Introduction to Cumbria
Cumbria is the most north-western county in England, bordering onto Scotland. The county of Cumbria consists of six districts (Allerdale, Barrow-in-Furness, Carlisle, Copeland, Eden and South Lakeland), and in 2008 had a population of just under half a million. Cumbria is one of the most sparsely populated counties in the United Kingdom.
Its largest settlement and county town is Carlisle and the only other major urban area is Barrow-in-Furness on the south-western tip of the county.
It is best known for containing the Lake District National Park, an area some 30 miles across, containing England’s highest mountains (four over 3000 ft), and some of Englands biggest lakes.
Also within Cumbria is a small part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Cumbria’s history is characterised by invasions, migration, and settlement, as well as battles and skirmishes between the English and Scottish, as is evident by the many castles and pele towers throughout the county.
Several notable people are associated with Cumbria, including Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth and John Ruskin.
The county contains the Eden Valley, part of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding natural Beauty (AONB), the western end of Hadrian’s Wall, and some 180 miles of coastline along the county’s west coast.
Cumbria has something to offer all visitors, young and old, those seeking adventure, and those seeking peace and quiet, with its history, landscape of mountains and lakes, and much more.
Cumbria can be reached by road and rail. The M6 motorway travels north through the centre of Cumbria – junction 36 near Kendal, junction 40 at Penrith and junctions 42-44 at Carlisle.
Carlisle is a major railway junction on the West Coast Main Line from London Euston to Glasgow, which also has stations at Penrith and Oxenholme (for Kendal and Windermere). Carlisle is also served by lines from Dumfries, Newcastle, and Leeds.
The The Settle-Carlisle Railway was the last great mainline railway to be built in this country. Consisting of 72 miles of track with 17 major viaducts spanning the ravines and 14 tunnels. it was completed for passenger travel in 1876, and advertised as the most picturesque route to Scotland from England. Despite threats of closure, it has now been given a new lease of life, with much improvement work being done, and some of the closed stations re-opened and renovated.
Hadrian’s Wall is the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain. It stretches seventy-three miles from Wallsend near Newcastle, across the neck of England to the Solway in North West Cumbria, and stands today as a reminder of the past glories of one of the world’s greatest empires.
The River Eden is entirely Cumbrian and is one of the few large rivers in England that flows northwards. The source of the river is on the high limestone fells above Mallerstang Common, near the North Yorkshire border, and makes its way across eastern Cumbria, with the hills of the North Pennines to the East, and the fells of the Lake District to the west, to Carlisle. Here its merges with other rivers to form the great Solway Firth estuary, before reaching the open sea, 90 miles (145 km) from its source.
The National Trust‘s most important work in Cumbria is the conservation of about one quarter of the Lake District National Park. Almost all the central fell area and the major valley heads are owned or held on lease by the Trust.
Discover the various areas of Cumbria
The year 2001 proved to be a terrible year for Cumbria because of the foot and mouth crisis, suffering 893 confirmed cases of the disease out of a total of 2030 cases in the UK.
The effects of some 10 months of this crisis on some businesses was immense, and many rural pubs, B&B’s and other tourist related shops closed for ever due to little income during 2001.
However that gloomy picture of decline is no longer the case, with recovery, new investment, a determination to diversify, and restocking of the farms and fells.
November 2009 also proved to be a terrible time for Cumbria, with major floods in Keswick, Cockermouth and Workington. Much of the town of Cockermouth was damaged – including most of the businesses on the Main Street and surrounding area. Happily the town is now completely restored and even more attractive than before. Many bridges were damaged or destroyed, including all that crossed the River Derwent in Workington, in one case leading to the tragic death of PC Barker, and most bridges remained closed for many months.
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