Things to do nearby Bridge House (Allonby)
Allonby is a traditional seaside village on the Solway Coast. At low tide, the stretches of sandy and pebbled beeches are perfect for a seaside stroll, whilst fans of cycling will enjoy exploring the many cycle paths and quieter roads around the village. Those interested in maritime history should head to the harbour towns of Maryport and Whitehaven; or for a spot of retail therapy, the popular market towns of Cockermouth and Keswick have plenty of independent and outdoor shops to explore, as well as a great choice of cafes, pubs and restaurants to re-fuel.
Allonby is perfectly placed for exploring the Solway Coast and the Western Lake District. A small, pretty village with a long green at the back of the beach, it has plenty of facilities. Within the village you can enjoy a huge ice cream from Twentymans, a fish and chip supper from The Codfather, or choose from two pubs and a tearoom. There is a children’s playground and a small football pitch for wearing out younger members of the party.
An off-road cycleway heads south following the coast all the way to Maryport, eight miles away. In spring and summer it is lined with wildflowers and all year has spectacular views across the Solway to the Scottish hills.
The main attraction around Allonby is the expansive part-pebble, part-sandy beach. Whether you want to go for a long walk along the edge of the waves, do some beachcombing for shells and sea glass, or just sit and have a barbeque, you will always find space to do so. Allonby beach faces west, making it the perfect spot to admire stunning sunsets as the sun dips below the sea. Don’t forget to take a camera on your evening stroll!
For a coastal walk with a different character, Mawbray beach, just a few miles north, is backed by undulating sand dunes. Further north again is the small town of Silloth with a promenade, small fairground and lovely town green with miniature golf. It is also the starting point for a pleasant walk along isolated Grune Point with beautiful views and lots of wildlife. Silloth also hosts an annual Music and Beer Festival.
Head inland a little to Abbeytown and visit Holme Cultram Abbey. Now the parish church but once part of Holme Cultram monastery, it is built from attractive local red sandstone.
Birdwatchers and nature lovers should head to the north Solway Coast. Well known for large winter flocks of geese, there are also waders, seabirds and a good variety of small birds to spot all year round. Try the SSSI at Skinburness or the RSPB reserve at Campfield Marsh. There are many other reserves to explore too. Look for dragonflies on the raised mire at Drumburgh Moss, or rare marsh fritillary butterflies at Finglandrigg Wood; both have marked trails to follow.
The harbour town of Maryport has all your local amenities, including supermarkets, plus plenty of history to explore. The old castle mound provides spectacular views over the town and the coast and the Senhouse Museum showcases local Roman finds and is located next to a roman fort that can be viewed from a tower within the museum. The large harbour, part of which is now a marina, hints at the historic importance of Maryport for exporting coal and iron ore during the industrial revolution. Maryport Aquarium will entertain and educate all ages with a variety of creatures found in local lakes, rivers and the sea. For a more energetic indoor activity, head to Clip n Climb to tackle one of the climbing walls or the ‘leap of faith’.
The lovely Georgian town of Cockermouth, birthplace of William Wordsworth, is only 10 miles away. You will find the Romantic poet’s childhood home, now owned by the National Trust, presented as it would have been in 1770. There are local amenities, including a supermarket and a range of independent shops, some lovely riverside areas to explore, and pretty back streets to wander through. The town also boasts the Jennings brewery, which offers tours and those all-important tastings!
If you want to get out and walk to your heart’s content, the whole northwest Lake District is your oyster! The quiet fells above Ennerdale will get you away from the crowds as will the rolling grassy hills in the area known as ‘Back O’ Skiddaw.’ Or how about giving Skiddaw itself a go? It is one of only four fells in the Lakes that is over 3,000ft high and on a clear day it offers views stretching from Scotland, round to the Pennines and across the fells. The route up over Long Side and Carlside is beautiful when the heather is out and provides a more interesting approach than the tourist trail from Keswick. For gentler walks try Loweswater or Rannerdale in May for stunning displays of bluebells. Whinlatter is a great option all year round with its offer of shelter from sun or wind. For autumn colours you cannot beat the woods around Derwentwater, accessible to all.
Cyclists can head to the off-road tracks at ‘Back O’ Skiddaw’ or the mountain bike trails at Whinlatter, or road cyclists can challenge themselves on the Newlands and Whinlatter passes. Closer to hand you can cycle off-road to Maryport and, with only a very short on road section round the harbour, continue on to Workington and Whitehaven.
A 45-minute drive south will bring you to St Bees, from where you can walk up onto St Bees Head. This spectacular walk – the start of Wainwright’s coast-to-coast – is lovely at any time of year, but in spring and early summer there is the added bonus of a seabird colony on the red sandstone cliffs. St Bees also boasts a lovely sandy beach, host to an annual sand sculpture competition, and the 12th century St Bees Priory. For keen walkers, you can utilise the train running between St Bees and Whitehaven to do a linear walk of around eight miles right round St Bees head. This takes in the lovely beach at St Bees, the lighthouse, sea bird colonies, the industrial mining and quarrying heritage of the area, and the pretty harbour of Whitehaven.
Towards the east of Allonby, the Border City of Carlisle has a variety of options for a day out. There are plenty of shops and eateries, but also a lovely sandstone cathedral and an historic castle that was once briefly the residence of Mary Queen of Scots. Try Bitts Park for lovely gardens, a walk by the River Eden, a large play area with a music trail and snack bar between the castle and the river. Tullie House museum has interactive exhibits on local history, geography and wildlife as well as a very good café.
Keswick is the hub of the Northern Lake District; beautifully located on the shores of Derwentwater and starting point for numerous walks for all ages and abilities, it is well worth a visit. You can also take a launch across the lake to see Lodore Falls, made famous by ‘The Cataract of Lodore’ by Robert Southey or to the walled gardens at Lingholm, the inspiration for Mr McGregor's garden in Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit. Walk down to Friars Crag for a beautiful view down the lake to Borrowdale, buy something in one of numerous outdoor shops, and don’t miss Old Friars Sweet and Chocolate Shop on the Main Street. As if that’s not enough, you can also play mini golf or tennis, take in a show at the Theatre by the Lake or a film at the traditional cinema, explore quirky museums, or sit down and enjoy tasty treats at a range of eateries.