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Exploring Cumbrian Racecourses: A Two-Day Journey through Cartmel and Carlisle for Dementia UK

In my quest to visit 59 racecourses in 80 days for Dementia UK, my journey brought me back to the beautiful county of Cumbria, a place I proudly called home for 17 years. The lush landscapes and the warm, friendly faces made this leg of my journey particularly special. Over the course of two days, I had the pleasure of experiencing the unique charms of the two Cumbrian beloved racecourses: Cartmel and Carlisle.

Day 1: Cartmel - A Step Back in Time

Nestled in the picturesque village of Cartmel, this racecourse is unlike any other. Surrounded by the serene beauty of the Lake District, Cartmel Racecourse is a gem that combines the thrill of horse racing with the tranquility of the countryside.

The racecourse, established in 1856, exudes a quaint charm that transports you back in time. The village itself, with its cobbled streets and historic buildings, provides a perfect backdrop to the races.

As I arrived, I was immediately struck by the friendly and relaxed atmosphere. The racegoers at Cartmel were a mix of dedicated racing enthusiasts and local families enjoying a day out. The sense of community was palpable, with everyone from the staff to the spectators ready with a smile and a chat. I was also thrilled to meet the very talented jockey Charlotte Jones, who is an absolute ace around this course and quite the local celebrity. She was very interested in hearing about the challenge and was full of praise, which was very nice to hear.

One of the highlights of my visit was reuniting with friends from the Purple Reins Racing syndicate, Vicky and Peter Haydock and Stuart Lewis. Stuart has been a steadfast companion throughout many of my travels, meeting me at numerous racecourses. The four of us were fortunate enough to walk the course beforehand, which gave us a unique perspective on the day's races. The track's unique layout, coupled with the scenic backdrop of rolling hills, made for an unforgettable experience.

Day 2: Carlisle - A Historic and Modern Fusion

The next day took me to Carlisle Racecourse, located just south of the historic city of Carlisle. Established in 1904, this racecourse offers a fascinating blend of history and modernity. The facilities are top-notch, catering to both seasoned punters and newcomers alike. Carlisle's rich history as a Roman settlement and its proximity to Hadrian's Wall add a layer of historical intrigue to the experience.

At Carlisle, I was joined by two very long-term friends, John Mitchell and Ian Pettigrew, as well as my sister Joanne and her husband Paul. Before the races began, John, Ian, and I had the opportunity to walk the course, guided by an informative chat with the Clerk of the Course, Harry Phipps. This insight into the meticulous preparation that goes into maintaining the track enhanced our appreciation of the day's events.

The entire management team at Carlisle, headed by the charming Helen Willis, were incredibly supportive and welcoming. Their enthusiasm for my challenge was evident and heartwarming. They facilitated an interview over the PA system with Gordon Brown, a well-known figure in northern and Scottish racing circles and a familiar face to Racing TV viewers. Additionally, I had the honor of choosing the best turned out horse in the sixth race. Meeting the Chair, Pepita Harris, was another highlight; her support and gracious offer of a meal—though I had to decline due to having guests with me was a testament to the team's hospitality.

Over £300 was collected at the course for the charity, so a huge thank you goes to the real genuine folk of Cumbria.

A Homecoming to Remember

Returning to Cumbria for these legs of my challenge was a deeply nostalgic experience. The county's natural beauty, with its rolling hills, serene lakes, and historic towns, is something I cherish dearly. But beyond the stunning landscapes, it was the people who made this journey truly memorable. The friendliness and warmth of the racegoers at both Cartmel and Carlisle were a testament to the welcoming spirit of the region.

Visiting these racecourses also reinforced the importance of my mission. Dementia UK provides crucial support to families affected by dementia, and the generosity and encouragement I received from the people I met were incredibly motivating. E

Each racecourse I visit brings me one step closer to my goal, and the experiences I gather along the way remind me of the power of community and the joy of shared passions.

In conclusion, my two-day journey through Cartmel and Carlisle was a wonderful blend of history, beauty, and camaraderie. These racecourses are not just venues for horse racing; they are integral parts of their communities, bringing people together in celebration and support.

As I continue my challenge, I carry with me the memories of these two special days in Cumbria, inspired and uplifted by the kindness and enthusiasm of those I met.

Online donations to the Just Giving page can be made here: Thank you and remember "TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE" Graham Arnold 31st May 2024

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