Category Archives: Lake District

An audience with the King of Piel Island

It’s about time Hit the North received a knighthood. Services to Northwest tourism, maybe? Perhaps not after last Monday’s post.

Anyway, I did try my luck on a recent visit to Piel Island, a remote community of pub, castle and wildlife set adrift off the South Lakes coastline towards Morecambe Bay; see a selection of images here.

Piel Castle

The King’s speech

As landlords of the island’s Ship Inn, Steve and Sheila Chattaway are crowned the King and Queen of Piel, a symbolism-heavy ceremony that dates back to the 15th century.

So, if anyone can make me a knight, then Steve can. But, as I found, it’s not that easy. The Knights of the Order of Piel have to earn their title through years of selfless service.

Rockpool paddling

King for a day

After a day of rock pooling, shell skimming and crab collecting on Steve’s island fiefdom, I plucked up the courage to request a go on his throne.

The next morning I came down for breakfast after a night in the pub’s new B&B accommodation and readied myself for the crowning glory.

But Steve had disappeared and my hopes of a knighthood with him.

The king, it seems, had left the building.

To find out what happened next, look out for the story in the October issue of Coast magazine.


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Filed under Lake District, Travel, Travel writing

Does anyone still care about tourism in England’s Northwest?

Hit the North returns from a somewhat enforced break with a question: did we give up on tourism around the Northwest?

After all, when I first started this blog’s latest incarnation in January 2010, the central theme was exploring my own backyard – the diversity of the area from Cumbria to North Wales and all those in between. I found plenty to celebrate and met others who shared my enthusiasm.

But during my recent hiatus I’ve noticed a decline in efforts to keep the tourism momentum rolling. Should I call time on Hit the North?

Filthy lucre

The issue is, of course, money. The Northwest Regional Development Agency had its funding withdrawn under Government spending plans and is currently being wound down. It will finally close its doors around Christmas; read more here.

Responsibility for tourism promotion has been handed back to the five regional tourism associations. They, in turn, have suffered those now-infamous swingeing budget cuts despite a pledge by Prime Minister Cameron to make Britain one of the world’s top five tourist destinations in the world.

I know for a fact that Cumbria Tourism still has a marketing effort, albeit a reduced one. I’ve worked with them recently and you can read about the trip here next week.

But I haven’t heard a peep out of Visit Chester & Cheshire this year, nor Visit Lancashire or Marketing Manchester.

I’m not looking for a red-carpet fanfare but I am keen to find new angles on familiar destinations and uncover real stories behind the mundane.

Is money tight, or have they just run out of ideas?

Short sighted

Either way, I think silence is a mistake. The diversity of the region is as rich as ever and tools available to tourist boards are cheaper, more user friendly and more readily available than at any other time. 

So I’m not  throwing in the towel. Over the next few months Hit the North will be staying vehemently close to home and trying even harder to uncover stories from across the region. I may be ploughing a somewhat lonely furrow at times but at least I’m trying.

Join me.


Filed under Chester, Lake District, Manchester, Northwest, Tourism

On tour in the Lake District

Hit the North is away. With a new guise as Lake District expert for Simonseeks, I’m spending a fait bit of my time right now in Cumbria.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be visiting some favourite places and discovering some new ones.

Follow updates on my Twitter page and please post any tips, advice or comments below.

Wasdale Valley from the air

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Filed under Lake District, Online writing, Travel

Choosing Lake District hotels – an appeal

I’m working on a new project; further details to be posted over weeks to come.

For now, let’s just say that it’s based around the central Lakes and I’m looking to compile a list of the must-stay hotels and guesthouses. The featured region? Windermere, Ambleside, Grasmere, Hawkshead, Keswick and Kendal.

These need to be the best of the best. The property doesn’t have to be super luxurious, or have a high-tech spa. But it does need to be a genuine stand-out option for service, food, comfort, style, views etc.

So that’s where you come in. Post your ideas below for the places I should check out and I’ll report back on my progress over the weeks to come.

In advance, thanks for your valuable assistance.

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Here’s to another 80 years of Wainwright walks

First the apology: Hit the North has been quiet of late. External forces are to blame and thanks for hanging in there.

Normal service will resume from September 1st but, during August, I’m going to bring you some snippets of stories I’ve been working on while juggling numerous deadlines and various other things over the past six weeks or so.

You can read the final cut of these stories this autumn into winter. Follow me on Twitter for the URLs.

Wainwright’s footsteps

Wasdale Head Inn

On a fine day in 1930 a mild-mannered accounts clerk from Blackburn took a bus to Kendal and walked out to Orrest Head above Windermere, Cumbria.

It was a walk that would initiate a life-long affair with the Lake District, spawn a publishing phenomenon and, albeit rather unwittingly, inspire new generations of fell walkers to explore the Lakeland landscape.

I recently went to Wasdale, tucked into the remote southwestern fringe of the Lake District National Park, to mark 80 years since that first fateful walk. I was guided for the day by mountain guide Cathy Colam of Pace the Peaks.

The assignment was to tackle Haystacks, one of the Wainwright’s favourite peaks, from the Wasdale Head Inn and visit Innominate Tarn, just below the summit, where Wainwright himself chose for his ashes to be scattered.

Wainwright famously wrote:

‘For a man trying to get a persistent worry out of his mind, the top of Haystacks is a wonderful cure.’

Was it? Read the autumn issue of walk magazine for the lowdown.

Innominate Tarn, Haystacks

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Here’s to my first book review

I blogged a few weeks back about my new book, Lake District with Kids (Footprint), which was about to be published. Now the first review has come in thanks to

If you’re looking for ideas this bank holiday, the review might inspire you – as might the book.

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My Lake District book now in the shops

Excuse the self promotion. But after much hard work and slow progress, my family-travel guide to Cumbria Lake District with Kids is now out in the shops.

You can buy it here from Amazon, or order it here via the Footprint website.

I’ll be giving some talks and slide shows over the summer to promote the title, so please subscribe to RSS updates for dates and details.

Meanwhile, Hit the North is currently grappling with a Wales book. Updates from on-the-road research coming soon.


Filed under Lake District, Travel writing