October 2023

Didn’t We Have A Lovely Time The Day We Went to Cartmel

There are many idyllic racecourses across the world and even the United Kingdom has a few gems.

One of my favourite racecourses is Great Yarmouth, on the Norfolk coast, a track which may not figure too high compared to some. To be fair it isn’t Royal Ascot and champagne is often less popular than a pint of beer.

However, while travelling to this seaside destination via train, I got chatting to the ticket man.

I asked him: ‘Which is his favourite racecourse?’

He said one word.

‘Cartmel.’

With a rich history dating back to 1856, it’s a course many have enjoyed.

Nestled in the Cumbrian landscape, the natural beauty of the English countryside. It is reason why Cartmel is considered one of the most beautiful racecourses in the United Kingdom. It is a great location for horse racing enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Situated in the southern part of the Lake District National Park amid rolling hills, verdant woodland and serene waterways, it has a backdrop of stunning mountains. This panoramic view captivates visitors from the moment they arrive. In addition, the racecourse is dog friendly and picnics are allowed.

Cartmel is dedicated to National Hunt racing. This small course features just nine days racing each year, from May to August. Although a small racecourse it is one of the most popular with the third highest attendance for a National Hunt course. Only Aintree and Cheltenham are more popular. The largest crowds are well over 20,000.

Spectators gather in the centre of the course which is dissected by the four-furlong finishing straight for the Steeplechase course (which is the longest in Great Britain), while the Hurdle course straight is just two furlongs. One side features a fairground and the other the Parade Ring and Winners’ Enclosure. The course is a sharp and narrow left handed oval. The main circuit being one mile and one furlong. The steeplechase features six jumps including an open ditch and water jump. The hurdle course features four obstacles. Due to the sharp nature of the course it favours front running types and course specialists. Soul Magic won on seven occasions before retiring in 2014.

The feature race is the Cumbria Crystal Hurdle Race worth over £40,000, held in July, part of the three-day meeting. Interestingly, all winning connections receive a Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding to take home.

With Cartmel village a short distance from the track with shops and tearooms, it is considered a signifiant part of the race-day experience.

This part stone-lined course has captivates spectators who enjoy their horse racing and appreciate one of the most beautiful locations in Britain.

The racecourse and land are owned by the Holker Estate where the Cavendish Family resides.