Friday, 6 April 2012


Part of the southern Lake District consists of an area called ‘Furness’. It’s basically a wide peninsula, the southern part of which (Low Furness) juts out into the Irish Sea and forms the western edge of Morecambe Bay. The northerly part (High Furness), not actually part of the peninsula, is within the Lake District National Park.

The name itself is interesting. One source says it comes from the Norse word ‘Fudames’ meaning Fudi’s headland. Evidently, the Old Norse ‘fud’ refers to the female sex organ, so Fudi was probably a nickname. Enough said!  I think there are other possible origins of the name, but this one was by far the most interesting!
In contrast, the area was dominated in the Middle Ages by the monks of Furness Abbey, who owned much of the land. The Abbey, near Barrow-in-Furness, the largest town in the area, dates back to 1123 and was one of the most powerful Cistercian Abbey in the country as it owned huge tracts of land in the Furness area. It was destroyed when the abbeys were dissolved by Henry VIII in 1537, but the ruins are still a major tourist attraction. It’s also reputed to be haunted by three different ghosts, a monk who was brutally murdered, a young girl mourning the loss of her lover at sea, and a headless monk on horseback (I didn't see any of these on my visit there!)

In High Furness, just outside the village of Hawkshead, is a small building, thought to be be early 15th century, which was part of a large farm belonging to Furness Abbey. It was originally on the east side of a quadrangle, consisting of a gatehouse with a courtroom above it where the local manorial court was held in the Middle Ages, possibly presided over by the abbot of Furness Abbey.

My caravan was in the field on the other side of the trees on the far right of this photo, and I have to admit we took this old building totally for granted. At one time, it was becoming very dilapidated, but it then received some funding for restoration work. I featured it in my latest novel, 'Fragrance of Violets' as the medieval gatehouse the villagers had to raise the funds to restore.

Furness also has a fifteen square mile forest south of Hawkshead, called Grizedale Forest. It's an area of mixed woodland, with several small hills and lakes. Managed by the Forestry Commission, it's a popular place for tourists, with waymarked footpaths, mountain biking, an aerial assault course, a 16 bed hostel, and a visitor centre. It also has a Sculpture Trail, with about 90 sculptures, usually made from natural materials. This one, called Lady of the Water, is very tempting on a hot day!

The area of Furness was mainly a farming and fishing area until the discovery of iron ore, which became one of the main industries of Low Furness in the 19th century. This later gave way to shipbuilding at Barrow-in-Furness. The docks there were one of the largest in the UK and the Royal Navy’s first submarines were built there. The decline of the shipbuilding industry mean that the whole area became more dependent on tourism.


  1. I think Furness could provide lots of inspiration for writing and daydreaming.

    Cheers, Jenn

  2. Beautiful! I've been to several cities in England (and England was my "E" blog too) but I've never visited the countryside or lake districts. Thanks for the trip, and happy A to Z-ing!

  3. i wish i could crawl in, roll onto my back, and just breath... deep. nice, paula.

  4. in another life I would have been a monk. If male, that is....

  5. Sounds like a place where a soul could find peace. Thank you again for sharing another lovely place.

  6. I agree with Jenn. I couldn't have said it better. It's amazing how beautiful this world is and sad that we only visit a small portion of it. Thanks for the visit.

  7. Jenn - I've set three of my novels there!

    Brenda - I used to love going up to our caravan there, it was like a second home to me.

    Thanks, Claudia.

    Jess - thanks for visiting. England's countryside is definitely worth seeing, as well as its cities (if not more so!)

    Daphne - yep, it's that kind of place!

    Sandra - maybe you;re the monk which still haunts the Abbey?

    Amy - away from the tourist spots, it's a haven of peace.

    Debra - I agree, so many beautiful places and not enough time (or money!) to see them all.

  8. What a fascinating and lovely place!!


  9. Hi,

    Lovely write-ups and fab images! This is God's land, after all, and the British Isles have the greatest diversity in terms of terrain and all so compact and within travelling distance. Why else the words: And did these feet in ancient times... ;)


  10. Thanks, Kathy and Francine - and yes, all the places I've written about so far in the A-Z Challenge (and most of the ones I'm going to write about) are all less than 10 or so miles from each other. As you say, Francine, so compact and yet so diverse.

  11. I love this area, and your history is so interesting. It really is fascinating all along that coastal strip, as well as inland.

  12. Thanks, Margaret. Haven't been to the coastal areas for years.

  13. I do LOVE your English Lake District. Just lovely.

  14. Lovely post Paula, and definitely a great setting for a novel!

    You may have forgotten about my childhood blogger posts in your A-Z frenzy but you may like to read Francine's today. It is just glorious.


  15. What beautiful green rolling hills! It's hard to believe there is such a lovely world out there that we have yet to see!

  16. I so want to travel to your neck of the woods! Great photos and post! Thank you!

  17. I have dreamed of going to the Lake District. I have never had the chance but after your post I am ready to book myself a trip. Thank you so much for sharing :)

  18. Another fascinating post, Paula - and what a setting for a medieval story!