Friars Crag, Keswick, Cumbria

Cumbria and The Lakes

Cumbria is a county situated in the far north west corner of England. Its northern boundary runs along the Scottish border where the town of Carlisle and Hadrian’s wall are testament to its turbulent past. Cumbria and The Lakes are known for their rich cultural heritage and are considered to be one of the most beautiful rural regions of the United Kingdom.

Cumbria includes the whole of the Lake District located in the mountainous center of the county and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Eden Valley, the North Pennines, the Furness Peninsula, and part of the Yorkshire Dales.

Why Cumbria is Worth a Visit

English history, ancient and more recent, from pre-history right through to the modern age is alive and well in Cumbria. It can be seen in the landscapes, houses and museums.

An impressive list of radical thinkers and artistic pioneers have found inspiration here: William Wordsworth; Beatrix Potter; JMW Turner; John Ruskin; Kurt Schwitters and Andy Goldsworth , to name a few.

On our tours you will be able to walk in some of their footsteps, visit their homes and explore their exceptional heritage. Our aim is to lift the lid on history and at the same time give you a chance to sample modern day Cumbria.

How to get to Cumbria and The Lakes by Train

The UK has an excellent railway network including both an east coast and west coast main line rail service running from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The West Coast Main Line runs from London though Preston to 3 stations in Cumbria –
Carlisle, Penrith and Oxenholme.

There is a connecting service from Oxenholme to Kendal and Windermere.

The famous Carlisle and Settle Railway brings you to a variety of stations in Cumbria from its starting station at Leeds.

There is a route from Newcastle to Carlisle – roughly following the route of Hadrian’s Wall, and a slow but scenic route up the west coast from Lancaster and Carnforth, through Barrow, Whitehaven, Workington and on to Carlisle.

Typical journey times by train to Penrith (approximate centre of Cumbria) from:

  • London – about 3.5 hours
  • Birmingham – about 2.5 hours
  • Manchester – about 2 hours
  • Newcastle – about 2.5 hours
  • Glasgow – about 1.5 hours

Getting to Cumbria by Road

By Car

The UK’s network of motorways, and other major roads means that Cumbria can easily be reached by car.

The M6 motorway (from London to Glasgow) travels north through the centre of Cumbria – with junction 36 near Kendal, junction 40 at Penrith and junctions 42-44 at Carlisle.

The A66 trunk route is the main way through Cumbria from East to West, from Scotch Corner to Workington, passing Brough, Temple Sowerby, Penrith, Keswick, and Cockermouth.

The AA Magazine has chosen the winding A686 road from Penrith in Cumbria to Corbridge in Northumberland, as one of their ‘Ten Great Drives’.

Some of the roads in the more popular locations in the Lake District can get congested at busy times, and some of the roads are quite narrow, winding and steep. Beware of the passes listed below! Don’t even think of taking a caravan or articulated lorry over Hard Knott Pass – you will get stuck!

Typical journey times by car to Penrith (approximate centre of Cumbria) from:

  • London – about 5 hours
  • Birmingham – about 3 hours
  • Manchester – about 2 hours
  • Newcastle – about 1.5 hours
  • Glasgow – about 2 hours

Getting to Cumbria by Air

The Lake District is served by a number of airports however Manchester is the most convenient airport to fly into for quick access the Lakes.

There is a train service from Manchester airport along the West Coast Main line to Oxenholme, Penrith and Carlisle. Newcastle, Glasgow and Liverpool are all within easy driving distance in your hired car.

Airport links

Getting to Cumbria by Sea

There are ferries from Belfast and the Isle of Man to Lancaster (Heysham); Belfast and Dublin to Liverpool or Holyhead, and Northern Europe to Newcastle (North Shields) and Hull.

Road and rail networks link these ports with Cumbria and the Lake District.

For more information see Ferry Crossings.

Travel Information from the fantastic Visit Cumbria site.

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