Workington works wonders for scenic thrill seekers!

A retreat at the end of a great Stagecoach journey!

Nestled on the Cumbrian coast on the edge of the paradisical Lake District, Workington is a fascinating town with a rich and unique history and on the cusp of stunning scenery and the heartland for fab bus services from award-winning Stagecoach Cumbria. It’s a great journey on the X4/X5 from Penrith, through delightful mountainous scenery and the open road, in and out of the stunning Keswick and stopping at charming Cockermouth before arriving in Workington. The town’s sense of remoteness is one of its most alluring features, but it’s actually easy to get to from further afield with fast and frequent train services from London, The Midlands, North and Scotland to Penrith. The bus starts right outside the railway station!

Bragging rights in Workington

Workington is a truly fascinating place. Renowned broadcaster, author and parliamentarian Melvyn Bragg was born close by in Wigton and Sir Chris Bonington, a distinguished mountaineer spent his early years in Workington. Celebrated poet Norman Nicholson, hailed from Millom, near Workington.

Uppies and Downies

The town is also known for a peculiar tradition called the “Uppies and Downies” football game. Not for the faint-hearted, this ancient ball game involves the entire town, splitting into two teams, and playing across the town’s streets, fields, and rivers, aiming to score goals in their respective goals – either “up” or “down” depending on their location. The crazy game has been played for centuries and is a unique and vibrant tradition in Workington.
Brilliant pictures of Uppies and Downies 2023 as Uppies steal two wins ...

Two great teams!

More conventional football is also played here by Workington Town A.F.C at their pleasant ground, not far from the bus station in Borough Park, which has a capacity of 3,101 – they ply their trade in the Northern Premier League, Premier Division.
It’s rugby league, though, which the town is most associated with from a sporting perspective. Workington Town is a semi-professional rugby league club and plays home games at Derwent Park and competes in League One, the third tier of British rugby league. Workington have won the League Championship once in 1951 and Challenge Cup in 1952. Their next home fixture is at 3pm on Sunday 28th January against Barrow Raiders, whilst there is a big local derby on Sunday 11th February, also at 3pm, when Whitehaven make the short trip up the coast. Workington Town also has the distinction of a pig as their mascot named ‘Bessie’. She used to roam around the pitch during matches, adding a unique touch to the team’s identity!

Workington Man!

In recent years, Workington became renowned for the somewhat patronising term “Workington Man” which was a political term used by polling companies and was first used ahead of the 2019 General Election. “Workington Man” describes the stereotypical swing voter who it was believed would determine the election result. Their support of the Conservatives in the election helped the party break the Labour Party’s ‘Red Wall’ of safe seats. The term was invented by Onward, a centre right think tank, with a Guardian article describing the characteristics of Workington man as a northern male over the age of 45 without a university degree, who enjoys rugby league, previously supported Labour but voted for Brexit in the 2016 referendum.

Culture, heritage, architecture, scenery and much more!

There’s plenty to explore in Workington, starting with the Helena Thompson Museum, housed in a Victorian mansion, showcasing local history and artifacts, including exhibits on coal mining and the town’s maritime past.

Nature enthusiasts can revel in Workington’s coastal charm. Stroll along the scenic Harrington Harbour or enjoy a peaceful walk along the shores of Derwent Park. Workington’s proximity to the Lake District allows for day trips to stunning natural landscapes and outdoor activities.

For a cultural dive, catch a performance at the Carnegie Theatre or visit St. Michael’s Church, an architectural gem with a history dating back to the 12th century. The Castlegate House Gallery is a must-visit for art enthusiasts, featuring contemporary works by local and national artists.

 

There’s some interesting modern architecture in the town centre, created as part of a re-development in 2006. “The Coastline” (above) can be found on Washington Street and represents the border between land and sea was created by Simon Hitchen. The tall central sculpture (the world’s largest ever solid pour of polyurethane resin at the time), paving and bespoke sculptural seating, combine the materials of hard granite and crystal-clear resin to represent earth and water.

“The Hub” (above) was created by Base Structures and is a permanent outdoor 3D sound performance space and is the only one in the UK. The Hub’s 3D sound system can be configured to broadcast any live or recorded sound and lends itself to an outdoor performance space in the centre of a busy town.  The hub is constructed from a three-chord rolled steel truss which is clad with steel panels and supports a state-of-the-art inflatable ETFE cushion. 

“Lookout” (above)’ is a clock designed by Andy Plant and features an interactive mechanical clock, a clock face inlaid into the new paving scheme and seating which incorporates sound and light. The clock is based on a ‘camera obscura’ and it tells the time with its rotating minute hand suspended above head height parallel to the ground. The minutes are shown on the ground and the hour on a central ring above the main sphere. The Lookout can be found in Ivision Lane.

Food and fun!

Foodies can indulge in local delicacies at the town’s eateries, savouring traditional Cumbrian dishes or exploring diverse culinary offerings. One of our favourites which the bus passes is “The Junction” where there’s always a great atmosphere and vibe!

To delve deeper into the area’s industrial past, a visit to the Siddick Wind Farm or the Derwent Howe Industrial Museum provides insight into Workington’s immense contributions to the energy sector and industrial innovations.

All in all, Workington really is an under-rated lovely town with a blend of fascinating folklore and history as well as modern, progressive thinking and, of course, stunning coastal scenery. It feels a bit off the beaten track, which does give it a certain charm, but actually on the X4 and X5 from Stagecoach, it is very well connected and with a frequent, fast and reliable service. The views from upstairs on the bus are great too as it navigates its way through the Lake District into deepest Cumbria. Once you’ve devoured Workington, a trip on the train down the Cumbrian Coast to Barrow is also spectacular – an incredible coastline, with waves crashing close to the train and a remoteness that creates a very unique ambience from inside the carriage, looking outwards. Barrow’s also a hub for Stagecoach bus services and you can continue your adventure by catching the bus back into the Lake District to Keswick and picking up the X4 or X5 to Penrith – completing a tantilising loop!  To find out more and plan your journey, check out   X4/X5 Penrith – Workington – Great Scenic Journeys