Ideally placed on the border of Cumbria’s Lake District National Park, the idyllic town of Cockermouth in North West England has much to offer holiday makers seeking a relaxed day out.
Only a short drive from the Solway coast and minutes from many of the Lake District’s most beautiful views, Cockermouth is a must-see destination.
An attractive riverside town, Cockermouth boasts an eclectic range of tourist attractions and independently owned shops, pubs and restaurants. This bustling market town isn’t quite as hectic as other Lake District National Park tourist spots making it perfect for those seeking a more laid back day out or weekend away.
There are many ways to spend your time in Cockermouth, but before we delve into fun activities and places to visit let’s start with a brief background of this designated national heritage gem town.
The Story of Cockermouth
Stunning scenery surrounds Cockermouth. The dramatic backdrops of Slate Fell, Ling Fell and Sale Fell indicate that gorgeous walks aren’t far away. But before we pull on our hiking boots, let’s get to know Cockermouth a little better.
Two rivers meet in Cockermouth. Flowing out of nearby Buttermere, Loweswater and Crummock the River Cocker converges with the River Derwent and flows towards the sea at Workington. It was close to this junction that the Romans built a camp at neighbouring Papcastle called Devenitio, a critical meeting point on the road to Hadrian’s wall.
A designated market town from 1221, Cockermouth’s rich history is evident in its cobbled streets and striking 13th century castle. Over the years the town has earned a reputation as a centre of industry and agriculture, including the 19th century addition of Jennings, a popular award-winning craft brewery nestled between the rivers Cocker and Derwent.
Cockermouth’s most famous resident is arguably William Wordsworth, the universally adored 18th century poet laureate. The large Georgian house he and his sister Dorothy were born in is now in the hands of the National Trust who manage it as a popular tourist attraction. More on Wordsworth House later.
Fletcher Christian, the notorious mutineer was born just outside of Cockermouth in 1764. This really is the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters! Educated at Cockermouth Grammar school, Christian sought a naval career and in 1787 embarked on the fateful Bounty voyage as chief mate under Captain Bligh. No one really knows what happened on board but the subsequent mutiny saw Bligh set adrift and Christian and his crew settle on Pitcairn Island.
In 1766, John Dalton, the father of the atomic theory of matter, was born in the small village of Eaglesfield, outside Cockermouth. He was so highly thought of that on his death over 40,000 people filed past his coffin in Manchester Town Hall. Did you know he also carried out important research into colour blindness?
5 Things to See and Do in Cockermouth
Whether you’ve got a hankering for craft ale, are craving a gourmet meal, seeking some local culture or keen to be one with nature, you’ll have no problem packing in a day or weekend of activities in Cockermouth.
Step back in time with a visit to William and Dorothy Wordsworth’s striking childhood home.
Managed by the National Trust, this ‘living museum’ is a wonderful opportunity to experience what life would have been like for young William and his family in the 1770s.
The kitchen is staffed by a maid-of-all-work who’ll gladly answer your questions and maybe even whip up some 18th century food for you to try. Step into the clerk’s office and try your hand at writing with a quill and ink, then straight into the children’s bedroom which is full of clothes and toys of the time.
Then comes the best part, the gorgeous riverside garden that continues to yield traditional varieties of fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers.
Wordsworth House is wheelchair-accessible from the rear yard and has a lift that accesses the ground floor. Note that the first floor of the house is only accessible by stairs.
For opening times and other information, click here to go to the Wordsworth House and Garden Website
You won’t find a more scenic brewery than Jennings. Perched between the River Derwent and River Cocker, Jennings is a true Cockermouth landmark. A craft brewery that has been perfecting prize-winning beers for nearly 200 years, Jennings is a proud Lake District success story.
Fancy a day out with a difference? Book a brewery tour and let your guide bring the Jennings story to life, then follow it up with free beer tasting in the atmospheric Cooperage bar. You might even get to pull a pint!
This is a great rainy day activity. Click here to book your Jennings Brewery Tour.
Fitz Park Alpacas
Fitz Country House is an elegant Georgian mansion on the outskirts of Cockermouth. Situated on 37 acres of lush lawns and woodland, ‘The Fitz’ is home to both the annual Cockermouth country show and a cute collection of woolly alpacas!
There are few family activities that will be as entertaining or memorable as alpaca walking so why not build it into your Cockermouth itinerary? We can guarantee that you’ll take more photos than you ever thought possible. After all, what could be more fun than taking a selfie with an alpaca or three?
And for all of the history buffs out there, Fitz Park is as famous for its archaeological finds as it is for its alpacas. The surrounding woodland once housed a Roman homestead and a recent archaeological dig revealed what is thought to be Cumbria’s oldest coin, dating circa 200BC.
To book your furry adventure, click here to go through to the Fitz Park Website.
Dubwath Silver Meadows
On the outskirts of Cockermouth, this is one of the best wetland nature reserves in Cumbria.
A left-over from the last ice age, this fascinating site of bogland and wet heath was used by both Norse and Celts to graze livestock and to harvest valuable wild plants for culinary and medicinal purposes.
Grab your wellies and your binoculars and get ready to spot osprey, roe deer, red squirrels, voles and the rare pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly. Phew! Year-round walks are organised by the reserve’s dedicated group of volunteers.
The great thing about Dubwath Silver Meadows is that it’s free and accessible for all, including wheelchairs and buggies (but don’t forget the wellies/walking boots, as it can get very wet in places).
Getting there – the site is just off the A66 at The Pheasant Inn/Dubwath. There is parking but visitors are reminded to be considerate of farm vehicles. The X4 and X5 buses also stop here, at Brathay Hill and Dubwath respectively.
This handy link will tell you all you need to know about Dubwath Silver Meadows.
4 of the Best Walks In and Around Cockermouth
1. The best way to get to know Cockermouth’s historic landscape and story is by starting with the Cockermouth Town Trail.
This Cockermouth Civic Trust initiative shows visitors the very best the town has to offer, including artworks, interesting buildings and birthplaces. A handy pamphlet and small cast-iron plaques, created by local school children, will guide you around 19 sites that take in places like Old Kings Arm Lane, the Old Courthouse, Cockton’s Yard and Cockermouth Castle.
Starting and ending at the Kirkgate Centre, the town’s premier arts centre, the trail is a wonderful way to explore Cockermouth’s intriguing history. While you’re taking in the sights check out the Cockermouth History Wall on Old King Arm Lane for a potted history of the town.
This is a low-effort walk. For more details on how to take part, click here.
2. If you’re craving greenery and the sound of rushing water then stretch your legs with a peaceful 5-mile stroll along the River Cocker, starting at the lovely Memorial Gardens. You’re guaranteed plenty of gorgeous fell views, green grass and lots of eating and drinking opportunities.
The River Cocker walk is mostly on grassy footpaths with a short stretch on a minor road. You may need wellies or walking boots, especially if it has been raining. This useful webpage has all the information you’ll need.
3. Remember Papcastle, the site of the Roman city Derventio? This charming village once featured on T.V’s Time Team and is just a short distance from Cockermouth. The 4-mile circular walk Papcastle Boundary walk, which begins at Wordsworth House, takes in primrose-filled glades and old railway lines and is a thoroughly enjoyable ramble.
The walk will take you along pavements and footpaths, some of which may be muddy depending on the weather. For further information, please click here.
4. If you’re yearning for a slightly more challenging walk then head for Buttermere, a tranquil spot that’s only a 20-minute drive from Cockermouth and features dramatic views of Fleetwith Pike.
At a doable 4.7 miles, this circular lakeshore path stroll is perfect for all the family. You’ll not want to rush this one as the rugged scenery should be savoured, so give yourself 3 hours to complete.
Note there is a section that will require a bit of scrambling and a short stretch of the walk will take you onto the road before rejoining the lake path.
It’s a relatively level walk, but walking boots are recommended as it can get muddy in places. The village of Buttermere has a number of restaurants and pubs you’ll want to visit for refreshments before or after your ramble.
You’ll find more information about Buttermere on the National Trust website.
Where to Park in Cockermouth
Parking is stress-free in Cockermouth. There are 4 main car parks in the town as well as disc parking on the main streets. Discs can be picked up from local shops and the library, so make sure you don’t get caught out.
- Memorial Gardens (via Wakefield Road) – 115 spaces
- Sullart Street – 62
- Bitterbeck – 69
- Riverside – 34
There are four public toilets in Cockermouth so you’ve nothing to worry about if you get caught short! All facilities are managed by Cockermouth Town Council.
- 89, Main Street, near The Trout Hotel
- Bitterbeck Carpark, Kirkgate
- Harris Park
- Memorial Gardens
Cockermouth benefits from a comprehensive bus service, so you can travel easily to and from the larger towns of Keswick, Penrith, Carlisle and Workington, as well as smaller surrounding villages and hamlets.
There are also bus links to the nearest train station in Workington, and from there you can travel all over.
Click here for more information and links to timetables.
Time to Rest, Dine and Unwind at The Trout Hotel
You’re nearly at the end of our whirlwind tour.
We think you’ll agree that Cockermouth has that irresistible mix of hustle without too much bustle! Our enchanting town is proud of its ancient roots and possesses a truly unique independent spirit.
After a day’s rambling, shopping, and taking in the sights, you’ll want to settle down in comfort to enjoy a well-deserved tipple and a delectable dinner at The Trout Hotel.
Whether you’re tickling your taste buds in one of our lux dining rooms or taking in the evening air with cocktails by the riverbank, you’ll receive exceptional service from our team.
We think one of the best ways to round off an excellent weekend is with an indulgent afternoon tea courtesy of The Trout Hotel.
This link will take you to our Afternoon Tea page with advice on how to book: Book your table now ⠀
Menus are freshly updated every season to make the most of the quality produce we procure from our amazing local providers.
In addition to comforting dishes like aged prime cut steak, juicy Cumberland sausage, Jennings beer-battered fish and mouth-watering sticky toffee pudding we offer a range of lighter mains and vegetarian/vegan dishes that are guaranteed to delight.
To view all of our menus, please click here: View our menus
A Good Night’s Sleep
Having fun is tiring! After a big adventure, only a night or two in a luxurious boutique hotel will do.
Retire to one of our elegant rooms or chic cottage suites and enjoy a great night’s slumber. Each room is tastefully decorated, featuring free WiFI, Sky Sports TV, underfloor heating and Cole & Lewis toiletries. Click here for a closer look at our wide range of rooms and suites.
Ready to plan your Cockermouth visit? Book your room and table now.
Take the stress out of planning and secure your stay at the Trout Hotel now to start dreaming about your stay in the Lake District.