Cumbria Day: Where Sheep Outnumber Selfies (and Probably Have Better Accents)

Giddy up, buttercups! It's Cumbria Day, a time to celebrate the land of lakes, fells, and enough rain to fill Windermere... twice. But Cumbria's more than just a scenic backdrop for Wordsworthian poetry (though there is plenty of that). It's a land of quirky traditions, hilarious happenstances, and sheep with existential dread (probably from all that staring).

So, grab your cagoule, your walking boots, and your sense of humour, because I'm diving headfirst into the wonderfully weird world of Cumbria:

1. Sheep: The Official Mascots (and Possible Overlords)

Let's face it, Cumbria runs on sheep time. Traffic jams? Nah, that's just a particularly stubborn flock deciding to take a mid-road nap. Trying to have a picnic? Don't be surprised if Brenda the baa-ing bandit decides your sandwiches are hers now. Pro tip: Befriend a sheepdog. They're the real power players in this county.

2. Weather: From Sun-Kissed to Soggy Sog in 0.2 Seconds

Cumbria boasts four seasons in one day: a balmy Caribbean morning, a brisk Scottish afternoon, a misty Norwegian evening, and a full-on Icelandic blizzard at night. Pack accordingly, folks. You might need your swimsuit, thermals, and a Viking helmet, all within the same hour.

3. Accents: Thicker Than Cumberland Sausage (and Just as Delicious)

Forget Geordie Shore, Cumbria has the real lingo. Words get stretched, vowels dance the fandango, and consonants take a well-deserved siesta. Trying to understand a Cumbrian in full flow is like deciphering ancient runes while riding a bucking bronco. But once you crack the code, you'll be rewarded with some seriously funny (and strangely endearing) sayings, such as:

  • He's gone reyt off his nut, as daft as a brush (Meaning: completely crazy). 
  • He's got a gob on him like a startled haddock (Meaning: talks a lot and very loudly). 
  • She's as keen as mustard (Meaning: very enthusiastic). 

4. The World Gurning Championship!

Every year, Egremont hosts the World Gurning Championships. It's basically a competition to see who can pull the most grotesquely hilarious facial expression. Think contorted cheeks, bulging eyes, and enough rubber to rival Mr. Fantastic. It's both horrifying and hilarious, and definitely not for the faint of heart (or stomach).

5. Hadrian's Wall: Keeping Out the Romans (and Maybe Deliveroo?)

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an impressive feat of Roman engineering, but let's be honest, its main purpose these days is to keep the pigeons out of Carlisle. It's also a popular walking trail, though be warned, you might encounter some confused tourists trying to order a pizza from the nearest stone fort.

6. Home to George Washington's grandmother: Believe it or not, Mildred Gale, the paternal grandmother of the first US President, is buried in St Nicholas Church, Whitehaven. So, Cumbria has a surprising connection to American history.

7. The ghost ship of St Bees: The legend of the "Mary Celeste of the Irish Sea" haunts St Bees Head. The Jennie Johnston, a cargo ship, mysteriously disappeared in 1853, only to reappear, seemingly abandoned, weeks later. Some say it's still visible on foggy nights.

8. Geological Oddities:

  • One "real" lake, many imposters: Despite its name, the Lake District only boasts one true lake - Bassenthwaite Lake. The rest are technically tarns, meres, or waters (though we locals still call them lakes!).
  • Pink granite, anyone? Shap Granite, found in Cumbria, is famous for its distinctive pink crystals. You can even see it gracing the bollards around St. Paul's Cathedral in London!
  • Underground heat dreams: In the 1980s, geologists drilled deep in Cumbria searching for residual heat from 400-million-year-old rocks to potentially power the county. Sadly, the geothermal dream didn't quite pan out.

9. History with a Twist:

  • A smuggling abbot: Furness Abbey monks built a castle on Piel Island to support their trade. Since they were exempt from taxes, some might say it was a clever (or not-so-clever) way to smuggle goods!
  • The witch turned stone: Legend has it that Long Meg and Her Daughters, the second largest stone circle in Europe, are petrified witches caught dancing on the Sabbath. Spooky!
  • Cumbria's short-lived canal ambitions: Carlisle once had a thriving ship canal, allowing seagoing vessels to navigate inland. Though short-lived (replaced by railways), it played a pivotal role in the city's industrial growth.

10. Quirky Local Culture:

  • Pencil power: Keswick, Cumbria, proudly holds the title of "Home of the First Pencil." The Keswick Pencil Museum celebrates this essential writing tool, even showcasing the world's largest colouring pencil!
  • Cumberland sausage with a seal of approval: This local delicacy boasts Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, meaning its unique recipe and production methods are safeguarded. So, you know you're getting the real deal!
  • Dialects and beyond: Cumbrians have their own distinct accent and even unique dialect between towns. Who knows, you might pick up a few interesting words during your visit!

So there you have it, a glimpse into the gloriously eccentric world of Cumbria. It's a place where sheep judge your fashion choices, the weather is a fickle beast, and laughter echoes through the valleys. So come on down, embrace the weird, and get ready for an adventure you won't forget (or be able to pronounce properly). Happy Cumbria Day!

P.S. If you see a sheep wearing a tiny raincoat, that's probably Brenda. Just give her a polite nod and move on. You don't want to get on the wrong side of Brenda. Trust me.

Grass Of Parnassus Flower
Grass of Parnassus - Official Flower Of Cumbria


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