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Whitehaven is situated in the Northwest corner of England in the county of Cumbria. It lies on the coast between the Irish Sea and the magnificent scenery of the Lake District national park. The modern town is small but attractive with much recent investment dedicated to regeneration of the historic harbour. Creation of a marina based around tidal lock gates, which allow for easy access, make it the perfect port for pleasure craft travelling to the Isle of Man or Ireland, or crossing the Solway to Scotland. As the marine gateway to the lakes it is also a stop on the Three Peaks Race, where competitors disembark from the yachts to race by bike up the Ennerdale Valley then on foot to the top of Scafell.
The Coast to Coast (C2C) cycle route across the country to Sunderland starts at Whitehaven and there is a good coastal walk to St. Bees the start of Wainwright's walk from Coast to Coast.
The modest size of the town belies the fact that it was once a world leader in industry and became the second greatest port outside London during the 18th century. It thus has a surprisingly fascinating history with many American connections including George Washington, John Paul Jones and Benjamin Franklin. Whitehaven also had a prominent place in the story of the rum, tobacco and slave trades.
This all started when the Lowther family developed the towns coal trade and harbour. Previously, the town had been an insignificant fishing hamlet but the surrounding area had a rich history stretching back past the Vikings, who settled in the area, and the Romans who had a fort at Moresby and defences along the coast from Ravenglass to Hadrian's wall, into Neolithic times when local stone axes were exported across Europe. Western Lakeland is now a tranquil escape from industrialisation with Englands highest mountain, Scafell, overlooking the deepest lake, Wast Water, and many beautiful valleys radiating out to the coastal plain.
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last updated 08/08/2012
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