Given that we’re very clearly located in just the one ‘shire’, the
beautiful county of Cumbria, you could easily be forgiven for being a
Well if you travel 42 years back in time, and a couple of miles up the road, you’ll find the answer!
You see, prior to the reorganisation of the English counties which
took place in 1974, the county of Cumbria didn’t actually exist. Cumbria
as we know it today was created by combining the former counties of
Cumberland and Westmorland, along with the part of Lancashire which lay
to the north of Morecambe Bay. One might suppose that being impartial
and naming the new county something like Cumwesland was considered
rather cumbersome (pardon the slight pun) and so Cumberland, which was
by far the largest of the three old counties making up the new Cumbria,
got to dominate the name.
Anyway, the point at which these three counties all met was at the
Wrynose Pass, where the tortuously twisting and dramatically scenic road
rising out of the Little Langdale valley reaches its summit. Here
you’ll find a large limestone monolith known as the Three Shire Stone.
It was cut and carved in 1816 for a gentleman by the name of William
Field, who bore the grand title of Furness Roadmaster; although for some
reason it wasn’t actually erected until 1860. Perhaps that’s how long
it took to lug the thing all the way up to the pass? On the front it
bears the inscription ‘Lancashire’. Why just Lancashire? Presumably
because it was carved in the village of Cartmel, which at the time lay
in Lancashire, and to add ‘Westmorland’ and ‘Cumberland’ would have
needed one heck of a big stone. And on the reverse it carries the simple
legend ‘WF 1816’.
in 1997, a particularly incompetent parking manoeuvre resulted in the
stone being smashed into four pieces; but thankfully it was successfully
restored, and the National Trust even had the sense to relocate the car
park rather than the stone, in a bid to avoid further mishaps!
So the Three Shires Inn draws its name from the Three Shire Stone
(and if you find the missing ‘S’ anywhere on your travels, do let us
know!) It’s well worth a visit while you’re staying with us, as it makes
a truly inspiring viewpoint with the high mountains all around, along
with staggering views back down into the valley far beneath. It’s also
an excellent starting point for walks to peaks such as Pike of Blisco or
Swirl How and Wetherlam, or indeed the first high point on a driving
(or, dare we even suggest, cycling) tour of the high Lakeland passes.
In fact, we’ll be featuring some of the dramatic and extreme driving
and cycling routes over these stunning mountain roads in future blogs,
so do be sure to keep returning and pick up even more tips for terrific
days out around the Three Shires Inn.