After leaving the Hadrian’s wall area (https://idealcaretech.com/really-old-things-sheep-and-peacocks/) we headed further into the Lake District. Famous for its lakes, forests, and mountains, the Lake District is also associated with William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter, and John Ruskin.
Carlisle – Castle, Cathedral, and the Cursing Stone
Though just a stone’s throw from Hadrian’s wall, Carlisle Castle was built much later, in 1092 (rebuilt in stone by Henry I in 1122 – I bet they used some of the stones from the wall). Being so close to the Scottish border, the castle was the site of many battles and sieges. Robert the Bruce makes an attempt to take the castle in 1315, and not only did Mary Queen of Scots sleep here, she started her nearly 19 years of imprisonment as a “guest” at Carlisle Castle. Get all the details on the history of the castle here: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/carlisle-castle/history/
Wait Until you See the Ceiling
Fairly close to the castle is the Carlisle Cathedral. It started out as a Norman Priory Church in 1122, becoming a cathedral in 1133. This is one impressive building. Fun fact, Sir Walter Scott was married here in 1797. If you want the details, check it out here: https://carlislecathedral.org.uk/
Floods, Pestilence, a Great Big Fire
“Livestock herds around the city on the border with Scotland were wiped out by foot-and-mouth disease, there has been a devastating flood, factories have closed, a boy was murdered in a local bakery and Carlisle United soccer team dropped a league.”https://www.bbc.co.uk/cumbria/content/articles/2005/03/02/carlisle_cursing_stone_feature.shtml
I was fascinated by the idea of the Cursing Stone, not even knowing about all the controversy. The sculpture is a big ol’ granite rock inscribed with part of a 16th century curse laid on by the Archbishop of Glasgow, Gavin Dunbar, in 1525 against robbers, blackmailers and highwaymen who blighted the area 500 years ago. At 1,069 words, the entire curse is said to be one of the world’s longest. Priests in all of the parishes of the border lands were required to read the curse out loud.
Is it coincidence, or the Curse of the Cursing Stone?
“If I thought my sculpture would have affected one Carlisle United result, I would have smashed it myself years ago.”Artist Andy Altman
Let’s Get to the Lakes!
We were only in the district for a few days, but we were lucky that one of those days was a Friday. Friday is the day that the Windermere Cruises offer the Freedom of the Lake ticket. Ride all you want for a great price ( £24/adult if purchased in advance; well-behaved dogs ride free ;-). https://www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk/
Windermere is the largest lake in England by length, area, and volume, but considerably smaller than the Scottish lochs like Loch Lomond and Loch Ness. As the ship’s narration told us, the lake is about 11 miles (18 km) in length and 1 mile (1.6 km) at its widest, with a maximum depth of 210 feet (64 m).
When we got off the boat at Ambleside, we found out there was a Roman ruin nearby (of course there was!) So we walked over to that. Not much left to see, less well-preserved than Birdoswald or the other forts on Hadrian’s wall. But worth a few minutes walk on a lovely day.
And there is a castle, but really, it’s a “fake” castle. Built in 1840 by retired Liverpudlian surgeon, James Dawson.
So we did the whole lake from Windermere to Ambleside to Lakeside and back to Windermere. Took a good 3 hours, and happily there was a bar with coffee, hot chocolate, beer, and wine in case we needed anything. Cheers!
Other Random Stuff
We had a wonderful room at the Brown Horse Inn, our first room over a pub for this trip. It even had a king-sized bed — a rarity in the UK. They are known for their restaurant and it was some of the best food we’ve had. Everything fresh and delicious. Service was excellent, and everyone was very friendly. It was wonderful to just go down to the pub and have a pint after a day of exploring or working (yes, we do both still work while we are on this trip).
We went looking for the nearby brewery in Cartmel after hearing about it from the locals in the pub. https://unsworthsyard.co.uk/ Cartmel is an adorable little English village with, naturally, a giant cathedral. Notice the tower that sits at a 45-degree angle to the base. Unique as far as we know. Yes, it had turned rather chilly.
We had a fine time in the Lake District. Beautiful scenery, wonderful food, and welcoming people.
It was time to head even further South, to Wales. Just a few more days until our next housesit in Newport, Wales.