are Ullswater, Haweswater and Thirlmere.
Ullswater is long thin lake that twists between the surrounding fells. It is very scenic and a favourite for many.
Haweswater and Thirlmere area reservoirs that are used to supply Manchester.
The Ullswater Steamer takes visitors up and down Ullswater, stopping at Pooley Bridge, Howtown and Glenridding, on the way.
Cross Fell (NY 687 343) lies on this map. It is the highest point in the Pennines and is the source of the River Tees. The sources of the River Tyne and the River Wear are also in the same range of hills.
The purpose of this is to cover a small section of Cumbria that is not included on the four main English Lakes Maps. This area is also the most populated area on the Western side of Cumbria. A large proportion of what is on this maps is on Explorer OL4 English Lakes – North Western Area and Explorer OL6 English Lakes – South Western Area.
Whitehaven grew up around the harbour and, for a period in the 18th century, was the second busiest port in England, with London the busiest.
Workington has always been an industrial town and is famous for being the place where the Bessemer Converter was invented. This innovation revolutionised the production of steel.
This area is also important for being the starting point of Alfred Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk. It starts at the small seaside town of St Bees. This walk is an unofficial long distance walk, so is not shown on the maps.
This maps covers a large area of eastern Cumbria that borders the counties of Durham and North Yorkshire. This map actually contains the north western section of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, which is actually in Cumbria.
The major settlements on this map are Dufton (NY 693 249), Appleby-in-Westmorland (NY 683 204), Brough (NY 795 146), Kirkby Stephen (NY 775 088) and Sedbergh (SD 657 921). These places are focal points for access to the Pennines. Appleby-in-Westmoreland is also famous for being the home of the Horse Fair.
Whilst there are no significant bodies of water or fells on this map, there are some very interesting things.
Nine Standards Rigg (NY 824 064) is located on an indistinct fell in the Pennines, about 6km southwest of Kirkby Stephen. It consists of a line of large cairns. The origin of these stones in unknown, but could be Roman.
The Settle Carlisle Railway is a historic railway line that is still part of the National Rail Network. This is an incredible scenic railway, which also gives access to some beautiful parts of Cumbria and North Yorkshire. There is more on this railway on Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales – Southern & Western Areas.
The Eden Valley Railway is a heritage railway that runs between the small village of Warcop and Appleby-in-Westmoreland.
Warcop Range (NY 760 176) is a large artillery gunnery range in eastern Cumbria, to the north of the A66 between Brough and Appleby-in-Westmoreland. Access to the public is restricted to public rights of way that are only open on a limited number of days of the year.
This map covers the area from Great Gable right down to Morecambe Bay. This is a huge area but there is some great stuff in it.
Scafell Pike and Scafell are the two highest fells in The Lake District and England, although they are sometimes grouped as one. Even though Scafell Pike is only the third highest peak in the UK, it is arguable the most technically difficult to climb.
The Langdale Pikes is an area of fells at the head of Great Langdale. The main peaks are Pavey Ark (NY 285 079), Thunacar Knott (NY 280 080), Pike of Stickle (NY 274 074), Harrison Stickle (NY 282 074). Other points of interest are Dungeon Ghyll and Stickle Gill, Stickle Tarn (NY 287 077).
The major settlements on this map are Barrow-In-Furness (SD 199 691), Ulverston (SD 288 783) and Coniston (SD 303 976). Each one is notable for something. Barrow-in-Furness is the centre for being the centre of nuclear submarine production in the UK. Ulverston is famous as the birthplace of Stan Laurel. Coniston is famous for being the centre for the attempts on the water speed record by Donald Campbell.
Piel is the bay area between Walney Island and mainland Barrow-In-Furness. There is an area of higher ground in Piel Harbour called Piel Island (SD 233 638). This island has been occupied since 1127, when monks were given permission to build an abbey on the island. The island has it’s own pub, The Ship Inn. The landlord of The Ship Inn carries the title King of Piel.
The major bodies of water on this map are Wastwater (NY 157 056) and Coniston Water (SD 302 944). Wastwater is the deepest lake in England at around 80m. It is used to supply water to Sellafield Nuclear Facility. Coniston Water was chosen by Donald Campbell for attempts and successes on the water speed record, presumably because of how straight is is over its length. I was also the place where he lost his life during the final failed attempt at reaching 300 mph.
The Wrynose Pass (NY 271 025) from Langdale to the Duddon Valley and the Hardknott Pass (NY 230 016) from the Duddon Valley to Eskdale are two of the steepest roads in in England, reaching grades of 1 in 3 at times. They are single track and precarious in places, but are open to motor vehicles. If you want to give them a go, make sure that your brakes work, your handbrake is reliable and your nerves are steady.
This map covers an area from Grasmere in the north west corner to Carnforth (Lancashire) in the south east corner. Much of this area is flatter than the more familiar Lake District scene. However, it does contain the most significant body of water.
Helm Crag is the true summit of what is often called The Lion and the Lamb. This refers to a smaller summit that looks like a Lion with a Lamb resting next to it, when viewed from the A591. This fell is easily accessible form Grasmere Village.
Loughrigg Fell is surrounded by Grasmere to the northwest, Rydal to the northeast and Loughrigg Tarn to the southwest. It is easily accessible from Grasmere, Rydal and Ambleside.
Red Screes is more challenging and a little more remote than the other two. It can be accessed from Ambleside via Snarker Pike or the Scandale Pass but the usual route is a steep climb up from Kirkstone Pass.
The highest part of the Kirkstone Pass (NY 402 083) is at the top of this map, before it descends in to Patterdale. The road from the pass down to Ambleside is called The Struggle and it is quite steep. Hence the name.
There are several significant settlements on this map. These are Grasmere (NY 336 076), Ambleside (NY 376 046), Windermere (SD 412 986), Bowness on Windermere (SD 403 970), Hawkshead (SD 353 982) and Grange-Over-Sands (SD 407 779).
Grasmere village is at the north end of Grasmere. It is probably best known for being the location of Dove Cottage, the main residence of William Wordsworth.
Hawkshead is famous for being the place where William Wordsworth went to school and for being the location of the the offices of William Heelis, who later married Beatrix Potter. The Beatrix Potter Museum is in the former offices.
The major bodies of water on this map are, Esthwaite Water (SD 361 964), Grasmere (NY 338 066), Rydal Water (NY 359 062) and Windermere (NY 383 010). Windermere is the largest natural lake in England.
The Settle-Carlisle Railway runs through this map. However, only one of the Cumbrian stations appears on this map. This is Dent Station, which is the highest operational station on the National Rail Network. A few kilometres south of Dent Station (SD 764 875) is the Blea Moor Tunnel (SD 771 832). At 1.5 miles it is the longest tunnel on the line. The railway enters Blea Moor Tunnel in Yorkshire and exits in Cumbria.
There are three long distance walking routes on the Cumbria part of this map. A Pennine Journey comes over Whernside and then joins the Dales High Way and the Dales Way for a while. The Dales High Way runs south-north from Saltaire to Appleby-in-Westmorland. The Dales Way runs 80 miles east-west from Ilkley to Bowness-on-Windermere.