Some will have it that Barrow-in-Furness is located at the end of the longest cul-de-sac in England, but that’s rubbish. As a cruise ship passenger, you should not listen to it. The fact is that, from a cruise perspective, the location of this industrial town in the northwest of England could not be better. That is, if you plan on visiting the renowned Lake District, which has attracted and inspired writers and poets for hundreds of years.
Situated at the tip of the Furness peninsula, Barrow-in-Furness has been referred to as the gateway to the Lake District, which is less than an hour away by coach or car. It is probably one of the most well-known regions in the entire U.K. Writers and poets such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey and, of course, William Wordsworth will forever be associated with the area – as will some of their works (perhaps the best-known of which is Wordsworth’s I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud, with its daffodil reference).
For modern day visitors, it’s not difficult to understand why these poets became so fond of the Lake District. The area nowadays constitutes the largest National Park in England (and the second-largest in the U.K.).
Some of the most beautiful lakes in the country are to be found here, such as Lake Windermere and Ullswater. Nearby is England’s highest mountain: Scafell Pike, 3,209 feet/978 meters high. There are several other peaks in the region. Although they are of rather modest dimensions, they are high enough to be visible from the islands off the coast of southernmost Scotland.
There is one more author who is very much associated with the Lake District – in a highly visible way. Beatrix Potter’s literary character Peter Rabbit can be found in each and every storefront in the region. One of Beatrix Potter’s houses is located in Near Sawrey and is a charming destination for excursions.
William Wordsworth’s birthplace, Dove Cottage at Cockermouth, is another highlight in the region, as is Rydal Mount – the poet’s final home (where the Wordsworth Museum is to be found).
Barrow-in-Furness itself is also an interesting destination. Situated some 43 miles/70 kilometers north of Liverpool, the city is home to some 59,000 inhabitants. It traces its roots to the Middle Ages and the Cistercian monks of the Abbey of St. Mary of Furness.
More recently, in the 19th and 20th centuries, Barrow-in-Furness has been ain important center for shipbuilding.
The town once prospered due to industry, mining and shipbuilding. Now Barrow-in-Furness is seeing a revitalization with new development, which includes the 60-acre Waterfront Business Park in the dockside area.
Barrow-in-Furness can trace its roots to the Middle Ages. In 1123, King Stephen of England founded the Abbey of St Mary of Furness, known as Furness Abbey. The monks at the Abbey discovered iron ore deposits. Because of some monk ingenuity, the abbey prospered and became the second richest Cistercian abbey in England.
Speculator and iron dealer H.W. Schneider gets credit for discovering large deposits of haematite, the mineral form of iron, in 1850. Schneider and other key investors helped establish the infrastructure to support the transport of iron via rail and sea. Before long, Schneider built the largest steelworks in the world.
The Port of Barrow, the largest deep-water port between Liverpool and Scotland, refers to the enclosed dock system within the town of Barrow-in-Furness.
Cruise ships will berth in Ramsden Dock Basin. Passengers will debark approximately 1.4 miles from town center. There are complimentary shuttle buses to assist with transport to the center of town.
- The Dock Museum is a great place to discover the social and industrial history of the area. There are artifacts and displays that chronicle the rise of the tiny 19th Century hamlet to the world’s largest producer of steel and ship-building presence.
- Opened in 1887, the Town Hall is a central landmark. Try to get a peak at the impressive oak-paneled Council Chamber. The Town Hall is one of many listed historic buildings in the borough.
- Founded in 1123, Furness Abbey (Abbey of St Mary of Furness) is in ruin but well worth a look. The monks of the abbey helped shape the history of the town. The monks had heavy influence, land and ownership of mines. Henry VIII dissolved the Abbey in 1537.
Cruise passengers may make arrangements to visit attractions in town or nearby. Popular excursions allow exploration of nearby towns in the Furness peninsula area including outings to the nearby English Lakes District.
- England’s only true mountain region is located in the Lake District National Park. The park covers 885 square miles and has more than 50 lakes. Lake Windermere is a popular lake destination.
- Celebrated British author, Beatrix Potter drew inspiration from Lake Windermere. Visit the World of Beatrix Potter attraction and journey to see the village of Hawkshead, home of the Beatrix Potter Gallery and Hill Top, which the author called home.
- Located 33 miles northeast of port, is Wordsworth country in Ambleside, close to Windermer Lake. Visit the historic home and garden of William Wordsworth at Rydal Mount & Gardens. And plan to see the Chapel of St Mary, which was built by Lady le Fleming, of Rydal Hall in 1824. William Wordsworth helped to choose the site, which was originally an orchard. Wordsworth was church warden from 1833-1834, and there is a memorial plaque to him.
- Celebrate English heritage by visiting Piel Castle.Located at the southern tip of the Furness Peninsula, the castle was built around 1327. The only means of access is via the Roa Island ferry service or a guided walk across the sands at low tide.
- Ulverston is an old market town. You can exploreSwarthmoor Hall, birthplace of Quakerism or check out the new Buddhist temple at Conishead Priory, which was originally founded in 1160.
- Other sights of interest include: Sir John Barrow Monument, commemorating the accomplishments of the town’s namesake; or the The Laurel and Hardy museum, celebrating Ulverston-born Stan Laurel.
- The historic market town of Dalton-in-Furness is a fun place to visit a traditional English Pub and to discover some relics of the area like Dalton Castle, built in stages between the 1330s and 1350s.