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Grid Ref: NY 122308

Main Street and Mayo Statue

Lying just outside the boundary of the Lake District National Park, Cockermouth is an attractive market town not overwhelmed by the tourist atmosphere of Keswick and Ambleside. Cockermouth grew up at the junction of the two most important rivers in the area. Here the River Cocker, flowing out of the lakes Buttermere, Crummock Water and Loweswater meets the River Derwent on its journey from lakes Derwent and Bassenthwaite to the sea at Workington.

The Romans built the fort of Deventio at Papcastle, about a mile from the present town, at a meeting place of roads from Maryport, Carlisle and Penrith. Cockermouth Castle was built in the 13th century, but little of that remains because of the efforts of Robert the Bruce. The majority of today's ruins date from 1360 to 1370, though there have been some modern additions. The castle is privately owned, and not normally open to the public. Tours are often available during the Cockermouth Festival in July.

Today's visitors are attracted by the town's calm, its nearness to some of the more peaceful lakes and mountains, and the fact that Dorothy and William Wordsworth were born here. The large Georgian house in the Main Street where they were born, is now in the care of the National Trust. Another famous son of Cockermouth was Fletcher Christian, the man who led the mutiny on 'The Bounty'. He was born about a mile from the town at Eaglesfield in 1764, and attended the same school as Wordsworth. John Dalton, born in 1766 also at Eaglesfield, was one of the most brilliant scientists of his age, and was the originator of the atomic theory.

The town received its Market Charter in 1221, and has retained its importance as a market town ever since. Quarrying and mining for lead and iron were later developments outside the town, and a brewery has been built at the foot of the castle mound, where the two rivers meet.

Kirkgate, Cockermouth. Pic F3P3.

As well as Wordsworth House, there are several other places of interest to the visitor.

  • Cockemouth contains a number of of fascinating establshments offering a wide range of Arts and Crafts.
  • Jennings Brewery offers 1.5 hour tours around the Brewery, explaining the various processes involved in brewing traditional beer.
  • At the nearby roundabout on the A66, is the Lakeland Sheep and Wool Centre, where there is an opportunity to meet Cumbria's most famous residents, with 19 different breeds of live sheep giving the indoor presentation.

To help visitors and locals alike the Cockermouth and District Civic Trust have publicised a fascinating walk through the town's history. The walk mirrors some of the work done by well known local historian Bernard Bradbury, who's books are the recognised 'bible' of Cockermouth's historic townscape. Small cast iron numbered plaques created by the children of Cockermouth School help guide you as you take the Town Trail. A leaflet describing the Town Trail is available from the tourist information centre.

Cockermouth. Pic F131P18.
Cockton's Yard - restored
with help from English Heritage

The Tourist Information Centre is at the Town Hall, Market Street, Cockermouth, CA13 9NP (Tel: 01900 822634).

Cockermouth, with the Castle, Brewery and Castlegate.
Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham

Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham

Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham

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