The Route

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Cumbria Way


Cumbria Way waymark

Of interest on The Cumbria Way…

Abbot's Bay, DerwentwaterAbbot's Bay, Derwentwater

Carlisle State Management SchemeCockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway CumbriaCumbrian DialectCumbrian FoodCumbrian People

Cumbrian SportDixon’s ChimneyDry Stone WallsHerdwick Sheep

Lakes in the lake District?Scafell PikeSkiddaw House

Bench Marks and Trig PointsUniversity of Cumbria

Wedding Celebrations on The Cumbria Way


Carlisle State Management Scheme

Workers from the large munitions works established near Gretna in the First World War caused drunkenness and disorder problems in Carlisle when they used the bars and public houses in the city, particularly after pay day

The Carlisle State Management Scheme, initially covering Carlisle and Gretna, was one of three Schemes set up in the UK by the government in 1916 to encourage sensible drinking and also to ensure that the munitions workers stayed sober enough to handle explosives

Pub managers were government employees and paid a salary, so they had no incentive to maximise alcohol sales to increase their profits and thus did not encourage their customers to drink to excess; a policy of ‘disinterested management’.  The buying of rounds or ‘treating’ was also banned in the pubs for several years, to further discourage heavy drinking

The brewing, distribution and sale of liquor was brought under state control. Substandard pubs were refurbished or demolished and replaced with new buildings, fourteen of which were designed by Harry Redfern, Chief Architect for the Scheme until 1945.  These well designed buildings became an influence in pub design throughout the UK

This successful Scheme, surprisingly popular, was denationalised and sold off to private brewing companies by the 1971 Conservative Government

More information can be found on The State Management Story website

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Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway

Opened throughout in 1865 this railway ran through the Lake District connecting Workington, Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith, and the former route of the line is crossed by The Cumbria Way beside the old Keswick Station. The engineering design of the line was undertaken by Sir Thomas Bouch, and some of the bridges he designed can be seen on the Keswick Railway Path between Keswick and Threlkeld

Keswick to Penrith train leaving Troutbeck in 1972The railway was closed west of Keswick in 1966 to facilitate the construction of the new A66 road alongside Bassenthwaite Lake, which used the railway trackbed. East of Keswick, the line lingered on until 1972 when it was closed for political reasons after several years of having been deliberately run down. The last train, specially chartered by the Round Tables of Keswick and Penrith, departed from Keswick late in the evening of 4 March 1972 with 400 passengers on board after the last ordinary service train had run

The Keswick to Penrith Railway Re-opening Project is an ongoing campaign to re-open the line, which has been examined as a viable proposition able to assist in the reduction of severe traffic congestion in the Keswick area.  In spite of strong local support being voiced, including that of the Lake District National Park Authority and other local authorities and bodies representing residential and business interests in Keswick, the Conservative controlled Eden District Council under whose jurisdiction the eastern end of the line comes has seemingly done everything in it’s power to block the proposals.  Why Eden District Council has adopted this inexplicably negative and short sighted stance is fuel to much local speculation

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The name Cumbria was probably derived from the Cymry, the British tribes who inhabited the district, and was the original name of the area now covered by most of the modern county. It was once a part of the Kingdom of Strathclyde

The name Cumbria was resurrected when the non-metropolitan county of Cumbria was created in 1974 by the amalgamation of the counties of Cumberland, Westmorland and parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire. With an area of 6767 sq. km (2613 sq. Miles) it is England’s third largest county by area

With a population of just under half a million, the county is predominantly rural and the least densely populated county in England. Carlisle is the largest town and also the county town and administrative centre; it is located at the confluence of the Rivers Eden and Caldew in the north of Cumbria near the Scottish Border

The Lake District National Park is entirely within Cumbria, as is the westernmost part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Cumbria hosts every English mountain higher than 3000 feet (910 m) above sea level as well as England’s largest lake, Windermere

The Cumbrian economy was heavily based upon industry, with coal and iron deposits being extensively worked in the coastal areas of the county supporting iron, steel and engineering industries, including shipbuilding. Mining, quarrying and gunpowder manufacture were the industrial mainstay in the Lake District

Exploitation of the working communities in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by Cumbrian mine and industry owners and the subsequent decline of mining and heavy industry has led to long-standing social deprivation issues in the coastal Boroughs of Copeland and Allerdale. In contrast, growth of the the tourism industry in other parts of the county has led to relative affluence

Dock Hall, BAE Systems, Barrow-in-FurnessToday the main industrial employers in Cumbria are Glaxosmithkline (pharmaceuticals) in Ulverston, BAE Systems (nuclear submarines) and James Fisher and Sons plc (specialist marine services) in Barrow-in-Furness, Sellafield Ltd. (nuclear reprocessing and decommissioning) near Beckermet, Innovia Films (polypropylene and cellulose films) in Wigton and Pirelli (tyres) and 2 Sisters Food Group (food products) in Carlisle

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Cumbrian Dialect

The influence of television and modern media, and the large influx of people coming to live in the County from elsewhere (particularly within the The Lake District National Park), has led to a dramatic reduction in the use of traditional dialect throughout Cumbria. Words in common usage fifty years ago are often rarely used or even understood now, and the free vernacular use of the dialect has become rare

There is no one dialect in Cumbria, rather a mix of local dialects varying from community to community.  The ‘Furness’ dialect of Ulverston is very different to that heard in Carlisle, whereas speech heard in the west of the county or in the Eden Valley is different again.  The strongest dialects tend to be heard in the agricultural and industrial communities, but the central Lakeland communities have lost their distinctive dialect as offcomers have taken the place of the local population

Inevitably there is a strong Celtic and Scandinavian influence in the Cumbrian dialects, from the historic settlers in the County, and the dialects also merge into the surrounding areas of Northumberland, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Dumfriesshire. Some words in common use in one part of Cumbria may rarely be heard elsewhere in the county due to local dialect variations, for example ‘marra’ (a good friend or mate) is traditionally associated with the west of the county, whereas the word ‘l’al’ or ‘lile’ (small, little) is almost universally known

Recordings of Cumbrian dialect and a comprehensive list of Cumbrian dialect words have been compiled by The Lakeland Dialect Society

In common with many other areas of Britain, the pronunciation of some Cumbrian place names can be a trap for the unacquainted. Some examples are as follows:

Brougham - Broom

Greysouthen - Greysoon

Keswick - Kezik

Pelutho - Pelleter

Sebergham - Seberam

Skiddaw - Skidder

Torpenhow - Tr’penna

Urswick - Ossik

Wreay - Reea

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Cumbrian Food

Cumberland Rum ButterCumberland Rum NickyCumberland Sauce

Cumberland SausageGrasmere GingerbreadKendal Mint Cake

Morecambe Bay Potted ShrimpsSticky Toffee Pudding

In the 18th century Whitehaven, then Britain’s third largest port, was extremely prosperous from trading with the Caribbean, North and South America and Africa. The establishment of sugar plantations led to the import of sugar and dark rum, and the trade also introduced black pepper, nutmeg, ginger, spices, molasses and other foodstuffs to the area. Many traditional Cumbrian recipes are thus spiced or sugar based, Cumberland Sausage, Grasmere Gingerbread, Kendal Mint Cake, Cumberland Rum Butter and even Potted Shrimps all being examples

Taste Cumbria is a useful source of information about where to find and sample traditional Cumbrian food

Cumberland Rum Butter

Along with brandy butter this uniquely Cumbrian recipe is made with the simplest of ingredients (rum, sugar and butter and a little nutmeg or spice). It is usually served as an accompaniment to Christmas pudding or mince pies, but can be enjoyed at any time of year on hot buttered toast, teacakes, oatcakes and scones

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Cumberland Rum Nicky

This lattice covered tart with a rich spicy filling of dates, sugar, butter, rum and ginger is an old recipe favoured by seamen.  It was readily made from the ingredients on board the trading ships returning to Cumbria from the Caribbean

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Cumberland Sauce

A sharp sauce with a fruit base, typically made from redcurrants and flavoured with orange, mustard, vinegar and port, Cumberland Sauce is served as a relish with game and cold meats. A 19th century German invention, the sauce was named to honour the Duke of Cumberland who had ties with Germany, and it has now become a popular Cumbrian condiment

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Cumberland Sausage

Traditional Cumberland Sausage is a thick, course textured seasoned pork sausage with a high meat content. Not linked, it is coiled and thus generally sold by weight

It is only allowed to contain de-rinded pork, rusk, and the following seasonings: white pepper, black pepper, salt, thyme, sage, mace, nutmeg and cayenne. The quantities of seasonings and thus the taste of the sausage varies according to each individual butcher’s recipe, but the skin must be natural pig gut and and the fat content cannot exceed 20%

Historically, it is thought that Cumberland Sausage was first introduced to the area by an influx of German miners in the 16th century. It would have originally been made from the indigenous Cumberland Pig, a species that became extinct in 1960 but that has recently been genetically recreated with a DNA match 99.6 per cent of the original, at Wetheriggs Animal Rescue in County Durham

A protected name, Traditional Cumberland Sausage can only be made within the County of Cumbria

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Grasmere Gingerbread

Only sold in the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop, formerly Church Cottage, Grasmere, this biscuit-like gingerbread is made to a secret protected recipe devised by Sarah Nelson in 1854

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Kendal Mint Cake

The original mint cake recipe dates back to 1869 and was invented by Joseph Wiper, apparently by accident, who set up business manufacturing Wiper’s Kendal Mint Cake. Two Cumbrian companies still manufacture Kendal Mint Cake in Kendal, Quiggin’s and Romney’s. J E Wilson and Sons who manufactured the Wilson’s brand of mint cake ceased trading in 2016 after more than one hundred years in business

To satisfy the requirements of commercial bulk manufacture, the modern recipe varies from Joseph Wiper’s original

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Morecambe Bay Potted Shrimps

The wide expanses of muddy sand of Morecambe Bay, notorious for fast running tides and dangerous quicksands, form much of the southern coastline of Cumbria. For hundreds of years the sands have been fished for the local small, delicately flavoured brown shrimps, which are traditionally prepared by boiling with spices before being sealed with butter and placed into pots or jars. They can be served warmed or cold

Furness Fish Poultry and Game Supplies, with their preparation facility in Flookburgh, are one of the main suppliers

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

This internationally famous dish is a relative newcomer to the Cumbrian food scene, but maintains the Cumbrian tradition of being sugar based. The recipe was devised by Jean Johns, proprietor of the Cartmel Village Shop in 1991 and was first sold in her shop as Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding. It quickly became a firm favourite and demand soon outstripped the capacity of the shop kitchen, so it is now made in a factory at nearby Flookburgh. The dish is now usually referred to simply as ‘sticky toffee pudding’, but it is still possible to buy Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding made to the original recipe in the shop in Cartmel village

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Cumbrian People

Alfred WainwrightBeatrix PotterDonald CampbellHugh Walpole

John PeelJohn RuskinMary Robinson (The Maid of Buttermere)

Sir Thomas BouchWilliam Wordsworth

Alfred Wainwright (1907 - 1991)

More than half a century after the first one was published, the seven volumes of Wainwright’s Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells are still regarded by many walkers as the definitive fell walker's guide. Hand drawn and written, the books were immensely popular from the 1955 publication of ‘The Eastern Fells’ onwards, and publication of the final volumes was eagerly awaited

Bradford born, the son of a stonemason, Wainwright’s first introduction to the Lakeland fells  was on a day out to Windermere when he was twenty three years old. He resolved to return, in due course securing a job in the Treasurer’s Department of Kendal Borough Council; near enough to The Lake District for him to be able to pursue his hobby of fell walking

Promotion elevated Wainwright to the post of Borough Treasurer in due course, but his hobby and pastime took priority whenever he could escape from the office, and his desire to keep notes of his walks ultimately resolved into the preparation of his series of seven guides. Thirteen years in the making, they were followed by his Pennine Way Companion and then a pictorial guide to A Coast to Coast Walk, published in 1973. This walk from St. Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire was devised by Wainwright, and has become Britain’s most popular long distance path

Wainwright was a private person, shunning publicity, and whose reputation for being curmudgeonly was denied by those who knew him well

The Wainwright Society keeps alive Wainwright’s traditions and is a source of further information about one of the best known of Lakeland’s characters

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Beatrix Potter (1866 - 1943)

Well known as the author of children’s books, the most famous of which is probably ‘The Tales of Peter Rabbit’ which has sold more than 40 million copies since it was first published in 1902, London born Helen Beatrix Potter grew to love the Lake District after having spent childhood family holidays at Lingholme and Fawe Park beside Derwentwater. It is believed that the gardens adjacent to Fawe Park and Lingholme were probably the initial inspiration for Mr McGregor’s garden in her books

Beatrix Potter’s developing talent for writing and drawing was recognised and encouraged by her parents, and many of the engaging illustrations in Beatrix Potter’s books are recognisable Lake District locations today. However, in spite of being a successful children’s author, she was austere and not particularly friendly towards the local children who disliked and rather feared her. A village girl, Audrey, who delivered the cakes from Sawrey bake house to Beatrix Potter’s home at Hill Top, would steal a taste of cream from Beatrix Potter’s cakes because, she said, “I don’t like to take it from anyone else’s.”

Following the success of her early books, Beatrix Potter moved to The Lake District in 1905 and lived at Hill Top Farm in Near Sawrey after her marriage to Hawkshead solicitor William Heelis. A conservationist concerned by commercial despoilation of The Lake District and keen to prevent it, she bought other farms and land, becoming in the process a respected farmer and sheep breeder.

Beatrix Potter was a friend of Canon Rawnsley, one of the founders of the National Trust. On her death she bequeathed some 1600 hectares (4000 acres) of land comprising 15 farms to the National Trust thus providing ongoing protection to the core of the Lake District National Park, a legacy which continues to this day

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Donald Campbell (1921 - 1967)

The only person to have held both the world land and water speed records at the same time, Donald Malcolm Campbell was killed attempting to break his own water speed record on the 4th January 1967 on Coniston Water

Having broken the world absolute water speed record seven times previously, Campbell was attempting to break it an eighth time in his jet-powered boat, the Bluebird K7. On the second run necessary to qualify for the record, and travelling at an estimated 528 km/h (328 mph), Bluebird lifted from the water, somersaulted and crashed into the lake killing Campbell instantly

Due to the depth of the lake it was not possible at the time to recover Campbell’s body and the wreckage of Bluebird, but advances in diving technology enabled both to be recovered in 2001, 34 years after his death. Following a funeral service at St. Andrew’s Church in Coniston, Donald Campbell was laid to rest in Coniston Cemetery

The Bluebird Project is restoring the badly damaged Bluebird K7 back to full operational condition in memory of Donald Campbell, and Bluebird will eventually be put on display in The Bluebird Wing of The Ruskin Museum

Pier Cottage, Coniston

Pier Cottage, Coniston Water

Donald Campbell used Pier Cottage near Coniston Boat Landings as his base during his various record breaking attempts between 1939 and 1967, making use of the adjacent slipway that had been built by The Furness Railway Company for the Steam Yacht Gondola, a vessel still in service on the lake

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Hugh Walpole (1884 - 1941)

Sir Hugh Seymour Walpole was born in Auckland in New Zealand in 1884 and became an English novelist, writing thirty-six novels plus short stories, plays and memoirs

Walpole’s most popular series of novels were the Herries Chronicles. The first, Rogue Herries, was set in the Lake District in the mid-eighteenth century and the subsequent novels, Judith Paris, The Fortress and Vanessa carried the saga forward into the twentieth century

Walpole purchased Brackenburn, a large house on the slopes of Catbells near Grange, overlooking Derwentwater. He died there in 1941 of a heart attack, aged fifty-seven, and is buried in St. John’s churchyard in Keswick where his grave is marked by a Celtic cross

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John Peel (1776 - 1854)

Immortalised in the song ‘D'ye ken John Peel’ (Do you know John Peel), sung to the traditional tune of ‘Bonnie Annie’ and written by John Woodcock Graves from Wigton, one of his hunting friends, John Peel was a farmer and hunter born at Park End near Caldbeck

A farmer by profession, and no doubt a tough and hardy individual as befitting his lifestyle in this remote part of Cumbria, he was also regarded as a ‘bit of a rogue’. In 1829 John Peel was hired as a huntsman to look after Sir Frederick Fletcher Vane’s foxhounds at Wythop, and he remained involved with this pack until his death. Hounds from this pack were used to form the basis of the modern Blencathra Pack, sometimes referred to as ‘Peel’s Old Pack’

John Peel married Mary White in 1797, and income from her property at Ruthwaite near Ireby enabled John to enjoy the hunting pastime he enjoyed. The father of thirteen children (six sons and seven daughters) he was finally laid to rest beside St. Kentigern’s Church in Caldbeck in 1854, aged 78

The song ‘D'ye ken John Peel’ refers to John Peel’s ‘coat so grey’, often misquoted as his coat so ‘gay’. A farmer or huntsman from the Caldbeck area in the late eighteenth or nineteenth century would have worn a coat made from the local grey Herdwick wool; the wearing of red or scarlet not being a hunting tradition in this part of England

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John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

An accomplished artist himself, John Ruskin is considered to be the greatest art critic and social commentator of Victorian Britain

Born in London, the son of a prosperous wine and sherry importer, Ruskin had his first poetry published when he was aged fifteen.  Widely travelled in Britain and Europe, he developed an extensive range of interests and became a social reformer, campaigner and philanthropist. Sometimes controversial, he was willing to challenge current thinking and his influence spread beyond Britain and America, where his work was widely read. Ruskin gave inspiration to Tolstoi, Proust and Gandhi, and he is credited with ideas leading to the development of the Arts and Crafts Movement, the founding of the National Trust, the growth of the Labour Movement and many other positive aspects of modern civil society. Some of the most successful social reforms can be traced back to Ruskin’s ideology and his influence remains strong to this day

After previously visiting the Lake District, Ruskin bought Brantwood overlooking Coniston Water in 1871, where he lived for the last twenty eight years of his life. He died of influenza in 1900 at Brantwood and was buried at St Andrew’s Church in Coniston, where his grave is marked with a large carved cross

Brantwood, where many of his possessions remain, and the gardens he helped to create are are now a museum cared for by The Brantwood Trust

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Mary Robinson (The Maid of Buttermere) (1778 - 1837)

The daughter of the landlord of the Fish Inn at Buttermere, Mary Robinson was a shepherdess renowned for her beauty and known locally as The Maid of Buttermere. She was deceived into a bigamous marriage in 1802 by the notorious professional fraudster, forger and seducer, Cheshire born John Hatfield. Already married, he visited the inn posing as ‘Colonel Hope’, a wealthy gentleman, member of parliament and the younger brother of the Earl of Hopetoun

The ‘romantic’ marriage of an aristocrat to the daughter of an innkeeper was inevitably widely reported in the newspapers, and this resulted in Hope’s deceit being uncovered. He was eventually arrested and tried for forgery in Carlisle, where he was hanged in 1803

Mary’s story captured he imagination of the public at the time and Wordsworth mentioned her in his poem ‘The Prelude’.  More recently her tale has been told again in the novel ‘The Maid of Buttermere’ by Cumbrian writer and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg

Mary, who was always regarded as an innocent victim, later married a Cumbrian farmer and raised a family. She was finally laid to rest in the churchyard of St. Kentigern in Caldbeck

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Sir Thomas Bouch (1822 - 1880)

A civil engineer, chiefly remembered for his part in the ill-fated Tay Bridge disaster on 28 December 1879 in which seventy five people were killed, history has not been kind to Sir Thomas Bouch

Bouch was born at Thursby near Carlisle where his father, a retired sea captain, kept The Ship Inn. Bouch started his career in civil engineering working on the Lancaster and Carlisle railway at the age of seventeen.  His career quickly progressed and after periods working in Yorkshire and County Durham, he became engineer of the Edinburgh and Northern Railway, one of the constituent companies of the North British Railway.  At that time he introduced the world’s first roll-on roll-off train ferry, across the Firth of Forth between Granton (Edinburgh) and Burntisland in Scotland

Later, living in Edinburgh and working as a consulting engineer, Bouch invented the caisson, a watertight structure used to permit the construction of bridge foundations, etc. below water level or in waterlogged ground.  He established a reputation for giving close attention to detail but being able to build lines cheaply, and was designer of the Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway in Cumbria

Bouch received a knighthood from Queen Victoria after she had travelled over his 3.3km (2 mile) long Tay Bridge, completed in 1878.  His reputation was destroyed little more than a year later when the bridge collapsed in a storm while a train was crossing it; there were no survivors. Bouch was held responsible, but cost cutting by the railway company and poor workmanship and defective materials of which Bouch was unaware were also largely to blame

Bouch died, a broken man, shortly after the closing of the inquest into the disaster, and is buried in the Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh

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William Wordsworth (1770 - 1850)

Born in Cockermouth, Wordsworth was an important and popular English Romantic poet with strong Lake District connections

Educated initially in Cockermouth, then at Penrith and Hawkshead Grammar School, Wordsworth published his first poems in 1793. After a period living in Somerset and then abroad, he returned to Cumbria in 1799 and settled at Dove Cottage near Grasmere, where he lived with his sister Dorothy and wife Mary whom he married in 1802. It was while living at Dove Cottage that Wordsworth produced some of his best and most famous work

His poem ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’, inspired by the daffodils growing around Gowbarrow Bay on Ullswater when Wordsworth was out walking with his sister Dorothy in the spring of 1802, is probably his best known:

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host of golden daffodils,

Beside the lake, beneath the trees

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance

The waves beside them danced, but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:-

A poet could not but be gay

In such a laughing company:

I gazed - and gazed - but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude,

And then my heart with pleasure fills

And dances with the daffodils

The poets Robert Southey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge were close friends of Wordsworth, the three poets becoming the main figures in a group of poets and writers collectively known as ‘The Lakes Poets’. In 1843 Wordsworth was made Britain's Poet Laureate, and perhaps uniquely did not put pen to a single official verse, his writing days by then being largely over

Following his death in April 1850, Wordsworth was buried at St. Oswald's Church in Grasmere

Wordsworth’s birthplace, now known as Wordsworth House, is cared for by the National Trust and is open to the public, as is Dove Cottage, cared for by The Wordsworth Trust

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Cumbrian Sport

Cumberland and Westmorland WrestlingFell RunningGurning

Hound TrailingHuntingSheep Dog Trials

Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling

This ancient sport, traditionally practiced in the former counties of Cumberland and Westmorland, has a large and enthusiastic following in Cumbria

Although the origin of the sport is unclear, it is believed to have evolved from a sport enjoyed by 10th century Norse settlers in the Lake District. The wrestlers, dressed in black velvet pants, white Long Johns, and embroidered vests with a velvet centre piece over the top, start each bout standing in the ‘backhold’ position, chest to chest, holding each other around the body with their right arms positioned under their opponent’s left arm. The aim is to make the opponent fall or to make him lose his grip

The sport is governed by the Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling Association and competitions were traditionally held on Midsummers day and during New Year celebrations. The Annual Grasmere Sports and Show held on August bank holiday is a popular venue for the wrestlers, but they can also be seen at the Cumberland Show in Carlisle, the Egremont Crab Fair, the Westmorland County Show and other local shows and events

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Fell Running

Gruelling, tough and challenging, fell runners race over some of the highest, roughest and most remote mountains in England. Traditionally fell races were linked to shows or sports days, and several fell running events take place annually in the Lake District. The most famous race is considered to be the Senior Guide’s Race, a long established fell run which takes place every year at the Grasmere Sports and Show

A newcomer to the Cumbrian sporting scene, The Cumbria Way Ultra is a 119 km (74 mile) run following the route of The Cumbria Way, starting from Ford Park in Ulverston and finishing at Carlisle Castle

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Already described as an ancient sport in the Cumberland Pacquet in 1852, the World Gurning Competition is held annually at the Egremont Crab Fair, itself one of the oldest fairs in the world having been established in 1267

The history of the sport is obscure, gurning involving the contestants pulling a face through a horse collar or ‘braffin’. The winner of the competition, open to both men and women, is the one who achieves the most grotesque face!

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Hound Trailing

In a sport dating back some three hundred years, the hounds, specially bred and trained, follow a scent trail of aniseed and paraffin. The excitement of the dogs at the start of the race is palpable, and the race will take them over fields, rough ground and fell, crossing streams and leaping stone walls, fences and any other obstacles on the way

A typical race can be up to thirteen kilometres (eight miles) long and can be covered in less than thirty minutes. Spectators, armed with binoculars, place bets and the owners of the dogs, at the finish line, encourage them by shouting, screaming, banging, whistle blowing and calling. The first dog to cross the finish line, amply rewarded immediately thereafter with its favourite treat, is the winner

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The Lake District hunting tradition originated with local farmers keeping hounds as a means to track down and kill mountain foxes, bringing them together as a pack on hunting days. It has developed into the six English packs of fell hounds known as the Blencathra, Coniston, Eskdale and Ennerdale, Lunesdale, Melbreak and Ullswater packs

Mounted hunting is not feasible in the Lake District due to the steep, rough and rocky terrain unsuitable for horses, and the hounds are followed on foot. The hunting traditions bear little resemblance to those practiced in the lowlands and the hounds are smaller, lighter and more agile than their lowland cousins. They have to be capable of hunting on their own as it is often impossible for the huntsmen to keep pace with them

Although very much a spectator sport, the primary aim of the hunt in what is predominantly a sheep rearing county is to kill the fox, and despatch is usually quicker than that which would occur on a lowland hunt as the dogs are not restrained.  It is arguably less cruel and offensive than lowland hunting

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Sheep Dog Trials

Sheep farming is an important industry in Cumbria and although not traditionally a Cumbrian sport, sheep dog trials have become popular in the county since they were first held at Rydal Show in 1901

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Dixon’s Chimney

Dixon's Chimney, CarlisleVisible from the summit of High Pike on a clear day, Dixon’s Chimney is an iconic landmark in Carlisle.

Built of sandstone and brick in 1836 to serve the steam driven Shaddon Mill, a cotton mill owned by the firm of Peter Dixon, the 93m (305ft) chimney was at the time of its construction believed to be the tallest building in Europe

It is said that at the ‘topping out’ ceremony when the chimney was completed, the champagne bottle that had been carried to the top for the celebration was accidentally dropped and landed at the bottom unbroken!

The chimney was damaged by lightning in 1931 and subsequently has had the top 10m (30ft) removed but is nevertheless an impressive structure.  No longer in use, it is a Grade II* listed building

The adjacent seven storey Shaddon Mill, also Grade II* listed, has mainly been converted into apartments with part being used by the University of Cumbria

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Dry Stone Walls

One of the features of the Lake District landscape are the dry stone walls.  Built without cement or mortar, these walls form the traditional boundaries in the Cumbrian fells. Many are hundreds and some more than a thousand years old, built by the early inhabitants of the Lake District.  Distinctive ‘ring garth’ walls separating the open fell from the fertile valley floors were built by Norse settlers in the 10th and 11th centuries, and added to as farming developed. Finally a spate of wall building resulting from the Land Enclosure Acts of the 18th and 19th centuries defined most of the fields and boundaries as we can see them today

Norse ring garth wall, Kirk Howe, Great Langdale

Norse ring garth wall in Great Langdale

Dry stone walling was a skilled craft carried out in all weathers often on the highest fells, but one which had largely died out due to changed farming practices. Although most Lake District farmers were able to undertake essential maintenance tasks out of necessity, often to a very high standard, increased conservation awareness and interest has led to a revival of the craft in recent years

The Dry Stone Walling Association has its headquarters in Cumbria and aims to keep alive the traditional craft of dry stone walling. It runs a national programme of dry stone walling training and certification courses

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Herdwick Sheep

This small, hardy breed of sheep with their distinctive ‘smiley’ faces are the hardiest of all British domestic sheep. Native to the Lake District they have probably evolved from the sheep first farmed there by prehistoric settlers.  Slow to mature, tough and determined, Herdwicks are well suited to the harsh, wet conditions on the mountains and the poor vegetation, being able to survive upon what it can forage on the roughest and highest of the fells. Much of the open landscape of the Lake District fells is a product of long-term grazing by Herdwicks

Herdwick sheep in Borrowdale

Herdwick Sheep in Borrowdale

The name Herdwick is derived from the Old Norse word for pasture and Herdwicks are territorial, ‘hefted’ onto the fell where they live, rarely straying far from the ‘heaf’ or portion of fell where they were born and where they customarily graze. Intimate knowledge of their heaf is passed down from generation to generation and Herdwicks removed from their heaf will make a determined effort to return, consequently when fell farms are sold or rented the sheep stay with the farm

Herdwick sheep, which are born mainly black but turn grey when they mature, produce a durable, coarse grey wool now with little commercial value. The farming of Herdwicks is no longer profitable, but subsidies and conservation minded landowners such as The National Trust are enabling the traditional Lake District farming of Herdwick sheep to continue, and new markets are being developed for their wool

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Lakes in the Lake District?

Although this part of Cumbria is traditionally known as ‘The Lake District’, it only has one lake so named, Bassenthwaite Lake (often referred to locally as Bass Lake). All the other bodies of water are, with few exceptions, variously called tarns, meres or waters, with tarn being the most common. There is evidence that Bassenthwaite Lake itself was at one time referred to as Bassenwater



This can cause some confusion, for example, Windermere is the lake, so to refer to it as Windermere Lake is theoretically incorrect. The urban settlement nearby, formerly called Birthwaite and which largely came into existence when the Kendal and Windermere Railway opened in 1847, should be referred to as Windermere Town to differentiate

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Scafell Pike

The route of The Cumbria Way from Dungeon Ghyll in Great Langdale to the foot of Stake Pass is often used as the start of an ascent of Scafell Pike. Rugged, and with a height of 978m (3208 ft), it is England’s highest mountain

Locally known as Scawfell Pike, and spelled as such on early editions of the Ordnance Survey maps, the name has become corrupted to the now more commonly used Scafell Pike. Either pronunciation is generally accepted as correct

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Skiddaw House

The Cumbria Way passes the door of the iconic Skiddaw House, a famous and unique establishment almost as much an integral part of The Cumbria Way as the path itself. Built in the style of an urban terrace, Skiddaw House sits alone and incongruously with its small shelter belt of trees in the open wilds of Skiddaw Forest, on the elevated eastern slopes of Skiddaw some three and a half miles from the nearest surfaced road. Overlooking the upper Caldew Valley, it is one of the most isolated houses in England accessible only by mountain bike or on foot

Skiddaw House and Lonscale Fell

The isolated Skiddaw House

Skiddaw House was built approximately 190 years ago as accommodation for gamekeepers employed by the Earl of Egremont who owned the surrounding grouse moors, and as lodging for his shooting parties. For many years thereafter it was occupied by shepherds before eventually becoming a Youth Hostel. After some years of decline, a period of closure, repair and refurbishment, Suzy and Martin the present Wardens have, with the backing of the Skiddaw House Foundation, wholeheartedly thrown themselves into creating a welcoming and hospitable place to stay

At 470m (1545ft) above sea level, Skiddaw House is the highest YHA bunkhouse, but this description fails to offer this unique establishment justice. Although there is no mains electricity, TV, Internet or phone signal to offer perhaps unwanted reminders of the outside world, solar power provides light and hot water, and wood burning stoves and a thick layer of sheep’s wool in the walls and loft keep the place cosy. A small shop sells essentials and everything needed for self-catering and packed lunches, and even stocks local ales, wine and whisky! With bedding provided and towels for hire, there is no need to arrive with a heavy backpack

There are many excellent places to stay along The Cumbria Way, but the opportunity to partake of the unique experience of Skiddaw House is one that should not be missed

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Bench Marks and Trig Points

The Ordnance Survey, Great Britain’s national mapping authority, has used many thousands of locations as survey points for levelling and triangulation in the course of their map making operations.  Many of these points are passed on The Cumbria Way, but supplanted by global navigation satellite and mapping technology they are all now disused

The most obvious are triangulation points, often referred to as trig points and marked on Ordnance Survey maps as a triangle with a dot in the centre. These are located upon a stone built or concrete column about 1.5m (4ft) high, with a numbered flush bracket near the base and with a brass plate set into the top to accept and correctly locate a survey instrument. The route of The Cumbria Way passes only one of these, at the summit of High Pike (NY318350) on The Cumbria Way High Route alternative between Keswick and Caldbeck. This stone built trig point, High Pike, flush bracket number S6945, bench mark height 658.4m (2159ft) has been converted into a topograph

Triangulation Column on the summit of High Pike

Trig point on the summit of High Pike

Approximately 7000 trig points were constructed, many dating from the 1940s. Most are unused now and although they had a 1000 year design life they are fast disappearing through development, vandalism or neglect

Stockland House, Castle Street, CarlisleOrdnance Survey active station, Castle Street, Carlisle

Ordnance Survey active station, Castle Street, Carlisle

There is the modern equivalent of the traditional trig point in Carlisle City Centre (NY399560).  Located on the roof of Stockland House on The Cumbria Way in Castle Street, it is best viewed from Paternoster Row adjacent to Carlisle Cathedral. A choke ring antenna installation, known as an Active Station, it is a part of the Ordnance Survey Net National GPS Network

Benchmark, Stockbridge Lane, Ulverston

Ordnance Survey bench mark near Ulverston

More common are bench marks, and these can be seen along the length of The Cumbria Way. Often beautifully carved into buildings, walls and even boulders, they are characterised by a horizontal line (defining the survey height above mean sea level) and the military broad arrow or pheon which serves the dual purpose of indicating both the location of the bench mark and that it is a military installation not to be tampered with

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University of Cumbria

The University of Cumbria is a new institution formed in 2007 from the merger of St Martin’s College, Lancaster, Cumbria Institute of the Arts and the University of Central Lancashire’s sites in Cumbria. It has quickly gained an excellent academic reputation based upon a long educational tradition, dating back to the founding of the Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts in Carlisle in 1822

The University has its headquarters in Carlisle, with campuses in Ambleside, Lancaster, London and Workington, and it is committed to a policy of sustainable growth, expanding both geographically as well as in academic scope. Courses currently offered can be grouped into the following main subject areas: Business, Conservation, Creative and Performing Arts, Education, Forestry and The Outdoors, Health and Social Care, Humanities, Law and Social Science, Policing, Science and Engineering and Sport

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Wedding Celebrations on the Cumbria Way

Cumbria is a beautiful county and a very popular place to get married.  If you are planning your wedding in the Lake District a selection of venues that host weddings on or near to the route of The Cumbria Way is listed below:

Belmount Hall, Outgate, Hawkshead, Cumbria LA22 0NJ

Tel: 07974 090310

Web: belmounthall.com/wedding-planner  Email: enquiries@belmount.net

SD352993 3.5km (2⅛ miles) from The Cumbria Way

Brantwood, Coniston, Cumbria LA21 8AD

Tel: 01539 441396

Web: www.brantwood.org.uk/weddings  Email: enquiries@brantwood.org.uk

SD312958  3.7km (2⅛ miles) from The Cumbria Way

Ford Park, Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 7JP

Tel: 01229 581666

Web: www.ford-park.org.uk/about/functions-and-weddings/weddings-at-ford-park

Email: functions@ford-park.org.uk

SD293787  1km (⅝ mile) from the Cumbria Way

Glaramara House, Seatoller, Borrowdale, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 5XQ

Tel: 01768 777222

Web: www.glaramarahouse.co.uk/wedding  Email: info@glaramara.co.uk

NY247137  2.2km (1⅜ miles) from The Cumbria Way

Lodore Falls Hotel and Spa, Borrowdale Valley, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 5UX

Tel: 01768 777285

Web: www.lakedistricthotels.net/lodorefalls/weddings.php

Email: lodorefalls@lakedistricthotels.net

NY264188  1.1km (⅔ mile) from The Cumbria Way

Nanny Brow, Clappersgate, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 9NF

Tel: 01539 433232

Web: www.nannybrow.co.uk/weddings  Email: unwind@nannybrow.co.uk

NY360035  2.4km (1½ miles) from the Cumbria Way

New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, Great Langdale, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 9JX

Tel: 01539 437213

Web: www.dungeon-ghyll.co.uk/weddings-the-hotel-lake-district.php Email: enquiries@dungeon-ghyll.com

NY295064  40m (45yds) from The Cumbria Way

The Leathes Head Country House Hotel, Borrowdale, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 5UY

Tel: 01768 777247

Web: www.leatheshead.co.uk/weddings-html  Email: reservations@leatheshead.co.uk

NY258178  1.2km (¾ mile) from The Cumbria Way

Lingholm, The Lingholm Estate, Portinscale, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 5TZ

Tel: 01768 774238

Web: https://thelingholmestate.co.uk/the-estate/weddings  Email: stay@thelingholmestate.co.uk

NY253222  0.2km (⅛ mile) from The Cumbria Way

Overwater Hall, Ireby, Cumbria CA7 1HH

Tel: 01768 776566

Web: www.overwaterhall.co.uk/weddings  Email: welcome@overwaterhall.co.uk

NY243346  1.1km (⅔ mile) from the Cumbria Way at Orthwaite by field path

Waterhead Hotel, Hawkshead Road, Coniston, Cumbria LA21 8AJ

Tel: 01539 441244

Web: www.waterhead-hotel.co.uk/weddings  Email: whweddings@pofr.co.uk

SD310975  0.5km (⅓ mile) from The Cumbria Way

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