skip to main content

Be County-Wise and get to know the Historic Counties!

Search for:
 Menu

Westmorland

westmorland

Westmorland is one of the Lake Counties. It is a mountainous shire, with some of the grandest scenery of the land. The heart of Westmorland lies in the Lakeland fells. One of the most famous roads is that over the Kirkstone Pass, a bleak, sheer rock pass across the mountains. Westmorland touches the sea in the River Kent estuary as it enters Morecambe Bay. This point divides Lancashire into two. At the head of the Ken dale is Kendal, around which is a pleasant land of low hills. Westward is Windermere, which marks the boundary with the Furness district of Lancashire, the largest lake in England, though not the largest in the whole country. Ambleside, at the head of Windermere, is a delightful town hard up against the mountains. From here a wee lane runs steeply up to the Kirkstone Pass. Across the mountains is Edendale. The River Eden runs from Mallerstang Common through Kirkby Stephen down to Appleby-in-Westmorland. Appleby is the county town (though the difficulties of travelling through the mountainous landscape made Kendal in days past a secondary county town). Edendale is a low, green dale conveying a pretty river, caught between fell country on either side and dividing the Lakeland fells from the main Pennine range. Near Temple Sowerby the Eden is joined by the Lyvennet, whose own little dale holds much hidden history. The Eden finally leaves Westmorland soon after that. The boundary between Westmorland and Cumberland is possibly the highest south of the Highlands. In the east it runs up the beck that becomes the River Tees to its source and at once down the Crowdundle Beck into Edendale and the Eden. Then up the Eamont it sunders Penrith from Eamont Bridge and to Ullswater, the second great lake of the fells. From Ullswater the boundary takes to the fells, climbing to the peak of mighty Helvellyn, Bow Fell and across many peaks and ridges to the precipitous Wrynose Pass. There a stone marks where three counties meet. From the Westmorland side of Helvellyn is Striding Edge, a long knife-edge ridge walk, both famous and infamous. Northwest of Ambleside is the most celebrated part of the Lakes by Rydal Water and Grasmere. This intensely picturesque area is Wordsworth Country, the home and inspiration of one of our finest lyric poets.

County Facts

County Town: Appleby

Main Towns: Ambleside, Appleby, Bowness-On-Windermere, Grasmere, Kendal, Kirby Lonsdale, Kirkby Stephen, Windermere.

Main Rivers: Eden, Rothay.

Highlights: Helvellyn; Kirkstone Pass; Wordsworth Museum, Grasmere.

Highest Point: Helvellyn, 3118 feet.

Area: 783 sq miles

County Flower: Alpine Forget-me-Not

County Day: 29th September (Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland 1397)