Discover Six Trails of the Unexpected

Trails of the Unexpected - six walks exploring Cumbria Museum Consortium collections Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal (photo by Tony West) George Romney painting at Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal (photo by Florence Acland) Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House near Windermere Dove Cottage in Grasmere Dove Cottage in Grasmere Chemist Shop at the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry in Kendal Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle Castlerigg Stone Circle display - Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle

Trails of the Unexpected brings the significant collections of Cumbria’s museums and galleries to life by taking visitors out into the epic landscape of the region in the footsteps of writers, artists, empire builders and raiders.

The six walks have been developed by Cumbria Museum Consortium in association with award-winning writer Vivienne Crow, as a celebration of the artworks and artefacts of galleries, museums and historic houses in Cumbria as well as the well-known artists, writers and dynasties associated with them.

Walk in the footsteps of the Romans, Border Reivers and writers such as William Wordsworth to explore the collections within the context of the beautiful Lake District landscape

// THE SIX TRAILS

The trails are all available on the Trails of the Unexpected website

The walks can be viewed online smartphones and tablets or can be downloaded downloaded as pdfs including the route map and directions. The trails explore the collections of Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum; Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry, Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House and Abbot Hall Art Gallery.

// Wordsworth’s Grasmere

Get to know William Wordsworth and his family on this easy, but varied walk through some of the most spectacular scenery in the National Park. View the trail here

// The Romans at Hadrian’s Wall

Unearth surprising facts about how the Romans defended their north-western frontier on this walk beside one of the best preserved sections of Hadrian’s Wall. View the trail here

// A Windermere Arts & Crafts Wander

Discover the inspiration behind one of the gems of the Arts and Crafts movement on this wander through the gently rolling countryside beside Windermere. View the trail here

// Romanticism Around Rydal Water

Literally follow in the footsteps of England’s most famous poet as you complete a circuit of one of the Lake District’s smallest, but prettiest lakes. View the trail here

// Reivers in Carlisle

Discover the secrets of the clans that once terrorised the English-Scottish border on this intriguing trail through the historic city of Carlisle. View the trail here

// An Art Adventure in Kendal

Find out about the fascinating creative characters associated with Kendal over the centuries as you explore this vibrant town and climb to its castle viewpoint. View the trail here

// ABOUT THE TRAILS

Wordsworth’s Grasmere is a two-hour walk starting and ending at Dove Cottage but taking visitors around some of the most spectacular scenery in the Lake District National Park that inspired William Wordsworth’s poetry.

Did you know… Dorothy Wordsworth was a talented and dedicated wordsmith like her brother?

The notebooks that make up her Grasmere journal can be seen in the Wordsworth Museum, one notable entry referencing daffodils along the shores of Ullswater is believed to have inspired William to pen his most famous poem – I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.

Dorothy Wordsworth's notebook on display at the Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere
Dorothy Wordsworth’s notebook on display at the Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere

The Romans at Hadrian’s Wall unearths surprising facts about how the North West frontier of the Roman Empire was defended and illustrates this with the collections in Tullie House Roman Frontier Gallery.

Did you know… Hadrian’s Wall was a visitor attraction during the Roman occupation of England?

The Ilam Pan is an exquisitely ornate example of very early cultural tourism and is believed to be a souvenir from a trip to Hadrian’s Wall.

The Ilam Pan at Tullie House is a souvenir from a visit to Hadrian's Wall during Roman times
The exquisite Ilam Pan on display at Tullie House dates back to Roman times

The walks are diverse A Windemere Arts and Crafts Wander starts and ends at Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House near Lake Windermere.

Did you know…Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House, located with its incredible vista over Windermere, was the dream home designed by MH Ballie Scott for Sir Edward and Lady Holt?

This idyllically located house provided the Holts with what can only be imagined as a most welcome escape from the grime and stress of the industrialised north-west. The trail also takes you past Cockshott Point, which was bought in the 1920s by the National Trust with the help of Beatrix Potter – another artist who spent much of her time in Cumbria.

Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House was designed by architect MH Baillie Scott for Sir Edward and Lady Holt
Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House was designed by architect MH Baillie Scott for Sir Edward and Lady Holt

In Kendal the trail takes in the home of eighteenth century portrait painter George Romney whose works are exhibited at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, located in the town.

Did you know…George Romney was one of the most celebrated and fashionable portraitists of his age?

Born in Cumbria in 1734 he started his career in Kendal, was married in Kendal Parish Church, pursued his career in London and then returned to Kendal in 1799 to spend his final years in the family home.

Portrait of the Gower Family Children by George Romney is on display at Abbot Hall in Kendal
Portrait of the Gower Family Children by George Romney is on display at Abbot Hall in Kendal

The Reivers were clans who terrorised the Anglo-Scottish borders from the late 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century. This trail takes you around Carlisle exploring their unruly past and Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery has a full and informative gallery on the clans.

Did you know…The riotous Reivers, who were arsonists, kidnappers, murderers and protection racketeers, were nicknamed ‘The Steel Bonnets’?

You can see examples of the distinctive, distinguished and intimidating Comb Morion helmets that led to this epithet in Tullie House.

A Comb Morion Reivers helmet on display in the Border Reivers Gallery Tullie House in Carlisle
A Comb Morion Reivers helmet on display in the Border Reivers Gallery Tullie House in Carlisle

The trails are all available now on the Trails of the Unexpected website

// CUMBRIA MUSEUM CONSORTIUM VENUES

Abbot Hall Art Gallery
Abbot Hall, Kendal’s finest historic house, has a national reputation for displaying great art -including works by European masters, great British artists and artists with local associations. On permanent display is one of the best collections of works by George Romney, the centrepiece is what many perceive to be his masterpiece: the impressive ‘The Gower Family: The Children of Granville’, 2nd Earl Gower 1776-7.

Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House
Blackwell is one of the best examples of Arts & Crafts architecture and interiors in the world. When architect MH Baillie Scott designed a holiday home overlooking Windermere for his client Sir Edward and Lady Holt he created a masterpiece of twentieth-century. All the rooms have original features, furniture and objects by leading Arts & Crafts designers. There are inglenook fireplaces and window seats in every room for visitors to sit and enjoy the house and the magnificent Lakeland views.

Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum
Discover Wordsworth’s amazing life by visiting Dove Cottage and exploring the riches of the Wordsworth Trust collection in the Museum. Dove Cottage was the first family home of Britain’s admired poet, William Wordsworth. The Wordsworth Museum is next door to Dove Cottage and there you will discover the greatest collection of the Wordsworths’ poems, journals and letters in the world.

Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry
This atmospheric Museum takes you back through time to explore the story of the Lake District and its inhabitants. MOLLI’s recreated period rooms and the workshops of lost trades reveal how rural people lived, worked and played.

Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery
Tullie House is Carlisle’s finest visitor attraction, and houses considerable collections of fine and decorative art, human history and natural sciences. It also boasts a wide range of exhibitions and events, brought together in one impressive museum and art gallery.

Trails of the Unexpected - Cumbria Map
Trails of the Unexpected – Cumbria Map

To enjoy these Lakes Culture events and much more, book your break in the Lake District here