Cumbria Crack

Experience the Lake District’s hidden heritage with the National Trust

Wray Boathouse by Lakes Culture

[A]n entire long weekend of free heritage events are happening at National Trust places across the Lake District, including some not usually open to the public.

The annual Heritage Open Days festival celebrates the country’s diverse history, architecture and culture, offering people the chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences.

Activities range from a walk to a foghorn station perched precipitously at St Bees Head to tours of the impressive double boathouse at Wray Castle. You can hear stories of recreation, industry and lost love at Fell Foot Park on an outdoor tour, or for the first time, the private chapel belonging to the Strickland family at Sizergh Castle will be opened to the public for one day only. The opportunity to delve into the life of a simple Lake District farming family at Townend or step back in time to the 1770s at Wordsworth House and Garden is also on offer. Even Steam Yacht Gondola on Coniston Water will be taking part, moored to the pier with seldom seen archive material on display.

Suzi Bunting, Visitor Experience Officer, says: “We’ve put together a programme of free events across the whole weekend, so we hope visitors and locals alike will be able to make the most of having the opportunity to do something completely different. For locals, the festival weekend offers a new perspective on a place they know really well, and it gives visitors a highly unusual experience which might pique their interest and encourage them to come back again in the future.”

There are family friendly activities such as Billie Buzzard’s trail at Allan Bank as well as guided tours more suited to grown-ups. Lots of events don’t require booking but some do – so please check the website for full details at

National Trust Lake District: Heritage Open Day events 2017

Thursday 7 September

Sizergh Strickland family Chapel

Sizergh Castle, Sizergh, Kendal, Cumbria, LA8 8AE

12noon – 4pm. No booking required

A ‘one day only’ opportunity to view the private chapel of the Strickland family for the first time.  The chapel is still in use today for private mass with the first record of a permanent chapel here from the mid-18th century.

Friday 8 September

Steam Yacht Gondola ‘Behind the Scenes’

Coniston Pier, Lake Road, Coniston, Cumbria, LA21 8AN

5 – 6.30pm. No booking required

The original Gondola sailed in Victorian times and the story of this unique boat is intertwined with the locals who had the passion to save her. This is a chance to view seldom seen archive material about the history of this unique yacht and find out about her rescue and rebuild with the crew.

Saturday 9 September

Allan Bank

Grasmere, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 9QB

10am – 5pm (last admission 4.30pm). No booking required

Make yourself at home at Allan Bank – explore inside and out or just relax with a book and a cuppa; there will be an opportunity to try your hand at crafting, play board games, and explore the woodland paths and much more.

Muddy boots and well behaved dogs on leads welcome.

Fell Foot’s Hidden Heritage

Fell Foot Park, Newby Bridge, Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 8NN

Tours at 11.15am, 12.15pm, 1.15pm, 2.15pm. No booking required

Come and join one of our free outdoor tours to hear fascinating stories of industry, recreation and lost love. What happened to the large ‘Villa’ that used to dominate the landscape?  Whose initials are carved into the impressive stone fireplace surround in the boathouse café and gashouse cottage? Families can also pick up a free Heritage Trail to start to explore some of Fell Foot’s hidden past.

Haig Heritage Walk

Wellington Lodge, Harbour View, Whitehaven, Cumbria, CA28 9AD

10am – 12noon. Booking essential

Booking number: Sophie on 07342088015

Join us for a short ramble as we delve into the mining history of Whitehaven. As we walk along the coast you’ll see and hear about the industrial history and mining heritage that has shaped the Whitehaven coastline and continues to do so today.


Troutbeck, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1LB

1 – 4.30pm. No booking required

The Brownes of Townend were a simple farming family, but their home and belongings bring to life more than 400 years of extraordinary stories. The farmhouse kitchen has a real fire burning and quirky collection of domestic tools. Throughout the house, intricately carved furniture provides a window into the personality of George Browne as well as the family’s well-used collection of books in the library.

Wordsworth House and Garden

Main Street, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 9RX

11am  –  5pm (last admission 4pm), Talks: 11.30am & 2.30pm. No booking required

Step back in time to the 1770s and experience William Wordsworth’s childhood. Meet the maid-of-all-work or a knowledgeable 21st-century guide; explore the working 18th-century kitchen and other hands-on rooms at your own pace. Join a talk to find out more about the happiness and heartache that shaped the original wild child. There are replica costumes to dress up in, reproduction toys to play with plus a choice of children’s trails – and the household’s ghosts are waiting in the cellar!

Sunday 10 September

Foghorn Station Walk

Meet in the car park next to Haig Mining Museum, CA28 9BG

10.30am – 3.30pm. Booking essential

Call: 07342088015

Join us for a walk with the Colourful Coast Partnership from Haig Museum along the coast to the St Bees Head Fog Signal Station. You’ll see and hear about the industrial history that has shaped the coastline and continues to do so today. At St Bees Head Fog Signal Station there will be a rare chance to look inside the building which perches precipitously on St Bees Head. Approx. 6 miles

Walking boots and waterproofs/sun cream dependant on weather recommended. Bring water, lunch and any snacks you will need.

Wray Castle

Low Wray, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0JA

10am – 4pm. Booking essential

Email: [email protected] or call 015394 33250. (Limited numbers, children must be accompanied by an adult)

Join a tour with our volunteer research intern to hear what we’ve discovered about the castle and the Dawsons. The archaeology demonstration will unearth a newly found structure on the Pleasure Lawn and there will be tours of the impressive Double Boathouse on the lakeshore, not usually open to the public.

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