Cockermouth - Whitehaven - Maryport drive

A drive of contrasts that encapsulates all that is West Cumbria. From the natural beauty of Lorton Vale and Ennerdale to the industrial heritage of the West coast with its interesting towns, landscapes and coastal scenery.

Route Map

Summary of main attractions on route (click on name for detail)
Distance Attraction Car Park Coordinates
0 miles Cockermouth N 54.66376, W 3.36079
6.8 miles Lanthwaite Wood N 54.58153, W 3.31840
8.9 miles Loweswater N 54.58845, W 3.36137
16.8 miles Ennerdale Water N 54.52487, W 3.41480
19.4 miles Kinniside Stone Circle N 54.51290, W 3.45370
27.8 miles Whitehaven N 54.54760, W 3.59209
34.8 miles Harrington Harbour N 54.61171, W 3.57042
38.3 miles Workington shore N 54.65114, W 3.57685
40.1 miles Workington N 54.64247, W 3.54744
45.7 miles Maryport Coastal Park N 54.70517, W 3.50864
46.4 miles Maryport N 54.71331, W 3.50269
53.9 miles Cockermouth N 54.66376, W 3.36079

The Drive

Distance: 0 miles         Location: Cockermouth, Bitterbeck car park         Coordinates: N 54.66376, W 3.36079

Wordsworth House, Cockermouth
Cockermouth is an ancient market town, formerly a Roman settlement at an important road and river crossing. The nearby Roman Fort of Papcastle is testament to the Roman activity in the area. The Rivers Derwent and Cocker meet in the town and between them drain a huge area of the northern Lake District. The attractive town was devastated by flood waters in 2009 and 2015 when several feet of flood water flowed along the main street. Since then the town has largely been restored and improved and is well worth exploring.

The pretty main street has a number of interesting shops and Georgian buildings including Wordsworth House where the famous poet William Wordsworth was born in 1770 and spent much of his childhood. The National Trust property is open most days March-October apart from Fridays. At the other end of the main street is the popular Jennings Brewery which also offers tours to visitors. Overlooking the Brewery is Cockermouth Castle, some of which dates from the 12th century but is privately owned and rarely open to the public. Other attractions include Castlegate House Gallery, Market Place and some pleasant riverside walks. Pay and display car park.


Leave the car park to meet Market Place at a T junction. Turn right and in only 50m turn right again on Kirkgate which is a narrow opening between buildings. The old lane climbs past the Bitter End Pub & Brewery on the left and soon widens with attractive Georgian properties overlooking the cobbled area on the left. At the top of the hill there are two T junctions in quick succession and you effectively go straight ahead at each to join the B5292 Lorton road. Continue south-eastwards, through the outskirts of the town and soon enter open country. Lorton Vale is one of the most picturesque valleys in the Lakes and you can certainly appreciate it from the road. In the distance you can see some mighty peaks at the head of the valley. Continue to Low Lorton village where the Whatsheaf Inn is on the left. In a further 3 miles, the road descends steeply towards the River Cocker and just before the bridge, Lanthwaite Wood car park is on the left.

Distance: 6.8 miles         Location: Lanthwaite Wood, Crummock Water          Coordinates: N 54.58153, W 3.31840

Crummock Water from Lanthwaite Wood
Lanthwaite Wood is an attractive woodland area which gives pedestrian access to the shores of the Crummock Water and some fabulous views up the lake. From the car park, follow the peaceful forest road which leads approx 0.5 miles through woodland to the lakeshore. The shingle beach is backed by trees and has a well placed bench with wonderful views up the lake. From here it is possible to walk the 8 mile circuit of Crummock Water. Alternatively, approx 0.3 miles along the left shore leads to a pretty boathouse again with good views, or a slightly longer walk along the right shore leads over the outflow to the River Cocker, past a water company pump house to a wonderful large shingle beach with even better views. National Trust pay and display car park with no facilities.


Exit the car park and turn left towards Loweswater. Continue through some very pleasing countryside for approx 0.5 miles to a red telephone box on the left. If you turn left here a short detour loop takes you to the popular Kirkstile Inn which has its own microbrewery and provides refreshments in a glorious setting. Adjacent is St Bartholomew’s Church, again in a lovely setting. Back on the picturesque valley road, soon you see Loweswater lake on the left with an impressive mountainous backdrop. The road descends to the lakeshore and through a wooded section. Views of the lake are slightly restricted by the trees but are still good and you might also see a red squirrel. The road then climbs away from the lake and views open up again. Very shortly meet a layby parking area on the left, just before the end of the lake.

Distance: 8.9 miles         Location: Loweswater          Coordinates: N 54.58845, W 3.36137

Loweswater is a relatively small, remote and beautiful lake which is worth exploring. With no developments around its shores, the lake is very peaceful and is surrounded by some wonderful hills and scenery. On the southern shore is Holme Wood, a pretty woodland area which is one of the few remaining strongholds of the red squirrel and also includes Holme Force waterfall set high above the lakeshore. The parking area has views through trees over the lake but no direct access to the shore. There is limited shore access from the road further back but the best pedestrian access is from the excellent footpath along the southern shore. Access to that path can be gained from the next layby, approx 0.2 miles beyond. From there an undulating footpath leads approx 0.5 miles across the fields and down to the lakeshore. You can also walk around the whole lake which is approx 3 miles. Free layby parking but no facilities.


Beyond the lake the road climbs and soon passes through a sharp left turn and over a summit. The road then descends with good open views towards the coast before entering the village of Lamplugh where you meet a T junction and turn left. Pass St Michael’s Church and continue approx 1 mile, ignoring a left turn to Ennerdale Lake, to meet the main A5086 at a T junction and turn left. In approx 0.4 miles take the left turn towards Ennerdale. Once through the village of Kirkland, you can see the wonderful Ennerdale valley on your left. The road descends and soon enters the village of Ennerdale Bridge. Pass the Shepherds Arms Hotel on the right and turn immediate left then left again to Ennerdale Lake. Continue out of the village for approx 0.4 miles and take the first right turn. Drive through Broadmoor Forest for approx 0.7 miles and cross the River Ehen to meet Bleach Green car park on the left.

Distance: 16.8 miles         Location: Ennerdale Water, Bleach Green car park          Coordinates: N 54.52487, W 3.41480

Ennerdale Water is the most westerly and most peaceful of all the Lake District lakes. Due to its remoteness and lack of development it gets relatively few visitors but it is certainly a beautiful lake and location. The main use of the lake is water supply to West Cumbria but you would hardly know it. There are no public roads around the lake but two car parks nearby and the one at Bleach Green gives easiest pedestrian access. From the car park, follow the good footpath through the trees and along the track for approx 0.2 miles to the lakeshore. At the lake you will see the river outflow weir and fish pass along with some fabulous views up the lake towards the mountains beyond. The grassy area nearby to the right is ideal for a picnic and paddle. There is a lovely path around the lake which is 7 miles in total or shorter walks are possible. Ennerdale Valley running beyond the lake is also very remote with a private forest track giving access to Black Sail Youth Hostel several miles up the valley. Free car park with no facilities.


Retrace your steps back to Ennerdale Bridge village and turn left at the T junction towards Whitehaven. Cross the River Ehen and on the right is a playground, St Mary’s Church and the Fox & Hounds pub. Continue out of the village and take the first left towards Gosforth. Continue along the rolling road for approx 1 mile to Kinniside stone circle on the left.

Distance: 19.4 miles         Location: Kinniside Stone Circle         Coordinates: N 54.51290, W 3.45370

Kinniside Stone Circle
Kinniside stone circle is an impressive monument, not just because of the ancient stones but also the wonderful surrounding views. The relatively small circle has clearly been reconstructed in modern times as the 11 stones are set in concrete but these are apparently the original stones in the original positions. The circle is in a picturesque open moorland setting with distant views towards the west coast and also over the surrounding hills. The circle is adjacent to the road allowing easy access. There is free roadside parking and entry but no facilities.


Retrace your steps back 1 mile to the T junction and turn left towards Whitehaven. Continue through open countryside for just over 2 miles to cross the River Ehen where there is a pleasant grassy river access area. Beyond this the road climbs to a T junction with the main A5086. Turn right then immediate left on the B5295. Pass through the town of Cleator Moor which built up in the 19th century around local coal mines and iron works. There is a post office and shop on the left.

Beyond Cleator Moor there is some open country before entering the outskirts of Whitehaven. Soon meet a mini-roundabout, take the first exit and descend to another mini-roundabout where you take the second exit. Shortly take the right lane at the traffic lights to turn right on the main A595. Immediately get in the left lane to take the A5094 towards Whitehaven town centre. After approx 0.5 miles, pass straight through the first traffic lights, then take the right lane at the second traffic lights to continue towards Town Centre. On the left is a retail park and on the right is an impressive building known as Whitehaven Castle although it is now a private residence. Soon meet further traffic lights and turn left. At the next mini-roundabout take the second exit and after approx 150m, Quay Street car park is on the left.

Distance: 27.8 miles         Location: Whitehaven, Quay Street car park          Coordinates: N 54.54760, W 3.59209

Whitehaven harbour
Whitehaven is an attractive coastal town with an interesting history and a number of attractions for visitors. The town grew up in the 17th & 18th centuries with the boom of local coal mining and the port soon became one of the most important in the country for coal export. The Georgian town was largely planned and built during this boom and the grid patterned streets were quite unique at the time. The coal mines eventually closed and the port became redundant but the harbour area has been redeveloped in recent times as a marina and tourist attraction and is worth exploring.

The Beacon museum is on the harbour side and tells the history of the local area. Up on the hill above the harbour is Haig Colliery mining museum which is an old colliery where you can discover how the coal was mined. In the town itself the Rum Story attraction tells the darker history of the area and nearby is St Nicholas’ Church which was largely destroyed by fire in 1971 but the tower and pretty gardens are open to the public. Buried here is Mildred Gale, the grandmother of first US President George Washington, who briefly lived and died in the town. Up the nearby hill is St James’ Church which has a beautiful Georgian interior. Pay and display car park.


Leave Quay Street, turning left at the T junction. Immediately meet a roundabout and take the second exit towards Workington. Stay in the left lane of the one-way system to continue northwards. As the road becomes two-way again, pass a Tesco supermarket on the left and continue uphill away from Whitehaven town centre. The road continues through the outskirts of the town and soon enters open country with some sea views. Shortly meet a large roundabout and take the first exit which is the new A595 Distington bypass, opened in 2009. Continue along the dual carriageway for approx 2.5 miles to another roundabout and take the first exit, A597, towards Harrington. Soon enter High Harrington, take the first exit at the mini-roundabout and descend to a dip in the road at a pedestrian crossing where you turn left. Pass through Harrington village where there is a post office and shop. Continue under the low railway bridge and see the harbour on the right. Just beyond is a toilet block on the right where you turn immediate right and parking is at the end of this dead end road.

Distance: 34.8 miles         Location: Harrington Harbour         Coordinates: N 54.61171, W 3.57042

Harrington harbour access area
Similar to many other west coast recreational sites, Harrington harbour was once a hive of industrial activity that has since been cleared and landscaped to leave a pleasant coastal access area with good sea views. Harrington town grew up around the harbour which was built for coal export in the mid-18th century. Various industries also flourished including coal mines, iron works, steel making and ship building. All that disappeared with the decline in the manufacturing industry and the town is a shadow of its former self but the harbour area provides a good open space to explore and stretch your legs. The old harbour is still mostly intact and there is a large expanse of open grass where you can walk some distance along the coast. The mostly stony beach is backed by a sea wall and there are fine views out to sea towards southern Scotland and the Isle of Man. Free car park with nearby toilet facilities.


Retrace your steps back under the railway bridge and through Harrington to the T junction where you turn left on the A597. Continue through the outskirts of Workington for approx 1.6 miles, taking the first exit at the Asda mini-roundabout, to a larger roundabout where you take the first exit. Pass a retail park on the right and continue straight ahead at two mini-roundabouts to meet a T junction where you turn left. Soon cross an old railway line and turn immediate right. To the right are views over the mouth of the River Derwent and Workington Port. At the end of the road the car park is on the left.

Distance: 38.3 miles         Location: Workington shore          Coordinates: N 54.65114, W 3.57685

Workington shore
Another pleasant but once industrial coastal access area which has good views in all directions, coastal walks and a beach. The open, mostly grassy land forms a promontory guarding the mouth of the River Derwent and you can watch activities at the still operational Workington Port. The site also offers good views southwards towards St Bees Head, northwards beyond the many wind turbines, out to sea towards southern Scotland and the Isle of Man plus inland towards the Lake District mountains. There are good paths along the cliff tops immediately to the south giving even better views. The beach is mostly stony at high tide but exposes an expanse of hard sand at low tide. Free car park but no other facilities.


Retrace your steps, crossing the old railway line again but continue straight ahead at the retail park turning. Soon the road crosses the railway bridge and you take the right lane as you approach the T junction. Turn left and stay in the right lane around the island to take the second exit for B5297, Town Centre. Continue along this road for approx 0.5 miles to a mini-roundabout where you take the third exit. Very shortly take the first left turn and Central car park is on the left.

Distance: 40.1 miles         Location: Workington, Central car park         Coordinates: N 54.64247, W 3.54744

Portland Square, Workington
Workington, like many other local towns, grew up largely around the coal industry and had a significant boom around the 18th century. Again there were dozens of coal mines in the area, some extended out to sea underground and the town also became a centre for steel making. Although it eventually became a significant port, the old town was on higher ground slightly inland. This old town area, slightly east of the shopping centre, is an interesting place to explore and includes the attractive Portland Square, the striking St John’s Church and the Helena Thompson Museum which reflects the history of the area. Across the A66 is Curwen Park containing the impressive ruins of Workington Hall which was the home of the Curwen family who helped develop the area during the boom years. For some retail therapy, the town centre has plenty to offer including Washington Square shopping centre which has a number of popular high street stores. Pay and display car park.


Leave the car park and return to the mini-roundabout to take the second exit on the B5297. At the T junction ahead, turn left towards Maryport. Passing Debenhams on the left and Curwen Park on the right, descend to cross the River Derwent on Workington Bridge. This area was devastated during the November 2009 flood and the bridge was badly damaged although not destroyed. At the roundabout take the first exit to follow the river and soon pass under the new Northside Bridge, built to replace the one that was destroyed in November 2009. At the roundabout take the second exit, A596 towards Maryport. Soon pass Dunmail Park shopping centre on the right and continue passing various industrial sites and wind turbines. There are limited sea views as you pass Flimby village and not far beyond, take the first left turn signposted to Tourist Attractions. Approx 100m on the left is Maryport Coastal Park car park.

Distance: 45.7 miles         Location: Maryport Coastal Park          Coordinates: N 54.70517, W 3.50864

Maryport Coastal Park
This undulating coastal park covers quite a large area, running approx 1 mile southwards from Maryport harbour. The car park gives access towards the centre of the park and the coast is only a couple of minutes walk along a decent path. The open grassy area is another old industrial site made good and there are coastal paths leading in both directions. There are great views out to sea towards southern Scotland and each way along the coast. The beach is mostly stony at high tide but exposes a large expanse of hard sand at low tide. Free car park but no other facilities.


Leave the car park and turn left. Continue approx 0.6 miles, passing through the outskirts of Maryport and alongside the River Ellen to The Wave Centre on the right. Irish Street car park is opposite on the left.

Distance: 46.4 miles         Location: Maryport, Irish Street car park          Coordinates: N 54.71331, W 3.50269

Maryport is another West Cumbrian town that largely developed during the 18th century due to the local coal boom. Like Whitehaven, the town was developed with a grid patterned street design centred on the busy harbour and on Fleming Square which remains an attractive cobbled square surrounded by Georgian architecture. The industry is long gone but the pleasant harbour area has been redeveloped in recent years and is worth exploring. You can learn about the interesting history of the area at The Maritime Museum and nearby is The Lake District Coast Aquarium which is a good family attraction. The Wave entertainment centre has various attractions including tourist information. Pay and display car park with toilet facilities.

Long before the coal boom, the town was also a Roman settlement with defences which extended from Hadrians Wall down the west coast. On the hill at the northern end of the town are the remains of a Roman Fort adjacent to the Senhouse Roman Museum which contains interesting Roman artefacts. The Roman Fort area has some wonderful views across the harbour and out to sea towards southern Scotland, as does the promenade below which provides a good walk along the sea front.


Leave the car park and turn left. Very shortly take the right turn to cross the River Ellen and proceed up the small hill to turn left where ahead is no entry. Continue past a toilet block and Post Office to turn right at the next T junction. The road descends through the town to traffic lights at a cross roads by the church. Continue straight ahead on the A594 towards Cockermouth. After passing through the town suburbs, the road climbs away from Maryport and enters the village of Dearham. The village contains the ancient church of St Mungo's and a popular pie shop, Cottage Pie, on the right alongside the A594.

Continue on the A594 beyond Dearham for just over 2 miles to Dovenby village and the Ship Inn on the left. Just beyond on the right is Dovenby Hall, home to the Ford World Rally Team. Continue approx 1.3 miles to a roundabout and take the second exit, A5086 to Cockermouth. The road descends to meet the outskirts of Cockermouth and you cross over the River Derwent to a mini-roundabout. Take the first exit towards Cockermouth town centre, then straight ahead at another mini-roundabout to pass along the attractive main street. As the road becomes narrower, cross over the River Cocker and just beyond turn right to Market Place. Almost immediately, turn right again to Bitterbeck car park.

Distance: 53.9 miles         Location: Cockermouth, Bitterbeck car park         Coordinates: N 54.66376, W 3.36079

Cockermouth, River Derwent
Return to start point.