by John Moss
Southern Lakes of Cumbria
& Cartmel Peninsulas
Ulverston & Barrow-in-Furness in Southern Lakeland
The two peninsulas
of Furness and Cartmel are a worthwhile visit for any tour of the
South Lakeland District. They contrast considerably with the more
stark and dramatic beauty of the northern lakes in that they are much
more rural and gentle in character, and close to the stereotypical
image which many foreign visitors have of England at its best.
Aerial Photograph of Cartmel courtesy of www.webbaviation.co.uk Copyright
The Cartmel Peninsular forms part of the far eastern corner of Cumbria,
known as South Lakeland, and for the most-part it lies within the
National Park, except for its extreme southern tip. It originally
formed part of the County of Lancashire before border changes in the
1970s, and was traditionally known as "Lancashire Beyond the Sands",
due, no doubt, to its proximity to Lancashire by the sands of the
Leven Estuary of Morecambe Bay across which it lies, and can still
be accessed when the tide is out.
route dates back as far in time as the first men inhabited it. This
antiquity is reflected in the name : once known by the Celts as "Mare
Cymry ", the ancient Cumbrian Sea, from which the name Morecambe
derives. These ever shifting sands were first recorded by Tacitus,
the emperor Agricola's historian, during the latter's campaign against
the Brigantian tribes of Northern Britain.
Left to Right: Furness
Abbey; Cartmel Priory: The Laurel & Hardy Museum, Ulverston; The
village of Cartmel
The Furness Peninsular
is the most southerly part of Cumbria and includes Coniston, Hawkshead,
Newby Bridge and the southern shores of Lake Windermere, and the Grizedale
Forest. The name Furness is translated to mean " the Country of the
Far Headland " from the old English "fur" (meaning "far") and
"ness" (meaning "promontory" or peninsular). Extensively settled
by Vikings, the peninsular abounds in ancient settlements and villages
and retains vestiges of its old copper and iron smelting history,
practices which survived in Barrow until the mid-20th century in its
iron and steel works and shipbuilding.
a charmingly pretty village, easily approached from Junction 36
on the M6 Motorway, along the A591 and A590, well signposted,
though the narrow approach lanes are high-hedged and in places
require careful driving to avoid oncoming traffic.
just 3 miles inland from Grange-over-Sands, and is famed for its
Norman priory, a late 12th century monastic church which was fortunate
in surviving the dissolution of monasteries ordered under King
Henry VIII, and for further damages committed by Parliamentarian
forces in the Civil War in the early 17th century.
Little is known of Cartmel's history before the foundation of
the Priory. In 1185 the land of Cartmel was granted to William
Marshall, later the Earl of Pembroke, and later regent of England.
Royal permission was granted for the establishment of a monastery
in 1189, under the Order of St Augustine.
original priory encompassed most of the present village, and the
Gatehouse Arch, now a National Trust property, some 300 yards
away gives an impression of the original size of the Priory. In
the Main Square there remains a standing post, the remnant of
an earlier cross, and curious stone benches which were used in
medieval times to display fish on market days.
also renowned for its racecourse. The Priory itself is of cathedral
proportions, with a large part still being pure Norman, and other
additions later including the large perpendicular Gothic stained
glass window over the alter at the eastern end of the building.
After the Dissolution of 1537, most of the monastery buildings
disappeared, and only the church building remained, though it
stood for some 80 years without a roof, as evidenced by the severe
wear and weathering on the medieval choir stalls, which, despite
this maltreatment, remain superb examples of medieval woodcraft.
The village centre can get very busy at peak holiday times, though
there is ample parking through the village on the race course.
are several pub-restaurants in the village offering conventional
pub fare, as well as a teashop at the village approach. There
is a small, but well-stocked gift and souvenir shop at the race
course end of the village, which also sells post-cards, tourist
videos and lakeland goods of various kinds.
named in the Domesday Book of 1086 and has a market charter dating
back to 1280 and still operates a major cattle market for the region
every Thursday, as well as a regular Saturday street market, where
traditional local specialities like Cumberland Sausage are still
sold, and where the local shops seem to have lost none of the old-worldliness
and courtesy of former times.
name probably derives from Ulph, one of its early Viking settlers,
of whom many plagued this coastal region after the withdrawal of
Roman legions from Britain in the 5th century AD. In some ways a
charmingly different town by Lake District standards. First, it
is large, and not overly developed for tourism. Second, it is notable
for its many back street alleyways (known as "ginnels"),
which still abound with shops and studios of traditional artists,
craftsmen and women.
First!" has now replaced the former Museum & Heritage Centre
- see the website at: www.rootsweb.com/~ukuhc.
of the town's ginnels lies the Laurel & Hardy Museum; Ulverston
being the birthplace of Stan Laurel, the Museum commemorates their
lives, their work and films, and is open to the public. Unfortunately,
the former home of the Classic Bikes Working Museum on Victoria
Road is now a vetinary Surgery and the Museum is no more.
Ulverston Canal, built by the engineer John Rennie in 1796, once
boasted being "the shortest, widest, deepest and straightest
canal in the world". It could carry large vessels of up to 350
tons the mile or so inland to the town, helping make Ulverston a
major commercial port in the early 1800s. It carried iron ore, slate,
stone, gunpowder and bobbins, amongst other various types of freight,
until the opening of the Furness Railway in 1857, after which time
its usage declined rapidly - the last boat sailed through in 1916.
renowned for its great ship building has, in recent years, thrown
off its industrial past and readjusted well to the needs of modern
tourism. It is the site of one of the most important Cistercian
Abbeys in Britain at Furness Abbey, hosts the South Lakeland Wildlife
Oasis Park and the Dock Museum which celebrates the history of ship-building
in the region.
Furness & Cartmel Peninsula:
check times and prices for yourself before setting out as they may
have changes since this entry was written.
COUNTRY STORE CANDLEMAKERS
Colony Gift Corporation Ltd, Lindal-in-Furness, Ulverston. Tel:
Open 9.00-500 Mon-Sat and from 12noon on Sundays. Open Bank Holidays
except Christmas & Boxing Day. Entrance free. Groups catered for
by prior arrangement. Britains leading candlemakers and the largest
supplier of scented candles in Europe. Using traditional techniques.
North Road, Barrow-in-Furness Cumbria LA14 2PU. Tel: 01229-894444.
Exciting audio-visual presentations and displays of Barrow history,
with its connections with iron, steel and ship-building. Facilities
include a landscaped dockside walkway, outdoor exhibitions and
performances, adventure playground, wet dock area, souvenir shop
and café. Lifts to all floors, and complete wheelchair accessibility.
Ample car and coach parking. Groups welcomed. Guided tours available.
Open in summer from Good Friday to end of October from Wednesday-Sunday,
10.00am-5.00pm (later opening and closing on Sundays). Open in
winter from November to end of March, Wednesday to Saturday 10.30am-4.00pm,
and Sundays from 12noon-4.00pm. Last entry 3.15pm. Open on Bank
Holiday Mondays. Free admission.
Website: www.dockmuseum.org.uk. Email: email@example.com
Chapel Street, Dalton-in-Furness. Tel: 01229-463125.
A complete day's recreation and entertainment under one covered
facility, including a warm water 20 metre family pool with water
slide, Solarium, Gymnasium and Sauna facilities. Cafe facilities
serving hot and cold light refreshments. Pool table, video games
and kiddie rides.
Lower Brook Street, Ulverston. Tel: 01229-580820.
Open all year round from Monday to Saturday 9.30am to 4.30pm. Closed
Wednesdays, Christmas and Easter. A large collective exhibition
of photographs and artefacts of Ulverston's past heritage from its
first record in the Domesday Book in 1087 to Victorian and Edwardian
times. Interesting to the casual visitor and to the serious researcher
Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. Tel: 01229-823420.
The dramatic ruins of Furness Abbey, set in the "Vale of Deadly
Nightshade" is a worthwhile visit while touring the peninsula. Maintained
and run by English Heritage, there is a Museum which contains an
introductory exhibition and a collection of stone carvings. Admission
includes the option of use of a free audio tape to guide you through
the abbey. Open Summer Season (1 April or Good Friday - whichever
is earliest, to 30th September, 10.00am to 6.00pm daily. Winter
Season (1st October - 31st March) open Wednesday to Sunday 10.00am
to 4.00pm. Closed Christmas and New Year. Admission : about £2.50
with concessions for senior citizens and children. Children under
5 go free.
Victoria Road, Ulverston. Tel: 01229-586099.
A unique museum dedicated to Motorcycles, some of which are offered
for sale! A collection of British, Italian, Japanese and German
bikes from the classic to the standard and from the mundane to the
exotic. Full restoration of motorcycles on display. Also a collection
of memorabilia and books. Open from Tuesday to Saturday 10.00am-4.30pm.
Closed Sunday & Monday. Open Bank Holidays except Christmas and
New Year. Admission under £3.00 with concessions for senior citizens
and children. Under 5 year olds go free.
FELL FOOT PARK
Newby Bridge, Ulverston. Accessed via the A592.
An 18 acre park and garden owned by the National Trust, almost fully
restored to its former Victorian beauty, on the southern edge of
Lake Windermere at Newby Bridge. Large displays of daffodils and
rhododendrons. The park offers magnificent views of the Langdales
and of Scafell, the highest peak in England. Boat launches and rowing
boats for hire from April to October (inclusive). Open all year
round from 10.00am to 8.00pm or dusk if sooner. Boathouse Café.
Car Park charge (free to NT members). Picnic sites and WCs available
in the park. Disabled facilities included designated parking spaces,
and a powered buggy is available to tour the park.
Gleaston, Ulverston. Tel: 01229-869244.
An imposing water driven corn mill with a history dating back 400
years. Near the ruins of Gleaston Castle, the mill's wooden gearing
dates back to the early 1700s, and has been completely restored
into full working order so that it can be seen in operations most
days. Guided tours and talks are offered for those who wish to take
them. Dusty Millers licenced restaurant -café adjoins the mill,
where a wide variety of local delicacies are on offer as well as
a more general menu. Open : Summer (April to September) from 11.00am
to 5.00pm. Closed Mondays, except Bank Holidays. Winter open 11.00am
to 4.00pm, closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Holker Hall, Cark-in-Cartmel. Tel: 015395-58509.
Situated in the surroundings of Holker Hall, this is an extensive
collection of vintage and classic cars, motorcycles, tractors, cycles
and automobilia which is well worth seeing. Exhibits include a 1920s
recreation of a garage, the Esso Historical Exhibition, and a Classic
Motor Boat Collection. Open from 2nd April-31st October daily except
Saturdays, from 10.30am to 5.00pm. An "all-in-one" ticket is available
for the Museum and other attractions at Holker Hall.
Newby Bridge, Cumbria. Tel: 015395-31087.
Set amongst beautiful south Windermere scenery, this mill is a tribute
to an essential, though often overlooked technology of the Industrial
Revolution. Built in 1835 to supply bobbins and cotton reels to the
Lancashire textiles mills, it was still in use commercially until
1971. It is still a full working mill museum, where the steam driven
engines still operate to demonstrate the whole bobbin-making process.
Steam days on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Guided tours available.
English Heritage property. Open from April to September inclusive,
daily from 10.00am to 6.00pm. Limited opening in October. Admission
charge payable - about £2.75 per adult, with concessions for children
and senior citizens.