Hopes for tourism boost as Cumbrian village now boasts TWO World Heritage Sites

Something special has just happened to the Lake District’s only coastal village… It’s now part of TWO World Heritage sites and tourism businesses are hoping this unique claim to fame will entice new visitors to explore this hidden gem on Cumbria’s west coast.

With both the Hadrian’s Wall and Lake District World Heritage sites, Ravenglass is now officially part of two globally recognised areas of cultural importance and local businesses say the Western Lake District more than deserves this double accolade.

The village was previously best known as the home of the award-winning Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, which winds through seven miles of spectacular scenery to the foot of England’s highest mountains. Other key attractions include the newly opened Ravenglass Railway Museum, the majestic Muncaster Castle and with its amazing Hawk & Owl Centre and breath-taking views of the Lake District mountains and Drigg Dunes Nature Reserve, which is home to various rare and endangered species of plants and animals including a thriving colony of natterjack toads.

But the history of Ravenglass actually spans back to the 2nd Century Romans. Evidence of this is Ravenglass Roman Bath House. Established AD130, its remains are among the tallest Roman structures surviving – the walls stand almost four metres high. It is thought the fort guarded the harbour, and there is evidence that soldiers stationed here served in Hadrian’s fleet. So it’s the perfect way to start exploring the Frontiers of the Roman Empire.

Cumbria Tourism Chairman, Eric Robson, says: “For one county, let alone one village to have two World Heritage Sites is fantastic. I hope the inscription of the Lake District opens more opportunities for people to experience Ravenglass and Cumbria’s west coast.

“The draw of Hadrian’s Wall already attracts thousands of visitors to the county, so this additional boost can only reinforce Cumbria’s strong reputation as a world class visitor destination, and we hope it encourages more people to extend their visits and discover this largely undiscovered gem.”

Ravenglass Railway Museum Project Manager, David Rounce, says, “We’re all very proud of the Ravenglass area and its many attractions and are delighted that we’ve been recognised in this unique way. Tourism forms a vital part of the local economy and we’re confident that being part of two world heritage sites will bring new and returning visitors to the area and provide a welcome boost to local businesses”.

For more information about visiting Ravenglass and Cumbria’s west coast, or to book your stay visit www.golakes.co.uk


Notes to Editors:

Images: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/evukmwwt2bn5vhk/AADpqc3yWgzZc0wShHDpJtoea?dl=0

Please contact pressoffice@cumbriatourism.org / 01539 825019 for:
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The Frontiers of the Roman Empire: The cultural significance of Hadrian’s Wall was recognised in 1987 by UNESCO, and in 2005 became part of a much larger, much more ambitious, ‘transnational’ World Heritage Site as the German Limes were added, followed by the Antonine Wall in 2008, to create the Frontiers of the Roman Empire (FRE).
The English Lake District: The Lake District’s bid for World Heritage status was put together by the 25 partners that make up the Lake District National Park Partnership. Inscription is in the ‘Cultural Landscape’ category and was granted by UNESCO on Sunday 9th July 2017 in Krakow, Poland.

Cumbria Tourism Logo

Cumbria Tourism is welcoming today’s news that The Department for Transport is to invest in upgrades to the county’s railway infrastructure, as a major step forward for our £2.72 billion visitor economy.

Today, Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport announced further funding to railway infrastructure within Cumbria. In a letter from Lilian Greenwood MP, Chair of the Transport Select Committee, it was announced that from May 2018, passengers to the Lake District will benefit from double the number of direct services to Manchester Airport.

From 2019, Northern Rail intend to introduce brand new trains with more seats and better on-board facilities including air conditioning, toilets, free wi-fi and plug sockets. It will work to explore the deployment of alternative-fuel trains on the route by 2021, improving comfort and on-board facilities for passengers while protecting the sensitive environment of the newly designated Lake District World Heritage Site.

Jim Walker, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism says:
“We’re delighted to hear the Government are investing in the Lakes Line from Oxenholme to Windermere. In recent years the service from Windermere to Manchester Airport has decreased so it’s a very welcome move from Northern and the Government to improve the number of services and the quality of the rolling stock. Cumbria is a world class destination and offers world class facilities to its residents and visitors, so it’s only right that our transport infrastructure should be equally as good. Cumbria Tourism is firmly behind the development of new sustainable travel solutions, to help create greener ways for visitors to enjoy our epic and diverse landscape.”

This package of investment is a part of the Government’s Great North Rail Project, which aims to deliver more frequent trains and new direct services on the West Coast Main Line, with faster journeys and increased frequency into and through Manchester from across the North West. It is hoped the project will improve services for visitors while boosting access to jobs and new opportunities, growing the Northern Powerhouse by improving connections between the Lake District and the Manchester Airport international gateway.


Cumbria Tourism has confirmed Gill Haigh as its new Managing Director.

Currently Director of Marketing and Recruitment at the University of Cumbria, Gill has a 25 year career as a marketing and communications professional and she is a highly experienced, innovative and motivational leader.

Gill brings with her substantial experience across both the private and public sectors, including travel and tourism. Throughout her career she has worked closely with a wide range of Cumbrian partners in various roles supporting economic investment.

Previous jobs include a senior local government position, heading up destination marketing and tourism services for Lancaster City Council. She also spent four years as North West Public Relations Manager for the National Farmers’ Union, having begun her career as a journalist.

Gill says, I am extremely proud to have been appointed as Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, representing a county and sector I have such a strong affinity with.

“Cumbria is a world class visitor destination, and with a second World Heritage site just confirmed for the county, we are entering an exciting new phase that will bring with it enormous benefits for the visitor economy.

“I very much look forward to bringing my experience, enthusiasm and drive to work with the team, the board, members and partners to ensure that together we are in the strongest position to build on and benefit from the great achievements already made and the many opportunities ahead.”

Gill lives near Kirkby Lonsdale with her husband and two children. Together they share a passion for the county where they spend much of their leisure time relaxing and actively enjoying the wide variety of experiences it has to offer.

Gill is due to take up her new position at Cumbria Tourism in September.  In the meantime, Interim Managing Director Jim Walker will continue to head up the team at Cumbria Tourism’s offices in Staveley, near Kendal, following Ian Stephens’ departure earlier this month, after almost 25 years at the helm.



Notes to Editors:

For more information, please contact Cumbria Tourism Press Office on: 01539 822222 or email pressoffice@cumbriatourism.org

Cumbria Tourism is the county’s official destination marketing organisation and is at the heart of the Cumbria Visitor Economy. It is also the largest membership organisation in Cumbria with more than 2,400 members. In 2016, more than 45 million people visited Cumbria, contributing more than £2.72 billion to the local economy and supporting around 63,000 jobs.

For more information about visiting the Lake District, Cumbria, visit: www.golakes.co.uk

To find out more about the work of Cumbria Tourism, visit www.cumbriatourism.org


Lake District unveiled as a World Heritage Site

The Lake District has become a World Heritage Site joining iconic locations as the Taj Mahal, the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon as an internationally acclaimed place.

The announcement in Krakow has led to jubilation among 25 organisations in the Lake District National Park Partnership, including Cumbria Tourism, which had put the bid together for UNESCO recognition in the cultural landscape category.

Chairman of the Partnership, Lord Clark of Windermere, described the prestigious status as momentous and bringing great benefits for locals, visitors, tourism, business and farming. It now joins just over 1,000 global World Heritage locations.

Three key themes underpinned the bid for this status, or inscription, recognising the Lake District National Park as a cultural landscape of international significance. World ranking examples of identity – the dramatic farmed landscape; inspiration – art, literature and love of the place; sparked the birth of conservation – people fought and invested to look after this special corner of England.

Chairman of Cumbria Tourism, Eric Robson, says: “World Heritage status means that the Lake District becomes one of just over a thousand exclusive sites with this special stamp of recognition. Being a member of this exclusive club is a fantastic opportunity to communicate with new visitor markets across the globe and to raise awareness of the Lake District’s cultural and environmental assets.

Of course, Cumbria already has a large part of the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site, so this additional boost can only re-inforce the county’s already strong reputation as a world class visitor destination.”


Jim Walker has today, Monday 3 July 2017, started work as temporary Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism.

Jim is well known throughout Cumbria; he was formerly CEO of Lake District Estates for 13 years and was also previously Head of Tourism Services at South Lakeland District Council.

He is currently Director and Chair of Rydal Hall in Ambleside, and Chair of Eden Tourism Network.

He says, “I am passionate about the future of Cumbria Tourism and believe it is ideally placed to support the visitor economy in the county. I’m looking forward to working in this temporary role to help guide the organisation over the next few months, ensuring that CT continues to respond to the needs of the industry and seizes any opportunities to lead Cumbria’s tourism sector into an even stronger position.”

Jim will serve for a three month period whilst Cumbria Tourism confirms the appointment of a full-time permanent MD. Jim and his family live in Appleby in the Eden Valley and will operate from Cumbria Tourism’s offices in Staveley, near Kendal.

Cumbria Tourism Awards 2017

Cumbria Tourism – the official destination marketing organisation for the county’s £2.72 billion tourism industry – has revealed the winners of the 15th Cumbria Tourism Awards at a prestigious black tie award ceremony held at Cartmel Racecourse.

The evening celebrated the very best of Cumbria’s tourism industry with hundreds of tourism professionals representing businesses from around the county.

Winners were announced by Cally Beaton, a woman of many talents, including comedian, Viacom International Senior Vice-President, founder of Road Trip Media, executive coach and single parent to two teenagers

The Cumbria Tourism Awards celebrate the huge range and diversity of Cumbria’s tourism industry and are open to a whole range of tourism related businesses including; hotels, B&Bs, holiday parks, pubs, visitor attractions, events, businesses and tourism staff, which make up the county’s successful tourism industry.

Most of the winners from the awards will go on to represent the county at the Visit England Awards for Excellence in 2018.

Each category winner received a certificate and a specially commissioned award handcrafted by award-winning architectural and sculptural metalworkers Chris Brammall Ltd in Ulverston.

This year, in addition to the awards, the 2017 Bernard Gooch Tourism Personality of the Year Award was awarded to Ian Stephens, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, for the outstanding personal contribution he has made to Tourism in Cumbria.

The award presented by Cumbria Tourism’s Executive Committee recognises those who have demonstrated an outstanding contribution to the visitor economy and reputation of The Lake District, Cumbria. Recent previous winners include farmer and author James Rebanks, Paul Loftus, the organiser of the annual Fred Whitton Challenge cycling event the renowned Cumbrian chef Simon Rogan and Nigel Wilkinson, Managing Director of Windermere Lake Cruises.

Ian Stephens, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, said:
“I would like to thank everyone who was involved in making last night such a fantastic success and came together to celebrate Cumbria’s £2.72 billion tourism industry.  The 2017 winners and finalists represent the very best of what Cumbria has to offer and we should all be very proud of the outstanding product we have here in Cumbria. The range of exceptional quality available keeps us firmly on the global map as a world class visitor destination and with World Heritage inscription soon to be unveiled we need to keep up the investment and maximise the new opportunities that are just around the corner. On a personal note, I was pleasantly surprised and honoured to receive the Bernard Gooch award and I’m proud to be recognised by my peers in this way.”

Cumbria Tourism would like to thank their sponsors for making the event possible, they include: Lamont Pridmore, Out of Eden, Colourmedia, Christie & Co, Enterprise Answers, Chris Brammall Ltd, Kendal College, NatWest Commercial Banking, H&H Reeds, Armstrong Watson, Colliers International, University of Cumbria, Burnetts Solicitors, Cumberland Business, Brakes and One Cost, Ambience Venue Styling, Lakeland Chauffeurs, Campbell & Rowley Corporate Catering and Cartmel Racecourse.

The 2017 winners are:

Tourism Experience of the Year 
WINNER: Bay Cycle Way, Morecambe Bay Partnership

Tourism Event of the Year
Sponsored by Colourmedia
WINNER: Go Herdwick Public Art Trail

Wedding Venue of the Year
Sponsored by Brakes & One Cost
WINNER: The Villa Levens
HIGHLY COMMENDED: The Daffodil Hotel and Spa, Grasmere

Taste Cumbria Award
Sponsored by Enterprise Answers
WINNER: Askham Hall, Askham

Tourism Pub of the Year
Sponsored by Christie & Co
WINNER: The Three Shires Inn, Little Langdale

B&B of the Year
Sponsored by Cumberland Business
WINNER: The Malabar, Sedbergh

Guest Accommodation of the Year
Sponsored by Lamont Pridmore
WINNER: Hazel Bank Country House, Borrowdale

Small Hotel of the Year 
Sponsored by Colliers International
WINNER: Cragwood Country House Hotel, Windermere

Large Hotel of the Year
Sponsored by Armstrong Watson
WINNER:  The Swan Hotel & Spa, Newby Bridge

New Tourism Business Award 
WINNER: Cliffhanger Rooms, Newby Bridge
HIGHLY COMMENDED: The Cocoa Bean, Hawkshead

Sheila Hensman Award for Outstanding Contribution to Excellence
WINNER: Mel Ibbotson, Leathes Head Hotel, Borrowdale

Sustainable Tourism Award
Sponsored by University of Cumbria
WINNER: The Quiet Site, Ullswater
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Newlands Adventure Centre, Keswick

Self-Catering Provider of the Year
Sponsored by Out of Eden
WINNER: The Halston, Carlisle

Self-Catering Property of the Year 
WINNER: Hart Barn, Patterdale
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Gate House, Coniston

Visitor Attraction of the Year
Sponsored by H&H Reeds Printers
WINNER: Mirehouse and Gardens, Bassenthwaite

Large Visitor Attraction of the Year
Sponsored by Burnetts
WINNER: Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery, Carlisle

Holiday Park of the Year 
Sponsored by NatWest
WINNER: Skelwith Fold Caravan Park, Ambleside

The Bernard Gooch Award for Tourism Personality of the Year was presented by last year’s recipient of the award Nigel Wilkinson, Managing Director of Windermere Lake Cruises.

For images click HERE

To find out more about the Cumbria Tourism Awards visit www.cumbriatourism.org/awards

Cunbria Tourism 270 x 270

Between 2015 and 2016, there was an overall 5.2% increase in tourist numbers and 4.1% in tourism revenue. This is mainly due to increasing numbers of day trippers over the last 12 months, which were up 6% on 2015. It also reflects the 2016 Visitor Attractions Performance Survey carried out by Cumbria Tourism’s research team, which showed an average 7.2% rise in people visiting tourist attractions across the county.

There is also a longer-term upward trend in overnight stays, which have grown by 1.2 million visits (or 22.3%) since 2013.

The latest tourism stats will be one of the key themes to be discussed at Cumbria Tourism’s upcoming AGM, which takes place on Thursday 15 June 2017 at the Rheged Centre in Penrith.

All of Cumbria Tourism’s 2,500 member businesses are invited to the event, which will also see the unveiling of the seven new private sector Non-Executive Directors to help drive forward the organisation’s commercial aims and ambitions throughout 2017 and beyond.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Ian Stephens, says, “The latest tourism figures are sure to be a key talking point at next month’s AGM. Times are tough, but the evidence suggests that we have a strong and resilient industry, which is continuing to grow year on year.

“The day visitor market is looking particularly positive, but of course, it’s not just about the volume of people. What we want to do is attract more high spending, staying visitors, particularly from expanding overseas markets, and encourage them to explore all corners of our diverse and inspirational county. In this way, we can continue to help drive the local economy through retail, leisure, accommodation, and food and drink.”

Other guest speakers at Cumbria Tourism’s AGM will include Adrian Lochhead, Director of Eden Arts, who will be talking about the new ‘Route 66’ project. Businesses will also hear from Graham Haywood, Managing Director of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). He will be focusing on the county’s Growth Plan and the potential benefits of the Lake District hopefully being designated as a World Heritage Site this summer.

Cumbria Tourism members can book their place at the AGM by contacting the team on 01539 822222 / info@cumbriatourism.org.

Bridge opening procession for the New Gowan Bridge, Staveley

Cumbria Tourism – the county’s official destination marketing organisation – is welcoming today’s opening of a new bridge to re-connect the Lakeland village of Staveley and welcome back visitors, after it suffered irrepairable damage during Storm Desmond.

The construction of the replacement bridge in Staveley, near Kendal, comes as a massive relief to those tourism businesses which have suffered a downturn in business due to a reduction in traffic and passing trade.

The bridge re-opening has been heralded by the local community with celebrations under the theme of ‘500 ways to cross the bridge’. Today’s procession included residents in fancy dress led by Staveley’s oldest resident, 98-year-old Charles Partridge, who has lived in the village for the past 62 years.

Ian Stephens, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, says, “The opening of this new bridge in Staveley gives local residents and businesses alike a renewed sense of optimism as we go forward into the summer holiday season. I am very proud of the continued resilience and determination of the local community to bring Staveley back to full strength and show visitors everything that this vibrant Lakeland village has to offer.”

Cumbria County Council has invested approximately £500,000 in the Staveley bridge replacement project, which forms part of the county council’s overall £120m infrastructure recovery programme to repair damage caused during the 2015 winter floods. A total of £45 million is being invested in 2016/17 to repair more than 350 roads and bridges, including Gowan Old Bridge in Staveley.

King Arthur in Cumbria

Due for release this week, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is an upcoming epic adventure film retelling the story of the famous legend. Directed by Guy Ritchie, the cast includes Charlie Hunnam, Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey and Jude Law.

And with Arthur Pendragon himself (Hunnam) living and learning in Cumbria as a child, GoLakes explains why there may be more connection between the legendary myth and Cumbria than you think …

1. King Arthur’s Round Table

One of the most famed aspects of the Legend of King Arthur, the Round Table would have stood in various locations around the country as and when his parliament of knights needed to gather. But an earthworks at Eamont Bridge, near Penrith has been aptly-named ‘King Arthur’s Round Table’. The site is a natural amphitheatre and would have been ideal for the knights coming together. It is also thought that fifty champions of the realm met there to joust for the hand of King Arthur’s daughter, Gwyneth.

2. Excalibur in the Lake

The story goes that when King Arthur was on his death bed he asked one of his knights to return the legendary sword, Excalibur to the lake it originally came from, Bassenthwaite. Bedivere, the night in question fulfilled Arthur’s wishes before the King asked to be taken to Avalon. In Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poetry he describes King Arthur’s final journey and the return of the sword to the water. (He wrote about the lake when staying at Mirehouse, overlooking Bassenthwaite.)

3. Camelot

Camelot was King Arthur’s base. Although historians are sceptical about the existence of a real King Arthur, it has been suggested that the city of Carlisle would be the place most likely for the king to base his headquarters. Other Cumbrian locations have also been proposed, including along the Solway Firth and a once contested area along the Borders, now known as Longtown.

4. Avalon

Some versions of the King Arthur legend say that he didn’t actually die, only that he went into an extended hibernation. A gathering of Arthur’s loyal knights are supposed to have taken the fatally wounded king to Avalon and after returning the sword of Excalibur to Bassenthwaite. The representation of Avalon is thought to be Blencathra, a mountain only 12 miles from the lake.

5. Pendragon Castle

South of Kirkby Stephen lies the ruins of the puzzling Castle of Pendragon. The myths say that it was originally built by Uther Pendragon, the father of King Arthur. Pendragon supposedly tried to divert the waters of the nearby River Eden to form a moat, but neither his engineering nor the magic of the wizard Merlin could persuade the river to alter its course. Uther is said to have died in the castle, when Saxon soldiers poisoned the water in his well.

6. Birdoswald and Hadrian’s Wall

By 410AD, the Roman grip on Britain was slipping and many of the Empire’s solders were being withdrawn. The legend of King Arthur claims that a young Arthur trained in a warrior school on the Roman Wall, so it is quite likely that this would have been at one of the forts along Hadrian’s Wall in the north of Cumbria.
At the other end of Arthur’s endeavours, his last battle was at Vamlann, also known as Camboglanna. This is thought to be the old Roman name for Birdoswald. Now the longest surviving stretch of Hadrian’s Wall, Birdoswald could quite possibly be the location of Arthur’s last battle as King.

7. Aira Force

The waterfall along the shore of Ullswater, Aira Force was home to Sir Eglamore, a noble Knight of the Round Table. He lived near Aira Force with his beloved Emma. There is a love story, immortalised in William Wordsworth’s The Somnabulist, which Emma missed her knight so much as he was away fighting in the Crusades that she could not sleep. One night she was sleep walking by the falls dressed in white. Sir Eglamore thought what he saw was a phantom. When he realised it was Emma, he called out to her but he startled her and she fell to her death. He was so heartbroken he lived out his days as hermit under the falls of Aira Force.

… But the myths and legends across Cumbria don’t end with just King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.

8. Long Meg and her Daughters

Long Meg Standing Stone is said to be a witch, a dancing girl, an earth mother and even a seductress. The unaccountable circle of stones around her are thought to be her victims, her daughters, her lovers or the other girls from nearby Little Salkeld, near Lazonby. The 68 stones make Long Meg and her Daughters one of the largest prehistoric stone circles in the UK.

9. The Witch of Tebay

There are many tales of witches around the old county of Westmorland, but none more famous than Mary Bynes: The Witch of Tebay. She apparently predicted the arrival of the railway and was blamed for every accident in the village. Her lingering influence is thought to be the reason why the village displays an array of ‘witch stones’ – shaped and holed pieces of limestone which were believed to protect homes and families from witches when set on top of a garden wall.

10. The Pagan God Loki

After being undiscovered and used as a building stone for many years in Kirkby Stephen Parish Church you can now find the Loki stone on display, one of only two examples surviving in Europe. Loki was a Norse God and presumably brought to the region by Viking settlers. The carving of Loki shows a figure resembling the devil with sheep’s horns, whose legs and arms are bound by heavy irons, an image symbolic of the overpowering of Paganism by Christian beliefs.

To find out more about visiting these landmarks around Cumbria please visit www.golakes.co.uk or join Lakes and Legends, a brand new tour, as you discover the history of the Romans, Vikings and magical myths of Cumbria guided by either Eric Bloodaxe, Merlin or King Arthur himself.