Looking down on Bassenthwaite lake is a white painted rock that sometimes catches the eye of motorists speeding towards Cockermouth on the A595 road. The Bishop's Rock is near the top of Barf Fell and is immediately above the old Swan Hotel at Thornthwaite, scene of a headline grabbing incident in 2002 when the then licensee asked two men to vacate his hotel because their gay relationship was emabarssing to other guests.
In 1783 the Bishop of Derry, or Londonderry depending on your leanings, was en route to Ireland via the then bustling port of Whitehaven. He stayed at The Swan and after perhaps too much ale had a wager with the locals that he could ride over Barf Fell to Whitehaven. Next day he urged his horse up the steep scree covered fell side only to come to a sudden end plunging down the steep hillside. Ever afterwards the Swan Inn had a bucket of white paint tipped over the rock at the point the Bishop came to grief...hence it nickname as Bishop Rock. The rock now looks out over the woodland that had recently seen the return of England's only nesting pair of Ospreys.