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Cockermouth is a cosmopolitan Lake District gem town. It has a vibrant art and folk music scene, excellent places to eat and drink and an array of independent shops. Wherever you go in Cockermouth, the community spirit is strong and the welcome is warm. The market town is set on the edge of the national park and built on the banks of two iconic Cumbrian rivers, the Derwent and the Cocker. Here's a round-up of the best things to do and see in Cockermouth.
Wordsworth House and Garden
The romantic poet William Wordsworth was born in the market town of Cockermouth and lived there during his earlier years. Step back to the 1770s and visit William’s childhood home on Main Street, which is now a museum. Wordsworth House and Garden is presented exactly as it would have been when the poet and his sister Dorothy lived there. Inside the house, there are hands-on exhibits where you can experience the Georgian way of life. The gardens are full of 18th-century plants, vegetables and flowers and it’s easy to see where William learned his love of nature.
You can enjoy beautiful walks from Cockermouth. Our favourite is the idyllic walk along the River Derwent to Papcastle. This short stroll takes in the views across the countryside to the Western Lake District fells of Loweswater and Crummock Water. There is a good pet-friendly village pub in Papcastle and the village was founded on the site of a Roman settlement so you'll find plenty of history to explore here.
Cockermouth is a real treat for Lake District shopping. The main street is full of independent boutiques. Narrow alleys and yards are lined with quirky shops, selling everything from books to outdoor clothing, old fashioned sweets, crafts and antiques. Foodies will love the selection of specialist food shops including a quality fishmonger, two bakeries, a long-established butcher and a wonderful delicatessen.
Cockermouth has something for every taste when it comes to food; from traditional pubs to stylish bars and coffee shops. We love The Honest Lawyer based in the heart of the town and overlooking the River Cocker. Other great places to dine are Shills, a sophisticated café bar with a tempting delicatessen, and The Trout Hotel, which has a beautiful sun terrace on the river and is family friendly. Cockermouth is also home to an award-winning vegetarian restaurant called the Quince and Medlar.
The main street has several food shops including a great fishmonger, two bakeries, a long-established butcher and a wonderful delicatessen.
Join in with the locals
If you're staying at one of our Cockermouth holiday cottages, why not visit a festival? Throughout the year the town is host to a number of festivals and these popular events reflect the warm and welcoming nature of the town. The family-friendly events include the Christmas lights switch on and the Taste food festival in September and December. Each June there is a 2-day festival showcasing and celebrating the best of wool and wool crafts called Woolfest, as well as Cockermouth Live, a neighbourhood festival of music and family fun. In December, Cockermouth by Candlelight is an event celebrating the resurgence of Cockermouth and local businesses since the floods of 2009.
Enjoy Cockermouth with the kids
Cockermouth is a family-friendly place with lots of things for children to do. The leisure pool has a climbing wall and sports hall. Along the banks of the River Cocker, you'll find the Memorial Gardens with a riverside walk and a modern children's play area. There is another play area in Harris Park along with a tennis court and bowling green. Wellington Farm Café is just outside Cockermouth and has a small animal paddock for kids to enjoy and a terrace with stunning panoramic views to the western Lake District.
Enjoy a brew!
The Jennings Brewery has stood at the point where the rivers Derwent and Cocker meet for over 200 years. The source of these two rivers is high in the mountains and provides the water used in the brewing process. There are daily tours offering an insight into the brewing process and a chance to sample some of their famous real ales at the end of the tour or take some home to enjoy in your Cottage in Cockermouth.
Explore a gallery
Cockermouth is home to several arts and crafts galleries. Percy House Gallery displays arts and crafts throughout the year and is the oldest known building in Cockermouth with a Tudor ceiling dating back to the 1500s.
Banks Ironmongers is an iconic shop in Cockermouth. It sells traditional ironmongery goods in a unique setting. The shop is several hundred years old and houses a museum dedicated to heritage ironmongery, tools and hand machinery. It's free to visit the museum and you can see locks dating back to the Tudor period, an ancient well and all manner of curiosity items.
An ancient castle
The remains of Cockermouth Castle can be seen just above where the rivers Cocker and Derwent meet. The Normans largely built the castle during the 13th and 14th centuries using stone from the ancient Roman fort at Papcastle. The castle is privately owned but occasionally open to the public; for example, guided tours are run during Cockermouth's summer festival.
Catch a show
The Kirkgate Centre is in one of the oldest parts of Cockermouth. It is a performing arts centre where you can enjoy music performances, comedy and plays by the local arts groups. The centre also hosts art displays and demonstrations throughout the year.