The county capital of Cumbria and its only city, CARLISLE is also the repository of much of the region’s history, its strategic location having been fought over for more than 2000 years, since the construction of Hadrian’s Wall – part of which survives at nearby Birdoswald Fort. The later struggle with the Scots defined the very nature of Carlisle as a border city: William Wallace was repelled in 1297 and Robert the Bruce eighteen years later, but Bonnie Prince Charlie’s troops took Carlisle in 1745 after a six-day siege, holding it for six weeks before surrendering to the Duke of Cumberland. It’s not surprising, then, that the city trumpets itself as “historic Carlisle”, and is well worth a night’s stop. Edinburgh is under two hours north, and Carlisle is also the terminus of the historic Settle to Carlisle Railway.Read More
Carlisle CastleA public walkway from outside Tullie House crosses to Carlisle Castle. With a thousand years of military occupation of the site, it’s loaded with significance – not least as the place where, in 1568, Elizabeth I kept Mary Queen of Scots as her “guest”. Guided tours help bring the history to life; don’t leave without climbing to the battlements for a view of the Carlisle rooftops.
Potfest, Europe’s biggest ceramics show, takes place in Penrith over two consecutive weekends (late July/early Aug). The first is Potfest in the Park, with ceramics on display in marquees in front of Hutton-in-the-Forest country house, as well as larger sculptural works laid out in the lovely grounds. This is followed by the highly unusual Potfest in the Pens, which sees potters displaying their creations in the unlikely setting of the covered pens at Penrith’s cattle market, just outside town on the A66. Here, the public can talk to the artists, learn about what inspires them and even sign up for free classes.