Tales of the unexpected: five things to do in Cumbria this summer

Susie Stubbs

Head to the Lake District for more than just rugged, rural charm; here are five of our favourite cultural Cumbrian things.

First up is Picnic Cinema, a travelling, pop-up cinematic experience that brings cult films to unusual locations, throws in overnight camping and live music – and quite often sells out well in advance. Its raucous screening of Withnail & I at one of the locations used for filming (the house that appears as Uncle Monty’s cottage in the film) is a blast, although Danny Boyle’s horror pic, 28 Days Later, shown in the middle of the deep, dark forest (AKA Grizedale Forest) on 10 August, looks scarily good too.

Grizedale Forest is also the location of art of a less frightening kind. The “UK’s first forest for sculpture” (it has been a sculpture park since 1977) is a sprawling wood that happens to be home to around fifty, site-specific artworks by international greats such as greyworld, Keith Wilson and Robert Bryce Muir. It’s also home to Wind Thrust by artist Jony Easterby; that particular artist’s work also features in this summer’s Audible Forces, part of the Wray Castle Weekender. Audible Forces, a sound art installation on the shores of Lake Windermere, brings together a clutch of artists who have created kinetic and Aeolian (wind-powered) musical instruments. The end result promises to be both visually and aurally beautiful, while the setting is similarly so: the landscaped gardens and grounds Brockhole, the Lake District Visitor Centre. Its café (with lakeside terrace) and adventure playground are particularly worth a look.

Finally, no visit to the Lakes is complete without paying due homage to William Wordsworth; there’s no better place to do that than at Dove Cottage  in Grasmere. The poet’s former home is now a museum. One of its more unusual exhibits is, in a strange, serendipitous twist, an Aeolian harp – which apparently inspired Coleridge to pen two poems about it.

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