Workington to Cockermouth – important new route information

  • The route to Cockermouth is gradually reassuming its former shape following the floods of ’09. Late February ’11 saw the Calva Bridge reopen. Signage has been updated. Please report back if there are any further problems.   You still start from the lighthouse which you get to down Curwen Rd.

Cycle Shops

Bike Bank, 18-20 Market Place. 01900 603 337

Halfords, Derwent Howe Retail Park. 01900 601 635

About the town

Alongside some splendid Georgian architecture is some powerful industrial heritage to reflect the fact that Workington is an ancient market and erstwhile industrial boom town.  At the mouth of the River Derwent, parts of it date back to Roman times. But it was not until the 18th century, with the exploitation of local iron ore and coal, that Workington expanded to become a major industrial port. Having once provided the steel for nearly every country in the world’s railway lines, this grand old bruiser of a town fell into decline but with the help of European funding in 2007, its centre has gradually come back to life. How it rides this recession, however, is another matter.

Workington’s growth mirrors that of its neighbour, Whitehaven, eight miles down the coast. Iron and steel manufacturing have always been at the heart of life here, and it was in this town that  Henry Bessemer first introduced his revolutionary steel making process, florally commemorated in this picture. In recent years, with the decline of the steel industry and coal mining, the town has had to diversify and with the refurbishment of the town centre it is ready to welcome tourists to its heart. The advantage of starting here is that the opening leg of the journey is seven miles shorter, has gentler gradients and passes through the Georgian market town of Cockermouth. It is also close to, and goes through, Camerton, where the church sits prettily on the banks of the Derwent and the splendidly named Black Tom Inn beckons alluringly to passers-by. It has some nice churches. The parish church of St Michael’s has been on its present site since the 7th century, although the 12th century Norman church was replaced in 1770 by a larger building. Sadly this was severely damaged by fire in 1994, but has since undergone a major rebuilding programme. St John’s Church was built in 1823 to commemorate the battle of Waterloo, to a design by Thomas Hardwick. It is built of local sandstone, and bears some resemblance to Inigo Jones’s St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden, London.

Workington Tourist Information Centre 01900 606699

Places of Interest

Workington Hall Workington Hall is built around a pele tower dating from the 14th century, and was once one of the finest manor houses in the region.

This striking ruin, once owned by the Curwen family, Lords of the Manor of Workington, gave shelter to Mary Queen of Scots on her last flight from Scotland before her imprisonment and execution.

It is said to be haunted by Henry Curwen, who sunk the nearby Jane Pit in the 19th century, the remains of which can be seen at nearby Mossbay.

Town Museum

The Helena Thompson Museum was bequeathed to the people of Workington by the eponymous Miss Thompson, a local philanthropist, in 1940. It houses displays of pottery, silver, glass, and furniture dating from Georgian times, as well as the social and industrial history of Workington and the surrounding area.