Nestled in the far Northwest region of England, Cumberland boasts a picturesque landscape of fells, valleys, and lakes that attracts both nature lovers and fans of cultural heritage. This former English county is now incorporated into the larger county of Cumbria, yet retains its distinct identity in the hearts of the locals.

In this area guide, we will take you through Cumberland's charming market towns like Whitehaven, Carlisle, and Keswick, and delve into the tranquil countryside way of life that makes it a favoured locale. Alongside this, we will give you practical insights on living in Cumberland, touching on topics such as its rich historical context, top landmarks, schools, transport links, and a glimpse at the property market in this pastoral paradise.

History of Cumberland

Cumberland's history is as rich and compelling as its landscape. The county's strategic location made it a primary focus for both Romans and Vikings, bearing witness to numerous historic events and developments. Bordered by Scotland to the North, the influence of Scottish invasions and English defence mechanisms is evident in the county's architectural heritage.

Rich in mining history, Cumberland was once one of Britain's principal coal mining areas. The region's industrial past is still recognisable today, with numerous mining heritage sites dotted throughout the area. However, Cumberland is more than just an industrial heartland, it's a place where history and landscape intertwine, holding on to its traditional roots whilst advancing towards modernity.


Cumberland abounds with historic and natural landmarks that attract a large number of visitors. Notably, there's the Carlisle Castle, a 900-year-old fortress that embodies the region's turbulent past. The Hadrian’s Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, formerly marked the northwestern frontier of the vast Roman Empire. Cumberland is also home to the Lake District National Park, England's largest national park with its majestic fells and stunning lakes, which embody the raw and untouched beauty of the English countryside.

Landmarks we love

  • The Museum of Military Life: Located in Carlisle, it provides insights into the region's military history through a collection of artefacts, photography and oral histories.
  • The Solway Coast: An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that spans nearly 60 kilometers of coastline offering breathtaking sceneries and a unique, thriving wildlife.
  • Whitehaven Harbour: A Georgian era harbour town, rich in maritime history.
  • Alston Moor: A unique landscape high up in the North Pennines area of outstanding natural beauty. Rich in mining history, you can explore the stunning moorland and its flora and fauna.
  • St. Michael's Church: Located in Burgh by Sands, it was built using stones taken from Hadrian’s Wall and offers historical richness with tranquil surroundings.
  • Top 10 things to do in Cumberland

    • Boating on Lake Windermere: The largest lake in England presents a perfect opportunity for boating and enjoying stunning lakeside scenery.
    • Visiting Scafell Pike: England's highest mountain located in the Lake District, it is a must for climbing enthusiasts and avid hikers.
    • Exploring Cumberland's market towns: Each town, including Keswick and Whitehaven, has unique markets offering local produce and handicrafts.
    • Walking the Hadrian’s wall path: A unique way to soak in the region's rich history, and take in the stunning vistas of its landscape.
    • Bird watching at the Solway Coast: It is one of the best places in the UK to observe the avian species in their natural habitat.
    • Visiting Carlisle Castle and Museum: Learn about the history and heritage of the region.
    • Strolling around Crummock Water: A serene lake surrounded by hills, an ideal spot for picnics and leisure walks.
    • Stepping back in time at the Beacon Museum: Located in Whitehaven, it exhibits local history, archaeology, and art.
    • Horse Riding in Penrith: Equestrian facilities in and around this market town offer everything from horse riding lessons to guided trail rides.
    • Exploring Settle to Carlisle Railway: Rich in heritage, this railway line offers beautiful views of the landscape.

    Our recommended areas to live in Cumberland

    • Carlisle: As the region's main city, Carlisle offers a great mix of urban life, history and proximity to stunning landscapes. With robust infrastructure and wide-ranging amenities, it's a perfect place for families and professionals alike.
    • Whitehaven: A charming Georgian town with a maritime heritage, Whitehaven is renowned for its picturesque harbor and outstanding natural beauty. An ideal spot for those seeking a serene maritime lifestyle.
    • Keswick: Nestled in the heart of the Lake District, Keswick is perfect for those who love outdoor activities. It's a vibrant market town with an array of local shops, pubs and restaurants.
    • Cockermouth: Birthplace of the romantic poet William Wordsworth, Cockermouth retains its historical charm with beautiful Georgian buildings. Dotted with independent shops and eateries, it's a delightful place to settle.
    • Penrith: A thriving market town blessed with historic sites and quick access to the Lake District. Offering a wide range of services, amenities, and schools, Penrith is a great fit for families.

    Best schools in Cumberland

    Cumberland offers excellent educational facilities, spanning from primary schools to colleges. The county is known for its good public schools, including Trinity School in Carlisle and Cockermouth School in Cockermouth, both of which are highly rated by Ofsted. For those seeking independent education, St. Bees School provides excellent facilities and a wide curriculum. Not to forget William Howard School in Brampton, considered the best performing secondary school in Carlisle according to the SchoolGuide website.

    In terms of higher education, the University of Cumbria, with its main campus in Carlisle, offers a wide range of degree programs and has specialist campuses for teaching, arts, sports and outdoors courses. It's also worth mentioning the Newton Rigg College in Penrith, a well-respected institution for land-based and outdoor studies.

    Transport links in Cumberland

    Living in Cumberland, you’ll have access to excellent transport connections. Carlisle is a central rail hub with direct trains to London, Glasgow, and Manchester, among other destinations. The strategic location of Cumberland provides direct road access to Scotland using the M6, and only a short drive to the east coast via the A69.

    There are bus services connecting various parts of the county, making traveling within the region easier. For those needing to fly, the Carlisle Lake District Airport offers connections to various UK destinations. The county is also popular with cyclists, not only for its beautiful landscape but also for its commitment to developing cycling routes.

    In conclusion, Cumberland offers an exquisite blend of history, culture, and natural beauty bound within its rolling hills and sweeping valleys. Its market towns and picturesque villages make for enchanting places to live, both for families and individuals seeking a peaceful lifestyle amidst a landscape that has inspired poets and painters throughout history. Its robust school system, efficient transport links, stunning landmarks and diverse range of activities offer unrivaled advantages to its residents. Cumberland, in all aspects, remains a beacon of English charm and simplicity.

Buy A Home

With thousands of homes for sale, find your RealMove today.

Buy A Home in Cumberland

Rent A Home

With thousands of homes for Rent, find your RealMove today.

Rent A Home in Cumberland

Create alerts and save properties & searches

We've created a new tool to help you easily find the areas that match your budget and needs.

Creat an Account


Whether you're looking to buy your dream home, rent your very first apartment or want home design inspiration, we have everything you’re looking for just one click away.

Latest property news

Everything you need to know about the housing market, explained by our experts.

Subscribe for Newsletter

We've created a new tool to help you easily find the areas that match your budget and needs.