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  • Celina Tebaa

Cumbria UK: Nature, History, and Adventure

A gem nestled in the picturesque northwest of England, the county of Cumbria UK is a treasure trove of natural beauty, rich history, and thrilling adventures waiting to be discovered. Cumbria isn’t just about nature. It’s a place where history comes alive. Walk in the footsteps of the Romans at Hadrian’s Wall, explore the ruins of Brougham Castle, or step back in time at the Castlerigg Stone Circular. Each historic site tells a story, offering a glimpse into Cumbria’s fascinating past. And let’s not forget about the adventures! Whether it’s ghyll scrambling in the Lake District, sailing on Lake Windermere, or exploring the charming local villages, there’s never a dull moment in Cumbria.


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Let’s dive into a section:


Top Attractions in Cumbria UK

Lake Windemere

Located in England’s picturesque Lake District National Park, is the largest natural lake in the country. It stretches over 10.5 miles in length, is one mile wide, and 220 feet deep. The lake is fed by numerous rivers and is surrounded by rolling hills, verdant woodlands, and charming villages. As the area offers a variety of activities, Bowness-on-Windermere is a popular holiday resort and an excellent centre for boating activities with over 10,000 boats registered. You can enjoy cruise boats, motor boats, rowing, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, sailing, and swimming. One of the best sights to witness when travelling to Lake Windemere is the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, where beautiful old steam trains run between Haverthwaite Village, Newby Bridge, and Lakeside Pier on Windermere Lake.

Lake Windemere Cumbria View

Alpacaly Ever After

A unique and award-winning social enterprise located in the Lake District World Heritage Site at Lingholm Kitchen and Walled Garden. Their mission is to rehome alpacas and llamas from all over the country and provide them with a wonderful new home while bringing people in touch with the landscape and the natural world through outstanding alpaca and llama experiences.


Top Activities:

  • Alpaca Walks: You can take alpacas out for a walk around the stunning grounds of The Lingholm Estate or at Whinlatter Forest.

  • Meet and Greets: They offer meet and greet sessions at The Lakes Distillery or Lingholm.

  • Llama Treks: If you fancy climbing a local mountain, they have Llama Treks that take you there.

Visitor tip: Please note that booking is essential before visiting and you will undergo safety procedures as it is an outdoor activity.


Aira Force Waterfall

One of the most famous waterfalls in the Lake District, near Watermillock, Penrith, and for good reason. This 65-foot (20-metre) waterfall is set amidst a stunning landscape of ferns, trees, and moss-covered rocks, creating a scene that feels straight out of a fairy tale. It was the backdrop for Wordsworth’s ‘Somnambulist’ - a gothic tale of love and tragedy.


Top Activities:

  • Walking Trails: There are several walks, of varying length, available at Aira Force. The waterfall trails range from 0.5 miles to 2 miles.

  • Boat Arrival: You can start your day in Glenridding and arrive by boat, taking in the sights of Ullswater Valley along the way, then stroll back to Glenridding through Glencoyne Park.

  • Picnics: The little natural play area just beyond the car park, next to the picnic field, is a great place for a relaxing bite to eat.

Visitor Tip: Please note that much of Aira Force and the countryside is steep and rugged, therefore, the waterfall is not accessible by wheelchair or pushchair.


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Best Hiking Trails in Cumbria

Scafell Pike

England’s highest mountain, standing at 978 meters (3,209 feet) above sea level. It’s located in the Lake District National Park and forms part of the Cumbrian Mountains. Every year, more than 250,000 visitors are attracted to its rugged terrain, eager to take on the challenging hike to the summit. There are several popular walking routes leading to the summit of Scafell Pike, each offering a distinct experience. Here are some of the main trails:


  1. Brown Tongue from Wasdale: This is the shortest route, spanning less than 3 miles, and can be completed in 2-3 hours. It involves at least 900 metres of ascent in rugged mountain terrain.

  2. Corridor Route from Seathwaite: This route is 4.7 miles long and takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes. It involves a 980-metre ascent.

  3. Little Narrowcove from Eskdale: This route is 5.4 miles long and takes about 4 hours and 15 minutes. It involves a 970 metres ascent.

  4. Rossett Gill from Great Langdale: This route is 5.6 miles long and takes about 4 hours and 30 minutes. It involves an 1100-metre ascent.

  5. Lingmell Beck from Wasdale Head: This route is 4.5 miles long and takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes. It involves a 950-metre ascent.


This is a challenging route and is generally considered a hard trail. It’s very popular, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring. The best times to visit this trail are April through September. 


Helvellyn

The third-highest mountain in England, standing at 950 metres above sea level. It’s located between Thirlmere in the west and Ullswater in the east, offering panoramic views that captivate the imagination. The mountain is steeped in history, with paths trodden by adventurers for centuries. There are several routes to the summit of Helvellyn, each offering a unique experience. Here are some of the main trails:


  1. Striding Edge Circular Route: This iconic path starts from the bustling village of Glenridding. The route ascends steeply, revealing the beauty of Red Tarn and the eastern fells, culminating in breathtaking views from the summit. This trail involves some Grade 1 scrambling, which makes the hike even more fun. The full circular route takes around 6 hours.

  2. Helvellyn from Swirls: This trail includes notable peaks like Lower Man and Helvellyn Summit, offering stunning views along the way. The descent involves a steep hill.

  3. Thirlmere and Helvellyn Circular: This challenging but rewarding trail takes you to the summits of Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike, High Crag and past Dollywaggon. Starting at Swirls car park, the trail begins with a steep and sustained climb beside Helvellyn Gill, past Lower Man, and up to Helvellyn.


Hawes End, Catbells and Derwent Circular

This trail is located near Keswick, Cumbria, in the beautiful Lake District National Park. It’s a circular trail that spans approximately 7.1 kilometres. The trail starts at Hawes End and takes you on a spectacular journey around Cat Bells and Derwent Water. The trail is generally considered moderately challenging, and it’s very popular among hikers.


The ascent from Hawes End requires many steep steps and a scramble to the top, some of which can be icy and slippery on colder days or in wetter conditions. The trail then continues along to the summit of Catbells with another scramble ascent with loose sections which can require hands-on climbing at times. There are impressive views from the summits over the water and falls from this vantage point. In wet weather, the route can get quite muddy, so wear appropriate footwear and do not attempt this route in high wind or rain as the tops are exposed to the elements. Care is also needed on the steep descent to and from Hause Gate where the rough path and stone steps can be loose, slippery, and jagged in places. The trail then returns via a winding path through the trees and beside Derwent Water where you can enjoy lovely views over the lake. In great open areas like these, the weather can change quickly, becoming more challenging, so come prepared with warm layers, food, and water for a longer day out.

The best times to visit this trail are from March through October. Dogs are welcome and may be off-leash in some areas. Also,  check weather conditions before heading out. A good level of fitness, careful footing, and a head for heights and scrambles are needed for this trail.


Visitor tip: the trails are challenging, so please remember to check the weather before heading out and be prepared with warm and waterproof layers, sturdy footwear, sun protection, food, and water. Enjoy your adventure!


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Historic Sites and Cultural Experiences

Castlerigg Stone Circle

One of the earliest stone circles to be found in Britain and is important in terms of megalithic astronomy and geometry. It’s located near Keswick, Cumbria, in the beautiful Lake District National Park.

The stone circle stands on a superb natural plateau commanding a superb 360-degree view over the surrounding fells. It is composed of 38 free-standing stones, some up to 3 meters (10 feet) high. The site is among the earliest British circles, raised in about 3000 BC during the Neolithic period.

The stone circle is a must-visit on any trip to Keswick, both for its 4500-year history and also for its stunning setting with panoramic fell views including Skiddaw, Catbells, and Blencathra.

Walking from the centre of Keswick to the stones takes approximately 30 minutes, therefore you may need to consider using public transport. You can see the Stagecoach website for details of services around the Lake District.

Castlerigg Stone Circle View

Hadrian's Wall

Also known as the Roman Wall, is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and explorers alike. Built in AD122 under the orders of Emperor Hadrian, this ancient fortification served as the northernmost boundary of the Roman Empire in Britain. The wall stretches over 70 miles from the River Tyne near the North Sea to the Solway Firth on the Irish Sea. Contrary to popular belief, it does not serve as the border between England and Scotland. The wall was a symbol of Roman power and authority. It was built to “separate Romans from the barbarians” to the north. Today, it stands as a testament to Roman engineering and military strategy.


What to see:

  • Roman Forts: Along the wall, you’ll find several Roman forts, including Housesteads, Vindolanda, and Birdoswald, where you can explore the ruins and learn about life on the Roman frontier.

  • Museums: The Great North Museum in Newcastle and the Tullie House Museum in Carlisle house fascinating collections of Roman artifacts found along the wall.

  • Scenic Walks: The Hadrian’s Wall Path is a long-distance footpath that follows the line of the wall. It offers stunning views of the English countryside.

  • Visitor tips: Before you go, check the opening times of the various sites as they can vary throughout the year. Also, be sure to wear comfortable shoes if you plan to do a lot of walking.

Brougham Castle

It is a medieval building located about 2 miles southeast of Penrith, Cumbria, England. The castle was founded by Robert I de Vieux Pont in the early 13th century. The site, near the confluence of the rivers Eamont and Lowther, had been chosen by the Romans for a Roman fort called Brocavum.

The castle is in a picturesque setting beside the crossing of the River Eamont. It consists of a stone keep, with many later buildings including the unusual double gatehouse and impressive 'Tower of League’. Both a formidable barrier against Scots invaders and a prestigious residence, the castle welcomed Edward I in 1300. A complex of passages and spiral stairways makes Brougham a fascinating castle to explore. It’s also an ideal picnic setting for a family day out. The top of the keep provides panoramic views over the Eden Valley. The castle is open daily from 10:00 to 17:00. You can book your tickets online ahead of your visit.


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Exploring the Local Villages

Ambleside

Charming town located at the northern end of Windermere, in the heart of the Lake District National Park. It’s a major tourist resort with shops, restaurants, a cinema, and a large selection of places to stay. It’s very popular with walkers and climbers and is one of the best bases for exploring the Lake District.


Key Attractions and Activities:

  • Windermere Lake: You can take boat rides around the lake, go fishing, or simply enjoy the views.

  • Stock Ghyll Force: A spectacular 70-foot waterfall that can be viewed safely from a railed viewpoint.

  • The Bridge House: One of the most photographed scenes in Lakeland.

  • Ambleside Roman Fort: The ruins of a fort from the Roman province of Britannia.

  • The Armitt Museum: A collection of books, manuscripts, watercolours, archaeological remains, geological specimens, and assorted paraphernalia.

  • Outdoor Activities: There’s a huge raft of outdoor adventure activities available around Ambleside and Windermere Lake.

Best Places to Eat:

  • Tacos Del Sol Ambleside: Known for its delicious Mexican and Latin cuisine.

  • The Old Stamp House Restaurant: Offers a unique British dining experience.

  • Boardwalk Bar & Grill: A popular bar with a variety of British dishes.

  • Fellinis: A vegetarian restaurant offering Mediterranean and European cuisine.


Best Places to Shop:

  • Hayes Garden World Ambleside: A large array of plants, aquatic life, and gifts.

  • The Fitzwilliam Gallery: An art gallery with antique shops.

  • Ambleside Cowhides & Sheepskins: A specialty gift shop.

  • Old Courthouse Gallery: Another specialty gift shop with art galleries.

  • Lakeland Leather: A shopping mall known for its leather goods.

Ambleside Cumbria Town
Ambleside Cumbria

Grasmere

Historic village located in the heart of the Lake District National Park. It’s surrounded by green, craggy mountains and is known for its dramatic setting. The village is popular among tourists, with plenty of gift shops, places to stay, and places to eat.


5 Spectacular things to do in Grasmere village:

  • Dove Cottage & The Wordsworth Museum: This was the home of the famous poet William Wordsworth. Over 70,000 tourists visit Dove Cottage every year.

  • Wordsworth Daffodil Garden: A place of peace renovated and named after the famous poet.

  • Grasmere Lake: A beautiful lake where you can enjoy boat rides or simply enjoy the views.

  • St Oswald’s Church: An ancient church dating from the 13th Century.

  • Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread Shop: Located in the former village school, this shop is famous for its gingerbread.


Local Events:

  • Grasmere Sports Day: One of the oldest and most popular traditional events in the Lake District.

  • Lake Artists Society Summer Exhibition: Held from the end of July to the beginning of September at Grasmere Village Hall.


The Best Restaurants and  Places to Eat in Grasmere: 

  • Tacos Del Sol Ambleside: Known for its delicious Mexican and Latin cuisine.

  • The Old Stamp House Restaurant: Offers a unique British dining experience.

  • Boardwalk Bar & Grill: A popular bar with a variety of British dishes.

  • Fresher’s Cafe: Known for its fantastic coffee, cake, and quiche.


The 5 Best Places to Go Shopping:

  • Heaton Cooper Studio: An art gallery with a shop selling books, gifts, and art supplies.

  • The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop: Famous for its Gingerbread.

  • Grasmere Chocolate Cottage: Offers a variety of handmade chocolates.

  • Herdy: A shop selling gifts, homeware, and accessories.

  • Grasmere Garden Village: A gift and garden shop at the heart of the Lake District.


Keswick

A charming market town located in the northern part of the Lake District National Park, England. It’s nestled between the huge bulk of Skiddaw and the gentle beauty of Derwentwater. This town offers a wide range of attractions for visitors, from shops and restaurants to museums with a difference, and boating trips around Lake Derwentwater.


Highlights of Keswick:

  • Keswick Museum & Art Gallery: A Victorian museum with a local history collection, and original manuscripts from the Lake Poets.

  • Derwentwater: A beautiful lake where you can enjoy boat rides or simply enjoy the views.

  • Keswick Market: In 1276 Edward I granted the town its market charter, and it continues to this day.

  • Outdoor Activities: Keswick is one of the main centres of Outdoor Activities in the UK.


Must-visit Attractions,  Keswick:

  • The Puzzling Place: A unique indoor attraction in Keswick.

  • Keswick Museum: Explores the area’s history, from ancient archaeology through to the arrival of industry in the Lakes.

  • Castlerigg Stone Circle: One of the earliest British circles, raised in about 3000 BC.

  • Whinlatter Forest Park: England’s only true mountain forest.

  • Derwent Pencil Museum: Tells the story of pencil making in Keswick.


Lake District View

Outdoor Activities and Adventures in Cumbria

Ghyll Scrambling Water Adventure in the Lake District

A unique outdoor activity that’s very popular in the Lake District. It involves scrambling directly up or down a mountain stream. You are in the water for most of the experience and will often swim through pools, slide down waterfalls, and scramble over rocks.


Here are some key details about the adventure:

  • Location: The activity is offered in various locations including Church Beck in Coniston, Stickle Ghyll in Langdale, and Stoneycroft Ghyll in Keswick.

  • Duration: The length of the activity is typically 2 – 3 hours depending on the size of the group.

  • Requirements: You will need a wetsuit and helmet for ghyll scrambling, which are provided. You will also need laced shoes you don’t mind getting wet and a bathing costume to wear under the wetsuit.

  • Age Limit: The minimum age for participation is 7 years old.

  • Cost: The cost for ghyll scrambling is typically around £45 per person.

  • This activity is suitable for groups, families, and individuals. It’s a great way to enjoy the natural beauty of the Lake District while having an exhilarating adventure.


Sailing on Lake Windemere

Lake Windermere is a beautiful location for sailing. You can charter a skippered yacht for a 2-hour sailing experience for up to four people. You can choose to get involved and take control of the yacht or just sit back and enjoy the stunning scenery. There are also sailing schools and dinghy hire available.


Best Providers:

  • Sailing Windermere: Offers a 2-hour sailing experience for up to four people.

  • Lakeland Adventures: Provides luxury yacht sailing experiences perfect for family fun days, corporate rewards, birthday treats, team building, special occasions, and more.

  • Sail N Dine: Offers sailing experiences with food that rivals many restaurants in the area with fresh local produce sourced daily, cooked and prepared on board.

  • Royal Windermere Yacht Club: Founded in 1860 to promote sailing on Windermere.

  • Low Wood Bay Watersports Centre: Offers both sailing instruction and a range of sailing boats for hire.

  • Tips for Visitors: Safety should always be a top priority, therefore if you’re new to sailing, consider taking a course or hiring a skippered yacht. Also, always wear a life jacket while on the boat and follow all safety instructions provided by the boat hire company.


Via Ferrata Experience in Keswick

This experience takes place at the historic Honister Slate Mine, England’s last remaining working slate mine and England’s very first Via Ferrata. This adrenaline-filled adventure involves climbing and scrambling at the mine. If you’re looking for a challenge, you might want to try the Via Ferrata Xtreme.


What to Expect:

Participants will climb up Fleetwith Pike using the Via Ferrata and walk through the mine’s tunnel system. The excitement intensifies as you navigate your way along the mountainside by crossing the exposed Infinity Burma bridge, scrambling up cargo nets, scaling the metal ladders with mountain edge exposure attached to the rock face, and climbing on steep, hard-to-reach cliff faces on the final ascend to the summit of Fleetwith Pike.


Tips for Visitors:

  • Arrive at Honister Slate Mine 30 minutes before the start of the activity.

  • Wear warm outdoor clothes, trainers or boots, and bring wet weather gear, gloves, and a hat.

  • Bring a drink

  • Remember, this activity can be strenuous at times but there are always places to rest.

  • A head for heights is sometimes needed but can also be a great place to challenge those fears in a safe way.

  • Note: This activity is not suited for participants under the age of 12 years old


Practical Travel Tips for Visiting Cumbria

Where to Stay:

  • Hotels: Hotels in Cumbria range from luxury spa hotels to family-friendly and pet-friendly hotels. Some budget-friendly options include the Patterdale Hotel and the Royal Hotel. For a more luxurious stay, consider the Macdonald Leeming House or the Howtown Hotel.

  • Bed and Breakfast: There are luxury boutique B&Bs, B&B farm stays, town centre B&Bs with parking, pet-friendly B&Bs, family-friendly B&Bs, and B&Bs at a Lakeland Inn. The prices can vary depending on the location and amenities.

  • Holiday Cottages: You can find pet-friendly holiday cottages, holiday cottages with hot tubs, romantic cottages for two, family holiday cottages, wheelchair-accessible cottages, and self-catering for groups. Prices can range from budget to luxury depending on the size and location of the cottage.

  • Alternative Accommodations: There are also glamping sites, campsites, hostels, holiday parks, and campervans available. These can be a more budget-friendly option, especially for larger groups or longer stays.


Cheap accommodation options:

  • The King’s Head: Located at the foot of Mount Helvellyn, in the heart of the Lake District, this former 17th-century coaching Inn boasts spectacular views. It’s perfectly situated close to the shores of Lake Thirlmere and within easy reach of walking routes.

  • Meadowcroft Country Guest House: Offers bed and breakfast accommodation for most group visitors. It’s located in Ings Village, Windermere.

  • Sun Inn: A low-key country pub and inn located in Pooley Bridge, Penrith. It’s converted from a row of 18th-century cottages and is close to Lowther Castle’s imposing ruins and Penrith Castle.

  • The Inn On The Lake: Located in Glenridding, Ullswater, Penrith. This hotel is in 15 acres of grounds, with lawns up to the shores of Lake Ullswater.


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Getting to Cumbria

  • By Car: If you’re driving from the south, the main motorway is the M6. From Glasgow, the M74/A74 (M) runs directly into the M6 at Carlisle. The A702 connects Edinburgh to the A74 (M), which then runs directly into the M6 at Carlisle.

  • By Train: Major cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, and Newcastle are directly linked to Cumbria by train. Avanti West Coast operates a train from London Euston to Penrith North Lakes hourly.

  • By Air: The international airports in Liverpool, Manchester, and Newcastle are all within 90 minutes of the Lake District by train or by car.

  • By Bus: National Express operates a bus from London Victoria to Penrith once a week.


Getting Around in Cumbria

  • By Train: You can tour around Cumbria from Carlisle to the coast. Northern Trains travel the local branch lines.

  • By Bus: There is a good bus network in and around Cumbria, and sightseeing buses enable you to enjoy the fabulous views. Stagecoach has low floor, easy access buses with audio and visual next stop info.

  • By Boat: No trip to the Lake District would be complete without a scenic lake cruise.

  • By Bike: There are plenty of places to hire a bike in Cumbria – road bikes, mountain bikes, and electric bikes

  • By Taxi: Relax, safe in the knowledge that your driver will get you to your destination on time and in comfort whilst you take in the views.


Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Cumbria is during the summer months of June, July, and August. This is when the weather is warmer and more pleasant, with average temperatures ranging from 15°C to 20°C. However, every season brings its own beauty and charm, so the best time to visit the Lake District is really whenever you’re going to have as much of it to yourself as possible. For that reason, you might want to avoid the summer months and school holidays if you can.


Seasonal Highlights in Cumbria

  • Spring: Springtime brings with it bouncing baby lambs, tapestries of bluebells in the woodlands, and the daffodils that so inspired William Wordsworth.

  • Summer: Summer is the time to head to a local market, visit an animal attraction, go for a walk, relax on the beach, and find great places to eat and drink outdoors.

  • Autumn: Autumn is a wonderful season for walking. Woodland foliage is ravishingly colourful in October.

  • Winter: Winter brings snow-dusted fells.

  • Weather in Cumbria: Cumbria has a temperate maritime climate with typically warm rather than hot summers and cool to cold winters. It’s the wettest region of England, and when you’re exposed to the elements on a fell, a rain shower turning up out of nowhere can feel like it. Even in May, typically the driest month of the year, daytime showers are common, and fogs can envelop mountain views at any time, making it essential to properly prepare when walking. Therefore, always bring your raincoat, just in case.


Conclusion

From the towering peaks of the Lake District to the tranquil waters of Lake Windermere, Cumbria’s landscapes are as diverse as they are breathtaking. Whether you’re an avid hiker ready to conquer Scafell Pike or a nature lover looking to bask in the serene beauty of the countryside, Cumbria has something for everyone.  So, pack your bags and get ready to immerse yourself in everything Cumbria has to offer. You’re sure to return home with a wealth of unforgettable memories.


FAQ Ultimate Guide to Exploring Cumbria


What are the best beaches in Cumbria?

Cumbria is home to a variety of beautiful beaches. Here are a few of them:

  • St Bees Beach: Known for its mix of sand and pebbles, it’s a perfect spot for families.

  • Allonby Beach: A haven for windsurfers and kitesurfers.

  • Silecroft Beach: Known for its serene setting, it’s perfect for horse riding, walking, or simply soaking in the panoramic views.

  • Walney Island: A unique beach destination offering diverse landscapes, from sandy shores to nature reserves.

  • Roan Head: Renowned for its stunning dunes and vast sandy beaches.

  • Haverigg Beach: A hidden gem offering tranquillity and natural beauty.

  • Seascale Beach: Known for its wide, sandy shores and panoramic views.

When does the Lake District tend to be crowded? 

How to avoid crowds in Cumbria during peak times?

More information



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