This summer why not embark on a new way to see some of Cumbria’s best museums.

Trails of the Unexpected is a celebration of the artworks and artefacts of galleries, museums and historic houses in Cumbria as well as the well-known artists, writers and dynasties associated with them.

Walk in the footsteps of the Romans, Border Reivers and writers such as William Wordsworth and explore the collections in the context of the landscape.

There are six trails across the county; Wordsworth’s Grasmere, the Romans at Hadrian’s Wall, A Windermere Arts and Crafts Wander, Romanticism Around Rydal Water, Reivers in Carlisle and an Art Adventure in Kendal.

The walks come as a downloadable route and explore the collections in the museums and galleries which include; Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum; Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry, Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House and Abbott Hall Art Gallery.


Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal
Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal

Wordsworth’s Grasmere is a two-hour walk starting and ending at Dove Cottage but taking visitors around some of the most spectacular scenery in the Lake District National Park that inspired William Wordsworth’s poetry.

The walk includes sites such as Sara’s Gate so called because it was a favourite spot of Sara Hutchinson, the poet’s sister-in-law. The walk refers to a rare silhouette of Sara Hutchinson in Dove Cottage.

Dove Cottage, Grasmere
Dove Cottage, Grasmere

At just over three miles long, the walk circles Grasmere along woodland lanes and lakeside paths and shows the visitor the sites that inspired William Wordsworth to write, such as Greenhead Gill, home of the tumultuous brook in his poem Michael.

The Romans at Hadrian’s Wall unearths surprising facts about how the North West frontier of the Roman Empire was defended and illustrates this with the collections in Tullie House Roman Frontier Gallery.

Excavations along Hadrian’s Wall have revealed a number of artefacts such as the intriguing face pots. Two beautiful examples of these were found at Burgh by Sands and are on display at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery.

A handsome backdrop: the fine stonework of the Jacobean house.
A handsome backdrop: the fine stonework of the Jacobean house.

The walks are diverse A Windemere Arts and Crafts Wander starts and ends at Blackwell near Lake Windermere. It takes in the Victorian architecture of the homes built by the businessman such as Manchester brewers, The Holts, who commissioned Blackwell – designed by architect MH Baillie Scott.

Blackwell Arts and Crafts House, Bowness
Blackwell Arts and Crafts House, Bowness

You will walk past Cockshott Point, which was bought in the 1920s by the National Trust with the help of Beatrix Potter – another artist who spent much of her time in Cumbria.

In Kendal the trail takes in the home of eighteenth century portrait painter George Romney whose works are exhibited at Abbott Hall Art Gallery, located in the town.

The Reivers were clans who terrorised the Anglo-Scottish borders from the late 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century. They often raided during the night on horseback and were identified by the Morion helmets they wore – leading to the nickname the steel bonnets. The Reivers trail takes visitors around Carlisle exploring their past and Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery has a full and informative gallery on the clans.

The trails are all available on the website

A map, which illustrates the wider cultural offer in Cumbria is also available for visitors who are planning a trip.

The walks have been developed by Cumbria Museum Consortium in association with award-winning writer Vivienne Crow, as part of a new cultural tourist campaign.

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