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Cumbria and the Lake District

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."

These were the words of William Morris, one of the leading designers of the Arts and Crafts Movement. In an age when mass-production was fast taking over the world, he believed passionately in the importance of fine craftsmanship in buildings and furnishings. Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House a magnificent house overlooking Windermere, was the country retreat of Sir Edward Holt, owner of a Manchester brewery, Mayor of Manchester and, like many of his contemporaries, philanthropic in all his activities. He employed the finest architects and designers to build his dream home, epitomisng the principles of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Today it is an exhibition centre celebrating these roots and supporting the continuing work of fine craftsmanship.

In the midst of the Lake District's most breathtaking scenery in Borrowdale, Honister Slate Mine is still extracting beautiful natural Westmorland Green from the mountainside. The mine is owned and run by Borrowdale-born men, has preserved and still uses age-old skills of slate cutting and provides "real jobs for local people", keeping old traditions alive and creating a great sense of local pride.

For all its remote beauty - and there is no better way to take it all in than a journey with Ullswater 'Steamers' on that most beautiful lake - the Lake District is inextricably linked with Victorian industrial Manchester. The artist and writer John Ruskin retreated to live in the most beautifully situated house, Brantwood, overlooking Coniston. Here he wrote his powerful articles on social justice, making his name as a radical reformer and educational philanthropist.

Head over towards the Cumbrian coast to discover a more industrious side of the county. Leave the Lake District scenery through Cockermouth to visit the Jennings Brewery on the banks of that now infamous river. And don't leave this town without calling in to the Castlegate House Gallery, an independent commerical gallery to rival the best on London's Cork Street!

The exotic flavours of rum, ginger and spices typify much of Cumbria's best loved food - sticky toffee pudding, Cumberland Rum Nicky, Grasmere gingerbread. To find out why, visit The Rum Story at the port of Whitehaven, where rum and spices were brought into Britain from the West Indies. Keep heading south to the lovely La'al Ratty, the much-loved Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway , which used to carry iron ore from the Eskdale mines to the ship-builders of Barrow. And you can find out more about that great industry at the stunning new Dock Museum right at the heart of Barrow's ship-building heritage.

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