Cockermouth – The English Lake District – Travelodge
For many visitors, the English Lake District is all about the mountains and lakes. For walkers and climbers of every ability the National Park offers the opportunity to stroll around the lakes at their leisure or to walk the high ridge trails or tick off their Wainwrights.
Others like to stay close to the water by enjoying the views from one of the steamer or launch boats whereas some prefer to spend their time on the water canoeing, rafting, swimming or choose to hire themselves a rowing boat. Besides the multitude of activities, the mountains and water offers the visitor, the Lake District also presents many other sights, events and attractions making it the ideal short or long – term holiday destination.
Take a step back in time and discover the some of the country houses, stone circles, mines, churches or visit one of the many country shows and festivals. The English Lake District has something for everyone!
I was staying at a Travelodge Hotel in Cockermouth on the North – Western edge of the Lake District, just outside the National Park. Getting to Cockermouth was very easy. Leaving the M6 for Penrith at junction 40 I followed the A66 for about 30 miles through some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in England. The Travelodge Hotel was just outside the town of Cockermouth, a small town of about 9000 inhabitants, on the A5086.
Travelodge is a value budget hotel but its excellent website details many of its 5* qualities. I’ve stayed in several 5*/4*/3*/2* hotels and can appreciate the differences they offer but you don’t always have to pay top prices to achieve a high level of comfort and satisfaction! I chose Cockermouth Travelodge because of its location and value for money. It was situated, like most Travelodge Hotels, in the best & most convenient location. My Hotel was also in a quiet location which offered peace & quiet at night.
There was no problem parking at the Hotel as the Travelodge offers free parking on a first come first served basis and there was plenty of space available. I was greeted at reception by a smiling young receptionist and checked in very efficiently. Unlike most hotels I have stayed at recently I was able to check at midday, not 3.00pm, so I was able to get into my room early and relax a little after the long drive north.
I was pleased to note that there was an on-site restaurant and bar with a long outside terrace running along one side of the Hotel. The views from the terrace across to the mountains of the Lake District were stunning. The weather at the time of my visit was glorious so I could sit outside and enjoy my morning `all I could eat` breakfast and a later in the day a tasty evening meal as the sun was setting.
The Unlimited Breakfast provided an excellent choice to start the day. There was a wide choice including the classic ingredients of a full English of Bacon, Cumberland sausages (of course), scrambled eggs, Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Heinz baked beans and self – made` white of Granary toast from a machine. There was also a healthy option available of Fruit salad, Yeo Valley Organic Yoghurts, Croissants, Quaker Oat Granola or a selection of Kellogg`s cereals to keep the kids happy! All of this could be washed down with Unlimited Lavazza coffee or Typhoo tea, Ridgways Infusion teas or Chilled Fruit Juice. What a wonderful way to start the day!
I always think that going out in search of a restaurant and eating out is all part of the fun but the Cockermouth Travelodge like 150 other hotels in the chain have their own café/bars/rstaurant should you wish to eat closer to your room.
I thought that the evening Menu `Time to Dine` was extensive with a selection of seven `Starters` or four `Sharers` ranging from Southern Fried Chicken Goujons, Chicken Wings and Spicy Chipotle Prawns to Pulled Pork Nachos. The Main menu included many of the usual suspects, Cod & Chips, Steak & Stout Pie, Chicken Tikka Masala and lighter options including Warm chicken salad and Tuna Salad. There was also a wide selection of Burger and Pizza toppings which looked and tasted fantastic. There was a choice of eight desserts including Sticky Toffee Pudding, Chocolate Fudge cake and Fruit Salad. You don’t have to pay 5* prices to enjoy 5* accommodation, comfort, food, service and location! The price is always right – why pay more!
It was a real bonus that I could sit outside and enjoy my meals at the Hotel in such a beautiful setting. There was of course a clean, smart section of the restaurant inside the hotel where visitors collected their buffet breakfast, could enjoy their evening meal or order drinks from the bar, for when the weather is not as warm, as it was for my visit!
“The fleeting hour of life of those who love the hills is quickly spent, but the hills are eternal. Always there will be the lonely ridge, the dancing beck, the silent forest; always there will be the exhilaration of the summits. These are for the seeking, and those who seek and find while there is still time will be blessed both in mind and body.”
Alfred Wainwright, The Western Fells
Over 55% of visitors to Travelodge hotels are now business travellers. Access to WiFi is therefore essential and all Travelodge Hotels have free WiFi for 30 minutes so that I could send a couple of emails home, research the attractions of Cockermouth and book some local visits online direct from my room.
My first – floor room was surprisingly spacious for a budget hotel. The King Size Dreamer™ bed, complete with a snug duvet and four plump pillows ensured a comfortable night’s sleep. Once the curtains were drawn the room was in complete darkness so no early morning sun to wake me up from my slumbers. The Hotel was also very quiet despite being full on the nights I stayed so I was not disturbed at any time by other visitors returning late to their rooms. A polite sign on the corridors and stairwells reminded latecomers to consider that others may be sleeping! Schh!
My room had an ensuite shower fixed inside a bath, a spacious desk, a TV with access up to 17 channels and of course the WiFi. There was also a fixed hair and body wash, soft hand and bath towels plus the much-appreciated coffee and tea making facilities.
The Cockermouth Travelodge hotel is close to all the sights of Cockermouth, including the traditional Jennings Brewery, where you can go on tours and tastings included plus Wordsworth House, the birthplace of the poet William. The House has been fully restored following extensive damage during the November 2009 floods, and features a working eighteenth century kitchen and children’s bedroom with toys and clothes of the times. Harris Park offers many riverside walks and views down over the historic Town.
“in the combinations which they make, towering above each other, or lifting themselves in ridges like the waves of a tumultuous sea, and in the beauty and variety of their surfaces and colours, they are surpassed by none”.
William Wordsworth – Guide to the Lakes
Built as a market town, close to fast-flowing rivers in a farming area with a tradition of cloth weaving Cockermouth soon became a hub for spinning and weaving but with the coming of the railway and the Victorian holiday, combined with the pull of Wordsworth’s fine words, meant that Cockermouth very quickly became an early inland tourist centre.
Even today the local economy still appears reliant on farming and tourism, with light industrial facilities servicing local needs. Much of the architectural core of the town remains unchanged since the basic medieval layout was filled during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Market place appears to be the central focus within the town and reflects much of its 800-year history. Much of the centre of the town is of medieval origin substantially rebuilt in Georgian style with Victorian infill. The tree-lined main street boasts a statue of Lord Mayo, formerly an MP for Cockermouth, who became British Viceroy of India and whose subsequent claim to fame was that he was later assassinated. I mistakenly assumed the statue would be of Wordsworth!
The tree lined Kirkgate offers examples of unspoilt classical late 17th and 18th century terraced housing, cobbled paving and curving lanes which run steeply down to the River Cocker. Most of the buildings are of traditional slate and stone construction with thick walls and green Skiddaw slate roofs. In 1964, Cockermouth was named one of 51 ‘Gem Towns’ in the UK, by the Council for British Archaeology. This recognised the importance of the historic buildings within the town.
The town is prone to flooding, being flooded in 2005, much more severely in 2009 and more recently in 2015. Cockermouth suffered badly 2009 with over 200 people having to be rescued by RAF helicopters, boats including some from the RNLI.
Water levels in the town centre were reported to be as high as 2.50 metres (8 ft 2 in) and flowing at a rate of 25 knots. I noticed a flood line on the wall of The Black Bull Public House which was above my head! There was no other visible sign of the effects of the recent flooding in the town.
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet`
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Many historic buildings on and adjacent to Main Street sustained severe damage, as did many bridges in and around the town. Recovery from the devastation was slow, with residents placed in temporary accommodation. By the summer of 2011 most of the damage had been repaired and buildings re-occupied, though some remained empty or boarded up. Flooding occurred again in 2015 when the River Derwent burst its banks on December 5, with several hundred homes and businesses once again affected.
The town has several other notable attractions for visitors; Cockermouth Castle is a sizeable but partly ruined Norman castle, built at the confluence of the Rivers Cocker and Derwent, the castle has a tilting tower which hangs Pisa-like over Jennings Brewery. The castle, with its preserved dungeons, is only opened to the public once a year during the annual town festival. Jennings Brewery offers regular public tours and occasional carriage rides pulled by a shire horse.
Cockermouth is a fine town in which to explore, eat and drink but of course there are also the attractions of the Lake District on its doorstep. During my four days, I enjoyed many its charms and appeals. I visited the Lakes Distillery for a full tour and tastings which was fascinating and enjoyed a leisurely Lakeland cruise between Ambleside and Bowness on Lake Windermere.
One of the most unexpected delights was The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction at Bowness – on Windermere. Having read many of her books to my own children many years ago I was absorbed by the tableaux, displays and scenes of Potters unique collection of characters and stories. I also saw a show called `Where is Peter Rabbit? It was a theatrical triumph!
I also spent some time exploring the mountains around Derwent Water, an Osprey Viewing point at Bassenthwaite, strolling the delightful town of Keswick and simply soaking up the places, sights and sounds of this wonderful part of the country.
Europe Way, Cockermouth, Cumbria CA13 0DJ, United Kingdom
Sat nav postcode: CA13 0RJ.
Telephone: 08719 846358
Website: Travelodge, Cockermouth
Nominated: UK Blog Awards 2017
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