As the weather looks set to hot up, visitors and residents alike are being encouraged to make the most of recently expanded ‘Rail Trails’ opening up new ways to explore the Western Lake District, Furness Peninsula and Lakes Line routes.

Cumbria Tourism has teamed up with Northern to inspire people to enjoy more days out in the county by rail, as well as highlighting the availability of special ‘duo’ tickets – providing 25% off train tickets when people travel in pairs. Duo tickets are being heralded as a cost-effective way for local residents to travel around the county more and enjoy all the world-class destination on their doorstep.

Meanwhile, the new downloadable additions to the popular ‘Rail Trails’ series highlight inspiring walks and activities suitable for all ages and accessible from either the Furness or Lakes Lines, with regular rail connections across Cumbria and North Lancashire.

The trails have been created in partnership with Community Rail Cumbria and offer passengers the opportunity to leave their car at home while they explore a range of sites teeming with nature, history and stunning views.

Some of the Rail Trails in and around the Furness Peninsula include the coastal gem of Grange-over-Sands and foodie mecca Cartmel, which is home to Michelin-starred restaurants and the world-famous Cumbrian sticky toffee pudding. Other highlights include the rich history of Furness Abbey, founded in the 12th Century and a key part of Henry VIII’s break from Rome.

Meanwhile, Lakes Line Rail trails include the quintessential Lake District village of Staveley – home to Hawkshead Brewery and Beer Hall. Alternatively, people can delve into the history and nature of Kendal and the River Kent. Or they can stroll across to the scenic Cockshott point from Windermere station, with the option to take in the lovely restored Claife Viewing station.

Additional trails along the Cumbrian coastline are also featured, including walks taking in the stunning views from and around St Bees Head. With views north across the Solway Firth to Scotland and west over the Isle of Man towards Ireland, hikers will be spoilt for choice.

Chris Jackson, regional director at Northern, who funded the project, said: “Cumbria is a amazing county to explore, from glorious coastlines to majestic mountains and, of course, crystal clear lakes. And there’s no better way to experience everything Cumbria has to offer than by using the train to go do your thing.

“Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and, to help make the most of any visit to Cumbria, rail users can access great value fares to make sure they have more cash in their pocket to sample either the great food on offer or snare a souvenir.”

Sustainable Transport Lead at Cumbria Tourism, Gemma Procter, says, “As spring turns to summer, the Lake District Cumbria is a truly magical place – leaving the car behind and exploring by rail and foot can open up memorable experiences for day trippers who want to get out and make the most of our diverse and inspiring county. Of course, it’s a fantastic way for people to reduce their carbon footprint and be more environmentally conscious too.

Offering a range of routes of varying length and difficulty, the Rail Trails all start and end at railway stations so planning your day couldn’t be easier!”

Visitors can access the Rail Trails at www.visitlakedistrict.com/railtrails or find out more about Northern’s ‘duo’ tickets on www.northernrailway.co.uk/tickets/duo

More handy tips to help people get around by train are also available at: www.visitlakedistrict.com/byrail.

Northern is the second largest train operator in the country, with nearly 2,000 services a day to more than 500 stations across the North of England.

A residents’ discount scheme set up by Cumbria Tourism to support local communities has scooped a top accolade at the UK Enterprise Awards.

The news that MyCumbria has has been awarded ‘Most Innovative Regional Business Discount Card Enterprise’ comes as the scheme celebrates its tenth anniversary this month.

Hosted by SME News, the UK Enterprise Awards celebrate vibrant business industries across the UK. Now in their sixth year, the 2022 awards highlight small to medium-sized enterprises which have adapted and innovated to weather the storm of COVID-19.

It’s a double celebration for the MyCumbria card scheme, which was set up exactly ten years ago this month by the county’s official Destination Management Organisation – purely for people living or working in Cumbria.

MyCumbria recognises the vital role that locals play in supporting the county’s visitor economy and gives them the chance to explore the county at discounted rates, with more than 200 unique residents’ offers for a wide range of attractions, retailers, cafes, pubs and quintessentially Cumbrian products throughout the county.

To mark the occasion, MyCumbria is hosting a series of anniversary daily giveaways for local people throughout May, with card holders entered automatically into a daily each day until the end of the month.

Among the 31 special prizes on offer are family attraction tickets, annual experience passes and £100 to spend at selected local producers, as well as an array of afternoon teas, Sunday lunches and money to spend at restaurants and hospitality venues.

Ben Melling oversees the MyCumbria scheme at Cumbria Tourism. He says “Wow, what fantastic timing to be recognised by the UK Enterprise Awards, at the start of MyCumbria’s birthday month!

“We know that MyCumbria is great for people who live and work here, helping them to explore more of the county at a time when household budgets are tight.

“Residents are also keen to support their local communities and do their bit for the recovery of Cumbria’s economy, so it’s a great way for businesses who want to tap into the local market to attract a new customer base.  We are always on the lookout for more exclusive offers to include on the MyCumbria scheme and it’s completely free for businesses get involved.”

MyCumbria card holders need to have a valid CA or LA Cumbria postcode at either a home or work address. For the annual price of £20, they then get access to a range of exclusive discounts for retailers, attractions, hospitality venues throughout the county.

To find out more about the MyCumbria card and the tenth anniversary raffle, visit: www.mycumbriacard.co.uk/mycumbria-10th-anniversary 

 

A new county-wide survey into visitor trends and behaviour has got underway, with more than 2,000 face-to-face interviews planned in the coming months as part of a major Cumbria Tourism project to better understand people’s travel habits.

The Cumbria Visitor Survey will see researchers carry out in-depth questionnaires at almost 60 locations throughout the county – the first time this level of face-to-face research has been carried out since 2018.

One of the main aims of the new research is to find out more about the ‘new’ visitors who have discovered – or rediscovered – Cumbria over the last two years, as well as better understanding any changes in the way people plan to holiday in future.

The results will be collated and analysed between now and November and will help determine people’s perceptions and expectations of a stay in Cumbria, what motivates them to choose our destination and what activities they do while they are here. Questions will range from how they prefer to book, which locations they visit, how they travel, how much they spend, and how satisfied they were with their visit.

As the official Destination Management Organisation for the county, Cumbria Tourism takes the lead on the Cumbria Visitor Survey with support from the Lake District National Park and seven local authority partners. That includes Allerdale Borough Council, Barrow Borough Council, Carlisle City Council, Copeland Borough Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria County Council.

Cumbria Tourism’s Research Manager, Helen Tate, says, “The Cumbria Visitor Survey is a key piece of research which not only identifies where our visitors come from, but looks at everything from the size and composition of their party, to what they do – and spend – while they are here.

“Although we’ve been able to continue our online surveys during the pandemic, this is a crucial opportunity to restart our face-to-face engagement with a large number of our visitors. To gain a representative sample, we’ve carefully selected almost 60 locations which are designed to pick up different types of visitors and compare results with surveys carried out since the research began in 2006.”

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, adds, ““This is a golden opportunity to gather valuable information about trends and changes in what our visitors both expect and need from their next holiday.

“It’s also a really collaborative project. Cumbria Tourism’s role as the county’s Destination Management Organisation means we are in a unique position to work across local authority boundaries with our partners, to ensure we get the fullest, most accurate picture of evolving visitor behaviour.

“Collectively, we will use the results to support our national lobbying work as a county, to inform our future marketing activity and to identify opportunities and areas of development to help grow the value of our visitor economy and bounce back from the effects of the pandemic. It’s also fantastic insight for tourism operators to use directly in their own business development and marketing plans.”

Cumbria Tourism will reveal the key findings of the Cumbria Visitor Survey in the autumn.

The finalists of this year’s Cumbria Tourism Awards have been officially unveiled, as the ‘Oscars’ of the county’s tourism industry makes a long-awaited comeback after a three-year absence.

The awards span 16 categories covering every conceivable type of tourism business and celebrate the very best of Cumbria’s vibrant visitor economy. More than 100 entries were whittled down to the shortlist being revealed today, against a backdrop of one of the most challenging periods in the industry’s history.

The finalists now face another round of judging, including a series of mystery shopping visits before the ultimate winners are selected ahead of a VIP awards ceremony at Kendal’s Castle Green Hotel later this summer.

Held in association with United Utilities, the big event on Wednesday 6 July will be hosted by Dave Guest, who spent almost 40 years with the BBC and became one of the most recognisable faces on regional TV.

Dave documented some of the North West’s most memorable moments and won a number of prestigious broadcasting awards including the Royal Television Society’s award for Best Reporter on a Regional Programme.

 

The Cumbria Tourism Awards 2022 finalists are:

Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Award

Sponsored by The Cumberland

  • Anyone Can, Newby Bridge
  • Calvert Lakes, Keswick

 

Ethical, Responsible & Sustainable Tourism Award

Sponsored by Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire

  • Long Valley Yurts, Windermere
  • Muncaster Castle, Gardens and Hawk & Owl Centre
  • Shed 1 Gin, Ulverston

 

Large Hotel of the Year

Sponsored by Christie & Co

  • Armathwaite Hall Hotel and Spa, Bassenthwaite Lake, Keswick
  • Linthwaite House, Windermere
  • Skiddaw Hotel, Keswick

 

Small Hotel of the Year

Sponsored by Colliers

  • Askham Hall
  • Farlam Hall Hotel & Restaurant, Brampton
  • The Yan at Broadrayne, Grasmere

 

B&B and Guest House of the Year

Sponsored by Lamont Pridmore

  • Cedar Manor, Windermere
  • Lockholme Bed and Breakfast, Kirkby Stephen
  • The Sally, Irthington

 

Self-Catering Accommodation of the Year

Sponsored by Out of Eden

  • Dufton Barn Holidays
  • Elmira & Maid of Kent – Ravenglass Railway Camping Coaches
  • Lakes Hostel, Windermere
  • Waterbird Boathouse at Hill of Oaks Park, Windermere

 

Camping, Glamping & Holiday Park of the Year

Sponsored by David Allen

  • Pennine View Park, Kirkby Stephen
  • Park Foot Holiday Park, Ullswater
  • The Quiet Site, Ullswater

 

Small Visitor Attraction of the Year

  • Muncaster Castle, Gardens and Hawk & Owl Centre
  • Wordsworth Grasmere

 

Large Visitor Attraction of the Year

Sponsored by H&H Reeds

  • Treetop Lake District, Brockhole, Windermere
  • Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery, Carlisle
  • Walby Farm Park, Crosby-on-Eden

 

Experience of the Year

Sponsored by Burnetts

  • Graythwaite Adventure
  • Honister Slate Mine
  • Shed 1 Gin, Ulverston
  • Mountain Goat Tours, Windermere

 

Pub of the Year

  • The Black Swan, Ravenstonedale
  • George and Dragon, Clifton
  • Three Shires Inn, Little Langdale
  • The Wheatsheaf, Beetham

Taste of Cumbria Award

Sponsored by Eden District Council

  • Allium at Askham Hall
  • The Cottage in the Wood, Braithwaite
  • The Music Room at Augill Castle, Kirkby Stephen
  • The Yan at Broadrayne, Grasmere

 

Makers and Producers Award

Sponsored by ECO-I North West

  • Aqua Pura, Armathwaite
  • Lakes Ice Cream, Kendal
  • Pure Lakes Skincare, Staveley
  • Shed 1 Gin, Ulverston

 

Wedding Venue of the Year

Sponsored by Dodd & Co

  • Askham Hall & Bank Barn
  • Briery Wood Country House Hotel, Windermere
  • The Coppermines Lakes Cottages, Coniston

 

New Tourism Business Award

Sponsored by Thomson Hayton Winkley

  • Bassenthwaite Lake Station
  • Dandelion & Hoglet Holiday Cottages, Dalston
  • The Green Cumbria, Kirkby Stephen
  • Lakes Laser Tag, Ulverston

 

The Sheila Hensman Unsung Hero Award

  • Michael Wilson, The Guide over Sands Trust
  • Roland Thompson, Honister Slate Mine
  • Joseph Cobb, Lake District Country Hotels, Windermere

To round off the night there will also be a special surprise presentation for the Bernard Gooch Tourism Personality of the Year’. This is the highest award collectively given by the industry for an individual’s lifelong services to tourism.

Many of this year’s winners will also go on to represent the county nationally at the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2023.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “The Cumbria Tourism Awards is all about celebrating our industry and the hardworking businesses who have continued to forge ahead in some of the most challenging circumstances anyone could have ever imagined.

“I’ve been bowled over by the innovation, adaptability and sheer resilience of our incredibly diverse tourism sector spanning the length and breadth of Cumbria. These businesses put high quality customer experiences at the heart of everything they do and it will be a privilege to bring the finalists together this July to mark their achievements. There’s no doubt the judges now have a very tough task on their hands to choose the ultimate winners.”

Event host Dave Guest adds, “I’m delighted to have been invited to host the awards event in July as the county celebrates the very best its tourism sector has to offer. The sector has lived through some extremely difficult times because of the pandemic – but it’s not only survived, it’s come back even stronger.”

Cumbria Tourism is grateful to its sponsors for making the much-awaited return of the competition possible this year, including headline sponsor United Utilities, EWGA Wines and Lawson Design.

Job seekers from across Cumbria will have the chance to speak directly to some of the county’s most innovative and inspiring employers at a special two-day event taking place next week.

Around 75 organisations will be taking part in the large-scale Jobs and Careers Fair taking place on Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 May at the future home of Kendal College’s third campus – the second floor of the Westmorland Shopping Centre.

It’s all being hosted by a partnership of local organisations, including Cumbria Tourism, the Federation of Small Businesses, Inspira, Job Centre Plus, Kendal College and LOCALiQ.

Aimed at all ages and career stages, the event will feature both current job vacancies and opportunities to develop longer-term careers in key industries ranging from tourism and hospitality, to professional services, healthcare and public sector roles.

Alongside recruitment agencies and other support organisations like the Financial Management Bureau, a number of Universities and Further Education institutions from across the North of England will also be on hand to offer advice and inspiration.

That includes not only the University of Cumbria and Lancaster University, but the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), Myerscough College, Edgehill and the University of Sheffield to make just a few.

Chris Gibson, Contract Manager at Inspira comments, “This will be an important event for jobseekers from across the county. Whether you’re looking for a part-time role, searching for a new long-term career or just toying with the idea of a job move in the near future, it’s an opportunity to come face to face with a wide range of businesses and scratch beneath the surface of what’s involved in different industries.

“So often, we have fixed ideas about what it means to work in say, tourism or hospitality – but the reality can be very different. This event is all about opening people’s ideas to the diversity and flexibility of Cumbria’s jobs market and I hope jobseekers from a whole range of backgrounds and circumstances will make the most of it.”

The Holker Group is one of the home-grown businesses taking part. Bev Russell, HR Manager at the Holker Estate says, “The Holker Group has a wide and varied portfolio of business interests and are passionate about the local communities and environments in which we work. Our business includes: Burlington Slate, Cartmel Racecourse, land and property and of course, Holker Hall and Gardens.

“We really do have a vast and varied array of roles, which includes gardeners, ground staff, events mangers, administrators, land agents, mechanical engineers, production and quarry operatives, and let us not forget our supporting services such as IT, HR, finance, and health and safety. This event provides an excellent opportunity for us to showcase the scope of superb roles, that are available on the Estate and around our ever-evolving company.”

Lakeland will be another of the key employers at the event. Kelly Howe, Communications Manager at Lakeland adds, “We’re delighted to be supporting the Jobs and Careers Fair and are looking forward to sharing our employment opportunities with everyone attending. Our team will be on hand to talk about our roles and share what it’s like to work at Lakeland, as well as providing helpful information on how to apply for a role and insight into the application process.

“As a national, multi-channel retailer with our Head Office and Distribution Centre in the heart of the Lake District, there are often exciting opportunities across departments such as marketing, buying, finance, distribution, customer service and retail and we’re looking forward to exploring these in more detail with attendees at the fair.”

The Jobs and Careers Fair will open its doors from 10am to 6pm on Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 May on the second floor of the Westmorland Shopping Centre.

For further information visit: www.kend.ac/jcf22 

One of the UK’s leading Destination Management Organisations, Cumbria Tourism, is on the look-out for three new Non-Executive Directors to help maximise new opportunities for the industry – following an incredibly challenging two years during the pandemic.

Applications are now open for a total of three vacant roles to support Cumbria Tourism – the official voice of the county’s tourism and hospitality sector – and help drive forward the county’s visitor economy.

Established more than 40 years ago, the organisation represents around 2,500 member businesses and is recognised nationally, regionally and locally for the significant role it plays in supporting tourism-related businesses and elevating the county’s world-class visitor destination.

Cumbria Tourism’s new Non-Executive Directors will demonstrate passion and enthusiasm for improving all aspects of Cumbria’s tourism sector, as well as the skills and experience to help spearhead Cumbria Tourism’s ambitious commercial aims as an organisation.

They will reflect the diversity, geography, breadth and focus of Cumbria Tourism’s membership. Specialist knowledge and expertise in one of the following three categories would also be an advantage:

  1. Large tourism operator
  2. Public relations and communications
  3. Small tourism operator

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “To keep the organisation agile and innovative in a fast-changing world, we have a rolling programme of Non-Executive Director appointments and are now looking for applications from experienced and commercially minded professionals who can guide and support both Cumbria Tourism and the wider industry.

“It’s been an incredibly difficult couple of years for the sector and we have many challenges, but also huge opportunities ahead. It’s critical that Cumbria Tourism remains at the top of its game, in order to maintain our market share and support for member businesses.

“The commitment, passion and skills of our private sector Non-Executive Directors will help us to realise our full potential and we are looking forward to applications from like-minded individuals to join us as we champion the county as a leading visitor destination.”

Each newly appointed Non-Executive Director will hold office for a term of five years; they will then retire and be eligible for re-election for a maximum of three terms.

Full details of each vacancy and the application process are available on the Cumbria Tourism website.

The closing date for applications is 9am on 26 May 2022 and the new Board members will take up their roles ahead of Cumbria Tourism’s Annual General Meeting on 16 June.

Cumbria Tourism – the county’s official Destination Management Organisation – says businesses are feeling optimistic about the Easter holidays, marking the start of this year’s main visitor season.

As the official Easter break gets underway, this is the first time the majority of Cumbria’s tourism operators have been open to visitors without restrictions since 2019 – and with so much uncertainty for the last two years, they are looking forward to getting back to business.

Gill Haigh, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, says: “With this being the first normal Easter since 2019 it will be amazing to see visitors supporting our local communities and businesses once again. It’s also a great time to shine the spotlight on some great new places and experiences to discover throughout our county.

“Endless opportunities can be found in all corners of Cumbria. As well as the Lake District World Heritage Site, people can head to the coast and discover more than 120 miles of coastline stretching from the Scottish Borders to Morecambe Bay. Or they can enjoy a peaceful slice of the Yorkshire Dales and the North Pennines in historic market towns like Sedbergh, Kirkby Lonsdale and Kirkby Stephen. To the north, there is Carlisle and beyond to explore over 2000 years of history wrapped in Hadrian’s Wall.

“Of course, Cumbria is increasingly becoming a must visit destination for food lovers too. The combination of locally sourced produce and culinary expertise has made eating out a truly outstanding experience and we’ve got ten Michelin stars to prove it – that’s the most stars outside of London and the South East.”

Cumbria Tourism is also highlighting its recently created Cumbrian Coastal Route (CCR 200), a newly designated 200-mile route exploring the county’s coastal gems specifically for motorhome and campervan owners.

The CCR 200 is split into a series of smaller sections, all do-able in a day, and is part of the ‘Van Life’ section on the region’s official visitor-facing website www.visitlakedistrict.com. This sits alongside a ‘Know before you go’ section and a Code of Conduct for motorhome and campervan owners.

Gill Haigh adds, “There are also plenty of car-free ways to enjoy the views and explore our world-class landscapes from a different perspective. For instance, visitors can take the opportunity to hop on and off regular bus services with a ‘park and explore’ ticket or Lakes Dayrider.  We are encouraging people to walk, cycle or travel by boat and train too – making the journey part of the experience.

“However people choose to get around, my message to visitors is that there is so much to see and do this Easter, try to plan ahead and make this most of this special place while you are here.

News of major rail disruption on the West Coast mainline over the Easter weekend – coupled with continuing strikes on TransPennine Express (TPE) routes – is a double blow for Cumbria’s recovering tourism industry, according to the county’s official Destination Management Organisation.

 

Cumbria Tourism says it is dismayed to hear confirmation that Network Rail will be carrying out significant works on sections of the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Scotland from 15 to 18 April, causing major disruption on what will be the first full Easter break for tourism operators since 2019.

 

Separately, there will also be continuing strike action on TPE routes due to industrial action by the RMT on 16 and 17 April, with a very small number of trains in operation.

 

Chairman of Cumbria Tourism, Jim Walker, says, “Following two years of lockdown over the important Easter period, tourism operators have been gearing up for the start of the visitor season with growing optimism that things are finally beginning to return to normal.

 

“From the perspective of an industry that is trying to bounce back from a tremendously challenging couple of years, it is so disappointing that Network Rail have chosen this key Bank Holiday Weekend to prevent rail travel!

 

“It’s doubly frustrating because we have been seeing growing interest in the Lake District, Cumbria, from staycationers in the South East. Rail travel is an integral part of our sustainable transport offer for these audiences and as the county’s Destination Management Organisation, we have been working hard with partners like Northern, Stagecoach and Avanti to encourage people back onto public transport following the COVID restrictions.

“We also know that rail commuter travel has dropped due to the pandemic and leisure passengers will have an increasingly important role to play in the future. Creating another barrier for potential visitors is a real setback in terms of shaping longer-term behaviours around sustainable transport choices.”

He adds, “The issues on the West Coast mainline are further exacerbated by driver shortages and the continuing disruption we’re already seeing on the TransPennine Express network. We hope this dispute can be resolved quickly to limit further disruption.”

 

Tourism businesses from across Cumbria have met with the Executive Director of Government Communications, Alex Aiken, at one of the county’s leading visitor attractions to highlight some of the key challenges and opportunities for the visitor economy.

The discussions at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery were coordinated by Cumbria Tourism in its role as the county’s Destination Management Organisation.

Mr Aiken was in Cumbria on a wider two-day visit to look at the impact of Covid-19, and economic recovery, and how the Government’s Levelling up white paper can support the area.

Cumbria Tourism’s Managing Director Gill Haigh led the meeting, which brought together businesses representing different parts of the tourism sector and county, alongside public sector partners including Cumbria County Council, Carlisle City Council and the Lake District National Park.

She said: “The impact of COVID-19 had a catastrophic impact for the county’s tourism industry in 2020, wiping £2billion off the value of our visitor economy.  Whilst Government support has been hugely welcomed, significant challenges remain – not least around recruitment, which is now potentially holding back future growth. Combined with rising costs and supply issues, many tourism and hospitality businesses continue to struggle.

 “At the same time, there is also huge opportunity. Looking ahead, there is the chance to capitalise on the new ‘staycation’ experience, convert the ‘new’ visitors we have attracted over the past 18 months into repeat custom and increase short breaks out of season. Supporting the return of international visitors also bring new possibilities.  

 “Now is the time to seize the moment, invest and really take tourism seriously as an economic driver for the UK. I know all the businesses involved in the meeting have really valued the opportunity to highlight both the challenges and the opportunities ahead directly to a government official – and in the year we celebrate 1900 years of Hadrian’s Wall, Carlisle was a fantastic place to showcase some of the county’s very finest tourism assets.”

 Alex Aiken added: “I was really excited to return to Cumbria after a gap caused by the Covid pandemic. I was last on holiday in Silloth in 2019. I also visited the area in the aftermath of the floods in 2016.

“It was fantastic to meet people working on the front line of public service and at the sharp end of getting tourists to Cumbria. It’s an appropriate time to visit as we come out of the pandemic and in the week that the Government published its levelling up white paper.”

Director at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Andrew Mackay, is also a member of Cumbria LEP’s (Local Enterprise Partnership) Tourism & Visitor Economy sub-committee.

He added: “We are delighted that Alex visited us in Carlisle – we are pleased that our county has a voice with government and is being given space to talk about important issues affecting our local economy. We are looking forward to working together to support Cumbria’s growth.”