Barrow's beauty and tourism potential is set to be unlocked by an exciting new partnership.
The borough, located on the Furness Peninsula, has more than 200 listed or historic buildings including the popular heritage site of Furness Abbey.
It also boasts a protected coastline, four designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest, sand dunes and beaches and an array of wildlife of national and international significance.
Now, Barrow is set to join the list of locations championed across the county by Cumbria Tourism.
The area has already secured a visit from a journalist from National Geographic Traveller magazine with a review set to be published in the New Year.
Cllr Therese Assouad, Barrow Borough Council’s spokesperson for leisure and tourism, said the borough had become a member of Cumbria Tourism in a bid to reach out to new visitors.
“Barrow truly is a hidden gem set in the Furness Peninsula, an area bursting with history, heritage and wildlife simply not found anywhere else in the country.
“The landscape is also exceptional so we are very pleased to have joined Cumbria Tourism to help make sure the borough secures the place on the tourism map it rightly deserves.
“From the magnificent ruins of Furness Abbey with its interesting visitor centre to Piel Island with castle ruins linked to the Abbey, a welcoming pub and the chance to camp in a unique setting, there is a great diversity in the attractions on offer here.
“The Walney nature reserves provide an array of wildlife including Cumbria’s only colony of grey seals while visitors can also learn about Barrow’s fascinating cultural and industrial heritage at the Dock Museum.”
Cllr Assouad went on: “Barrow has so much to offer.
“Having lived in this town for the last 15 years I am very proud to introduce it to visitors who often comment on the number of attractions and of course the friendliness of the people who live here.”
Data published by Cumbria Tourism shows 47 million people visited Cumbria and The Lake District in 2018 - bringing in £3 billion to the region’s economy and supporting 37,766 full time equivalent jobs.
The borough is just 40 minutes from the M6 motorway by car with the journey taking in the beautiful countryside of the South Lakes and has a variety of high quality hotel accommodation.
The rail journey on the Furness Line skims majestic Morecambe Bay before reaching Barrow Station.
Barrow was ranked top in the RSA Heritage Index for natural assets per head of population, sparking use of the popular hashtag #1stForNatureBarrow on social media channels.
As well as a purpose built museum, Barrow also has a busy arts venue - The Forum - which hosts a range of music and entertainment all year round.
Now, a number of exciting annual events are also gathering pace and attracting visitors from near and far - including the Love Barrow 10k run in October and the Super Soapbox Challenge, a wacky street race organised by Barrow BID involving vehicles handmade from soapbox, in June.
It has also been the location for key stages of the prestigious Tour of Britain cycle race.
Gill Haigh, chief executive of Cumbria Tourism, explained the area had a range of ‘exceptional attributes’ that visitors were keen to explore.
“Whilst Barrow is well known as a place of national and international significance for industry, this has overshadowed its many other exceptional attributes including culture, heritage, wildlife, coast, maritime, outdoor adventure, events and so much more.
“This is a place of opportunity in terms of the visitor market and as a place to live and work.
“Cumbria Tourism’s Visitor Survey 2018 reveals a growing appetite for discovering new parts of the county, for health, well-being and relaxation opportunities and a growth in desire for experiences.
“This work can only be strengthened by the important partnership with Barrow Borough Council and we are delighted to be working with them and a range of other partners and tourism businesses to increase the profile of the borough as a place offering not just world class career opportunities, but also supporting tourism businesses to adapt and grow to maximise their market share.”
Gill added: “Across the bay, we know that when completed, the Eden Project in Morecambe will be a hugely successful attraction and brilliant for not only North Lancashire’s economy but also for Cumbria.
“The inevitable rise in visitor numbers to Morecambe will be great news for coastal areas of Cumbria such as Furness and we very much hope businesses in towns like Barrow will be ready to embrace this fantastic opportunity which, in just a few short years, will be a reality.”
Five things you might not know about Barrow - even if you live here!
The borough of Barrow is bordered by 60km of coastline, including four areas designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Roanhead Beach has one of the most stunning panoramas in the country, looking across the Duddon Estuary to England’s highest mountain - Scafell Pike - and sweeping views from Black Combe to Coniston Old Man.
Barrow has 272 buildings on The National Heritage List. This means they have features of significant historic or architectural interest.
The borough is a wildlife haven. South Walney Nature Reserve is home to grey seals, Europe’s southernmost colony of breeding Eider Duck, while its colonies of Herring and Black-back Gull are of national importance.
Walney is also the only place in the world where you will find the flowering Geranium sanguineum var. striatum - otherwise known as the Walney Geranium.