While the Western Lake District and coast frequently basks in glorious sunshine, there are of course those days where the heavens open and the ground gets a good soaking. But when those days come, that’s no reason to be defeated and stay at home… What better opportunity than to experience a few of our brilliant indoor attractions and places to eat?
So embrace the rain, don’t let it beat you – and come and discover somewhere new – or rediscover those places you may not have been to for a while… Here are some ideas of how to spend that time and money you’ve saved for a literal rainy day:
Delve into cabinets of curiosities and discover more about Cumbria’s rich Roman heritage at the award-winning Senhouse Roman Museum in Maryport, where an internationally significant collection on the frontier of the Roman Empire awaits visitors.
Dramatically sited on cliffs overlooking the Solway Firth, the attraction stands next to a Roman fort thought to have been founded in the first century AD and rebuilt during the reign of the emperor Hadrian. Many of the objects on display originally come from the fort and Roman settlement around it. The museum displays the largest group of Roman military altar stones and inscriptions from any site in Britain, alongside unique examples of Romano-British religious sculpture.
This collection is the oldest in the country and was begun by the Senhouse family in the 1570s. Rather handily, you’ll also notice a sign informing you how far it is to Rome, should you be feeling extra adventurous!
Take a break for lunch in one of Maryport’s cafes before heading to The Lake District Coast Aquarium for the afternoon – or grab lunch there! There’s a great café on-site, and if the weather eases-off, there are picnic tables and a patio area – with fresh air guaranteed thanks to it being a no-smoking site. Inside, visitors can see daily fish feeding and special talks provided by the aquarium’s in-house experts, who also love to take questions. Tickets are valid all day, so you can come and go as you please, to enjoy more than 75 different displays.
A short trip south will take you to Whitehaven, once one of England’s most bustling ports. Sitting proudly on the harbourside is the fascinating Beacon Museum, where tales of Vikings and Victorians accompany a host of seafaring artefacts with numerous exhibitions being held all-year-round.
Whitehaven’s maritime story also includes the creation of 1785 Jefferson’s rum, with more stories to be told at the town’s Rum Story attraction, delving deeper into Cumbria’s connections to the rum and spice trade.
There are also tales of Blackbeard and piracy on the high seas, smugglers and Nelson’s navy. Why not catch a show at the Rosehill Theatre and enjoy a meal or snack in the theatre’s very own Green Room restaurant?
Plans are underway for a new Coastal Activities Sports Centre in Whitehaven too – which will be able to be enjoyed whatever the weather! Let’s face it, you’ll get wet in the rain, so why not get wet in style? £2.45m is being invested in the dedicated water sports and recreation centre at the harbour, housed in a low-carbon building with an arts and community centre, along with a multi-purpose event and educational space. Keep your eyes open for updates!
An application has also been submitted for a Future High Streets grant, which Copeland District Council hopes will breathe even more new life into Whitehaven, tempting visitors to stay even longer. Keep checking back for updates on both of these developments so you can plan your rainy days well-ahead of time!
2020/2021 is a time of celebration for St Bees Priory, the iconic Parish Church of St Mary and St Bega, having been a centre for Christian worship for nearly nine hundred years. Included in the celebration is the St Bees ‘Bog man’: The name given to the extremely well preserved body of a medieval man discovered on the grounds of St Bees Priory in 1981. His identity was subsequently established as that of Anthony de Lucy, 3rd Baron Lucy, who died in 1368, thought to have been killed on crusade.
Get out of the rain and enjoy a journey back through 900 years of history, mystery and intrigue… The church is open to visitors from early morning until dusk, with Covid-secure guided tours and talks available. There are a number of historic displays in the church, with lights coming on automatically as visitors make their way around.
To the east of St Bees at Cleator Moor, you’ll find the Parkside Hotel, which offers shelter, rooms for the night, with excellent food, good beers, real ale and a selection of wines. Alternatively, Summergrove Halls makes it easy to get away from the hustle and bustle to a part of England with fantastic scenery and easy access to the Western Lakes and the Cumbrian coast.
For a prime coastal spot, Seacote Hotel and Holiday Parks is the perfect location, where you can choose between staying in the hotel or enjoying a self-catering break in a luxury holiday caravan. A little further south, grab a snack or enjoy a meal at the Stella Park House.
Another great wet weather day opportunity lies ahead in Ravenglass, where a quant, yet historic reception awaits. With plenty of places in this Lake District coastal village to stop for another well-deserved bite to eat, such as The Inn or The Pennington Hotel, it’s the home of the legendary Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway – A former working narrow-gauge railway-turned visitor attraction with some carriages being undercover to keep you nice and dry. Check out its very own museum which tells the story of the line’s rich heritage, before you take your 1.5 hour return journey to Dalegarth, close to the base of England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, covering a stunning 14 miles during the complete trip through the Eskdale hills.
While you’re there, escape any showers by paying a visit to The Woolpack Inn for a cosy pint or the brilliant Eskdale Mill, the last remaining working water-powered corn mill in the Lake District National Park.
Perhaps equally famous is the iconic Muncaster Castle, owned by the Frost-Pennington family. A favourite with national and international visitors, it’s thought the castle is among the most-haunted in England! What better place to escape the driving rain, crashes of thunder and flashes of lightning…?
Plus, plans are being developed for a new attraction at Ravenglass, likely to be a digital experience – so look out for future updates.
If you fancy a spot of wet weather shopping, take a look at Bootle – the smallest market town in England, with the kind of charm long-since forgotten by many popular visitor destinations. With plenty of market stalls to be enjoyed, get undercover and take your wallets and purses to pick up a bit of good honest Cumbrian produce.
Why not pay a visit to the Norman Church of St Michael offers another chance to escape any rain, while marvelling at its stunning stained glass windows?
Keep a space in your diary to make a note about a new beach cafe for Silecroft! It has moved a step nearer with the submission of an application to National Park planners. The application, to build a permanent single-storey cafe on the picturesque shore-side, has been submitted to the Lake District National Park Authority, so be sure to check back for updates about when you can pop-in!
Further down the coast still, sits the town of Millom, where hours can be spent thanks to attractions like the Millom Discovery Centre, which – if you’re travelling by train, couldn’t be any more convenient – being based at the town’s railway station itself. The Discovery Centre’s jewel in the crown is a detailed model railway, providing a fascinating illustrated history of the town’s iron ore industry.
Meanwhile, the Norman Nicholson Society – named after the local poet, has purchased his former home with lottery-funded plans to transform it into a visitor attraction with rooms for the night, making this yet another exciting prospect for the coastline. Millom also has its own playhouse – The Beggar’s Theatre – another good chance to shake off any raindrops!
You can visit any of the wet weather locations listed above by car, or for information on current rail and bus timetables, follow the links below:
- Avanti West Coast (For connections to Cumbria’s coastline from The West Coast Mainline at Lancaster and Carlisle)
- Northern Rail (for Morecambe Bay and Cumbrian Coast routes)
- Local bus services with Stagecoach
But what if it’s dry?
Oh, and if the sun does decide to put his hat on during your visit, be sure to take a look at some dry weather inspiration, here.