Look out for the Good Journey Mark – where car-free visitors are welcome and enjoy a discount
Car-free adventures inCarlisleCumbria
Cumbria’s ancient county town is just ten miles south of the Scottish border and was previously part of Scotland. This key location has determined its dramatic history as a battleground between the Scots and English. At the confluence of two rivers, on the course of Hadrian’s Wall, Carlisle was endlessly besieged. The Romans built a fort here, the Normans built another… From 1092 to the present day, the massive sandstone castle has been continually occupied. In the 19th century, Carlisle became a huge railway hub with the impressive station serving eight different railway lines, arriving from Scotland, Leeds, Manchester and London.
1. Arrive by train
The most famously spectacular route heading out of Carlisle’s impressive Tudor Gothic station is the Settle and Carlisle line. One of the most beautiful railway lines in the UK, this 70 mile journey through wild countryside to the market town of Settle in the Yorkshire dales has 21 viaducts spanning the steep valleys and fourteen tunnels through the towering hills. The mainline railway from London Euston is also a treat, racing precipitously through a variety of English landscapes. From Lancaster, the train crosses the River Lune and rushes on past the edge of the Lake District, where dry stone walls mark out the fields of cows and sheep across green hills that roll westwards into mountains…
- Oxenholme station, gateway to the Lakes, is the jumping off point for trains to Windermere. The views for the next half hour to Carlisle are spectacular: craggy hills and steep-sided valleys, freezing streams with scenic stone bridges or brick-built, monumental viaducts.
- With mountains on the horizon and lonely trees, fortified farmhouses or white cottages punctuating the foreground fields, the trains seems to pass a series of calendar-style vistas.
- Coming into Carlisle, the train runs alongside the little River Pettergill and, stepping off the train, you are greeted straight away by the impressive red towers of the Citadel, designed by Thomas Telford.
2. To the castle along the Caldew
Carlisle’s railway station is a handy ten-minute walk from the city’s major attractions: the castle, the cathedral and the Tulie House museum and art gallery. You can get two for one entry to the castle if you arrive by train. To reach these sights, simply head left from the station through the red arches of the Citadel onto English Street and keep going through the pedestrianised market area and beyond.
- Alternatively, follow the last half mile of the Cumbria Way long distance route along the River Caldew. To get there, turn left off English Street, along Victoria Viaduct, over the railway.
- On the far side of the bridge, turn right at the lights and keep straight over Nelson Bridge. Turn left over the two roads beyond and down the steps onto a riverside path.
- Follow the path back under the bridge and continue along a metal walkway across the river. There are views of the hilltop cathedral through the trees beyond the water.
- Continue right on the path and turn left up the lane beside the railway to reach a marvellous millennial footbridge over the main road towards the castle. The entrance is to your right and the art gallery and museum is just under the subway. A wall walk from the footbridge also leads to the cathedral.
- Show your train ticket and this voucher to get two for one entry. There are great views from the castle towers and mysterious carvings on the walls.