Eden Way walk logoThe Eden Way is an 83-mile long distance walk the follows the River Eden, from sea to source. The route runs through the beautiful Eden valley, using shady riverside paths, quiet woodland and lush green meadows. It visits Norman castles, follows in the footsteps of the Roman legions and explores the legacy of notable Westmorland characters such as Lady Anne Clifford and William Mounsey. The close proximity of the Settle-Carlisle line makes for easy access to side trips and accommodation.

The walk begins at the coast and the Solway Firth, seeking out the River Eden as it meets the sea. It then follows the river through Carlisle, Armathwaite, Langwathby and Appleby, beneath the slopes of the Pennine hills, to Kirkby Stephen and then up to the spring which gives it life, on the Mallerstang ridge. Walkers can then continue on, along the Yoredale Way, or follow the Swale Way in reverse, through Swaledale, to Boroughbridge.

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Walk Synopsis

  • Section 1
  • Section 2
  • Section 3
  • Section 4
  • Section 5
  • Section 6

Section 1: Rockcliffe to Carlisle
Distance: Approx 12 miles (19 km)
Height Gain: Approx 500 ft (152 m)
Walking Time: 6 to 7 hours

We begin the walk by trying to get as close to the Eden’s exit into the sea as possible, using a path across the salt marshes of the Solway. We then turn around and walk beside the river for the majority of the rest of the day, using riverside paths, field boundaries and wide meadows, never more than a few feet from the river. Towards the end there is a short section of road walking through Etterby, before we return to the riverbank, all the way into the ancient city of Carlisle.

Section 2: Carlisle to Armathwaite
Distance: Approx 15 miles (24 km)
Height Gain: Approx 1200 ft (366 m)
Walking Time: 7 to 8 hours

We leave Carlisle through the scenic environs of Rickerby Park, using a riverside path on the southern bank of the Eden for a couple of miles. When no more footpaths are available we use quiet country lanes and bridleways to cut across country through the tiny village of Scotby, to Wetheral. From there we return to the riverbank, using tranquil shaded paths through the beautiful Wetheral Woods and Edenbrows Wood to Drybeck, from where a short section of quiet lane and sheep pastures lead us into the village of Armathwaite.

Section 3: Armathwaite to Langwathby
Distance: Approx 11 miles (18 km)
Height Gain: Approx 1,100 ft (335 m)
Walking Time: 5 to 6 hours

A satellite view of today’s walk would fill us with anticipation, at the prospect of walking beside the Eden down the beautiful wooded gorge between Armathwaite and Kirkoswald. A closer inspection of the map however, reveals no public footpath access to this stretch of the river. We must be satisfied with the pleasant walk through Coombs Wood and then quiet lanes to Kirkoswald where we meet the river again. In the afternoon we stick close to the Eden, using lush meadows and shady riverside paths, visiting Lacy’s Caves and then along a disused mine access track and a short section of quiet road to reach our overnight stop at Langwathby.

Section 4: Langwathby to Appleby
Distance: Approx 15 miles (24 km)
Height Gain: Approx 1000 ft (305 m)
Walking Time: 6½ to 8 hours

We begin today along the quiet tarmac lane to Culgaith which offers expansive views across to the mountains of the Lake District and the Southern Pennines. We soon pick up the river again though and spend several pleasant hours walking beside it through woods, fields and meadows. A complete absence of any riverside access towards the end of the day forces us across rolling green pastures before picking up a quiet footpath into the heart of Appleby, the old county seat of Westmorland.

Section 5: Appleby to Kirkby Stephen
Distance: Approx 12 miles (19 km)
Height Gain: Approx 1,000 ft (305 m)
Walking Time: 6 to 7 hours

We leave the bustle of Appleby and follow a lovely riverside path for the first couple of miles today. When the footpaths run out we take to a quiet country lane and then use farm tracks and bridleways to rejoin the Eden at Warcop. A short stretch beside the river and we’re forced into the fields again, across pasture land, trying to stay as close to the river as we can. We have to resort to quiet lanes from Little Musgrave, for the final couple of miles into Kirkby Stephen, with tantalising glimpses of the hills on tomorrow’s walk.

Section 6: Kirkby Stephen to Garsdale Head
Distance: Approx 18 miles (29 km) via source
Height Gain: Approx 2,800 ft (853 m)
Walking Time: 9 to 11 hours

Distance: Approx 13 miles (21 km) no source
Height Gain: Approx 1800 ft (549 m)
Walking Time: 6½ to 8 hours

We leave Kirkby Stephen following the Eden, past the falls in Stenkrith Park and into the splendour of the Mallerstang Valley. Using hay meadows and old drovers’ tracks, we pass fortified manor houses and old castles, entwined with ancient legends. The river we have followed for 80 miles becomes young before our eyes and we climb, past the falls at Hell Gill up to the source; Eden Springs on Black Moss Fell. Mission complete, we descend again to follow a good path along The High Way and down to our destination at Garsdale Head. Celebratory drinks can be found in the Moorcock Inn, or a train home from nearby Garsdale station.


These are some of the most frequently asked questions about this walk, with answers.

The guide book is written to follow the river from the sea to its source. Rockcliffe is fairly remote, despite only being 5 miles or so from Carlisle by road, and It’s often better to get the tricky logistics out of the way to begin with, allowing you to relax at the end of the walk, knowing the train station at Garsdale is close by with easy links to the rest of the country. Starting at the sea also means that we’re walking back to the Yorkshire Dales and this means we have options to extend the walk if time and inclination permits. The Eden Way links seamlessly with the Yoredale Way for instance and it’s a fairly simple task to divert to the Swale Way if desired.

The River Eden passes through the splendid valley of the same name, rich in historical interest and blessed with incredible scenery. Every day spends long periods on riverside paths, allowing a walker to watch the river change its nature slowly before their eyes; from the broad slow sweep of the river at Rockcliffe to the eager, hurried water rushing over rocks and falls at Kirkby Stephen – the river is the highlight of this walk. In terms of surrounding scenery, the climb up to the source provides incredible views over hundreds and hundreds of square miles of hills and valleys, not to mention the beauty of the moorland we need to cross to reach Eden Springs. The walk has something for everyone.

Experienced long distance walkers will not be troubled by any of the stages on the Eden Way. Although a couple of sections are quite long, these days are fairly flat. Navigation is typically fairly simple, using established paths and rights of way wherever possible. The ability to walk for six consecutive days will usually be the biggest shock to the system for someone new to long distance walking.

Each section finishes in close proximity to accommodation, and the Settle-Carlisle railway line is never far away, which can be used to reach additional accommodation close to the walk. All stages finish in a town or village where you will be able to find a B&B, inn or hotel. Public transport links along the route are generally good. Garsdale at the end of the Way, has a train station to get you back home. Getting to the start of the walk at Rockcliffe will require the use of a car, either a taxi or a friend, as no public transport links are available in this little village.

Almost every section of the Eden Way has its own merits and every section can be easily covered as a day walk, using the Settle-Carlisle line to create linear walks between the stations. However, the final day from Kirkby Stephen, up to the source of the Eden offers some incredible scenery and a rewarding ascent to a fantastic view point above Mallerstang. It’s almost possible to look back along the length of the walk and the views into Yorkshire and across the Cumbrian Fells more than compensate for the effort invested in the climb.

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Simon · 24th June 2018 at 10:17 pm

Hi Stuart, Just to let you know that the route downloads for th eEden Way seem to lead to a 404 page -

    Stuart · 25th June 2018 at 7:47 am

    Simon – Thanks for the shout – this issue is now fixed!

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