Places to visit in the Eden Valley

An excellent base for a memorable and varied holiday; Cumwhitton is very attractive small village of red stone houses set amid grassed and lawned areas, with a brook running through it. It has a historic church and a superb pub. The Pheasant Inn, with its flagged red-sandstone floors and real fires, offers delicious home-cooked, locally sourced food and real ale. Booking is essential.

The village lies near to the rivers Eden, Gelt and Irthing, all of which are in well-wooded and unspoilt settings. The quiet, northern parts of the Lake District can be easily reached via Caldbeck or Cockermouth and the eastern reaches via Penrith. Both the market town of Brampton and the city of Carlisle are about seven miles away. Cumwhitton is also between two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty; the Solway Coast and the North Pennines, both with renowned nature reserves and facilities for bird watching.

The National Trust-run Acorn Bank Gardens, Allen Banks and Staward Gorge and Wetheral Woods are worth a visit, as are English Heritage's Carlisle Castle and Lanercost Priory, which does fantastic lunches. Every June the Priory is the setting for the Lanercost Festival, where a leisurely time can be spent listening to a recital; maybe while reflecting that for six months in 1306/07 Lanercost Priory was the capital of England, when King Edward I was taken ill there and attended by his Court and retinue. He died in 1307 at Burgh-by-Sands on the Solway coast, eight miles west of Carlisle, attempting to cross into Scotland. There is an impressive monument to him there overlooking the marshes. Jacobites, Border Reivers (Raiders) and others would later follow this route.

A stone's throw from Lanercost is the nearest part of the footpath serving the Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site, along which are many things to do and see, including Birdoswald Roman Fort.

Carlisle can rightly claim to be historic; being the most northern city of the Roman Empire, associated with St Cuthbert, fought over by many monarchs of England and Scotland (including 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' in 1745), its castle a prison for Mary Queen of Scots, and besieged by Cromwellians who destroyed half the Cathedral.

Today the city offers more peaceful pursuits. There is good shopping at Hoopers, House of Fraser and The Lanes shopping complex. The Cathedral is small but beautiful and holds concerts and other artistic events. The Sands Centre and other venues in the city hold a wide spectrum of music – from Lady Gaga to national symphony orchestras. Old Tullie House in Castle Street is a free museum and art gallery that has nationally important collections; from Pre-Raphaelite paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti to objects associated with the Arts and Crafts movement. Works by local Cumbrian artists, such as Sam Bough, Winnifrid Nicholson and Sheila Fell, are also displayed. It's a good place to go on a wet morning!

Finally, but by no means least, there is the country near to Cumwhitton – Brampton, Talkin Tarn and the villages along the Eden Valley. Older readers may recall Romany of BBC Radio Children's Hour that was inspired by this area. More recently, the 2011 BBC series of 'Lambing Live' with Kate Humble was broadcast from the Eden Valley.

A leisurely day out could be spent by car, or on the Settle-Carlisle railway, or on foot in this delightful area; visiting villages such as Great Corby, with its fine viaduct with a footpath leading to Wetheral Station (on the Newcastle line), Castle Carrock, Cumrew, Armathwaite, Croglin, Great Salkeld, Kirkoswald, Melmerby and Langwathby.

Croglin was the subject of a poem by Wordsworth: 'Down from the Pennine Alps, how fiercely sweeps Croglin, the stately Eden's tributary….'. To Arthur Mee, writer of 'Kings England', Kirkoswald was "one of the most charming little towns in Cumbria". Of Armathwaite he was even more carried away "it seemed to us that it might be the Garden of Eden itself as we stood on the fine bridge". There are many good places to eat along the path of your travels; Acorn Bank and Melmerby to name just a couple. Or stop at Melmerby's award-winning bakery to pick up the ingredients for a picnic.

If passing through Brampton stop awhile at St Martin's Church, designed by Phillip Webb, to admire the nationally important stained glass windows designed by Burne-Jones and made by William Morris. The link with the Arts and Crafts movement is due to the interest of and connection with the Howard family; Earls of Carlisle, of Naworth and Corby Castles and Castle Howard in Yorkshire. 'Belted Will' was one of the Howards as portrayed in Sir Walter Scott's poem 'Lay of the Last Minstrel'. Scott met his wife to be at the Gilsand Spa Hotel, near Birdoswald, where he 'popped the question' at the 'popping stone'. They married in Carlisle Cathedral.

This is just a brief taste of the rich history and fabulous countryside to be found around Cumwhitton. There are things to do and see to cater for everyone.

Short Walks from the door at Church Gates


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