Lake District proving a bit too busy? There’s more to explore beyond, on less-trodden paths and roads, thanks to the Cumbrian Coastal Route 200. If you fancy a West Coast adventure, it’s all waiting for you. Just think CCR200 – starting from Morecambe Bay and finishing at Carlisle, and designed specifically for motorhomes.
Our own CCR200 trip took place one February. Not ideal timing, admittedly, for the weather, but perfect for an out-of-season experience when everything would be even less busy.
Luckily, the CCR200 breaks down into five pretty manageable sections – you could tackle it all in a week (but I’d definitely recommend you take longer). Here are our CCR200 highlights.
Day one of the Cumbrian Coastal Route 200 – The Foodie Peninsula
Most visitors are likely to join the CCR200 coming from the south, which means Morecambe Bay (although there’s no reason for not starting from the north, or indeed any part of it).
Local food and drink is clearly the twin theme for this first section, and it made perfect sense for us to stock up on some of Cumbria’s finest fare to enjoy over the next five days.
Our first foodie stop was the specialist local retailer A Day’s Walk, in the courtyard at Holker Hall, a magnificent privately owned house that is famous for its public gardens. Just perfect.
Husband and wife Colin and Emma Sneath are the co-managers of A Day’s Walk. Colin gave us a flavour of some of the hundreds of specialities they sell: “Fresh produce comes in on the day we order it (so no storage). The gamekeeper at Holker Hall is also a butcher. We hear a shot and the meat’s in here the following day! Venison is from the 17.5-acre Holker estate. There must be some 40 brewers across Cumbria. We have a big brewing tradition around here.
“Every Friday, we do a delivery circuit, mainly to residents – but we also deliver to campsites. We make collections at the same time, so our food miles efficiency is really good.”
Wee predictably came away with more than we bargained for: Keswick Ketchup, Mr Vikki’s Mango Chutney, Eden Chieftain cheese, Holker Estate wild venison haunch, Cumbrian Farmhouse Butter, Artisan Muesli, Rinaldo loose-leaf tea/ground coffee, Hawkshead Hot Beetroot Ketchup, Black Sail Stout, Lakes Brew Lager, Fell Tonic Water, Westmorland Pepper Fruit Cake and more…
Then it was a quick jaunt from foodie shop to foodie village. Just a few miles along the road from Holker Hall is Cartmel. As well as boasting its own racecourse (perfect for motorhome parking on non-race days), and one of the UK’s eight Michelin three-star restaurants (L’Enclume), you’ll find The Village Shop.
The capitals in its name are well-earned, because this is the famous ‘home of sticky toffee pudding’. We duly bought a sample in a pot to take away, although once Lin had explained that we were staying in our grill-free, ovenless campervan, they insisted on warming it up for us to ensure that it was eaten ‘properly’ – and immediately. Absolutely delicious! Advisory note: other puddings are also available.
We also enjoyed the lightest of lunches in Unsworth’s Yard, an interesting complex that includes a brewery, pizza house and cheese shop, among other attractions.
We ended our day with a look around the rather grand coastal town of Grange-over-Sands (simply Grange, to the locals), walking along the high street and the promenade. When our dog, Bonnie, decided to take a dive onto the ‘sands’, jumping off the sea wall, we did wonder how we were going to get her back up again! Our first CCR200 night was spent at the open-all-year campsite Meathop Fell Caravan and Motorhome Club Site, some three miles from Grange. Head to the dog-walk and you’ll get views out across Morecambe Bay.
We pitched up and pitched in to some of our delicious discoveries from A Day’s Walk.
Day two of the Cumbrian Coastal Route 200 – Furness Peninsula and island hopping
We didn’t have quite so much luck with the island-hopping part of our second day, although the rest of the Furness Peninsula more than compensated, especially the lovely little bohemian town of Ulverston.
To Roa Island first, a causeway drive away. Timing didn’t allow us to get the passenger ferry to Piel Island, with its castle, and Walney, for its nature reserve, but they are definitely there as suggestions for better weather.
Instead we stayed firmly inland, with a short drive up to Ulverston and our first encounter with the Laurel and Hardy Museum.
Stan Laurel was born in Ulverston (there’s even a copy of his birth certificate among the hundreds, if not thousands, of museum exhibits). Films play on an endless loop here, and you can watch in some of the original seats from the 1930s Roxy Cinema that is home to the museum today.
Lin is a massive fan of slapstick comedy; she could happily fill the rest of this magazine with silent film and slapstick comedy stories. So it wasn’t long before she got talking – avidly – to Mark Greenhow, curator of the Laurel and Hardy Museum and grandson of its founder and former Ulverston mayor, Bill Cubin.
Mark told us: “My first memory is of grandad winding back cine film of Laurel and Hardy. He was just a fan. His big regret was he never wrote to Stan.” Laurel was, ironically, a great letter writer. Mark explained how the house where Stan was born was being renovated and lots of stuff was being thrown out, so Bill simply collected it all together – including the bed and even the mangle!
“A few people would come to Ulverston to find out more about the place where Stan was born. Grandad was a big local character – people would simply say, go and see Bill.”
There was just time for a coffee stop at Gillam’s, another local legend. Young Stan used to buy his toffees here, we were told, back when it was a general grocer’s. Today, it’s a rather stylish coffeehouse and delicatessen, and one of the more venerable among the many independent retailers to be found in this lovely town.
One of the newest has to be the award-winning Shed 1 Distillery, famous not just for its fine gins, but also for its G&Tea, which includes another award-winner: co-owner Zoe Arnold-Bennett’s homemade marmalade.
Honestly, the high tea here just doesn’t get any better. It’s all made by Zoe, and you can enjoy a full cakestand of scones, baked yogurt with chuckleberry jam and a meadowsweet topping, shortbread with a rose, strawberry and almond topping, meringue tart, orange and lavender cake… plus a pipette of gin to add to whichever you like. Some people have been known to add a splash to their cucumber sandwich – others have added some to every single piece!
As for the gins, take your pick from Cuckold’s Revenge, Fancy Frolic, Giggle in the Ginnel, Shed Loads of Love, Chuckleberry and more. Oh, and you can even book in to put together your own compound gin from a selection of some 40 botanicals (many of which make their way into the aforementioned afternoon tea delicacies).
Our Day Two overnight was the Old School House CL, near Broughton-in-Furness. This is a gem of a CL, with its own toilet, firepit (they sell logs here), mains hook-ups and so on, plus lovely views across to Beacon Tarn. Just note there’s a 7.5m vehicle length limit.
As ever with small sites such as this, owners Barbara and Howard Wood proved an absolute encyclopaedia of local ‘best’ – pubs (The Black Cock Inn and The Old Kings Head), walking trails (Coniston Old Railway Line), and beaches (Silecroft, Millom, Haverigg for sand dunes).
Day three of the Cumbrian Coastal Route 200 – Where the Lakes meet the sea
Or, as we prefer to put it, ‘Where We Tracked Down the Home of the Cumberland Sausage’!
Waberthwaite was signposted after a drive across country, up and over the hills (including Black Combe) from Broughton to Ravenglass.
We couldn’t resist dropping into another local shop/butcher’s – RB Woodall – proud home of the aforementioned sausage. One sufficed for both of us for dinner that evening.
Haverigg and Seascale are the official start and end points for this section of the CCR200. Within this stretch, we drove to Ravenglass, home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Roman Baths count as part of Hadrian’s Wall (despite the wall itself being considerably further north), as well as being in the Lake District, which was given World Heritage status in 2017.
You’re probably wondering about our coastal adventures. Well, particularly stormy weather put paid to all that. At three-mile-long, sandy Silecroft, for example, we could barely open the doors of our campervan – we opted to stay inside and watch the foam being whipped up off the incoming tide by the super-strong winds.
Stranger was to follow. Arriving in the late afternoon at our next site, Shepherds Views, we had the Chicken Curry Incident. Lin headed out to the toilet block at around 9pm, only to come across a cat with a can of chicken tikka masala stuck on its head and in obvious distress. Luckily, the poor puss let her remove it. Come on, campers – you know better than to leave empty cans lying around. Remember, wash and squash.
Day four of the Cumbrian Coastal Route 200 – The Nordic coast
This section of the CCR200 takes in the 30 miles between Seascale and Maryport and yes, the A595 and A596 do keep pretty tightly to the coast. We were heading for Whitehaven, a rather grand port in its time, where there were bigger treats to follow. The Rum Story, on Lowther Street, tells the tale of the Jefferson family of wine and spirit merchants – their successful history of trading and how they came to give their name to the one-time official rum of the Royal Navy.
We could have done with a tot or two ourselves that evening. We were staying on Old Kiln Farm CL, near Allonby, and the stormy weather that seemed to be with us throughout the week really did let fly that evening. It all got even wetter, even windier. We were comfortably grounded, though, thanks to fish and chips from Silloth!
Day five of the Cumbrian Coastal Route 200 – Solway Coast to city stay
With time for a drive to take in splendid Allonby Beach and a small part of the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, our first official stop was Senhouse Roman Museum, in Maryport, overlooking Solway Firth.
Hadrian’s Wall is actually much further north, but the museum marks the location of a Roman fort, part of a further ‘leg’ of historic fortifications extending some 40 miles down the coast and designed to keep marauders at bay.
The museum is also home to what is possibly the world’s largest collection of Roman ‘altars’ (small, inscribed stone monuments), as well as a reconstruction of a typical lookout tower.
Heading inland, we visited Cockermouth, birthplace of poet William Wordsworth, with plenty of history, culture and shopping scattered around the Georgian market town.
Guess what? Time had not just caught up with us, it had well and truly overtaken us. We had to admit we were beaten. Carlisle and its famous castle were going to have to wait until another tour. A route to remember, though? You bet!
Are you thinking of trying the tour in your ‘van and are on the lookout for some accessories to take with you? Then take a look at our best campervan gadget guide, where we share our top picks.
When to go on the CCR200
We went in February. You may well want to wait for warmer times with more clement weather, more campsites open and so on – but it will of course be more crowded. In our view, the out-of-season driving and parking were definitely easier.
Way to go
Approach from all angles? Frankly, it’s up to you how much you want to cover on the CCR200. It’s all rather informal, with no official signposting and so on. And all the better for being that way.
For full details of the five stages of the CCR200, see www.visitlakedistrict.com/information/vanlife-lake-district-cumbria/cumbrian-coastal-route.
Where we stayed during the CCR200
Meathop Road, Grange-over-Sands LA11 6RB
Aulthurstside Schoolhouse, Woodland, Broughton-in-Furness LA20 6AE
Holmrook CA19 1XU
Allonby, Maryport CA15 6QH
Brocklebank, Wigton CA7 8BF
Find out more
The CCR200 stretches from Morecambe Bay in the south to Solway in the north and on up to Carlisle. It’s split into five sections, with lots of flexibility – you can start from either end, and you can take as long as you like to do it. Detours and meandering are pretty much obligatory, too!
- Van Life – Lake District, Cumbria
- Lake District Tourism
- A Day’s Walk
- Cartmel Village Shop
- Laurel & Hardy Museum
- Gillam’s Tearoom
- Shed 1 Distillery
- RB Woodall
- Hadrian’s Wall Country
- The Beacon Museum
- The Rum Story
- Senhouse Roman Museum
Lead image: Shutterstock / MNStudio
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