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Cumbrian Heritage Back with a Bang and New Innovative Ways to ‘Live’ the Past

Steamboat Osprey, from the Windermere Jetty Museum

Necessity has been the mother of invention in UK tourism and the members of the dynamic cultural and heritage group, Cumbria’s Living Heritage, have come back more vibrant than ever, when opening their doors, laying down their gangplanks and cooking up edible treats.

The group has shown the spirit that conveys why it has ‘living’ in its name, making heritage come alive in the moment, however difficult that moment has been.  Its summer 2020 offering shows more product development than ever, bringing visitors and local residents some incredible opportunities to experience the brand-new, the exquisite and the downright tasty.

Keswick Museum has come out of the blocks flying, with an August 12, 246th birthday ‘Southey Celebration’, focusing on the life of the Poet Laureate – and the man who gave the world the inspiration for what became ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’.  Storytelling by Becky Cole and Digby, joint stars of Digby Days, is between 10.30am and 11.15am, followed by an ‘ask the expert’ session with Southey Residency guru, Charlotte May, who will also be revealing some lesser-seen Southey possessions and exhibits. No booking is required and entrance is free.

At Holker Hall & Gardens, folk can experience the historic home’s first Drive-in Movie Night on August 15, when ‘Downton Abbey’, will be screened with the stunning hall as its backdrop, at 8.30pm. Movie goers can drive in their car, at a cost of £20, when gates open at 6.30pm and even pre-order cinema bubbles for their bubble. Holker is also promising us the return of Chilli Fest in September, a Halloween Pumpkin Trail, Winter Markets and more and even has a pop-up pub to tempt.

That desire to keep visitors fed and watered is also evidenced at Askham Hall near Penrith, where a new barn offers woodfired pizzas and hand-pulled beers between 11.30am and 8pm each day.  Eat Out to Help Out has been embraced by venues within the group, including the Gaddum restaurant at Brockhole.

Outdoor theatre will wow families at stunning Brantwood, the former home of John Ruskin nestled right above Coniston Water. A one-hour production of the classic children’s novel, The Wind in the Willows, is taking to the stage, for a family event at 6.30pm on August 19.

At Rydal Mount, near Grasmere, poet William Wordsworth’s most loved home, never-before-seen treasures are on display.  There’s the family bible, with the beautiful copperplate handwriting of William’s parents detailing their wedding day and the birth and christening dates of all of their children, including William.  There are his walking sticks, one with silver crest, and two new portraits by Sir William Buxall and Samuel Crosthwaite respectively, the latter being William’s last known portrait. Add to this an artist’s impression of the home the poet once planned on what is now Dora’s Field – a spring daffodil-filled memorial to his daughter – and it offers even more excuses to visit the home and wild and spiritually serene 5-acre garden in which William heard his exclusive cuckoo.  Parties of four people at a time can tour the house, whilst roaming the glorious garden should provide few social distancing issues. Booking is available for selected dates, in August and September, at www.rydalmount.co.uk

A piece from the BENGAL exhibition at Grizedale

But there’s so much more.  The Gruffalo has relaunched his orienteering trail at Whinlatter Forest.  At Grizedale Forest, there are spiritual healing experiences between the trees and also BENGAL: The Four Elements, an exhibition bringing together 10 years of artistry and sculpture by artist Gerry Judah. There are sailings once more on the Victorian Steam Yacht Gondola and you can get on the trail of Beatrix Potter at Hill Top, the Armitt Museum, Ambleside and the Beatrix Potter Gallery, Hawkshead.

There are terrace teas at Blackwell – the Arts and Crafts house in Bowness – to be enjoyed whilst drinking in views of Windermere.  Gardens at Mirehouse near Keswick, Dalemain and Hutton-in-the-Forest near Penrith, Levens Hall near Kendal and Muncaster Castle on the Cumbrian West coast (both also offering house tours) and Holehird Gardens near Windermere, have all reopened.  Lakeland Motor Museum and National Trust and Historic England properties and sites have the welcome sign up and Muncaster’s Meadowvole is even reporting hawks and owls flying overhead, as flying displays recommence.

But if you still need to be tempted by Cumbrian culture and heritage, why not enjoy a heritage sailing on the Windermere Jetty Museum’s fully restored steamboat, St Osprey, costing £40 for four people on a 30-minute trip, with a £10 charge for each additional person up to a total number of 8.  Or, enjoy exclusive 75-minute hire for 8 people’s enjoyment, for £160, Thursday to Sunday, sailing at 10.30am, 1pm or 3pm, as long as you are one family bubble.

Or, you could head to Brockhole, on the shores of Windermere, to explore the brand-new Woodland Faerie Trail – a maze of 50 little faerie doorways, hidden amidst ferns and moss-covered rocks, in ancient woodland, in the Enchanted Wood.  Tickets can be bought on arrival, as you discover that maybe Victorians were right about faeries living at the end of the garden.

And, if you wish to explore all of this and more, there’s the opportunity to stay at Swarthmoor Hall’s newly reopened self-catering apartment, housed within a Grade II-listed hall that is known as the birthplace of Quakerism.  A three-night stay, from August 31, will cost £775, putting you just two miles from the coast near Ulverston and at the heart of all of the action and exciting things-to-do from Cumbria’s Living Heritage.

All of the website links to members are accessible at www.cumbriaslivingheritage.co.uk, to quickly discover what’s brewing – in every sense. Cumbrian heritage is back – with a bang!

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