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For Tourists

The visitor to Cumbria must not expect to find the large and stately parish churches of, say, East Anglia or Wessex. More typical of this area are the little friendly whitewashed churches of the dales, built late in the middle ages or in the seventeenth century, as plain and straightforward as the men who made them.

Few buildings survive from before the Norman Conquest, although there are many interesting pieces of Anglo-Saxon and Viking age sculpture including two of the finest crosses in England, at Bewcastle and Gosforth. However, it is a great area of Norman churches; time and again you will find the heavy pillars and rounded arches typical of the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. Because of the wars with Scotland which began in 1297 there was little cash to spare for church building in the Decorated and Perpendicular styles, although there are glorious exceptions in Carlisle Cathedral and Cartmel Priory. Eighteenth century prosperity gave the towns some fine new churches, as at Whitehaven, Workington and Penrith. Cumbria did not escape the Victorian passion for church rebuilding - indeed the poverty of earlier years meant there was essential work for the Victorians to do.

The primary function of all churches, whether pre-Norman or present day, is as places of worship; and it is hoped that visitors will spare some time from admiring the structure of the buildings to join the local congregations at their services.

This website offers a number of different church trails for you to download. Trails are cycle friendly as well as for car drivers.

Church Trail Leaflets

Church Trail - out on the BorderChurch Trail - out on the Border
File size  28kb    File date  6 Nov 2014
Church trail from ApplebyChurch trail from Appleby
File size  273kb    File date 23 Apr 2014
Church Trail from Kirkby StephenChurch Trail from Kirkby Stephen
File size  216kb    File date 23 Apr 2014
Church Trail from ShapChurch Trail from Shap
File size  190kb    File date 23 Apr 2014
Church Trail from OrtonChurch Trail from Orton
File size  269kb    File date 23 Apr 2014
Church Trail from MorlandChurch Trail from Morland
File size  256kb    File date 23 Apr 2014
Exploring Cumbrian ChurchesExploring Cumbrian Churches
File size  37kb    File date 23 Apr 2014
Church Trail west of KeswickChurch Trail west of Keswick
File size  6kb    File date 23 Apr 2014
Church Trail southwards from WhitehavenChurch Trail southwards from Whitehaven
File size  8kb    File date 23 Apr 2014
Church Trail around SkiddawChurch Trail around Skiddaw
File size  6kb    File date 23 Apr 2014
Church Trail - the land of CartmelChurch Trail - the land of Cartmel
File size  6kb    File date 23 Apr 2014
Church Trail around PenrithChurch Trail around Penrith
File size  6kb    File date 23 Apr 2014
Church Trail - Saints in EdenChurch Trail - Saints in Eden
File size  230kb    File date 23 Apr 2014

There are also some Church Trails developed with the help of Churches Trust for Cumbria

  • Sacred Solway is a trail between 10 churches in the north of the county built from the stones of Hadrian's wall
  • Railways and Religion in the Western Dales Faith Trail takes in 12 small, serene chapels and churches and explains their history to the development of the railway
  • Land, Sea & Spirit - the relationship of these 3 vital elements are explored through 15 churches in the Furness Peninsula.