Flung out on the very edge of England, on the border of the Debatable Lands, the fortress city of Carlisle is certainly no stranger to conflict: throughout its 2000-year history it’s been the site of more sieges, skirmishes and sackings than almost anywhere else in the country.
The city’s massive castle still stands as a reminder of its tempestuous past, but somehow its crenellated battlements, turrets and stout walls have managed to survive the centuries relatively intact. Carlisle is also home to Cumbria’s only cathedral, built from the same rosy red sandstone that characterises the castle and many of the city’s houses; during the 18th and 19th centuries, Carlisle became a bustling hub of the Industrial Revolution, and many of its neat red-brick terraces grew up to house the huge numbers of workers needed to keep the factories and mills running. These days, most of the heavy industries have moved on, and Carlisle is better known for its lively nightlife and busy shops, and as a handy base for exploring the Eden Valley and the Northern Lakes.
Carlisle destination guides
Hadrian's Wall Trail
Discover Roman history in Britain as you walk along Hadrian's Wall