Our research has found more and more people are visiting quirky-Cumbria for a camping holiday with an unusual twist, by choosing accommodation that breaks from the ‘norm’ of more traditional holiday accommodation like hotels, caravans and tents.

In 2018, Cumbria has more unusual places to stay than ever before. As the popularity of glamping continues to grow, there’s been a surge of interest by holidaymakers who want to swap their hotel for a yurt, or their tent for a glamping pod.

According to our research team, over the last 12 months there has been a 25% rise in alternative camping provision across the county – with facilities on existing sites being developed to adapt to changing trends, as well as new sites being opened.

Whether it’s sleeping under the stars and waking up to views of Skiddaw from a shepherd’s hut at Lanefoot Farm at Keswick or living like a hobbit in an underground hideaway at ‘The Quiet Site’ at Ullswater, there’s no doubt that the experience on offer in Cumbria is more varied than ever before. Keswick’s Inside Out Camping offers campers the luxury of a 16ft yurt in the Borrowdale Valley, or why not snuggle down in a heated and sheep-wool insulated pod at Windermere’s Park Cliffe Camping Pods? If that’s not enough, try Wallace Lane Farm at Caldbeck; where its 21 square-metre glamping cabins offer spectacular views over the Solway and Scottish mountains.

This year’s heatwave – 42 years in the making – has resulted in increased interest in the county’s camp & ‘glamp’ sites by those who fancied giving shepherd’s huts, camping barns and bunkhouses a try.

The findings come as no surprise according to our Vice Chairman, Jim Walker, who says, “Our visitors more and more are looking to really experience the countryside in comfort and the creative options now available like glamping can provide precisely this. Many offer a unique experience which provide a great talking point and a really enjoyable and different closer to nature break.”

‘The Quiet Site’ at Ullswater recently won the title of Holiday Park of the Year at the 2018 Cumbria Tourism Awards for its more unusual accommodation offering. Owner, Daniel Holder says, “The holiday park industry is rightfully continuing to reinvent itself and has to do that to make sure it stays at the cutting edge of the tourism industry. The British tourism industry as a whole nationally employs 3.1 million people and contributes £127 billion to the UK economy. We’ve built the success of our holiday park around being as close to the natural environment as you can get. The connections we make with ourselves, others and the surrounding environment improve massively when we really get to feel like we’re ‘at one’ with nature.”

For those who are curious – but not quite ready to leave their traditional tent or caravan behind – our research shows there’s still plenty of space for them too, with 176 sites across the county offering camping or touring caravan spaces. That works out at just under 10,000 pitches altogether.

Touring caravan and camping pitch occupancy in 2017 was the highest in Cumbria on record, up around 8% on 2016. Researchers also say 2018 may exceed that figure.

For those visitors ready to try something different and who are looking for somewhere unique to stay in Cumbria – with no tent-erecting experience required, check out www.golakes.co.uk for some inspiration.

Five exceptional properties in Cumbria receive the highly sought after ‘Superior Quality’ status by assessors from Cumbria Tourism’s Quality Cumbria (QC) accreditation scheme.

The Superior Quality mark rewards the ‘best of the best’, with the independent Quality Cumbria assessors examining four additional areas above the normal standard including; the overall product, information available to the consumer, the distinctiveness of the property and level of service. Those businesses who make the grade really do go the extra mile for their customers.


There are currently 14 properties in Cumbria that have attained Superior status including the five new ones that achieve the accolade for the first time this year. Following a major redevelopment project on the site of the former Lonsdale cinema in Carlisle, The Halston Townhouses receive ‘Superior Status’, joining their sister property The Halston Aparthotel, which was the first property in Carlisle to receive the ‘Superior Quality’ status in 2017.

The Sally, at Irthington has the honour of further raising the bar for accommodation in the Carlisle area. A former Victorian coaching inn, The Sally has recently been transformed into a modern, warm, friendly contemporary establishment, with tasty food and five stylish rooms. The Queens Head Hotel, Troutbeck reopened in April 2017 after a £2 million refurbishment, and offers a modern twist on a traditional Lakeland Inn.  The Westwood – The B&B with a view, Cockermouth, offers wonderful, panoramic views to Lake District mountains, near to Solway Firth and Coastline. Whitbarrow Farmhouse Apartments, Penrith offer superb luxury self-catering in a converted farmhouse and feature hot tubs outside and an idyllic setting on the Eastern edge of the Lake District.

All these properties excelled against the assessment criteria with Gaynor Anderson at Quality Cumbria commenting: “The Superior Quality award was introduced in 2014 as a benchmark for Cumbrian accommodation providers, to recognise the hard work they are doing to drive up quality and provide an outstanding experience for visitors. We’re delighted that these businesses have chosen to work with Quality Cumbria and we’re looking forward to seeing other properties attaining this special accreditation.”

Co-owner of The Halston Aparthotel & Townhouses Dominque Harrison says, “We are delighted to receive the superior grading for our six new townhouse apartments, they are a continuation of the quality guests have come to expect from The Halston, as well as an opportunity for more businesses and visitors coming to Carlisle to have a luxury experience. They offer home from home comfort and effortless style for guests staying one night, a week or a month.”

As excitement builds among thousands of local children ahead of their annual six-week summer break, families across Cumbria and parts of North Lancashire are being invited to make savings on unforgettable days out by picking up a ‘MyCumbria’ residents card, which offers discounts at a wide range of local attractions.

Here in the UK’s capital of adventure, a fun day out is never far away; and the same can be said about our special offers to keep your youngsters entertained. From Segway treks to waterfall climbing adventures and paintballing, the UK’s capital of adventure will again be #theplacetobe before youngsters go back to school in September.

“There’s nothing quite like the sight of a family enjoying what Cumbria has to offer”, says Sam Tollerson, who oversees the card scheme at Cumbria Tourism. “Not only do we offer great adventures and activities, but it also means Mums and Dads have the chance to sit back and relax while their children explore and have fun.

“As well as our many outdoor activities, the ‘MyCumbria’ card also offers discounts on countless indoor attractions to enjoy that the children will love too, from The World of Beatrix Potter to local cinemas right across the county.”

Special offers for holders of the ‘MyCumbria’ card include a 20% saving for a family of four at Brockhole’s Treetop Trek, discounts of between 10% and 15% on food at many of the county’s pubs and restaurants – including a 2 for 1 offer for afternoon tea at Broadoaks Country House in Windermere; and buy one get one free ticket offers at participating cinemas in Keswick, Bowness-on-Windermere, Whitehaven, Workington and Ulverston. Entry discounts to attractions also include 50% off at the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway.

“We hope families will enjoy visiting their favourite attractions with the ‘MyCumbria’ card, but also explore places they may not have been before”, Sam said. “Not only do we have this internationally recognised national park, but more than 100 miles of glorious coastline to explore too; where offers include things like a discount at the famous Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway for example.

“We’ve always said Cumbria is both the perfect destination for a relaxing day out while being a great adventure hub at the same time, so whatever your family’s age-range, we’ve got it all covered here!

“’Mum, Dad, I’m bored!’ are the words parents dread to hear at this time of year, but we’re well-placed to keep your little ones entertained throughout July, August and September”, Sam added.

Hundreds of offers are listed at mycumbriacard.co.uk, where everything is broken down by category, including ‘Things to Do’, ‘Shopping’ and ‘Food & Drink’.

Residents who live in a CA or LA postcode are eligible to join Cumbria Tourism’s ‘MyCumbria’ discount card scheme which offers discounts at hundreds of participating businesses and attractions across the county. Full details are online at www.mycumbriacard.co.uk.

Phil Rigby’s Portrait of Cumbria has been announced as the 34th Hunter Davies Lakeland Book of the Year – one of the most prestigious literary awards outside London – at a star-studded literary luncheon at the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal today (Tuesday 10th July 2018).

Photographer Phil, whose book was chosen from almost 50 entries, was celebrated as the overall victor alongside five other category winners at a charity event in support of St Mary’s Hospice, Ulverston.

The judges, author and columnist Hunter Davies OBE, broadcaster and Cumbria Tourism Chairman Eric Robson and BBC newscaster and author Fiona Armstrong, entertained 150 attendees as they discussed the finalists before celebrating the winners.

Following the announcement, Phil Rigby said, “I am thrilled and delighted to win this year’s Lakeland Book of the Year Award. The book wouldn’t have come about without the amazing team at Cumbria Life Magazine, who each month discover new characters and places in Cumbria for me to photograph.”

Gill Haigh, Cumbria Tourism MD, added: “I am very proud of our continuing support for the Lakeland Book of the Year, an annual highlight in Cumbria’s events calendar. For me, the Lake District Book of the Year Awards underline just why our county continues to inspire millions of visitors each year, to enjoy the stunning landscape which inspired the Lakeland greats of Wordsworth, Coleridge and so many more, and continues to do so to this day. I feel excited too about the potential there is to link into many other outstanding events across Cumbria and in turn to help share the high-quality writing with the greatest possible audience.“


The Hunter Davies Lakeland Book of the Year 2018

Portrait of Cumbria by Phil Rigby


The Zeffirellis Prize for People and Business

The Thunder of Guns by Alan Michael Whitworth


The Striding Edge Prize for Guides and Places

The Yards of Kendal by Trevor Hughes and Arthur Nicholls


The Bill Rollinson Prize for Landscape and Tradition

The Story of Lowther by Charlotte Fairbairn


The Latitude Press Prize for Illustration and Presentation

Portrait of Cumbria by Phil Rigby


The Bookends Prize for Art and Literature

The Blackbird Diaries by Karen Lloyd


Cumbria Tourism provides administration and PR support to the Lakeland Book of the Year, which is organised by a team of external organisers and judges.

The much-appreciated partnership with James Cropper plc, based in Kendal, continued for this year’s awards. The association is particularly appropriate, as virtually all hard-backed books published in the UK are bound using paper produced by James Cropper here in Cumbria. In addition to financial assistance, James Cropper provided professional advice and, of course, all printed material required for the event was produced on their paper.

A discount card scheme, exclusively for those who live and work in Cumbria, could see thousands of pounds raised for St Mary’s Hospice in Ulverston.

Our ‘MyCumbria’ card already offers residents the chance to enjoy some of the county’s best attractions at a reduced cost, but now all cards purchased directly from St Mary’s will help to raise vital funds for the hospice’s work.

The ‘MyCumbria’ discount card is packed with offers on attractions, shopping and food & drink, exclusive to people who live in the county – meaning they can take advantage of great offers on their doorstep.

Each card is a one-off price of £20 per year – with 25% from every card sold at St Mary’s Hospice from this week going directly to enable their staff to continue their work to provide palliative care to its residents.

To put that in perspective, if every Ulverston resident bought a ‘MyCumbria’ card from St Mary’s Hospice itself, it would result in a funding boost of more than £58,000 for the charity!

Every hour of patient care at St Mary’s Hospice costs £19, which means proceeds from the sale of just four ‘MyCumbria’ cards would more than cover that cost.

Taking a look at the bigger picture, St Mary’s Hospice also relies on £2m of supporters’ money every year to keep the service up and running.

Sam Tollerson, who oversees the card scheme at Cumbria Tourism, says, “Most people have a discount card of some kind buried in their wallets or purses, usually for a specific shop or attraction, but the ‘MyCumbria’ card covers so many different things.

“It means plenty of discounts throughout the year – and encourages people who live here to take advantage of all the great things to see and do right on their doorstep in this county we’re fortunate enough to call home. Not only that, but by buying a card directly from St Mary’s Hospice, you’ll also know that you’re helping a cause close to all our hearts.

Caroline Welch, St Mary’s Hospice Head of Retail, says, “We are proud that all St Mary’s services are free to support our patients and their families. However, our services are not free to provide and that’s where we rely on the generosity of our local community.

“Through benefiting from the MyCumbria Card scheme, the 25% donation St Mary’s will receive enables us to continue to be there when patients and their loved ones need us most. To give you an idea £1 covers the average cost of a Hospice at Home visit, and £4 a delicious breakfast on our Inpatient Unit. So every card purchased through the St Mary’s link will be converted into care.”

You can buy a ‘MyCumbria’ card via the St Mary’s Hospice website, here.

Cumbrians who buy a card from St Mary’s Hospice can enjoy discounts on a range of activities and attractions in and around the town. The full list is online at mycumbriacard.co.uk

Just ahead of the first anniversary of the Lake District attaining World Heritage status, Tourism Minister Michael Ellis has confirmed exciting plans for Cumbria Tourism to lead a major project to help attract international visitors to World Heritage Sites across the North of England.

The ‘Northern World Heritage Collection’ is one of a select number of successful projects to receive funding from the UK Government’s £40 million Discover England Fund, which is administered by VisitEngland and aims to ensure England stays competitive in the rapidly growing global tourism industry.

The new £250,000 project will tell the story of England’s culture and heritage through the North’s outstanding UNESCO World Heritage Sites and will enable Cumbrian businesses to better target both groups and independent travellers from the USA and Ireland.

Cumbria Tourism plans to work with Northern World Heritage sites such as Liverpool and Durham, surrounding businesses and other tourism bodies over the next 9 months to help maximise a joint approach to attracting and welcoming these two key markets.

Activities will include business and itinerary development, a programme of training and trade shows, alongside marketing, online content, film and PR.  It will also include working alongside tour operators and agents to help visitors book their trips to multiple World Heritage sites across the north quickly and easily.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “World Heritage status has huge resonance with overseas markets and it’s been shown that many international visitors treat World Heritage Sites as ‘must dos’ as they travel around the globe. It’s great timing with the imminent opening of Carlisle Lake District Airport, as well as new routes coming into Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.

 “We are proud that Cumbria Tourism has been chosen to bring together key sites from across the North to work more collaboratively and help attract higher-spending international visitors who want to tick these prestigious locations off the list. With two World Heritage Sites in the county, we feel we are perfectly placed to up the ante both for Cumbria and our Northern neighbours on the global stage.”

VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe, says, “The calibre of submissions reflects the innovation in product development thriving across the country’s tourism landscape. The successful projects will boost international and domestic visitor growth creating a step-change in the industry and spreading the economic benefits of tourism across England. The ‘Northern World Heritage Collection’ will attract a higher quantity of international visitors, stimulating sustainable growth around World Heritage sites in the North of England. This opens up the potential to extend the visitor season and encourage more people to stay longer.”

 Work will be getting underway on the ‘Northern World Heritage Collection’ this month, with Cumbria Tourism announcing how business can get involved in the coming weeks.

News that Cumbria Tourism’s calls for a national marketing campaign to restore confidence in the Lakes Line have won Government support are being welcomed across the county.

As the official Destination Management Organisation for Cumbria, we have been calling on the Transport Minister to take urgent action to resolve the ongoing issues with Northern train services.

During a conversation with Transport Minister Jo Johnson this week, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism Gill Haigh stressed the impact that the long-term disruption – and recent cancellation of all Northern services – is having on the county’s £2.9billion tourism industry. She also highlighted the critical need for the return of a long-term, reliable and quality service, backed by funding for a nationwide marketing campaign to help restore visitor confidence.

The discussion comes ahead of a Parliamentary Rail Summit at the Houses of Parliament early next month, including Mr Johnson and the Managing Director of Northern David Brown. Gill Haigh has been invited to attend, alongside Northern MPs and key businesses leaders.

As part of the lobbying process around performance levels on the Lakes Line and elsewhere in the county, Cumbria Tourism has also been involved with a number of national TV interviews in recent days, including BBC Breakfast and ITV News.

This activity builds on national lobbying work Cumbria Tourism has been undertaking over many months, working with partners such as Cumbria’s Local Enterprise Partnership and the county’s MPs and politicians. Sustainable transport options are vital for supporting our 47million annual visitors and the wider £2.9billion tourism industry.

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “We appreciate Jo Johnson taking the time to make contact and discuss the ongoing issues and latest position regarding Northern and in particular, the issues on the Lakes Line. Tourism businesses have invested heavily to create world-class visitor experiences and the Lakes Line – alongside other public transport services to and within county – is critical in providing an effective and sustainable way to increase the reach of the Lake District and wider county.

“The issues with Northern’s management of the franchise have been deteriorating for months and have now led to this unacceptable position where the service has been cancelled and, worse still, the initial two-week closure now looks set to continue until the end of July – the worst possible time for the tourism sector.

She adds, “While we are pleased to see a return of a shuttle train service provided by West Coast Railways, it was made clear – and Mr Johnson was supportive – that full services must be returned as soon as possible. It is now imperative that we quickly get a fully timetabled and reliable, quality service and confirm the extent of this funding, so we can ensure an impactful campaign is ‘live and ready’ to launch alongside the resumption of the normal timetabled services next month.”

More than 400 guests spanning Cumbria’s £2.9billion tourism industry came together in an evening of celebration, on Wednesday 20 June, to honour high-achieving tourism businesses over the past 12 months.

Winners in the main 18 categories were presented with their awards at Cartmel Racecourse, with event host  Alan ‘Deadly’ Dedicoat – best-known as the National Lottery’s ‘Voice of the Balls’ – presiding over the annual ‘Oscars’ of the county’s tourism sector.

The Cumbria Tourism Awards 2018 winners were:

 Large Hotel of the Year (35+ rooms) – Sponsored by Armstrong Watson

  • WINNER: North Lakes Hotel & Spa, Penrith
  • HIGHLY COMMENDED: Armathwaite Hall, Bassenthwaite


Small Hotel of the Year Sponsored by Colliers International

  • WINNER: Rothay Garden Hotel, Grasmere


Boutique Guest Accommodation of the Year – Sponsored by Lamont Pridmore

  • WINNER: Lindeth Fell Country House, Windermere


Bed and Breakfast of the Year – Sponsored by Cumberland Business

  • WINNER: Raise View, Grasmere


Self-Catering Holiday Provider of the Year – Sponsored by Out of Eden

  • WINNER: Iconic collection Whitbarrow Village, near Penrith


Self-Catering Holiday Property of the Year

  • WINNER: Heart of the Lakes – Bristowe Hill, Keswick
  • HIGHLY COMMENDED: Glen Bank, Brampton, near Appleby


Holiday Park of the Year – Sponsored by NatWest Commercial Banking

  • WINNER: The Quiet Site, Ullswater


Visitor Attraction of the Year – Sponsored by H&H Reeds Printers

  • WINNER: Senhouse Roman Museum, Maryport


Large Visitor Attraction of the Year – Sponsored by Burnetts

  • WINNER: Lowther Castle & Gardens


Tourism Pub of the Year – Sponsored by Christie & Co

  • WINNER: Dockray Hall, Penrith


Taste Cumbria – Sponsored by Enterprise Answers

  • WINNER: Merewood Country House Hotel, Windermere
  • HIGHLY COMMENDED: The Castle Dairy, Kendal


Sustainable Tourism Award – Sponsored by Lake District National Park

  • WINNER: Upfront Arts Venue, near Penrith
  • HIGHLY COMMENDED: Cedar Manor Hotel & Restaurant, Windermere
  • HIGHLY COMMENDED: Newlands Adventure Centre


Culture & Heritage Experience of the Year – Sponsored by Carlisle Lake District Airport

  • WINNER: Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House, Bowness-on-Windermere


Adventure Experience of the Year – Sponsored by Lakelovers

  • WINNER: Cyclewise Whinlatter


Tourism Event of the Year

  • WINNER: Westmorland County Show, Crooklands
  • HIGHLY COMMENDED: Eden Arts – Winter Droving, Penrith


Wedding Venue of the Year – Sponsored by Napthens Solicitors

  • WINNER: Broadoaks Country House, Windermere


New Tourism Business Award – Sponsored by Thomson Hayton Winkley

  • WINNER: Another Place, The Lake, Ullswater


The Sheila Hensman Award for Outstanding Customer Service

For the first time in the event’s history, there was a three-way tie for a Cumbria Tourism Award, recognising the exceptional levels of customer service and excellence in this category:

  • WINNER: Rachel Dunckley – Hazelbank Country House Hotel, Borrowdale Valley
  • WINNER: Victoria Blanco – Treetop Trek, Windermere
  • WINNER: Christine Brown – Castle Green Hotel, Kendal


The evening was rounded off with an additional honour for Lord Clark of Windermere, who is this year’s recipient of the ‘Bernard Gooch Tourism Personality of the Year Award’.

Lord Clark led the bid for the Lake District’s  successful bid to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been a high-profile figure championing Cumbria on the national and international stage over the past year. Since its status was given it has been fantastic to see how local people and businesses are working together to capitalise on this achievement and raise the profile of the Lake District, in indeed the county, around the world.

Our Managing Director, Gill Haigh, said: “Huge congratulations not only to  our award winners, but to all the finalists. The awards are one of the most eagerly anticipated  events in the Cumbria Tourism calendar and the high number of entries, the incredible number of highly esteemed sponsors and the fact there were more than 400 of us on the night is testament to the fact that this night of celebration, is one that our members, partners and colleagues not only enjoy but also deeply value.

These were my first Cumbria Tourism Awards and I have been blown away by the strength and depth of our £2.9billion tourism industry, not to mention the sheer hard work and dedication shown by tourism businesses who deliver world class experiences to the county’s millions of visitors day in, day out. Following on from Cumbria’s second World Heritage designation for the Lake District, this truly is a Year of Celebration!”

All award-winners received a trophy hand-crafted by Kendal-based glass artist Jo Vincent. We would also like to thank all our generous sponsors for making the event possible.

Researchers will be out and about in the coming weeks speaking to visitors across the county, as part of a major Cumbria Tourism project to find out they come from, why they come and what they do during their trip.

The Cumbria Visitor Survey will see 1,400 in-depth, face-to-face questionnaires completed and analysed between now and the end of September.  Questions will range from what influences their choice of accommodation and how they prefer to book, to how they travel and how much they spend. It is the only county-wide piece of research which gathers this level of detail about visitor behaviour and has been carried out every three years since 2006.

As the official Destination Management Organisation for the county, we take the lead on the Cumbria Visitor Survey with support from seven local authority partners. That includes Cumbria’s Local Enterprise Partnership, the Lake District National Park, Allerdale Borough Council, Carlisle City Council, Copeland Borough Council, Eden District Council and South Lakeland District Council.

Our 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. To gain a representative sample, we have carefully selected a range of locations designed to pick up different types of visitors and compare results with surveys carried out in previous years.”

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, adds, “Cumbria Tourism’s role as the Destination Management Organisation for the county means we are in a unique position of working across local authority boundaries with our partners, to ensure we get the fullest, most accurate picture of visitor behaviour. Crucially, we will collectively use the results to support our lobbying work as a county,  to inform our marketing activity and to identify opportunities and areas of development to help continue to grow the value of our £2.9billion tourism industry countywide.”

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