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Alison Williamson

Alison Williamson

The Weird and Wonderful Cumbria

Quite often I’ll tell people that I’m from Cumbria and I’ll be met with blank stares or confused looks. Upon finding out that I’m Northern, most people assume I mean Manchester or Liverpool, or sometimes Newcastle, which is slightly more accurate. I mean that I’m from the proper north! Just south of the border.

Most people know of The Lake District, and sometimes Sellafield brings a resemblance of understanding. It’s still quite hard to get people to recognise that I’m from a pretty cool corner of Northern England. I’ve decided to compile a top ten of weird and wonderful facts about Cumbria, so that I have something a bit more interesting to say next time I’m asked where I’m from.

  1. Grange-over-Sands got its name from an angry vicar.
    Cumbria was the home of two separate Granges- one further north of the county by Keswick, and another in the south of the county. Both villages were called Grange until 1858. Rev. Wilson Rigg moved to the southern Grange via the Morecambe Bay sands. He got so fed up of his mail going to the northern counterpart that he had the village name changed to Grange-over-Sands to avoid his mail being misdirected further!
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  3. There used to be a bridge over the Solway to Scotland.
    It stretched from Bowness-on-Solway to Scotland and was over 1 mile long. It was badly damaged in 1881 by icebergs, but it was rebuilt. During this time alcohol couldn’t be bought in Scotland on a Sunday, so many Scots used the bridge to get an after-dinner tipple. However, being prone to having one too many, some boozers fell from the bridge and sadly died as they attempted to make their way home. The bridge was closed in 1921 and demolished in 1933.
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  5. There’s only one lake in The Lake District
    Yes, you read that right! Lake Bassenthwaite is the only official lake. The others are technically waters, meres or tarns. It doesn’t stop people from enjoying visits to The Lake District in their millions each year.
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  7. Beatrix Potter had hidden talents
    The creator of Peter Rabbit, and by far one of our most famous exports, was also an award-winning sheep farmer. She is credited with saving the local Herdwick breed of sheep by leaving 4000 acres of Cumbrian land to the National Trust. Herdy is now a local celebrity in his own right!
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  9. Wasdale is full of superlatives
    The hamlet of Wasdale is home to quite a few of England’s superlative attractions. It is home to the tallest mountain (Scafell Pike), the deepest body of warer (Wastwater) and the smallest church (St Olaf’s). It’s definitely a place worth a visit.
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  11. Long Meg is waiting for you to save her
    Legend has it that Long Meg and her daughters were turned to stone for dancing passionately on the Sabbath. Imagine that! Women having fun on a Sunday. Modern day feminism aside, this was considered to go against typical etiquette. Her and her daughters were therefore turned into the infamous stones. It is said that the curse can be broken and you can save Long Meg and her girls if you go to the stone circle and count the stones. If you get the same number twice, Long Meg will be saved. Easy, right? Well, it’s yet to have been done, so give it your best shot…
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  13. The wettest place in England is in Cumbria

This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, especially to use residents who see rain more than some of our relatives! Seathwaite in Borrowdale is reportedly considered to be Englands wettest place, getting an average of 3 metres of downpour a year. Bring those wellies if you’re coming to visit!

 

  1. Cumbrians have their own language
    I could go into the depths of the Cumbrian dialect, but this isn’t the space for it today. Like many rural areas, many ancient words have never left our daily language. We like to go “yam”, see our “marras” and watch “Border Crack and Deekabout”. Visit cumbriandictionary.co.uk for more insight into what the locals may be saying.
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Now that you know some of our weird and wonderful secrets, you’re ready to visit us up here in Cumbria!

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