Cumbria’s museums and galleries are some of the finest in the country. Trails of the Unexpected brings their significant collections to life by taking visitors out into the epic landscape of the region in the footsteps of writers, artists, empire builders and raiders. There are six walking trails to follow in Cumbria and the Lake District, each one gives you the opportunity to explore a world of cultural treasures.
Walk in the footsteps of the Romans, Border Reivers and writers such as William Wordsworth and explore the museum and gallery collections in the context of the landscape.
Trails of the Unexpected is a celebration of the artworks and artefacts of galleries, museums and historic houses in Cumbria as well as the well-known artists, writers and dynasties associated with them.
The six trails include; Wordsworth’s Grasmere, the Romans at Hadrian’s Wall, a Windermere Arts & Crafts Wander, Romanticism Around Rydal Water, Reivers in Carlisle and an Art Adventure in Kendal.
The walks, which have been put together by Cumbria Museum Consortium, in association with award-winning trail writer Vivienne Crow, can be followed via online or the map and trail routes can be downloaded in advance.
Trails of the Unexpected explore the museum and gallery collections of Tullie House, Wordsworth Museum and Dove Cottage, Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry, Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House and Abbot Hall Art Gallery.
Wordsworth’s Grasmere is a two-hour walk starting and ending at Dove Cottage taking visitors around some of the most spectacular scenery in the Lake District National Park that inspired William Wordsworth’s poetry.

Dove Cottage

Dove Cottage, Wordsworth Trust at Grasmere

The walk includes sites such as Sara’s Gate so called because it was a favourite spot of Sara Hutchinson, Mary Wordsworth’s sister. The walk refers to a rare silhouette of Sara Hutchinson in Dove Cottage.
At just over three miles long, the walk circles Grasmere along woodland lanes and lakeside paths and shows the visitor the sites that provided William Wordsworth with the inspiration to write, such as Greenhead Gill, home of the tumultuous brook in William Wordsworth’s poem Michael.
The Romans at Hadrian’s Wall unearths surprising facts about how they defended their North West frontier and illustrates this with the collections in Tullie House Roman Frontier Gallery.
Excavations along Hadrian’s Wall have revealed a number of artefacts such as intriguing face pots. Two beautiful examples of these curious Roman cult objects that have been discovered in Cumbria, are on display at Tullie House.
Roman Face Pots at Tullie House Carlisle

Roman Face Pots at Tullie House Carlisle

The walks are diverse and the Arts and Crafts walk starts and ends at Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House near Lake Windermere. It takes in in the Victorian architecture of the homes built by businessmen such as Manchester brewers, The Holts, who commissioned Blackwell – designed by architect MH Baillie Scott.
Blackwell Arts

Blackwell The Arts &; Crafts House Bowness-on-Windermere

You will walk past Cockshott Point, which was bought in the 1920s by the National Trust with the help of Beatrix Potter – another iconic artist who spent much of her time in Cumbria.
In Kendal the trail takes in everything from a Barbara Hepworth sculpture to the home of eighteenth century portrait painter George Romney whose works are exhibited at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, located in the town.
Barbara Hepworth

Barbara Hepworth bronze, Trezion 1962-3 Abbot Hall Art Gallery photo Tony West

The Reivers were clans who terrorised the Anglo-Scottish borders in the sixteenth century. They often raided during the night on horseback and were identified by the Comb Morion helmets they wore – leading to the nickname the steel bonnets. The Reivers trail takes visitors around Carlisle exploring their past and Tullie House has a full and informative gallery on the clans.
The Trails of the Unexpected are all available on the website A map, which illustrates the wider cultural offer in Cumbria is also available for visitors who are planning a trip.