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 seven different railway lines, arriving from Scotland, Leeds, Manchester and London. It's a great place for a staycation - scroll to the end for more tips on holidays here.
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. 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, with mountains on the horizon and lonely trees, fortified farmhouses or white cottages punctuating the fields.
- Coming into Carlisle, the train runs alongside the little River Petteril 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 Tullie House museum and art gallery. 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 and follow the route on the map below along a metal walkway across the river. There are views of the hilltop cathedral through the trees beyond the water.
- A marvellous millennial footbridge carries you over the main road towards the castle, where there are great views from the towers and mysterious carvings on the walls.
- The Tullie House art gallery and museum is just under the subway. A wall walk from the footbridge also leads to the cathedral. Alternatively, follow the path around the castle walls to the River Eden (see 3 below).