Cumbria and the Lake District

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From Ulverston to Carlisle and Workington to Penrith, millions of tourists travel to the Lake District each year. Far and away, it is the beautiful landscape and amount of walking territory which attracts visitors. For many people it is the joy and achievement of scaling Skiddaw, Helvellyn or completing the Coast To Coast walk.

Other than the landscape so eloquently chronicled in Alfred Wainwright's guides, it is also the home of William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and its famed lakes. The longest one, Lake Windermere, is navigable by ferry from Lakeside to Bowness-on-Windermere and Ambleside. This can be combined with a trip along the Lakeside and Haverthwaite preserved railway. Lovers of narrow gauge railways would be foolish to miss the Ravenglass and Eskdale line. 

One of the best ways to explore Cumbria can be done by rail. The Cumbrian Coast railway line from Carnforth to Carlisle, via Grange Over Sands, Barrow-in-Furness and Workington, takes in beautiful coastal scenery, definitely one for the binoculars. From Carlisle is the famous Settle and Carlisle Line. As well as landmarks like the Ribblehead viaduct in nearby North Yorkshire, the route between Appleby-in-Westmorland has a serene side taking in the Eden valley.

As well as its scenery, Cumbria has a number of industrial towns, mainly along its coastline. For example, Barrow-in-Furness and Whitehaven, the former noted for shipbuilding, and the latter at one time for coal and petrochemicals. Both towns have museums which chronicle their industrial past. Industry of another kind is the subject of one museum in Keswick: stationery. No trip to Keswick is complete without calling in the Cumberland Pencil Museum! Ulverston celebrates one of its famous sons, Stan Laurel in the town's Laurel and Hardy Museum. The Rheged Centre, just off the M6 motorway, is a superb multi-purpose venue with a cinema, regular exhibitions, spa and fine dining. Its position off the motorway, just outside Penrith makes for an ideal conference venue.

Its major centres, primarily Carlisle and Barrow are blessed with excellent shopping facilities, including covered markets and chain stores. The city of Carlisle is a good starting point en route to Scotland, or for the northern part of the Lake District. Kendal also has a wealth of independent shops and chain stores as does nearby Windermere.

Picturesque and unique conference venues is another field which Cumbria specialises in as well as scenery. Its numerous hotels will cater for delegates, as does the number of stately homes like Holker Hall. Sellafield nuclear power station also has conference facilities. Race meetings or otherwise, the Louis Roederer Restaurant at Cartmel Racecourse is another fine conference venue.

What's more, Cumbria is pretty easy to get to courtesy of, mainly, the M6 motorway, A590 and A66 roads. Frequent rail services continue to London Euston, Glasgow Central, Edinburgh Waverley and Manchester Piccadilly from Carlisle, Penrith and Oxenholme stations. Connections are available for Barrow-in-Furness at Lancaster, whereas the Settle and Carlisle route offers a scenic way to Leeds.

Cumbria's mix of outdoor pursuits and conference facilities is a winning combination. Go and see why millions of tourists visit this part of North West England.