Boarding on the border…a brief visit to Carlisle on the England Scotland border.
Even before the Roman times in Great Britain the city of Carlisle was the front line in various disputes between the two nations or their respective tribes.
The Romans decided to clearly define that line and it ran right through the centre of Carlisle or in Roman times Luguvallium! Where at times it was 6 metres high.
Using the city as a base allows easy access to the Lake District, the 88 mile long meandering wall itself. Or even just over the border to the popular romantic destination of Gretna Green.
Boarding On The Border
The city caters for those who love history of course. With its Roman and Royal connections along with a red sandstone cathedral who’s roof turned blue and gold in Victorian times.
Its 14th century roof and timbers were restored in 1853. When Gothic style artist Owen Jones was responsible for the stunning, stand out blue and gold ceiling you still see today.
A short walk away is Carlisle Castle. Again the red stone stands right out along with the primary colours of the grass and blue sky on any sunny day.
William II started the first castle on the site in 1092 including some Roman sections. Then followed a whole series of improvements. Henry I died and King David I of Scotland carried on with that work too.
Then a visit from Henry II saw more additions and King John in the 13th cent probably improved the outer and inner ward stone walls.
The castle was besieged 7 times in its wars with the Scots. Saw action in the wars of the Roses and in the Civil war it was one of the Royalist strongholds. In the end it fell to a long lasting siege by the Parliamentarians in which horses and dogs were eaten by those under siege.
Finally the very last siege, its tenth! Was during the Jacobite rebellion when Prince Charles Edward Stuart tried to re-establish the Stuarts to the throne 1745. With 400 left to defend the castle it was retaken by the Duke of Cumberland after a prolonged artillery bombardment.
Mary Queen Of Scots Boarding In Carlisle Too!
Probably its most famous prisoner was Mary Queen of Scots in 1568 who was held there under orders of Queen Elizabeth I.
One section within the castle keep there are a group of detailed carvings thought to be by prisoners. But could have equally been done by bored prison guards?
Within the English Heritage site there is museum to the local army regiment. The Museum of Military Life. This documents several of the regiments that were based in Cumbria such as, The Border Regiment, The King’s Own Royal Border Regiment and the more recent The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment King’s, Lancashire and Border.
Again very close by to the castle is the Tullie Museum and Art Gallery. A fascinating place to learn more of local history, its customs and life. Recent Roman discoveries that include those found under the local cricket ground after an extensive dig.
There are a whole series of displays some permanent and some newer ones to freshen the visitor experience.
Their fashion and costume collection is under the permanent banner. With some very ornate and rare examples.
Border Galleries shows Carlisle’s social history, from Vikings and Romans plus with explanations about the landscape and its Cumbrian geology. A wildlife section where you can discover the biodiversity of this county.
Border Life Explored at Tullie Museum
In conjunction with the British Museum there is the Roman Frontier Gallery. This partnership gallery is home to plenty of Tullie’s significant Roman collection, plus with some items on loan from the British Museum itself.
The Carlisle and Cumbria of today are also represented in changing displays of the Community Gallery.
Art displays can be seen in Old Tullie House. Built in 1689, this original Jacobean house retains a number of original features. It’s now home to an art collection. Including Pre-Raphaelite works in its George Howard Gallery.
Most of the museum is accessible in wheelchairs apart from parts of Old Tullie House.
Out and about outside of the city then head north over the border to the Gretna Green where the romance of weddings is still very much alive. Where young lovers could run away and get married even if under age.
Romans and Romance If Boarding in Carlisle
A whole series of businesses have grown around this one small Blacksmiths shop where the weddings took place. A museum, shops and cafes etc are now very much part of the experience. This one wedding venue has many more weddings than any other place in the whole of the UK.
Less than a mile away there is a shopping complex the Caledonian Park. This designer retail park is just off the M74 motorway.
Heading south west from Carlisle and to the lakes. Places like Cockermouth where the National Trust has the William Wordsworth house. The place where the poet was born and lived until the age of 8. Or the Trout Hotel where 30’s crooner Bing Crosby was a regular guest as he adored the salmon fishing on the local rivers.
Push on from there past Bassenthwaite Lake to Keswick. In truth there is only one lake in the Lake District. The other bodies of water are called meres, tarns or waters! Bassenthwaite Lake is the only true one!
Keswick with its slate grey stone sits alongside Derwentwater. Here you can shop in the busy Lakeland town centre or perhaps visit the Pencil Museum there. Yes, there is such a place!
Not too much further south to where you can take in ‘Surprise View’ and its stunning vista looking back north across this area of the lakes. The much photographed Ashness Bridge.
Nearby, the Borrowdale Hotel at the southern end of Derwentwater offers great lunches, dinner and bar snacks and can make a great base for touring the whole of the lakes.
Plenty More to See
Our exploration ended here but there are so many other places to check out Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount with their connections to Wordsworth, the Ravenglass Railway or perhaps Beatrix Potter’s home at Hill Top near Sawrey.
Boarding in Carlisle try here:
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