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The local area guide to living in Cumbria

Cumbria is a beautiful rural county in North West England. One of the most naturally beautiful areas of the UK, it encompasses the famous Lake District, part of the Yorkshire Dales, the North Pennines, and the Eden Valley - making it very attractive to hikers, ramblers, and holiday-makers.

Cumbria became a county in 1974 and is the third-largest in England. Despite its large size, it is remarkably sparsely populated; it has a population of under 500,000 and only two major urban centres - Carlisle (the county town) and Barrow-in-Furness.

The outstanding beauty of the area - especially within the Lake District - has served as inspiration for countless poets, writers, musicians, and artists over the centuries. Its beautiful peaks, valleys, rivers, and forests are world famous.

Despite the peace travellers find there today, Cumbria's history is a bloody one, having seen many battles between the English and Scottish. As such, it has several sites of historic interest, including Hadrian's Wall, Furness Abbey, and Carlisle Castle. The castle has been the site of at least five sieges over the years, as the English and Scottish disputed the territory, and also during the Jacobite Risings of the 18th century. Since then it has been a much calmer place, and, despite the Industrial Revolution expanding the size of its towns, has avoided over-development.

Information About The Local Residents

Cumbria has the second lowest population density of all English Counties, with its only city being Carlisle, and a population density of just 73 people per square kilometre.

The mean age, as is common in rural areas, is a little above the national average, at 42.9 compared to 39.3. The median age is 44, and around 28% of people are over 60.

More than 70% of households are owned in Cumbria, whether outright or through a mortgage, which is nearly 10% more than the rest of England – in fact just 11.3% are privately rented. Unemployment is fairly low as well, with just 2.5% of the population registered for Jobseekers Allowance which compares to 3.3% for England.

Nearby Schools

Cumbria has one state grammar school, in Penrith, with the rest being overwhelmingly comprehensive. There are 42 state secondary schools and a further 10 private schools.

Those schools further away from the major towns tend to have their own sixth forms, while more urban schools tend to finish at 16. In Barrow-In-Furness there is only one school with its own sixth form - Chetwynde School, which is independent.

Chetwynde School has a nursery, primary, secondary, and sixth form section, and is one of the top performing non-selective schools in the county. It is co-educational.

There are several good colleges of further education in the county. These include Barrow-in-Furness Sixth Form College, Cumbria Institute of the Arts, Furness College, Kendal College, and Carlisle College among many others. There is also a university within Cumbria, the University of Cumbria, which was founded in 2007.

Getting Around

There is just one motorway running through the county - the M6. It runs through Penrith and Kendal and finishes in Carlisle. However, there are several good major A roads within the county offering residents effective transport between the towns. Cumbria provides some famously beautiful drives through its countryside, which makes travelling by car a more than attractive prospect.

Cumbria has two airports: Carlisle Lake District and Barrow/Walney Island. They are small, but both have proposals in place to expand.

Railway links are good through Cumbria, partly as a remnant of the Industrial Revolution, and some of the journeys are quite beautiful.

Local Shops

Carlisle, as the county town, is the main shopping destination. The Lanes Shopping Centre has more than 70 stores, which include household names such as Debenhams, Monsoon, Next, and New Look. It also has some specialist artisan shops.

The rest of the town is dotted with small stores, restaurants, pubs, cafes, and boutiques. Across the county as a whole, there are some fantastic markets, farm shops and stores selling locally produced wares.


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