Lake District Cities, Towns and Villages
There's more to the Lakes than mountains, rivers and Lakes - The Lake District is alive with bustling market towns; amazing shopping destinations, and home to many artisan and boutique businesses. Let us show you around!
The History of Keswick
The earliest sign of settlement in Keswick is of course Castlerigg Stone Circle; presumed to be over 5000 years old, and possibly the oldest preserved stone circle in England! The town's name reflects the Viking influence in the the area (around 10th Century BC), the meaning widely accepted to mean 'Cheese Town'; probably because of the Norsemen's introduction and breeding of Herdwick sheep in the area- which would have supplied the town with a great supply of cheese; as well as both meat and fleece.
Keswick became a Market town in 1276, with the granting of a Market Charter by King Edward I.
Slate, Copper and Graphite mining made Keswick a very wealthy and well populated town in the 16th Century, some mining near Keswick still takes place to this day. The wealth of Graphite around Keswick in the late 1600s meant that Keswick became Britain's main manufacturer of pencils - The Queens pencils still come from Keswick to this day. A visit to Keswick Pencil museum is a must for any history or art buff!
Although Keswick and the Lake District was already becoming a tourist hot-spot back in the 18th Century; renowned for its outstanding beauty, and a draw to painters, walkers and poets alike- it was the introduction of the railway in the Victorian era that really cemented Keswick as a true holiday destination- for families, couples on romantic weekends, walkers and anyone in need of some relaxation... this is still true today.
Things to do in Keswick
There are so many things to do and places to explore in Keswick, here is a list of just a few great attractions worth a visit.
Facts about Keswick
The history of Penrith
Once the capital of Cumbria, this well positioned town has it's own castle and some very interesting and ancient history.
Penrith was in the 9th and 10th Century, the Capitol of Cumbria and once part of the kingdom of Scotland and Strathclyde - some of the oldest streets in Penrith date from the 13th Century.
The building of Penrith Castle began in 1399 and became the eventual home of Richard, Duke of Gloucester.
On your next visit to Penrith, make sure to walk up Beacon hill, where a monument has stood since 1719, marking the spot where beacons were historically lit in times of war and emergency - right back to the times of Henry VIII.
Things to do in Penrith
There are so many things to do and places to explore in Penrith, here is a list of just a few great attractions worth a visit.
Facts about Penrith
The history of Bowness and Windermere
Traditionally two separate fishing and farming villages, Bowness-on-Windermere and the village of Wintermere benefited from exponential growth in the 19th Century, mainly due to it's desirability as a tourist destination and the arrival of a railway in 1847. Now officially considered one parish town (Windermere); Bowness-on-Windermere and Windermere are still two very unique places, with their own distinctive town-centres.
Things to do in Bowness and Windermere
With two distinct town centres, you get double the shopping; double the cafes and restaurants, and double the fun!
Facts about Windermere
The history of Kendal
Kendal is listed in the Doomsday book as part of Yorkshire, under the name of Cherchebi. In later years it was refered to as Kirkby Kendal- meaning 'having a church in the Valley of the River Kent'. Two miles South of the modern Kendal was situated a Roman Fort, dating around 90AD - many historical artifacts from this site can be seen at the Kendal Museum.
Kendal's main industry was always wool and cloth; home to the infamous Kendal-Green (cloth), worn by soldiers at Agincourt and Slaves in the Americas - even Shakespeare mentions Kendal Green in his play Henry IV part 1.
Kendal Mint Cake was an accidental discovery of Joseph Wiper, while he was trying to create a clear mint. Marketed as the energy food of the time, Kendal Mint Cake supplied Earnest Shackleton's 1914 Antarctic expedition and subsequent expeditions to the likes of Everest and K2. Be sure to pick some up while you're exploring Kendal!
Things to do in Kendal
Enjoy exploring the Yards and Main Streets of Kendal's town centre - With plenty of shops and restaurants, you wont be short of things to do.
The history of Ambleside
Ambleside became a Charter Market town in 1650, making it an agricultural and wool trading centre in the Lakes. The workplace of William Wordsworth from 1813 and the home of Harriet Martineau from 1846.
Bridge House is probably the best known landmark in Ambleside; having been built on a bridge over Stock Ghyll more than 300 years ago. The National Trust manage this quirky little Grade 1 property now and use it as a Trust information centre.
Things to do in Ambleside
This little village is full of interesting boutique and outdoor shops; fabulous restaurants, and lots of character.
Facts about Ambleside
The history of Grasmere
The history of Grasmere has been most marked by its notable characters over the years. Dove Cottage, the home of William Wordsworth between 1799 and 1813 is now a National Trust property, welcoming visitors with its popular museum. Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834) is also known to have spent time at Dove Cottage.
The original meaning of Grasmere is simply 'the lake by the long grass'
Sarah Nelson's Ginger Bread was invented in 1854 by Victorian cook and pioneering female entrepreneur, Sarah Nelson; the spicy, sweet treat and the history of Sarah Nelson still attracts tourists to the original Grasmere Ginger Bread shop to this day.
Things to do in Grasmere
Grasmere is n unique destination for walkers, art lovers and those who love the charm of the Lakes.
The history of Carlisle
Carlisle was an early Roman settlement, with a major fort and baths- it's original name being Luguvalium. Between the 5th and 11th Centuries, Carlisle was sacked and held by Viking invaders- its name having by then been changed by the Celts to Caer Luel (fortified place belonging to Luel).
By the time of the Norman conquest in 1066, Carlisle was part of Scotland and was not recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book. In 1092 William Rufus invaded the region, incorporating both Cumberland and Carlisle into England.
During the Middle Ages, Carlisle became an important military stronghold because of its close proximity to Scotland. Carlisle Castle was built in 1092 by William Rufus- It would later serve as a place of imprisonment for Mary Queen of Scots.
The industrial era saw Carlisle grow as both a Mill-Town and also a trading hub between Scotland and England- earning it the nickname 'The Great Border City'.
Things to do in Carlisle
Apart from the obvious boundless shopping you can do- Carlisle has lots of interesting things to see and do.
The history of Hawkshead
Originally owned by the monks of Furness Abbey, Hawkshead became and important wool market in Medieval times- going on to earn it's Market Charter during the reign of James 1st.
ThePoet William Wordsworth was educated at Hawkshead Grammar School and Beatrix Potter lived nearby.
With the formation of the Lake District National Park in 1951, Hawkshead became a tourism hot-spot, attracting visitors to this tranquil and (still) traditional farming village. There are many buildings of architectural and historical interest in Hawkshead, most of which date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Find out more HERE
Things to do in Hawkshead
A visit to Hawkshead would not be complete with a beautiful, scenic walk - and a spot of cake of course!