Category Archives: Destinations

Plymouth

Plymouth          

A long nautical history, Plymouth is where the Mayflower left with the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620.

Places to see:

The Mayflower Steps are where the Pilgrim Fathers set off for New England in 1620 on the Mayflower. Visit the Plymouth Mayflower for an interactive insight into Plymouth’s nautical heritage and background to the Pilgrim Fathers’ trip.

Robert Lenkiewicz murals are huge murals scattered around the Barbican. Lenkiewicz achieved fame in the mid-1980s when he embalmed the body of a local tramp! Some people find his art disturbing.

If you fancy a tipple, visit the oldest hin producer, the Plymouth Gin Distillery. Making it here since 1793, you can tour around the stills before you take a tutored tasting and free G&T in the bar.

The much-restored Barbican area has over 100 listed buildings. Tudor houses on cobbled streets look out across a harbour filled with fishing trawlers and yachts. A lot of the Tudor and Jacobean buildings have been converted into galleries, craft shops and restaurants. Another historic area worth looking at is Devonport where you can go on the Devonport Heritage Trail with over 70 waymarkers outlining the route. For a good view over the city and surroundings, head for Smeaton’s Tower, an eye-catching 70ft high lighthouse that used to stand on the Eddystone Reef before it was moved here in the 1880s.

Francis Drake was supposed to have spied the Spanish fleet from Plymouth Hoe that overlooks Plymouth Sound. The Hoe became a favourite holiday spot in the Victorian era and now the promenade is backed by grand villas and hotels.

For further views of the surroundings, the Wheel of Plymouth offers 360 degree views from its 60m high moving platform.

Things to do:

Style Plymouth (March) is a live fashion show, where you can try out beauty treatments or can hang out at a ‘man creche’ in front of a big screen where live 6 Nations Rugby is screened.

 Sky Ride Plymouth (May) is an eight kilometre cycle ride that starts from Hoe Promenade and passes the city’s famous waterfront and landmarks such as Smeaton’s Tower.

Several cultural trails have been designed to explore the landscape and discover some of its hidden gems. Trails include a variety of themes including Man and the Landscape, Trade and Settlement, Coast in Conflict, a Colourful Landscape and Car Free days out.

Shopping:

Plymouth has one of the largest shopping centres in the South West featuring many independent retailers. National brands and high street names can be found in Plymouth’s Drake Cross shopping centre. Specialist retailers are concentrated in the Independent Quarter where you can pick up unique pieces of art from the Barbican’s historic quarter.

Getting about:

Plymouth is well served by rail, buses and ferries. The railway station is a few minutes from the town centre. Ferries and the Mountbatten Water Taxi operate daily from the Barbican landing stage.

Eating out:

Highly recommended, the Glassblowing House offers good value and high quality locally-sourced fresh produce. Overlooking Plymouth’s majestic Sutton Harbour waterfront, it’s just a stone’s throw away from the historic Mayflower Steps.

Plymouth runs regular farmers’ markets and hosts a number of food related events including the annual Flavourfest. For a real taste of Plymouth and the South West though, visit local organic farm shops, vegetable farms, clotted cream and ice cream dairies, real ale breweries and local vineyards and pick your own fruit for a great foodie day out.

Where to stay:

For a charming B&B, the Athenaeum Lodge Guest House in a Georgian Grade II Listed Building comes recommended. Located close to Plymouth Hoe, it’s just 200 metres from the sea and close to the centre of Plymouth.

Boringdon Hall Hotel is a historic and captivating Grade I Listed Elizabethan Manor House Hotel located on the edge of Dartmoor National Park and just five away from Plymouth.  The family owned and run four-star hotel has a number of majestic four-poster bedrooms with oak-panels and antique furnishings in the old part of the building.

Cambridge

Cambridge

The elite university has made Cambridge famous all over the world. Whilst you may not be lucky enough to get an invite to one of the college May Balls, there’s plenty to keep you busy in this beautiful old town.

Places to see:

Visit one or two of the fine old colleges that make up Cambridge University. King’s College and its Chapel are open to the public, as well as Queen’s College with its medieval Old Hall and Mathematical Bridge. Even if admiring only from the outside, the other colleges are worth looking at.

Cambridge is not short of museums. Maybe the most famous is the Fitzwilliam Museum, the University’s art and antiquities museum. Kettle’s Yard, home of Jim and Helen Ede also houses fine early 20th century art. The oldest museum is the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences and this is packed with over a million fossils, minerals and gemstones. The University Museum of Zoology includes specimens collected by Charles Darwin and complementing this, the Whipple Museum of the History of Science displays scientific instruments and models since the Middle Ages. The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has items coming from all over the world and the Museum of Classical Archaeology has one of the last collections of plaster casts of Greek and Roman sculpture left the world. The Folk Museum is the only local social history museum in Cambridge. As well as being the national memorial to Scott’s work, the Polar Museum covers the expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic by Scott and Shackleton, and is part of the Scott Polar Research Institute which continues their scientific work. You can visit the University Library’s exhibition of treasures and highlights from the Library’s world-class collections of manuscripts and printed books.

Cambridge is a city of green spaces. Take a wander along the Backs (meadows behind the colleges that back onto the River Cam); visit the Botanic Garden of Cambridge University that’s been open to the public since 1846 and is home to several important botanic collections; or Jesus Green, parkland that’s adjacent to Midsummer Common and provides a welcome retreat away from the bustling city centre. Parker’s Piece is another open space in the centre of the city, or one could visit even Christ’s Pieces, near to Christ’s College with its typical Victorian park design and tree lined avenues.

Things to do:

The Arts Picture House shows foreign and art-house films with an annual film festival in July. Also in July, look out for the Folk Music Festival and Shakespeare Festival. The Midsummer Fair (mid-June) and Strawberry Fair in early June are both held on Midsummer Common.

The Cambridge Corn Exchange is Cambridge’s arts and entertainment centre. The ADC Theatre hosts student and local amateur productions like Footlights, but something a bit more alternative, the Junction holds club nights, gigs, comedy and dance.

Getting around:

Cambridge is extremely well-connected, with good road links and frequent trains taking you London or directions north. National Express has a frequent and cheap coach service to London too.

Shopping:

Cambridge presents a good mixture of big shopping malls and small, independent boutiques. At the outdoor markets you can find traditional goods of high quality.

Eating out:

With over a hundred restaurants in Cambridge, there’s something for everyone.

Milton Brewery is a small real ale brewery with its own pub, the Devonshire Arms, housed in an old converted post office five minutes away from the station. As well as serving their own real ales as well as a selection from other micro-breweries, they have an excellent menu of traditional food like bubble and squeak, venison sausages and mash and Milton Ale-battered haddock, hand-cut chips and minted peas.

For something more stylish, the Midsummer House on Midsummer Common is Cambridge’s only Michelin starred restaurant and serves high quality British cuisine.

Where to stay:

For simple and modest B&B, you can’t go far wrong with Brooklands Guest House, a friendly guesthouse situated in the centre of Cambridge. A little bit out of Cambridge is the Bedford Lodge Hotel, located at Newmarket, the famous horse racing centre. A four-star hotel, it combines the charm and character of a country house but still offers the best in modern comfort.

Aberdeen

Aberdeen is famous for its imposing granite architecture and beautiful beaches. It has a long history and has plenty to offer its visitors.

Places to see:
Aberdeen boasts several museums: the children can dress up in one of the many uniforms at the Museum of the Gordon Highlanders Regiment; the Maritime Museum is where you can find out a bit about the mechanics and technology of ships and oil rigs; an art gallery features paintings from Impressionist to modern Scottish Colourists; and the Marischal Museum displays items brought back from all over the world by local people.

Old Aberdeen is where you’ll find St. Machar Cathedral and the university. The High Street and the Channory have many fine old buildings.

Things to do:
Aberdeen’s Bohemian Quarter near Belmont Street is where the night life, bars and live music venues are, along with the Belmont art-house cinema.

Choices for music lovers range from the Music Hall with classical music performances as well as other types of music, to The Lemon Tree alternative acts and the annual International Jazz Festival or pop and rock concerts that are held at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre- easily identifiable by its tall viewing tower. For musicals and plays, His Majesty’s Theatre is the place to go.

Satrosphere Science Centre is Scotland’s first science and discovery centre that opened over twenty years ago. This place will keep the children entertained for hours with its interactive exhibits and live science shows.

For the more sportive, learn or refine your skiing style at Aberdeen Snowsports Centre, a top artificial snow-sports centre. Aberdeen and the surrounding area is a golf enthusiast’s paradise with over 50 courses to choose from. Play amongst the sand dunes of Balmedie at Donald Trump’s newest golf resort and tee off on fairways located 1,200 feet above sea level or play at the prestigious Royal Aberdeen course which is the sixth oldest club in the world.

Getting around:
Aberdeen’s rail station is in the centre of town. From London you can take advantage of the overnight sleeper service and arrive in Aberdeen feeling refreshed. Trains run frequently from Glasgow and Edinburgh connecting to the rest of the country. A choice of bus companies offers services all over Scotland and the rest of Britain. If you want to fly, Aberdeen Airport is one of the UK’s fastest growing airports and is just 6 miles from the city centre. You can get a ferry to Shetland or Orkney from Aberdeen too.

Shopping:
Wide and running a mile long, Union Street is the main shopping area. The shops are fairly standard here, but there are lots of little shops tucked away in the side streets, selling anything from Bohemian dresses to Indian furniture. For example, check out Ethnic Style for its Fairtrade clothing and other great gift ideas from Fairtrade suppliers.

There are a few covered shopping centres such as the Bon Accord Centre, linked to the St Nicholas Centre and Trinity Centre that offer you the usual high street shopping experience. The Academy and West End are where you’ll find unique boutiques and one-off designer shops. On the last Saturday of every month, Belmont Street is where you can shop for good produce at the Aberdeen Country Fair.

Eating out:
The Silver Darling on Pocra Quay at North Pier is a fish restaurant that’s run by Frenchman Didier Dejean and claims to have one of the most impressive coast views in Scotland.

Less of a place to eat (despite its name), The Grill is a whisky connoisseur’s dream. As well as fine malts, there’s also a first class range of draught and packaged lagers and cask and keg ales. Bar snacks include famous Stovies & Oatcakes and haggis.

Where to stay:
The Marcliffe at Pitfodde, just outside the city, offers luxury and style with its spa and leisure facilities. Set in 11 acres of wooded grounds, it’s a converted Victorian mansion furnished with many antiques and paintings by Scottish artists. It has an extensive cellar with over 400 wines and 100 malts!

For something more modest and in the centre of the city, Arden Guest House is a warm and friendly family-run guest house that gets good reviews.

Carlisle

Carlisle, famous for its castle and cathedral, you can still see remnants of Hadrian’s Wall here.

Places to see:

City of forts, the Castle dominates the town. It was built by William II in 1093 to protect the border with Scotland. Outside the city is Birdoswald Fort on Hadrian’s Wall. A stretch of the Wall has been preserved and you can walk to Willowford Bride, part of the Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail. The Citadel is the name given to the two imposing drum towers on the southern edge of the city centre. Built by Henry VIII in 1541 to strengthen the southern approach to the city, they were re-built in 1810 when they were used house the courts and county prison. Criminal trials were held in the west tower and civil cases were tried in the east tower.

The cathedral was originally built in 1122 but has been rebuilt many times. Outside the city is Lanercost Priory that was originally founded by Augustinian canons in 1169. It was attacked several times, including a raid by Robert the Bruce.

What used to be the old town hall is now the Carlisle’s Tourist Information Office. It’s a beautiful early eighteenth century building. Opposite stands the iconic Market Cross which is a column with a lion and sundial on top. Don’t miss the classic old red post box put there in 1989 to commemorate that Carlisle was site of the UK’s first mainland pillar box.

Carlisle has several museums and the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery gives an interesting insight into Carlisle’s turbulent history. The Guildhall Museum is a small museum in a fine 15th century town house. Carlisle’s military history is remembered in The King’s Own Royal Border Regiment Museum and the Solway Aviation Museum, while Carlisle Barracks brings you to the present offering an opportunity to visit a military post.

 Things to do:

If you fancy doing something a little different, try a cooking class at Kitchen Shoppe Cooking School which is also a gourmet superstore. There’s always something going on at Carlisle Theatre where there’s a full programme of concerts, films, community theatre and children’s events. Carlisle Sports Emporium is also an entertainment and event centre with three go-kart courses, a couple of miniature golf courses and other activities to try out.

Carlisle is host to festivals including spring flower shows, a summer music festival, outdoor film shows, Guy Fawkes’ Fireshow and Christmas lights.

Getting around:

Carlisle is well-served by road and rail transport with buses going to London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow; local buses go to Keswick, Penrith and Hexham. It’s about four hours by train from London and there are good services to cities all over the country, with the famous Seattle-Carlisle Railway going to Yorkshire.

Shopping:

The Lanes Shopping Centre offers shops under one roof in the centre of town and includes well-known high street chains as well as small, independent shops, stocking everything from fashionable clothing to outdoor equipment.

Eating out:

Carlisle serves up dishes from all over the world. For example, Ruen Thai Restaurant has a varied menu with beautifully presented dishes at reasonable prices. The restaurant’s wood panelled rooms and friendly atmosphere make this a lovely dining experience.

A brother and sister partnership runs Holme Bistro which gets great reviews for its good value fixed menus and high quality food and service.

Where to stay:

Staying at the top end, Willowbank Lodge offers modern design with an alpine feel. Classy, it’s a luxury guesthouse in a designer house that can be best described as a boutique hotel.

Something more mid-range is the 4 star Hallmark Hotel located right in the city centre overlooking Carlisle’s historic Court Square. Oozing with period charm, it boasts good food and wine at its brasserie.

If you want something more modest, Victorian Cheery Grove Guest House near the city centre offers B&B in a family-run guest house. As well as full English breakfast, they offer buckrarebit and scrambled egg on toasted muffin.

Bangor and North Wales 2

Great that you’re back! Enjoy the second part of things to do in Bangor and North Wales.

Getting around:

If you’re coming to Bangor from Ireland, you can cross on the ferry to Holyhead and from there Bangor is just 30 minutes away by train. The station is about a mile from the town centre.  On the North Wales Coastal Line, Bangor connects via Chester to the rest of the country. There are also good buses that link with services to the south and west Wales, Wrexham and Barmouth.

Shopping:

Bangor’s claim to fame is it has the longest High Street in Wales. In the city centre you will find a couple of modern shopping centres, Deinol and Menai, with a good mix of smaller shops and national chain stores.

If you’re in town in October, taste before you buy at Gwledd Conwy Feast, North Wales’ biggest annual food and drink event. Also in October, try downing a few oysters at the Anglesey Oyster and Welsh Produce Festival or go shopping medieval style at Conwy Honey Fair (September) which has been running for over 700 years.

Eating out:

From pub-grub, Indian, Oriental, Italian or good local Welsh produce, there’s lots to choose from.  For high quality local food, you can’t do worse than going out to Tavern 21 at St David’s Park on Anglesey. Enjoy its stunning views across the bay while you savor their freshly caught fish and Anglesey beef.

If you fancy something simpler, the Blue Sky Café is a good choice. Not just for vegetarians, there’s lots of choice everyone. Serving Fairtrade coffee, come here if you fancy just a sandwich or try one of their Olive Board Platters, fajitas, or Blue Sky Platter with its great selection of local produce.

Where to stay?

St George’s Hotel is Llandudno’s top 4 star hotel and comes highly recommended. As well as fine dining, it offers luxurious rooms, many with breathtaking views across the coastline and all the services you’d expect of a high quality hotel.

Heulfre Bed and Breakfast offers high quality accommodation in a traditional Victorian house. The rooms are richly furnished rooms with antique beds, roll top bath and the place oozes with character.

Bangor and North Wales

If you’re on your way to Ireland, want a good base for exploring Snowdonia National Park, or just want to relax a while, Bangor, Britain’s smallest city has plenty to offer.

Places to see:

Victorian Penrhyn Castle was built to look like a Norman castle. Containing Norman style furniture and a good collection of paintings, it also has a doll museum, an interesting industrial railway museum and model train museum.  For local history, Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery provides an insight into the life and people of the locality. Not far is Caernarfon Castle, a monster of a fortress built by King Edward I in 1283.

Bangor Cathedral is built on the site of one of the most ancient places for Christian worship dating back to the 6th century. Reconstructed through the centuries, the present cathedral is mainly 16th century.

One of the finest gardens in the country with plants from all over the world, Bodnant Gardens also offers a spectacular panorama of the Snowdonia range.

Things to do:

For music lovers, the University Concert Series features regular performances of classical music during term-time. Professional orchestras, chamber ensembles and soloists perform alongside the University’s own choirs and orchestras. Theatre Gwynedd also offers a wide range of films, plays, operas, dance performances and concerts.

Artists come from over the world to participate in the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod  for 6 days in July that combines competition, performance and international peace and friendship. For jazz fans, there’s the Abersoch Jazz Festival (June-July).  Llandudno’s four-day Victorian Extravaganza is held in May.

Being by the sea, take advantage of the surf for action-packed watersports. If you’d rather keep your feet dry, climb Snowdon (3,560ft/1085m), the highest mountain in England and Wales. If you don’t fancy walking to the top, travel up on the hundred year old Snowdon Mountain Railway. The Prestatyn Walking Festival (3 days in May) offer the chance to participate in walks: from evening strolls to a 40 mile Offas Dyke Challenge and various themed and historical walks.

Family guide to the Isle of Wight

For decades, the Isle of Wight has been enticing visitors from all over the world to indulge in what is commonly known as “Miniature England”. Its beautiful scenery and warm and safe atmosphere as well as having plenty to do, make it the perfect family holiday destination.

Across the island, there is a fantastic range of accommodation to suit every kind of family, but if you want a traditional kind of family holiday, why not do a camping or caravan holiday on one of the island’s well maintained campsites with all the essential facilities as well as those little extras that will keep the children entertained, try out “The Orchard Holiday Park” which has a range of very well equipped mobile homes as well as well serviced pitches for caravans and tents and plenty to keep children entertained with heated swimming pools, a play area and table tennis.

There are many interesting things to do and see across the island and plenty to keep the little ones entertained. There are 15 small towns and villages scattered across the island, each with their own unique charm and things to see and do. Newport is the Island’s main town, and is the main shopping centre; however it’s a great place to explore the island’s history, with the Carisbrooke Castle Museum just on its outskirts.

The Needles Park is the ultimate family attraction on the Isle of Wight, there are many things to see and do, including watching glass-blowing, sweet manufacturing, and of course see the famous Needle Lighthouse and cliffs. Enjoy the chair lift, boat trips and Spincycle, a bicycle ride out of the ordinary.

There is plenty to keep a whole family entertained on this beautiful island, so pack up your car and take your beach towels, buckets and spades and indulge in the perfect British family holiday!

Corfe Castle

This charming Dorset village is a beautiful British summer destination. I was lucky enough to visit in a particularly warm September, armed with my bike and my trainers, ready to explore the beautiful delights of the region whilst staying in a house swaps just on the outskirts of the village.

As you enter the village, it’s the striking castle ruins towering over the rest of the village which enters your vision first. The BBC recently placed it third after two Yorkshire ruins, Whitby Abbey which came first and Fountain’s abbey in second place as the “UK’s most romantic ruin”. Strange and pointless awards aside however, this national heritage site actually came to a dramatic end in the 17th century after years of seizures and murders as well as being sold to royal favourites. It was a parliamentary force which systematically destroyed the castle following power disputes between the Bankes family who occupied the castle and the Governor of Poole. Today, only the ruins remain, but the history is kept alive by the National Trust, who give live trebuchet demonstrations and swords, shields and helmets to try on.

The surrounding areas of Corfe Castle are truly beautiful and perfect for exploring by foot or by bicycle. Despite the rather ugly TV mast standing on the hill behind the village, it is the perfect place to go and grab some exercise and a view of the surrounding area, which stretches over to the neighbouring town of Swanage, where you can get the true British seaside experience with ice cream and sandy beaches. I opted for a bit of off-road cycling taking on somewhat challenging but rewarding terrain over the hill and down towards Studland, a trip incomplete without going to see the famous cliff arches shaped out by the sea. The beaches are once again highly recommended visits and great places to explore the rock pools and caves, collect sea shells, and if you dare have a swim!

The Dorset area is of course alive with literature. Thomas Hardy is one of the region’s most successful authors, and I was imagining his tragic heroine, Tess of the D’Urbervilles the entire time I was there. You can visit Hardy’s Cottage in Higher Bockhampton, where little has been changed since it was first built by his grandfather in 1800. It was here that Hardy wrote Far From the Madding Crowd and Under The Greenwood Tree.

In Corfe Castle there are many welcoming and comfortable places to stay, and the choice is astounding. Two of the hotels, The Bankes Arms and Morton’s House, are both 16th century style buildings and offer a traditional kind of stay. The Banke’s Arms boasts delicious afternoon cream tea, whilst Morton’s offers you Elizabethan splendor and grandeur. If glamping is your thing, then you can book yourself into the luxurious bell tent on the Isle of Purbeck, with Big Blue Sky, which promises to make your surrounding campers jealous! If you still prefer stone walls, but would like to self-cater, then hire out The Cheese House, a 2-bed property,just two miles from Corfe Castle and a short drive from the Jurassic Coast. It is equipped with a barbeque and an indoor log burner, as well as all your modern needs including a flat-screen television and DVD player.

The UK’s best mountain biking destinations

Believe it or not, the UK is home to some of the top mountain biking trails in the world. Our tiny island’s landscape is the perfect playground for beginners, amateur and expert riders looking for a bike ride rougher than the road.

Wales is by far the most popular for the off-road bike enthusiast. With bike trails and centres in places such as Coed Llandegla in North Wales. This well equipped centre offers trails for families, beginners, intermediates and advanced bikers. It is also possible to rent a bike for as little as £22 for half a day and £32 for a full day. The website has a comprehensive list of itineraries available where you can decide what will be within your comfort zones. Also in North Wales is the ever popular Coed-y-Brenin, the first mountain biking centre in the UK specially built for the purposes of the sport. Trails equipped for the testing novice to the technical experts, there is a wide range of routes on offer for all ranges of mountain biker at Coed-y- Brenin, with single track as well as wider paths for those that feel they need more space. To get a fully catered and guided experience, booking with Mudtrek, a new mountain biking holiday operator will cater to all your needs, providing luxury self-catered accommodation, and it can be done incredibly cheap too! Starting at £95pp for 2 night’s stay, based on 7 sharing, you have two days of brushing up your technique on some of the UK’s best trails.

It would be rude not to give South Wales a mention too. For those with confidence and competence behind the handlebars, make sure to try out Afan and Glyncorrwyg near Port Talbot. Whilst amateurs can try their hand at the some of the gentler trails in this area, anyone up for a fitness and technical challenge should try their hand at the Skyline route. With thirty miles of trail with challenging up hills and technical down hills, you will definitely be rewarded by stunning views of the Breacon Beacons and Presilie countryside. For a place to stay, my regular mountain biking correspondent recommends booking yourself into Bryn Teg House Bed and Breakfast, a comfortable and convenient stay with equipment storage and maintenance tools which is within cycling distance of these popular trails.

Join us tomorrow in part two of our UK mountain biking guide to find out the best of Scotland and England for mountain biking.

Kendal (Part 2)

Things to do:

Kendal Calling is an award-winning, innovative, independent festival based in the Lake District. It features contemporary music and art alongside traditional rural entertainment.

The town’s most famous export must be Kendal Mint Cake. Joseph Wiper came up with the original recipe for the Everest conquering energy bars, and by the time the company was sold to rival mint cake makers Romneys, there were a number of local firms producing their own brands. Kendal’s manufacturing industries all but vanished after the demise of the canal in the 1940’s, with the first few miles of the canal from Kendal onwards being filled in and turned into building land, footpaths and cycle ways.          “

Getting around:

Manchester airport is two hours away by train. Well connected by road, the A65 (from North Yorkshire), A591 (Barrow and Ulverston), A684 (from Sedbergh), A685 (from Appleby), and the M6 motorway six miles away to the south provides easy access to Penrith and Carlisle and Scotland. Railway passengers can alight in Kendal from the Kendal to Windermere service, or further a field on the West Coast main line from London Euston to Glasgow, getting off at Oxenholme, about two miles outside of the town.

Getting to Cumbria and the Lake District by Train

The UK has an excellent railway network including both an east coast and west coast main line rail service running from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow. The West Coast Main Line runs from London though Preston to 3 stations in Cumbria – Carlisle, Penrith and Oxenholme. There is a connecting service from Oxenholme to Kendal and Windermere.

The famous Carlisle and Settle Railway brings you to a variety of stations in Cumbria from its starting station at Leeds.

There is a route from Newcastle to Carlisle – roughly following the route of Hadrian’s Wall, and a slow but scenic route up the west coast from Lancaster and Carnforth, through Barrow, Whitehaven, Workington and on to Carlisle.

Shopping:

Today the town is home to a thriving retail sector, with no less than five shopping arcades; K Village, the Westmorland Shopping Centre, Blackhall Yard Shopping arcade, the Elephant Yard and Wainwright’s Yard. The Town Centre has recently mostly been pedestrianised and offers a safe connection point for all these shopping areas.

Eating out:

The Punch Bowl Inn at Crosthwaite in the Lyth Valley, near Kendal is an attractive 17th century farmhouse and coaching inn on the edge of the Lake District. Almost minimalist in its simplicity, with oak beams and floorboards, white walls and a handsome fireplace, candles, crisp linen with shining glasses and cutlery offer a degree of luxury without too much formality. The cuisine is English in origin but some interesting and imaginative twists: foie gras parfait, bitter chocolate bread, fiery ginger beer jelly and maple syrup, or the Three Ways with Lancashire cheese: a rarebit, marinated with apples, mousse and pear jelly and Worcestershire sauce vinaigrette.

Where to stay:

The Eagle and Child Inn is on the edge of the quiet Lake District village of Staveley on the outskirts of Kendal. Ideally placed for exploring the rest of the Lake District and is only a few minutes away from the beautiful Kentmere valley, Staveley itself has lots to offer with excellent walking , fishing, cycling and the local Hawkshead Brewery. The hotel offers top quality accommodation and excellent food along with a great selection of hand-pulled local ales and feature regular guest beers.