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Carlisle will always be home to me even though it's been 13 years now since I left to work in Manchester, and now rural Cheshire. With work and two kids I hardly ever get home now, though I still get that feeling when we pass the 'Welcome to Cumbria' sign on the M6 that I'm nearly back! It's changed a lot in the time I've been away in some ways but not in others. The shopping centre has altered a lot with more big names coming and there is certainly more choice than before. Then, if you wanted anything really, you had to go over to Newcastle. Me and my friend used to get the Irvings bus on a day trip to either there on the Metro Centre which was a big trip when we were 13! Now, there does seem to be more choice. Also, there are more bars that before but to me it's become a bit faceless, all a bit 'chainy'. We only used to go to the Kings Head, the Boardroom then off to the Twisted Wheel in our indie days! But it's not changed in the fact there is little in the way of jobs and work. I left at 21 with my job and am not likely, now married and with kids, that I'll ever go back because what would I do? I was desperately homesick after my first born and really wanted to go home. Carlisle is a smalltown, surrounded by fantastic countryside, and I was a little fish in huge Manchester and hated it. But it amazes me, the more I go home that new apartments and houses are springing up everywhere, but where are the jobs for the people they are marketing these house at? I'm aware my review is starting to sound like I'm whinging (twining!) but I'm not, cos if there were more opportunities I'd be back. It's a great place to bring up families. But then, if there WERE all these jobs and what not, I suppose that would mean it would grow and then it wouldn't be Carlisle anymore. It would be another urban sprawl spreading over the lovely countryside. So I take back what I said! If you live and work in Carlisle, you're lucky. It's a great place. Anyone else, go and visit soon. Lots for the visitor if you like your outdoors and your history. I must stick the kids in the car and head back up the M6 very soon...... Bacardi and Coke at the Pagoda anyone?
The border city represents a stronghold passed between England and Scotland many times in the past. Always fortified in some way, this was a settlement on Hadrian's famous wall and remained important thereafter-at one time to keep the Scots out and later to open up trade with them. A walled town steeped in history, much of it bloody, it's a lovely place to visit. Location Carlisle is located about 20 minutes drive from Scotland and 90 minutes drive from Newcastle. It is the only city in Cumbria and situated at the very North of the county, above the Lake District national park boundary. In some ways, a city seems out of place in a county made up of small market towns, hamlets and lakes. However, this is no ordinary city-we aren't taking major cosmopolitan development here-more a town which just happens to have a Cathedral. Carlisle United Football Club is the only League Football club in the county and therefore much beloved by locals. Despite a decline in recent years and a tendency to follow promotion and cup wins with immediate relegation, old timers still recall the season of 1974 when Carlisle were in the old first division and played host to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United. Shopping Most of the shopping in Carlisle is concentrated around one long main street with a few artery streets off from it and the Lanes Shopping centre and Carlisle Markets at one end. The Lanes is a small covered shopping centre with a meeting place in the middle and a multi-storey at the end. However for cheaper parking, use the Town Dykes Car Park-often referred to locally as Sallyport. Museums Carlisle Castle houses a military museum which is excellent value for money at £4.50 per person but best of all, go across the road to Tullie House. Don't even think about using the ugly white monstrosity that is the millennium bridge, use the underpass where you will find a stone corridor lined with relics uncovered in the Roman excavation of 1999. There is also a stone monument depicted the curse placed on the people of Carlisle by the bishop of Glasgow due to Reiver activity in 1525 At over 1000 words long, it is quite a read-he must have been very displeased! Tullie House has an art gallery which has a free exhibition that changes regularly and a permanent museum covering local history from the Roman forts to the Border Reivers (look them up, it's fascinating stuff) Nightlife There are only a few clubs left in Carlisle, with chain late bars like Walkabout taking over the Botchergate end of town. No longer is the brilliant Twisted Wheel of my youth, but Moods is the main club these days. There are some decent venues for gigs with some larger bands and comedy acts coming to the Sands Centre and the Brickyard being a great smaller venue. Mostly, Carlisle nightlife is centred around the pubs and a few have barely changed in the last decade, whether you think that's a good or a bad thing is really a personal opinion-Myself, I'm all in favour as it adds to my feelings of Nostalgia whenever I return to the homeland Greenery. There are a couple of decent parks in Carlisle-Bitts Park for families and Rickerby Park for a riverside location to walk the dog. However, you're so close to the Solway coast and the Lake District, you may as well head west or south and get a real feel of the countryside
Carlisle is very handy for me as i meet my friends there because it is like half way between us, i am originally from newcastle area and now live in cumbria, i drive to carlisle whilst my friends use trains and buses. It is a really accessible place by rail or road. (However, i have used the train once to get there from where i live and it took nearly 3 hours on the direct service!) There is a number of car parks located around the city centre which is handy as usually in such a place parking can be a problem. It is a decent sized border city with alot of shops and things to do, some parts of the city could do with tidying up a little but others maintain the historic look of the city. Carlisle is covered with bits of history, there is a 900 year old castle and a cathedral that i think is even older! The city is very cultural and outside of the main city, it is surrounded by countryside. The town centre offers alot of shops, restaurants, cafes and other services which are great for a day out shopping. Carlisle also holds, farmers markets, continental markets and food festival/fairs which i think take places either yearly or twice yearly. Also, at christmas Carlisle has lots of christmas lights on show. Carlisle also has galleries, museums, ancient forts and cathedral (small yet stunning) etc. There seems to be a lot of things to see, do and experience in Carlisle and is a nice enough city to want to do some of these. (i have previously posted this review on helphound usernam: emz809)
Carlisle has changed beyond recognition during the past 15 years. It has gone from being a friendly little City to a busy, noisy environment like many of our larger cities. Although I say it is a small city which it is in terms of the actual inner city area, it is also the largest city in England because the city boundaries extend so far in all directions. Carlisle is still somewhat cut off from the rest of the country in that it has no international airport. There have been plans to extend the existing local airport, but these have never got off the ground. So, if you want to fly in you have to go to Newcastle and use the train, or a drive across the 90 mile gap to Carlisle. The other options are Glasgow airport and Airport. There is the main railway line but train times are very restricted and if you want to travel late at night, or on a Sunday you will find that there are few trains if any. For example, if you want to get to Preston on a Sunday you cannot travel until after 2pm. So, we are fairly well cut off from the rest o0f the country where transport is concerned. The City used to be a network of small shopping lanes but now these have been knocked down and there is a large shopping centre in their place. Names like Long Lane, Globe Lane and Drovers Lane still exist and are a tribute to their heritage but the ultra modern New Lanes Shopping centre now stands on the site of the Old Lanes. Here there is a whole range of modern shops like Debenhams, HMV, Next, New Look, H&M, Faith, Quiz, etc. There is however, no supermarket in the Lanes. You have to go across the road to Marks and Spencer or Tesco for this. Apart from a range of shops Carlisle has a cathedral which boasts the largest stained glass window in Britain, a Castle and a number of historic buildings including the Prior's Ceiling (at the Cathedral) The Guildhall and The Citadel. It is only a few miles from Hadrian's Wall and parts of the structure are visible just a few miles away. Tullie House is a Jacobean Mansion which houses the museum and art gallery and is surrounded by historic gardens including a herb garden and a Roman Well. Various plaques in the City centre commemorate various historical events and eras. For example, there is a list of charges to made for entrance into the city which is attached to the old north gate. It lists various animals at 1d each and Scotsman at 2d each. At the bottom is a note that reminds visitors that Scotsmen must leave the City before nightfall. On the wall near Woolworth's there is a plaque commemorating the last hanging in England. Accommodation is easily found in Carlisle with a choice of many hotels including the Ibis, Crown and Mitre, Lakes Court hotel and others in the town centre. Gretna Green is just a short drive away and Robert The Bruce's Cave on the Scottish side of the border is another popular tourist spot. Out to the west is the Solway First with its mud flats, sand dunes and spectacular birdlife. Carlisle has everything you need including many nightspots and clubs grouped together on the southern side of the city centre. You can find plenty of interest in and around the City Centre and access to the lake District is easy by bus coach, train, or car.
Who better to tell you about Carlisle, than a born and bred Carlislean?!! Everything there is to know about Carlisle, I can tell you... Well, most of it anyhow!! Now, where shall we start? Well, the best part of Carlisle has to be the city centre. The main part of which is The Lanes Shopping Centre. Recently refurbished it now houses over 70 top name shops including Debenhams, Quiz, Gap, HMV, Scotts, Faith and JD Sports. There are over 600 parking spaces in the shopping centre which is over half a million feet of of premium shopping covered by a glass roof. (Perfect for when its raining!!) There is a newly designed centre square with plenty of seating and a coffee bar, which is now a no - smoking area. Outside of the lanes there are hundreds of other shops. Due to open in the very near future, there is the new Sports World, and next door, Poundland. Also, refurbished not so long ago is the Market Hall... which has a stall to suit everyones needs. There is a huge selection of places to eat, including the new KFC and of course MacDonalds!! Plenty to keep anyone occupied all day long! Now, Carlisle is quite famouse for its history, and we have quite a few landmarks and old buildings in the town that tourists like to visit. The most popular of which, is probably the castle. Founded by William Rufus in 1092 and once a prison for Mary Queen of Scots, it is still the home today of the Kings Own Border Regiment. Also, there is the cathedral with its 14th Century stained glass east window and magnificent ceiling. All the threads of Carlisles colourful life and times are woven together dramatically in the displays of the award winning Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, now with the new underpass to the castle housing a whole load of old artefacts. And last but not least is the tudor Guildhall museum. Still with the original painting and building work, it contains all sorts of interesting items. Well, thats probably most of what you wanted to know about. They are the most interesting parts of Carlisle. I know theres not many but it is just a small city. Another thing I forgot to mention is Bitts Park, which is situated on the bank of the River Eden. It now has a new play park for children with water jets and climbing frames. There is a small maze, and a huge playing feild. Great in the summer!!
I didn't expect much from Carlisle at all when we visited for a short stay as part of our Carlisle to Settle day on the train. I was, however, very pleasantly surprised, I had no idea that it would be such an interesting place. We were only allowed two hours to explore the city before we had to return to the train, so it was a very brief look round. To give you a bit of background to this city, Carlisle is at the north end of the M6, almost on the Scottish border. It was originally founded by the Romans to form part of the Hadrian’s Wall defences. The sandstone keep, which was built by King William Rufus in 1092 changed ownership numerous times from English to Scots and back again, and it is now HQ to the Border Regiment and houses their museum. I love to explore cathedrals and Carlisle Cathedral was no exception. Its beautiful architecture was severely damaged during the Civil War. It has now been restored to its former glory and still contains a fifteenth century screen, which survived intact. Unfortunately I didn’t have as much time to spend there as I would have liked as we wanted to have a quick look at as much of the city as possible in our short stay to get a feel for the place. A Roman Road runs through the grounds of the fifteenth century Guildhall Museum and the Tulle House Museum tells the story of the border wars. I can’t give any further information about these museums as we were not in Carlisle long enough to visit either of them. The city is very well laid out with a central pedestrian area complete with numerous seats, surrounded by shops and cafes and also containing the Tourist Information building. There are various shopping malls as well as the main shopping area, and all the major chain stores are represented. There is also an abundance of gift shops and specialist shops, so there’s plenty for the shopaholics! We revisited Carlisle on our way up to Scotl and for our main holiday later the same year. The reason for this brief visit was simple. When we first went to Carlisle we visited McDonalds for a drink and were treated to the most appalling service. I wrote a letter of complaint and received vouchers to the value of £10 but they were only valid in the Carlisle store! So we stopped off for a free meal on our way to Scotland! Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch? I told you that it pays to complain didn’t I? I would love to return and spend some time in this lovely city so that I could have a real look at the cathedral and the various other places of interest. It would be an ideal base for a walking holiday. You could take a walk from Carlisle along Hadrian’s Wall either towards the coast, which is about ten miles away or you could head inland towards the National Parks. Carlisle would also be a good base for exploring the northern part of the Lake District, around the Skiddaw Forest area.