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Despite stretching for more than 100 miles, Cumbria’s west coast often slips below the radar for people planning a visit.

From the border with Scotland in the north, down to Morecambe Bay in the south (which has its very own blog that you can read here), this blog focuses on the stretch from the Solway Firth down to Millom.

From family attractions to wide open spaces, here’s our handy guide to enjoying ten exciting places to visit during a trip along Cumbria’s west coast – where the Lake District meets the sea.

MUNCASTER CASTLE

The iconic Muncaster Castle stands proudly near The Lake District National Park’s only coastal village, Ravenglass – and is famous for being the only castle in the UK which still employs a full-time Jester, and for being the home of various spooks which reportedly still roam the hallways by night…Nestled in peaceful woodland and gardens, visitors can enjoy stunning views of the Lake District fells and Eskdale, while youngsters will take great delight in exploring the castle’s Enchanted Trail and Meadowvole Maze. The castle is also home to Muncaster Hawk & Owl Centre, with a large population birds of prey which take part in fascinating displays of elegance.

WHITEHAVEN HARBOUR

Harking back to the town’s rich maritime heritage, Whitehaven’s 17th century harbour evokes memories of its former life as a bustling port which saw Cumbria trade with countries all over the world. Complimented by a brand new marina, the harbour serves as a platform for numerous maritime events all-year round which even includes visits from stunning tall ships.

THE BEACON MUSEUM

Looming over the harbour like a watchful guardian, The Beacon Museum hosts a permanent exhibition about the town of Whitehaven, with its extra galleries playing host to a range of temporary and touring exhibitions which spill the beans on local tales of Roman and Viking Heritage. The viewing gallery high on the fourth floor gives visitors a chance to see the harbour from a new angle with even more of the town’s Georgian heyday becoming apparent.

SOLWAY COAST AONB

Not to be confused with Bowness-on-Windermere, the small coastal village of Bowness-on-Solway sits on the edge of the Solway Firth and Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Hadrian's Wall walking trail starts (or ends) here, and it also serves as a good starting point for those keen on cycling part – or all – of the Hadrian’s Wall Cycleway. The Solway Coast AONB is also popular with birdwatchers and those with a passion for discovering barely-used rights of way through this little-known Cumbrian gem.

THE RAVENGLASS AND ESKDALE RAILWAY

With narrow gauge steam locomotives trundling through seven miles of beautiful scenery from the coast to the foot of England’s highest mountain Scafell Pike, The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway follows an unforgettable route through to Dalegarth station in the Eskdale Valley. Upon arrival, visitors can explore the village of Boot, paddle in the River Esk, or head up the secluded Dalegarth Falls. The railway also has its very own museum, documenting the history of the line’s former industrial rich heritage.

SENHOUSE ROMAN MUSEUM

Stood atop the Maryport cliffs – with Rome conveniently signposted, The Senhouse Roman Museum houses an internationally significant collection of Roman artefacts including military altars, sculptures and objects that tell the story of the Romans’ life in Cumbria, by illustrating countless fascinating tales through its impressive collection of exhibits.

HAVERIGG & SILECROFT BEACHES

Haverigg’s coast features lovely soft sand dunes while local residents are always pleased to point out that the beautiful beach itself is among the UK’s cleanest. Best visited at low tide to ensure you make the most of the available space, dogs are welcome to run-free here, although they should be kept on a lead near the RSPB Hodbarrow Nature Reserve.

Just around the corner within walking distance, Silecroft’s shingle beach stretches as far as the eye can see, with plenty of wide open space to be enjoyed at low tide. Silecroft also has official Site of Special Scientific Interest status thanks to its bird and marine life.

There are plenty more noteworthy beaches in Cumbria too, which you read about in our Top Ten Beaches blog.

LAKE DISTRICT COAST AQUARIUM

The Lake District Coast Aquarium is the home of almost 100 different tanks, boasting the most diverse range of marine life which can be found both locally and nationally. The team at the Harbour side Cafe will make sure you don’t go hungry – and there’s even a bait shop for those visitors who enjoy fishing. A great stop-off point for the whole family, there’s also a 14 hole golf course, a play area and an opportunity to test your skills with some radio controlled boats too!

THE RUM STORY

Offering another look at Whitehaven’s history, The Rum Story attraction traces the history of the rum trade and how it was transported to Britain via the town’s harbour which served as a gateway to the rest of the world. In addition to revealing how rum was imported here from the Caribbean, you will discover more about the significance of the rum trade internationally as a whole. Be warned – this attraction also smells good, so prepare to become somewhat light-headed!

ST BEES HERITAGE COAST

A lovely place where you could simply walk around all day, the St Bees Heritage Coast is the scene of St Bees Head, where towering red sandstone cliffs plunge towards the mile-long beach below. With unforgettable views across the Irish Sea, St Bees Head will also satisfy the inner birdwatcher in all of us, with an RSPB nature reserve nearby and the cliffs themselves used by hundreds of nesting birds. At low tide your dog will love to burn-off some energy here, while children will adore dipping their fishing nets into the numerous rock pools at low tide.

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