Thursday, 16 September 2010

What Can You Do In Carlisle In 7 1/2 Hours?

In the my last post I mentioned that driving the Carlisle service commands a 7 1/2 hour break between driving and that some drivers found that there was not much to do in Carlisle. I disagree.

The City of Carlisle has one of the most evocative histories of any city in the UK and yet today it is largely forgotten. It is a great survivor. The Roman Emperor Agricola built a fort and named it Luguvallium in 78 AD, the Celts took over and called it Caer Luer, the Saxons defeated the Celts, the Vikings sacked it, the Saxons regained it, King William Rufus built another castle, the Scots briefly took the city but thereafter often laid siege but failed to take it, the Dominican and Franciscan monks arrived, the Border Reivers, Kinmont Willie, Johnny Armstrong, Belted Will, Bold Buccleuch, Jock o'the Side, Dick o'the Cow and others came and went and the city suffered a devastating fire, the Black Death and other severe outbreaks of plague. In the English Civil War Carlisle was staunchly Royalist, but was finally starved into surrender by Scottish soldiers. In 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie took the city then lost in quickly. From then on it grew, boomed and declined. Now it has a population of around 105,000 and survives well.

Though they have tried hard to ruin the place by building a hideous Civic Centre, create a terrible traffic system and knock down some attractive streets to construct an ugly shopping centre, the place still maintains an air of charm. You feel you are in a border town with an interesting past, particularly on market days when the Scots once again descend and mix with the Cumbrians.

There is a fine castle, a fine cathedral, the fine St Cuthbert's Church and three fine museums Tullie House which promotes all Cumbrian and Border things, old and new, the Guildhall Museum. Carlisle United have been going since 1904 at their Brunton Park ground. Racing began in Carlisle in Elizabethan times and the present racecourse has been operating since 1904. Red Rum was a frequent visitor, on his way to winning three Grand Nationals. There is a Turkish Bath, a Citadel designed by Thomas Telford and Sir Robert Smirke, an imposing Victorian station and a large market.

There are many hidden places to eat, foods from all round the world. Here are a few:

For sandwiches: Sandwich Mill, Shaddongate(near the chimney) for the best Cumberland Sausage on a specially imported French baguette.
Alexandros Greek Deli, Warwick Road for delicious bread.

For coffee: The little coffee truck, parked on the platform at Carlisle Station.

For atmosphere: The cafe in the market for all the characters and regulars who come and go. The Polish shop sells excellent ponchki and breads

For lunch: Zeytin, Lonsdale Street - good Turkish Cypriot food
Ruen, Crosby Street for good Thai and Lao food.
La Pergola, Castle Street - old fahioned Italian restaurant

Out of town: The butty van just off Jct 44, in the first lay-by on the Hexham road.
The Truckstop on Kingstown Park Trading Estate.

Then the afternoon can be spent in the library writing or looking at Britain's best book and cd shop - Bookcase in Castle Street. Or a siesta on the back seat of the bus.

The next time you are heading North on the M6 and see the signs for Carlisle, stop and see for yourself.

No comments:

Post a Comment