CUMBRIA

Once there used to be counties called Westmorland and Cumberland (the latter had a peculiar form of wrestling) but the identities of those were merged into the larger Cumbria which also includes the Lake District to its west.

The Lake District and its main expanse of water - Windermere - need little introduction. In peak season Windermere town and nearby Bowness can become rather crowded. Cruises are available on Windermere and there is a Steamboat Museum in the town.

Take time to look at some of the smaller lakes like Devoke Water isolated high upon the rugged Bunker Fell, Corrie Tarn, and Buttermere (enjoying some of the views of Newlands Pass which connects Buttermere to the village of Braithwaite to north east). If you go walking on the Fells it is important that you are suitably dressed and equipped. The weather can turn nasty very quickly and potentially life threatening.

The Lakes are Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter country. Wordsworth was born in the small town of Cockermouth and later lived in Dove Cottage in the small village of Grasmere. Beatrix Potter lived over at Sawrey (south of Hawkshead on the west side of Lake Windermere) in Hilltop cottage. Be prepared to rub shoulders with loads of devotees at either location.

If old ruins are your thing, then there's 12th century Brough Castle [NY 791141] with a great hole rent down one side of its keep. Much more picturesque is Brougham Castle [NY 537290] raised just above the flood plain of the River Eamont which runs yards away from the walls. North of the rather larger town of Barrow-in-Furness is the 12th century Furness Abbey with its red sandstone walls punctured by Norman-style arches.

A more unusual place to visit is the Pencil Museum (part of a pencil factory) at Keswick. Years ago lead and graphite mining were parts of the local Lakes and Dales economies.

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