Things to see and do
The Cartmel peninsula stands out in the area for its sculpted limestone pavements, wooded hills and rolling green pastoral fields before reaching the outlying mudflats and saltmarshes of Morecambe Bay. Fishermen still go fishing each day for cockles, mussels, flukes and the famous Morecambe Bay shrimps.
Hampsfell – between Cartmel & Grange is one of the highest points of the Cartmel peninsula and has great viewpoints in every direction over the Bay. There’s even a traveller’s shelter – Hampsfell Hospice – built by a vicar in 1846. The interior – as well as providing shelter – has poetry readings or stanzas on each of the four walls. “This Hospice as an open door, a like to welcome rich and poor, a roomy seat for young and old, where they may screen them from the cold.”
“Turning to the west is seen, Dear Cartmel’s peaceful valley green, mid waving woods and verdant lands, the fine old church of Cartmel sands.”
CROSS BAY WALKS
The Morecambe Bay sands are well-known for their hazardous combination of rapid incoming tides and quicksands. However, the route across the sands is still a public right of way and each year, the Queens Official Guide to the Sands, local fisherman, Michael Wilson, leads groups of walkers the eight miles across the bay. His predecessor, Cedric Robinson MBE previously guided Prince Philip and the late Victoria Wood and held the much coveted title for 56 years.
Just two and a half miles from Cartmel is the archetypal Edwardian seaside resort of Grange-over-Sands with its attractive ornamental gardens and a mile-long picturesque promenade for easy strolls overlooking Morecambe Bay. Part way along the promenade is the Grange Lido, a hugely popular seaside salt-water attraction with pools and a viewing gallery until its closure in 1993. There are strong ambitions locally to restore the Lido to its former 1930s art deco glory.
The mud flats, sandbanks and saltmarshes of Morecambe Bay offer important feeding grounds for migrating birds and overwintering birds. Expect to see oystercatchers, shelduck and curlew feeding on lugworms, ragworms, and shellfish from the watery sands. There’s also the Nature Reserve of Foulshaw Moss just 15 minutes down the road from Cartmel village, where a pair of ospreys return to breed and nest each summer.
Holker Hall, the centuries-old home of the Cavendish family is set in 17,000 acres of beautiful countryside just five miles outside Cartmel village on the edge of the Lake District. Once described by Pevsner as the ‘best Elizabethan Gothic in the North of England’, the red sandstone construction is home to some stunning architecture, craftmanship, and unique furnishings. The stunning gardens boast a truly wonderful collection of trees and shrubs including the magnificent Holker Great Lime. Planted in the 17th century, its 72 feet high with a 25 foot trunk and has been designated as one of The Tree Council’s 50 Great British Trees.
FOOD & DRINK
Unless you’ve been living under a rock in a cave for the last few years, you can’t help but think of the 2 Michelin star L’Enclume when you think of Cartmel. Simon Rogan’s inaugural restaurant bagged the top spot in the UK’s Good Food Guide back in 2014 and has topped the UK food charts on another four occasions since. A second restaurant – Rogan & Co has brought a third Michelin star into the village and viewers of TVs Great British Menu 2020 will surely be familiar with Executive Chef Tom Barnes and his winning main course of ‘Beatrix Potter’s Herdwick Lamb’.
The gastronomic delights of Cartmel and the Furness Peninsula don’t end with Simon Rogan and his empire, here are some other local foodie specialities to tickle those tastebuds:
Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding
Even before Simon Rogan moved into the village, Cartmel was ‘the home of sticky toffee pudding’. The original and the best, this rich, gooey, heavenly, pudding was lovingly created in the kitchen of Cartmel Village Shop and is now shipped all over the world and sold everywhere from Booths to Fortnum and Mason.
Baxters Potted Shrimps
Morecambe Bay is famous for its delectable potted shrimps, which are caught by local fisherman then processed and packed in Flookburgh just outside Cartmel. Proud purveyors of a Royal Warrant, the shrimps are boiled in a secret butter recipe until tender and then potted in a process all still done by hand. According to a formal personal chef of the Queen, she particularly enjoys spreading the potted shrimps on her toast! If they’re good enough for Her Majesty…
Holker Saltmarsh Lamb & Shorthorn Beef
The low-lying salt marshes of the Cartmel Peninsula and Morecambe Bay estuary gives Holker saltmarsh lamb its distinctively sweet and delicate flavour as the lambs graze on samphire, heather, and herbal grasses. The Holker Estate’s rich, full, and flavoursome prime shorthorn beef is from the ancient Shorthorn cattle breed and still reared in a traditional way.
Cartmel is also home to Irini Tzortzoglou, winner of TV’s Masterchef in 2019 in the show’s first all-female final. Irini published her first cookbook, ‘Under the Olive Tree, Recipes from my Greek Kitchen’ in 2020 and posts how-to guides on her Instagram page of some of her favourite recipes.
STRETCH THE LEGS
Many long distance walking routes pass through Cartmel village – some of which can be done in a day and others that traverse from east to west or along the length of the Cumbrian coast. Either way, there are lots of great places to stay in Cartmel village where you can rest awhile and recharge the batteries before a full day on the fells and paths.
The Cistercian Way takes you back to a time when the landscape was shaped by Cistercian monks. This pilgrimage takes in ancient stone circles, a monastery, and a more modern Buddhist temple before culminating at the magnificent Cartmel Priory. The route can be linked in with a number of railway stations and at around 25 miles, can be covered in a day or split into easy stages to enjoy the scenery and heritage attractions of Barrow-in-Furness, Ulverston and our very own Cartmel.
The Furness Way passes through Cartmel on its stretch from Arnside on the eastern side of Morecambe Bay to Ravenglass on the Irish Sea coast and covers a distance of around 70 miles. You’ll pass through woodland, river estuaries, and even a wild mountain pass as you take in some of the prettiest scenery and villages in South Lakeland. Allow a minimum of four days and be sure to stay overnight in Cartmel!
The Cumbria Coastal Way runs between Morecambe Bay up to the Solway Firth. Its best walked in sections over 10-14 days and is around 180 miles depending on your chosen start/finish point. Make sure you check out tide tables as in some points, the tides will affect the route.
On two wheels
If you prefer to move a bit quicker on wheels rather than foot, then try:
The Bay Cycle Way – 81 miles of the best of Morecambe Bay from Walney Island hugging the coast round to Glasson Dock, near Lancaster. Much of the cycling is through country lanes and villages, on long promenades or canal towpaths so this route isn’t too challenging for a first-time cyclist but there are a few big hills thrown in along the way!
The Walney to Wear (W2W) coast to coast 155-mile cycling route stretches from Walney Island in Furness to the River Wear or Whitby (179 miles) on the North Sea coast.
Barrow Dock Museum is one of the most fascinating and interesting local attractions for both adults and children alike. The building itself is very unusual in that it is an ultra-modern museum built over one of the old and very large dry docks and you literally move down through the layers of the dry dock to see the various exhibits.
The largest part of the museum is dedicated to Ship building and with special reference to Barrow. Here there are many models and memorabilia from the shipping industry including demonstrations of how many large ships are built. There are also many exhibits showing how life was lived in Barrow over the past centuries and especially in WW2.
The lowest level of the dock has been transformed into a constantly changing exhibition area. There have been a collective of artists displaying their works and a “Shipyard Town” exhibiting from the earliest days of Barrow right up to the present time with the building of nuclear submarines.
There is a small and very friendly cafe
The museum is open from 11am-4pm, Wednesdays to Sundays and you should allow 30 minutes to drive there from Cartmel.
Best of all, the museum is completely free – including parking, although donations are always welcomed.