The north Lakes gateway
Situated just outside the northern reaches of the Lake District, Cockermouth makes a good base to explore some fine countryside away from the Keswick-Grasmere-Ambleside treadmill.
The town itself has plenty to keep you occupied for a day or two, all of it low key and un-touristy. There isn't an Edinburgh Woolen Mill in sight! Instead you can visit a Minerals & Mining Museum, Printing Press Museum, Toys & Model Museum and the Lakeland Sheep & Wool Centre. You can also follow the plaques on a historic town trail or enjoy a riverside stroll.
What you will find are many decent pubs serving some of the cheapest meals available in England along with some of the country's freshest ale...the town is home to the Jennings brewery and a micro-brewery.
Unlike other towns which bill themselves as a 'gateway', Cockermouth is more than merely a place to stay. While not quite making the list of my favourite market towns, it is a real working town that makes a wonderful contrast to the thronged streets of Keswick.
It DOES get busy on the weekend though with club nights for the local lads. Compared to the rowdy louts in Newcastle and Manchester, though, they seemed quite tame.
Tourist info is in the Town Hall on Market Place. Ring 01900 822 634 or visit www.cockermouth.org.uk