Gosforth village is the closest large village to the Eskdale and Wasdale valleys, and as such is the main area where provisions and services can be found. Gosforth is situated between the sea at Seascale and the valleys, with easy access from the main A595 coastal road which runs from Workington to Barrow.

image of an aerial view of Gosforth village in Cumbria

There is plenty of free parking on the village car park alongside the main shopping area.

The Gosforth Cross

While you are in the village you should look at the famous stone cross in St Mary’s Church yard. The cross which is thought to date back to Viking times is still in good condition occupying pride of place in the churchyard. it is a slender red sandstone, 14 ft high cross, set in a stepped stone base, with carvings representing a mix of Viking and Christian symbols. Among the symbols are the crucifixion and a pagan god, Loki. It is the tallest ancient cross in England and is considered of great importance in that it shows the transition from pagan to Christian beliefs.

The Gosforth Cross in St Mary’s churchyard

Two 10th century ‘Hogback’ tombstones can also be found within the church. The graveyard contains a cork tree, planted in 1833, the most northerly in Europe. The tool-shed built of stones from the original church, is now a listed building.

Close to the village is Blengdale Forest, which offers superb walking along the River Bleng under the cover of the trees. From here is a good walk to the ancient packhorse bridge known as ‘Monks Bridge’, on Cold Fell. The Bleng valley is situated on the north side of the village as you head out.

The village’s scattered buildings are an interesting mix of the old and new, with the oldest building, now the town hall and library, dating from 1628.

Originally an agricultural area, Gosforth still holds an agricultural show in August.

Gosforth Hall

From the Gosforth Hall Hotel website:

“Gosforth Hall was built in 1658 by a local gentleman called Robert Copley. Copley is recorded as having lived in Gosforth in 1653, but in another house. Careful with his money to the point of being a cheapskate, he refused to pay the Royal Herald for his own coat of arms and instead, made one up himself, which now hangs in the bar area for all to see.

The Hall exudes the impression of age from the moment you pass through the Renaissance gate posts. The floors are uneven, the doorways low and the stairway spirals precipitously upwards, its stone steps worn from centuries of use. There is a priests’ hole which leads down from Room 11 to the fireplace in the bar. In 17th Century England it was difficult – if not illegal – to be Catholic. There was great suspicion of “popery” and there were, of course, Catholic martyrs, killed by the Crown for their faith. It has been suggested that Robert Copley and his wife Isabella were Catholics and thus were very careful about revealing that fact.

Room 11 hosts a large, old, four-poster bed and it is here that guests have woken in the dead of night to see a ghostly figure sitting beside the priests’ hole. The figure is very indistinct but some guests have reported that they felt he was a monk, or a friar wearing a religious habit. There is another tale that Copley, who was at all times careful with his money, built the upper stories of Gosforth Hall from the timbers of ships wrecked against the Irish Sea coast. Legend has it that to this day those timbers groan with the anguish of those poor souls who, clinging desperately to the wreckage of their ships, cried themselves hoarse before being claimed by the icy seas.”

For some reason there is no room 8 in the hotel – the numbering jumps from 7 to 9. One story goes that the ghostly monk is looking for room 8, which of course he will never find…

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