The Lake District Guide

Things to do and places to go in the Western Lake District and the Cumbrian Coast

Please also see the other guides to attractions and activities, many of which are within easy reach of the Cumbrian coast, and which include many attractions not shown here! You can find these other visitors' guides by using the navigation bar below.

Central Lakes ] [ Western Lakes ] Southwest Lakes ] North & Eastern Lakes ] Cinema & theatre ] Galleries & exhibitions ] Lake District crafts ] Lakes Music and Festivals ] Castles & houses ] Activity holidays ] Spa/therapy breaks ] Best things for kids ] Grizedale/Whinlatter ] What's On Guide ] Unusual activities ] Singing In The Lakes ]

The Western Lake District - The Cumbrian Coast

Away from the glorious mountain scenery on the Cumbrian cost you'll find a much less busy collection of charming villages, towns, and rural landscapes which offer everything you could need in a Lakes holiday. If you have a few days to explore this region, you'll find it just as rewarding as the areas we traditionally think of as "The Lakes", further inland around Coniston, Ambleside, Bowness and Keswick. You might be spending the time differently to the way you would further inland, but you can have just as much fun.

In the towns there's a treasure trove of antique shops, curios, art galleries and bookshops. Gift shops and crafts abound - often to be found in some astonishingly quirky locations. Make sure you look out for the "Made in Cumbria" logo so you can be sure you're purchasing locally produced crafts and food.

If you're serious about food, the Western Lake District has everything from traditional home cooking to world-class cuisine. You'll find pubs and inns offering appetizing and imaginative menus for hikers and walkers, while there's a fine selection of hotels and restaurants, including award-winning vegetarian establishments.

For a true culinary experience sample the highly acclaimed farmhouse cheeses at Thornby Moor Dairy near Thursby - the Allerdale goats cheese is a speciality! Get the pick of the catch at Maryport's West Quay where freshly caught fish is sold straight off the boats. You'll find Jennings, Cumbria's major brewer at Cockermouth where you tour the brewery and savour fine ales. For something different why not try a tot of Jefferson's rum, first produced in 1785 and still winning awards - a must for the connoisseur! Or enjoy the delicious taste of Hartley's ice cream in Egremont, St Bees and Cockermouth. For the ultimate in gastronomy, venture to the family business of Woodall's of Waberthwaite, specialist producer of cured bacon, ham and Cumberland Sausage and holder of a Royal Warrant to boot! Then there's Cumberland Rum Butter, which you can enjoy at a cream tea......simply superb.

Arts, Culture & Architecture

The breathtaking beauty of the Western Lake District has been the inspiration of artists, writers and poets for generations. William and Dorothy Wordsworth were born at Cockermouth, and their childhood home is open to visitors. It provides an amusing little snapshot of Cumbrian life in the late 18th Century. This, too, is the land so admired by poets Robert Southey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

You'll find lots of galleries, museums and theatres, each with its special identity and changing programme. Crafts featured prominently throughout the area range from potters to wood turners, spinners to weavers, and sculptors to furniture makers.

Some of the more amusing and whimsical attractions range from the country fairs where you can really see how the area traditionally earned its living from agriculture, through to the annual World Gurning Championship and the Biggest Liar Competition (both of which attract worldwide audiences!).

Few regions of the British Isles have as rich a heritage, with recorded history showing that this area was of major importance to the Romans. You can travel back in time, and discover something of the evolution of the Lakes today. In the north you can trace the remains of Hadrian's Wall at Bowness-on-Solway before discovering Roman defences and settlements along the Cumbrian coast. Or you can visit the Bath House at Ravenglass before heading inland to see the spectacular Roman remains of Hardknott Fort. Spend a few minutes there, as I have many times, thinking about how a Roman soldier must have felt when sent here from the warmth of the Mediterranean (though in fact most Roman foot-soldiers were mercenaries, so he may have come from Germany or central Europe).

Cockermouth has some fine examples of Georgian architecture, and the ports of Whitehaven and Maryport have magnificent harbours. At Silloth you can soak up the sense of a genteel Victorian resort complete with fine houses, cobbled streets and stunning Solway views.

Activities, the outdoors and nature

The Western Lake District is the great outdoors. Whether you're fell walking, jet skiing, sailing, canoeing, paragliding, kite surfing, cycling or following more gentle pursuits such as golf or pony trekking, it's all here, surrounded by dramatic scenery. There are plenty of low level walks and lakeside strolls, plus some of the finest beaches along more than ninety miles of glorious coastline.

For the more adventurous, Workington and Whitehaven are starting points for the Coast to Coast (C2C) cycle route, while Wainwright Coast to Coast walkers begin their journey at St Bees. Rugby league and football are popular, so are sea and coarse fishing, but for something different try speedway or go-karting.

If you're looking for a challenge with a difference, find adventure here in the Western Lake District with rock climbing, abseiling, ghyll scrambling and mountain biking. There are guided walking and map reading weekends to help appreciate the more remote parts of the region.

Nature reserves abound in the Western Lake District. From the Solway in the north to the Duddon Estuary there's a wide variety of birds and rare species of plants. You can expect to see red squirrels, deer, seals, natterjack toads, kingfishers and osprey.

And if you want a more relaxed break, there are some delightful gardens in this area. Don't miss the splendour of rhododendrons, azaleas and flowering shrubs in springtime, and remember that autumn is especially magnificent. To make your journey all the more satisfying many places serve delicious home-made cream teas!

Stanwix Park Holiday Centre (Silloth)

This holiday park has an excellent indoor leisure centre, swimming pools, gym, sauna, steam room, spa, sun shower, tenpin bowling, snooker and pool, amusement areas, soft play area, family entertainment, disco and adult cabaret. It also offers caravans and apartments for hire for weekly and short breaks. They can accommodate campers, touring caravans and motor homes.
Stanwix Park Holiday Centre, Greenrow, Silloth, CA7 4HH
Phone: 01697 332666 Web: E-mail:

The Gincase (Silloth)

The Gincase is an award winning farm attraction, with a farmhouse tearoom serving delicious, genuinely home-made food, a craft barn full of quality local gifts, an art gallery with work by local artists, and a rare-breed animal park suitable for children. Open Easter to end October.
The Gincase, Mawbray Hayrigg, Silloth on Solway, CA7 4LL
Phone: 01697 332020 Web: Email:

Bank Mill Nursery (Beckfoot, Silloth)

This nursery has a huge collection of plants and it also has a butterfly collection, a nature reserve and a conservation area. Great for all the family!
Bank Mill Nursery and Visitor Centre Beckfoot, Beckfoot, Silloth, CA7 4LF
Phone: 01900 881340 Web: Email:

The Lake District Coast Aquarium (Maryport)

A highly praised all-weather attraction that has something for everyone. Like many places these days, this aquarium has a touchy-feely side to it: in this case, the rays and starfish give you a "real feel" for the marine environment. If you want to know what's going on in the waters around our shores, this is the place to see it! Outside crazy golf and adventure playpark. All tickets allow re-entry for talks and fish feeding.
Open: 7 days a week 10.00-17.00 Closed Christmas Day & Boxing Day.
Directions: On historical Maryport harbourside, NW Cumbrian coast, 30 minutes' scenic drive from Keswick.
Phone: 01900 817760

Maryport Town

An interesting little town. Its history goes back to Roman times, so if you have a few hours to spare, it's well worth a visit, especially to the harbour. It's a pretty little Georgian town, and it has - among many other things - the largest collection of Roman altars in Britain. Great for historians, and great for anyone who likes charm and peace.
Phone: 01900 812101

Senhouse Roman Museum (Senhouse)

I like Roman history, and I've spent a lot of time exploring it overseas. But here in Britain we have some especially fine Roman remains - Hardknott Fort and Hadrian's Wall. This is part of the Hadrian's Wall site, and the exhibition tells some fascinating stories of life in Britain under Roman occupation. By the way, Hadrian's Wall is a world heritage site, so this has to be A Top Attraction!
Senhouse Museum, The Battery, Sea Brows, Maryport, CA15 6JD
Phone: 01900 816168 Web: Email:

The Lakeland Sheep and Visitors' Centre (Cockermouth)

Why not have a centre devoted to sheep? The Lakeland Sheep and Visitors' centre has lots of sheep-fun, including herding (flocking?) with collie dogs, shearing, and sheep intelligence tests. No, I admit I just made that last bit up. But it's well worth a visit. There's also a comfortable hotel at which you can stay. An indoor attraction, which is both fun & educational, with a live farm show! There are 19 breeds of sheep, geese & a dairy cow to enjoy, also working dogs. With a large gift shop with sheepskin products and all kinds of sheepish things, and a cafe serving hot meals and snacks, there's enough to keep all members of the family entertained for a few hours.
Open: Daily 0930-1730. Shows at 10.30, noon, 14.00,15.30, Sunday to Thursday March - October.
Shepherds Hotel and Lakeland Sheep and Wool Centre, Egremont Road, Cockermouth, CA13 0QX Directions: M6 Junction 40. Head west, A66. Sits on roundabout of A66/A5086 at Cockermouth.
Phone: 01900 822673
Email: Web:

The Lakes Home Centre (Cockermouth)

This garden centre has the biggest range of quality giftware in the area. They have a comprehensive garden centre with just about all you could need including a vast array of plants, furniture, water features and statues. They also stock DIY and interior design products, fitted kitchens, bathrooms, cookware, and they've also got a tea room. You can find them at Cockermouth and find out more about them at
The Lakes Homecentre, Low Road, Cockermouth, CA13 OHH or on their website:

Wordsworth's House (Cockermouth)

Yes, it's the childhood home of the poet everyone knows about - William Wordsworth. Using costumed staff, the house gives you a feel of what it must have been like in Wordsworth's days. You can see some live demonstrations of aspects of life in the 18th Century.
Main Street, Cockermouth, CA13 9RX
Phone: 01900 824805 Web:

Jennings Brewery Tours (Cockermouth)

I always like brewery tours - there's something magical about the process of transforming water into beer by fermentation. The brewery has its own well, and their well-informed guides will show you how their fine ales are made, after which you can enjoy a pint or two of their beer. This is just about as good as beer gets - served at the site of production!
Jennings Brewery, Castle Brewery, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 9NE
Phone: 0845 1297190
Web: Email: See the website

Trotters World of Animals (Bassenthwaite Lake)

A wildlife experience with hourly presentations and demonstrations. You can watch the otters, apes and monkeys, and see flying displays by eagles, vultures and other birds of prey. There are many other exotic animals including lynx, zebra and buffalo. Indoor and outdoor playcentres, and there's a tearoom and picnic area. I'm not really a fan of keeping animals in captivity, but I recognise we need zoos and wildlife parks as more and more natural habitat is destroyed. This park houses a bird of prey centre, the UK's only Canadian lynx, a breeding troop of Mandrills, and much more besides. Great for the children!
Open: Mar - Oct 1000-1700, Nov - Feb 1100-1630
Coalbeck Farm, Bassenthwaite, Cumbria, CA12 4RD
Directions: North of Bassenthwaite Lake, 7 miles from Keswick. Follow the brown tourist signs on A591 and A66 at end of lake.
Phone: 017687 76239
Email: Web:

Honister Slate Mine (Borrowdale)

The last working slate mine in England and a great all-weather attraction. You can go deep underground on a fully guided mine tour. Witness the clogs (that's not footwear, it's the newly-mined slate!) being transformed into roofing slate. We went down a few years ago and enjoyed the trip enormously - we've always enjoyed exploring the Lakes' mining industries. Here you can get a feel for what it must have been like, although of course the conditions in which the old miners worked were far more primitive than anything you'll see now. Browse the visitor centre or visit the Yew Tree country pub and restaurant serving good food in a pleasant environment.
Open: 7 days, 09.00-17.00. Mine tours 10.30, 12.30, 15.30. Booking essential in busy summer months. Directions: From Keswick, follow B5289 through Borrowdale & Rosthwaite to the top of Honister Pass.
Phone: 017687 77230

The Rum Story (Whitehaven)

It's an interesting exhibition with more than just the history of rum to discover - so have a look at the website and find out why it's based in Whitehaven.
The Rum Story, Lowther Street, Whitehaven, Cumbria, CA28 7DN
Phone: 01946 592933
Web: Email:

The Beacon Museum (Whitehaven)

You can discover the maritime, industrial and social history of this fascinating town, with its mining and shipbuilding legacy, and its American connections and links to the world of slavery. You can also enjoy the harbour views and try forecasting the weather from the top floor! There's an art gallery, cafe and shop.
Open: Tuesday - Sunday & school and bank holiday Mondays. Easter - Oct 10.00-17.30 Nov - Mar 10.00-16.30
The Beacon Museum, West Strand, Whitehaven, CA28 7LY
Directions: From A595 follow town centre and brown museum signs to harbour. Or if you come by train, it's a 10 minute walk from the mainline railway.
Phone: 01946 592302
Email: Web:

Lowes Court Gallery (Egremont)

This is an interesting gallery with a wide range of prints, paintings and craft work. You might pick up a piece of sculpture or a painting by an artist of the future, since they support both emerging and established artists. Once again it's great to see a shop selling items made locally. (Look for the "Made in Cumbria" mark.)
12 Main Street, Egremont, Cumbria, CA22 2DW
Phone: 01946 820693
Web: Email:

Florence Mine Heritage Centre

This will give you an enthralling trip around the last working deep iron ore mine in Europe. This area was once the site of a massive iron ore mining and smelting operation, with the slag heaps glowing bright red like volcanic lava in the dark of night. Nowadays, of course, it's all much more low-key. But this is an opportunity to see a working mine where you can find out all about the industrial history of the area. A Top Attraction!
Florence Mine Heritage Centre, Egremont, Cumbria, CA22 2NR
Phone: 01946 825830
Web: Email:

Sellafield Visitors' Centre (Sellafield)

Like it or loathe it, nuclear power is a very real issue at the moment. This is a classy science display by the company who own Britain's nuclear power stations. If you want to know more, go along, but keep an open mind about the rights and wrongs of this very controversial industry. And bear in mind that Windscale (as it was) and Sellafield (as it is now) has a long history of nuclear leaks and accidents, and you won't be hearing about those when you tour their visitors' centre.
Phone: 01946 727027

Muncaster Castle (Ravenglass)

Like so many historic country houses, Muncaster's owners have developed entertaining diversions to keep the estate together. Here you can see owls and herons, and a very entertaining meadow vole maze. In addition, you can check out claims that the historic castle is haunted, and enjoy the Himalayan Gardens and the World Owl Centre.

Specialist tours of the Castle, Gardens and Owl Centre are available on request at additional cost. Special events through out the year, with details on the website. Located 1 mile south of Ravenglass on the A595. Follow signs for the Western Lake District from junction 36 of the M6 motorway. Sat Nav CA18 1RD.
Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass, Cumbria, CA18 1RQ
Phone: 01229 717614 Sat Nav CA18 1RD
Web: Email:

Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway (Ravenglass)

This was always a favourite of our family when we were kids, and it's just as charming and entertaining today as it was then. They are, as they claim, a "family friendly steam railway" in the Western Lake District. If it's sunny, you can enjoy riding the very scenic line in open carriages and if the weather turns grey, there are closed coaches to enjoy the journey. You get a free guide to the line, which will give you a wealth of information about the amazing scenery you're seeing, and there's a free La'al Ratty (the line's nickname) children's game to play. It's also true there is unrivalled walking and cycling. At Dalegarth Station there's now a Visitor Centre including "Fellbites Cafe" and the "Scafell Gift Shop". Great fun, highly recommended.
Open: Minimum of 7 trains per day, mid-Mar to Nov. Most Winter weekends. All holiday periods.
Directions: Ravenglass is on the coast by the A595. Trains connect with the main line railway.
Phone: 01229 717171
Email: web:

Millom Town

Millom was the centre of the iron industry in the Lakes, so it has a lot of mileage to make up in tourism! But there are things to see and do: there are some beautiful beaches, plenty of walking, nature reserves, and an RAF museum. Get the facts from Millom Tourist Information Centre.
Phone: 01229 774819 Email: