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Accommodation in Cumbria, countryside, seaside and The Lakes

Self-catering holidays cottages in Cumbria

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Bordered to the north by Scotland, to the west and south by the sea, and to the east by/tourist-guide/pennines the Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales, Cumbria is as secluded a part of England as you can get. Steep mountains and deep lakes dominate the interior of the county, with the landscape being formed during the last Ice Age. The area is marked by centuries of fighting between England and Scotland, with abandoned castles and fortified houses littering the countryside. There are other older relics demonstrating a much older occupation in the shape of stone circles and other prehistoric monuments. Modern day Cumbria has welcomed tourism and developed a huge network of trails and paths to cater for the large number of walkers and hikers who flock to this visually stunning area.

If you prefer a more sedate lifestyle, then you can chug peacefully along some of the largest lakes on steam powered launches, or pursue the literary heritage of the county, following in the tracks of William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter, and Arthur Ransome. There are lots of holiday cottages in Cumbria and the choice of self-catering is wide and varied (hot tubs and lakeside launches - if it takes you fancy?) with so many special places to stay and visitor acctivities and attractions.

On the northeast edge of the Lake District National Park, the town of Cockermouth rarely receives the number of visitors its beauty should attract. Founded by the Normans at the junction of two rivers, they threw up a decent sized castle, and the town expanded on the back of the iron ore trade. As a result this market town has some fine Georgian houses, Wordsworth's birthplace, and the Lakeland Sheep and Wool Centre, which puts on daily displays of sheep-shearing, dog-handling, and various other sheep-themed shows. Beneath the Cockermouth castle walls is the Jennings Brewery, the last independent in the area. Founded over 160 years ago this firm still uses the same methods as when it started and is supplied with its water by the Castle well, which helps to give the beer its distinctive flavour. There is a good tour with the promise of a decent tipple at the end. Cockermouth self-catering cottages vary from country cottages to idyllic holiday cottages near Cockermouth with log fires.

Lake District town Kendal - looking across the river

On the eastern side of the mountains the landscape is much more benign, littered with small towns, wild moorland, and the county's only city, Carlisle. Originally established by the Romans as their main base at the western end of Hadrian's Wall from the remains of an old Celtic camp, the town became their main administrative centre for the north east of the province. Carlisle changed hands many times over the centuries, occupied by all and sundry, until 1092 when it became English once and for all. The English reinforced the town over the next few hundred years to keep out the marauding Scots, and as a sally point to counteract the pillaging of the Border Reivers. These Reivers were families from either side of the border who became a law unto themselves with their sheep rustling, looting, highway robbery, and general lawlessness. This part of the countryside, on both sides of the border, is peppered with small castles and fortified farms. It wasn't until the unification of the monarchy in 1603 that order was restored, but that did not stop them giving the words 'blackmail' and 'bereaved' to the English language.

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Cumbrian coast - Lancaster to Carlisle

There are various towns and villages along the Cumbrian coast, all serviced by the branch line that runs from Lancaster to Carlisle. The main town on the west coast is Workington, an ancient port that thrived due to the export of iron ore. The most famous person to come out of Workington was Henry Bessemer who quite literally changed the world with the patenting of his Bessemer converter. This apparatus enabled the conversion of plain iron ore to steel, and there are plenty of replicas dotted around the town. The centre of Workington has some fine Georgian buildings, especially around Portland Square, and a pele tower in good condition - there are also lots of holiday cottages to rent near Workington if you want to have a self-catering holiday by the sea Cumbria.

To the south is Ravenglass, a port founded by the Romans in the second century AD, and then known as Glennaventa but the only remains of their presence are the walls of the bath house. The village is at the confluence of three rivers; the Esk, the Mite, and the Irt. The main street is made up of sea pebbles, and this is all adds to the charm of this peaceful spot. The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway originally built to service the iron mines, now chugs calmly up into the foothills of the Lake District, and very scenic it is too. There are some charming country houses to rent near Ravenglass and the Cumbrian coast is a great place to stay in England.

Five miles away from Ravenglass is the Sellafield Nuclear Power Plant, a rather strange destination for a day out, but well worth a visit. The museum has won various awards for de-bunking the myth surrounding nuclear energy, and there is a large-scale interactive exhibit created by the Science Museum, called Sparking Reaction, which tells you all you need to know.

Rent a cottage near Carlisle

Carlisle became a city in the 12th century and is overlooked by the castle, which has been doing the job for over 900 years. This impressive structure has lots of attractions not least the Border Regiment Museum, which celebrates the history of the Cumbria's County Infantry Regiment, the Border Regiment, and the King's Own Royal Border Regiment. A look around this museum will take you through most of the major conflicts of the last few centuries. Because of the strategic position of the city, Carlisle became a major railway centre as seven independent railway companies shared the one station, and each one had its own depot and ancillary services. The station is impressive in itself, and is at the northern end of the spectacular Carlisle to Settle railway, and steam trains are often seen waiting at the platform, usually on a special charter. The red-stone Cathedral has had a mixed history, from its initial construction, to being torn down by the inhabitants to reinforce the city walls when the city was under siege during the English Civil War. There are several other places of interest in the city, and Carlisle hosts an annual Great Fair, hardly the Edinburgh Festival, but having been established in 1353, has the advantage on longevity. If you want to rent a self-catering property near Carlisle then the choice of holiday accommodation is excellent, both in Carlisle itself and the surrounding countryside in Cumbria.