Opinion: I’m proud to call myself a Cumbrian and there’s more to love than just the Lake District

As a Cumbrian, I love the place I call home we’re surrounded by fells, lakes, independent businesses and lots of places to go out and eat – I’m slowly trying to work my way through them.

For my whole life until I was 18 I lived in a small town in Cumbria before setting off to university, moving away from home was such a big thing for me, not only because I was moving away from my mam, but because I’d have to leave beautiful Cumbria behind.

I always remember getting excited about coming home for a weekend or on Christmas and summer breaks, it was a time to be back home, surrounded by fields and fresh air.

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As I travelled back on the train everything would just get more green the closer you came to home, and the accent would get thicker too – I wouldn’t have to worry about someone not understanding what word or phrase I’d just come out with.

As soon as I was coming to the end of university I couldn’t wait to get back home, I knew there would always be the possibility that, being a journalist, I might not be able to secure a job back in my home county, but that wouldn’t stop me trying and surely enough I even managed to secure one before handing in my dissertation.

We love to go walking on a weekend in the Lakes or whenever we get time
We love to go walking on a weekend in the Lakes or whenever we get time

This job took me to the south of the county, somewhere I hadn’t really explored before. I’d been a few times but not really explored it in great detail so being a journalist in Barrow, I was looking forward to having the South Lakes right on my doorstep.

Cumbria is famous for its stunning scenery, but it’s a little less well known for some of the great market towns that are filled with some fantastic independent shops and have a great history behind them.

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Living in Barrow gave me the opportunity to visit Kendal on a few occasions and apart from passing through to visit family, it wasn’t somewhere I’d been.

The town is steeped in history and has some great independent shops that deserve to be recognised.

That’s the thing about Cumbria, we have so many amazing places to go and visit that deserve to be shouted about and they’re often overlooked.

Yes, we have the Lake District and I’ll come onto how much I love that in a bit, but we also have some great coastal towns too.

Whitehaven is a great place to visit if you’re looking for days with the family, as is Maryport. Before my gran passed away she lived in a huge house that overlooked the sea. I used to love going to visit her and looking out of her huge bay windows and on a clear day being able to see across to Scotland and the Isle of Man from Maryport.

This is something I couldn’t give up to live in a city. Yes, our transport links aren’t the best, and going on a night out can mean someone has to drive or a costly taxi home. But, to me, that’s a drop in the ocean compared to all the amazing things our county has to offer.

I live in Wigton and I love it. We moved into the centre of the town when I was just 10 years old and it’s the type of town where everyone knows everyone and you can’t sneeze without someone knowing about it – that’s not for everyone.

But what I love about the place is there are lots of independent businesses in the town, from the Barista cafe, to the Spotted Cow, to Redmayne Tailors, to Out of the Blue – you could come to Wigton get some lunch and even pick up some shopping while you’re here too.

I also love the community spirit in the town, like everywhere it does have its pitfalls, but I know that if I was ever in trouble or needed a hand with something someone in the town would be there to lend a hand – it’s happened before and it’ll happen again.

We can’t really talk about how great Cumbria is as a county without talking about the Lake District – I’m lucky enough living in Wigton that to get to Keswick it takes less than 30 minutes.

Sometimes I do take for granted how close I am to the Lake District, but there’s a reason it attracts thousands of visitors each year with how fantastic it is.

People love to visit the main Lake District towns like Windermere, Keswick, Ambleside etc but there are a whole plethora of others ones too like Coniston, Hawkshead, Howtown.

I love nothing more than on a weekend being able to get out and about walking in the Lakes, I’d say Buttermere, Loweswater and Derwentwater are some of my favourites.

But as well as just being out walking there are lots of visitor attractions too, like Grizedale Forest, rock climbing in Keswick and Muncaster Castle – to name just a few.

Cumbria is the place to be – to live and work – and to have an excellent quality of life to spend with your family and friends and to stretch yourself professionally.

The world-famous landscape, the warmth of the people and the strong sense of place makes Cumbria my favourite place and is why I’d never want to live anywhere else.

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