Spring Walks 2015, Tour of Historic Cockermouth, May 4th

Reporter: Lindsay Harford

See or post photographs from the walk on the Yahoo! site.

“The sun shone brightly as six SCOM members met to explore Cockermouth, a beautiful 18th century market town, ten miles from Keswick. Most famous, perhaps as the birthplace of William Wordsworth, it boasts a wealth of historic buildings, delightful Georgian houses, independent shops, a micro brewery and of course, Jennings brewery itself.

We started our journey along Main Street, noticing two plaques which recorded the water levels at the height of the 2009 floods (over 8 foot) from which the town has made a robust recovery. We enjoyed the ancient Market Square though opinions were divided about the modernistic seating which caused controversy when it was installed.

After a peaceful 15 minutes in the privately owned Castlegate Art Gallery, we followed the high walls of Norman Cockermouth Castle which stands, partly ruined, above the town, down past and through Jennings Brewery to the river Cocker, which gave the town its name. Soon we reached the confluence of the Cocker and the Derwent which broke their banks after torrential rain in 2009 and we admired the flood defence gates and sluices which have now been put in place. Winding our way along the river we noticed old woollen and linen mills, now converted into apartments, and picturesque weavers cottages, now ‘gentrified’ and painted in pastels!

We walked past Wordsworth House (National Trust) which backs onto the river. The large garden, destroyed in the floods has been completely restored by volunteers and is now laid out as it would have been in Wordsworth’s day. As we turned from the river—and after a refreshing coffee in the historic Trout Hotel which dates back to 1767—we passed its impressive frontage. Well worth a visit inside we thought, but not this time, as we were off to Papcastle, the Roman settlement high on a hill overlooking Cockermouth and now home to some beautiful 18c houses with magnificent views to the Solway Firth in one direction and the Western Lakes in the other.

Our final stop was the Bitter End micro-brewery and pub on Kirkgate. The Bitter beck which runs alongside the pub took its name from the effluents from a nearby tannery—and the pub, in turn, took its name from the beck! Over an excellent lunch we agreed that the idea of a walk to explore an area was a great idea—and in 2016 we have plans to ‘do’ Mirehouse and the church of St Bega, just outside Keswick.