South Lakes, Cumbria

Creative Tourist

No trip to Cumbria is complete without a visit to its best-loved places, Coniston and Grizedale among them, but even here you can uncover some lesser-known cultural highs. Grizedale Arts, for instance, is an organisation that puts sculpture in forests, has helped revivify a local library and community centre and is behind the Lawson Park Farm Cottage, an award-winning eco-retreat at Parkamoor. William Wordsworth’s former home at Dove Cottage in Grasmere offers both a historic look at poetry and, via its workshops, tours and events, a route into new writing too.

Nearby, Allan Bank – a home a first described by Wordsworth as a “temple of abomination”; he later changed his mind and moved in – is a place where visitors are encouraged to “write on Wordsworth’s walls”, while Blackwell in Bowness-on-Windermere is one of the finest architectural examples of the Arts & Crafts Movement anywhere in the world. Time a visit to Ulverston to coincide with the annual Printfest, a celebration of artist-led printmaking, and don’t miss Cartmel’s ancient Priory – as well as Simon Rogan’s Michelen-starred restaurant L’Enclume.

Our top picks

The Armitt Museum

The Armitt Museum, Rydal Road, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 9BL - Visit now

 On Rydal Road, The Armitt Museum is full of interesting and unusual objects that shares the history and heritage of Ambleside . The Armitt’s regularly changing  exhibitions continue to  display,  the varied collections of objects, artworks, and books, and telling stories about the people, places, and passions of the Lake District.

The Armitt Museum
Image courtesy of Visit Lake District.

Blea Tarn in Little Langdale

Blea Tarn in Little Langdale, Blea Tarn Trail, Langdale, Coniston, Cumbria, LA22 9PG - Visit now

Situated high in a hanging valley above Great Langdale, this pool seems just as remote as any other mountain tarn, yet with easily accessible road routes and a nearby car park. The Blea Tarn is complete with the spectacular view across to Langdale pikes, and at certain times it’s not unusual to have the place to yourself

National Trust, Blea Tarn Trail

The Ruskin Museum

The Ruskin Museum, The Ruskin Museum, Coniston, Cumbria, LA21 8DU - Visit now

The Ruskin Museum tells the story of Coniston in Cumbria – a place of copper mines and slate quarries, Swallows and Amazons country where Beatrix Potter owned farms and Stone Age fell walkers once dwelled. It’s also home to the Ruskin Gallery, which offers a comprehensive overview of Victorian intellectual John Ruskin’s life and work.

The Ruskin Museum.

Grizedale Arts

Grizedale Arts, Lawson Park, East of Lake, Coniston, Cumbria, LA21 8AD - Visit now

A kind of artistic agitator or incubator, Grizedale Arts brings together artists and thinkers at its site at Lawson Park Farm developing projects, skills and ideas that respond to the complexities of the Lake District.  Former local resident John Ruskin’s ideas about art, society and community find a modern expression here, alongside an award wining eco-retreat and a programme for volunteers.

Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House

Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House, Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 3JT - Visit now

Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts house positioned on the banks of Lake Windermere and overlooking the Coniston Fells is a truly special place to visit. Realised in 1901 by the rising star architect, Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott, who was able to put his pioneering ideas regarding the use of space, light and texture into practice on a grand scale, this airy and tranquil icon of the Arts & Crafts movement

 

Courtesy of Lakeland Arts

L’Enclume

L’Enclume, Cavendish Street, Cartmel, Cumbria, LA11 6PZ - Visit now

L’Enclume provides and exquisite range of  culinary excellence from delightfully simple to awe inspiring.  L’Enclume has also served as the training ground for some of the country’s most remarkable young chefs such as Mark Birchall and Kevin Tickle, who now run the excellent Moor Hall and Forest Slide restaurants, respectively.

Photos by author

Hill Top

Hill Top, Near Sawrey, Hawkshead, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0LF - Visit now

Beatrix Potter bought Hill Top in 1905 with the proceeds from her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit; the 17th century farmhouse has since been turned into a time-capsule of her life, surrounded by a lovely cottage garden.

Hill Top © National Trust Images / Stephen Robson.

Where to go in Cumbria

Cumbria
Theatre
The Coro

Nestled in the heart of Ulverston, a rural market town on the fringes of the Lake District, stands The Coro —an esteemed historic hub for arts, culture, and entertainment

Cumbria
Shop
Sam Read Bookseller

Award-winning small bookshop in the Lake District. Est. by Sam Read in 1887. Run by Will Smith and Polly Atkin.

Cumbria
Restaurant
1863 Restaurant

For over 150 years, 1863 has been integral to the village of Ullswater. Now, reimagined for the 21st century as a glamorous Michelin location.

Cumbria
Gallery
Red Barn Gallery

Red Barn Gallery is paramount in the Art World of the North West. Internationally renown works are put aside new artists, and the displays never ‘stand still’.

Cumbria
Restaurant
La Casita

La Casita serves the most authentic tapas in Penrith – the only thing not-so-Spanish about La Casita is their high quality fresh Cumbrian ingredients.

Cumbria
Restaurant
Grants of CastleGate

This modern bistro and bar, open for dinner Wednesday to Sunday, serves up classic British pub fare reimagined to its most indulgent.

Cumbria
Museum
Dent Village Heritage Centre & Museum

Dent Village Heritage Centre & Museum displays important, yet lesser known, histories. The centre itself has been built entirely through local labour, with the displays covering histories from vampires to slavery.

Cumbria
Museum
The Puzzling Place

Interactive optical illusion, for each visitor to immerse themselves in. This specialty museum in Keswick will baffle, surprise and amuse.

Cumbria Visitor Guides

Stately Homes in the North

The North of England is blessed with countless stunning stately homes, many dating back decades and even centuries. Here are some of the very best.

Literary places in Cumbria
Literary places in Cumbria

It was good enough for Wordsworth and Wainwright... From Kendal in the south to Carlisle in the north, we sniff out the best bookish shenanigans in Cumbria.

Walks in Penrith
Walks in Penrith

A selection of some of most rewarding and beautiful walks in Penrith, full of chances to catch open air and natural attraction.

Walks in Kendal

A round-up of the best walks in Kendal, including the town centre, official tours and the surrounding area by Creative Tourist.

Museums in Cumbria

Cumbria is studded with fantastic museums - read our picks of the best here.

Art Galleries in Cumbria

Ranging from impressive, nationally-significant collections in Grade listed buildings, to historic houses that now have a particular focus on local, contemporary artists, here's our guide to Cumbria's collection of art galleries.

Restaurants in Cumbria

Cumbria is far from short of good places to eat – here’s our guide to restaurants to put on your map of the area.

Music Venues in Cumbria

When the sun goes down and you've had your fair share of Cumbria's great outdoors, head to the area's music venues to catch folk and jazz sessions, as well as regular performances by touring musicians.

Theatres in Cumbria
Theatres in Cumbria

For striking performances in the truly beautiful setting of the Lake District - check out our pick of theatres in Cumbria.

Society Manchester
Spotlight on

Beer Gardens in Manchester & Salford

Make the most of the sun in one of Manchester's many top-notch beer gardens.

Take me there

Culture Guides

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
Cinema in Manchester and the North

From the latest installment in the Mad Max franchise, to silent movie masterpieces we highlight the best new releases and big screen classics showing near you this month.