CUMBRIANS were left shaken and stirred by an earthquake last night, which was felt as far away as the Isle of Man and Northumberland.

Some residents reported hearing loud bangs and what sounded like gas explosions during the earth tremors, which measured 3.5 on the Richter scale.

Houses were rocked, doors and windows rattled and ornaments shook on shelves during the 20-second quake.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) said the earthquake’s epicentre was around 2km north west of Coniston.

Afterwards the BGS said hundreds of people emailed to say they had ‘felt the earth move’.

With there being little damage across the region and reports stating the shake was like a gas explosion, some labelled the incident as 'Kendal Mintquake'.

A seismogram issued by the BGS shows the first movements around 22.59 and 20 seconds, with a second spike on the chart 20 seconds later.

The BGS said tremors from a 3.5 magnitude quake could stretch as far as 80-100km away from the epicentre.

Epicentre of the earthquake

Assistant seismologist Julian Burkits said the BGS received about 250 emails about people's experiences.

He said: “The whole of the UK is criss-crossed by thousands of fault lines but we are on an intra-plate rather than the edge of a plate.

“We get local geological faults but usually nothing too significant.”

He said the earthquake was much smaller than an earthquake which hit Carlisle on Boxing Day in 1979 but of a similar magnitude to one which struck Ulverston in April 2009.

Around the world 18,000 earthquakes with a magnitude of 3.5 are felt per year but only 1.3 occur in the Uk, despite 200 small tremors per year.

Another BGS operator said the first call they received was from Ulverston where a man reported "a loud rumbling sound like he had never heard before."

Cumbria Fire and Rescue area manager Adrian Buckle said there had not been any reports of damage in the area.

"We can confirm that earth tremors occurred in Cumbria as confirmed by the US Geological Survey," he said.

"We received numerous calls from members of the public but we are not dealing with any incidents relating to the tremors."

Your earthquake comments

Nicola Winn, of Sedbergh, was woken by the shakes at a friend's house in Kendal but having experienced large earthquakes in New Zealand, thought it was nothing.

She said: "It was just like a rumbling but I didn't realise what happened until I went on Facebook and everyone was talking about it.

"I thought it was in my head but friends also felt it in Grange-over-Sands and Ambleside."

Westmorland Gazette Sky Watch columnist Stuart Atkinson, of Kendal, said: "I felt the tremor/earthquake at 11pm last night.

"The whole building shook for a couple of seconds, like a monster truck rally going up Highgate."

Bev Dennison, of Grasmere, said: "This quake made my hair stand on end for about 10 minutes. I have felt/heard two others here in the Lake District over the last 40 years so I was sort of primed as to what it was.

"Initially it sounded/felt like a stone wall collapsing near me but when it went on so long my second thoughts moved to a possible giant rock fall on Helm Crag opposite my home caused by the freezing weather.

"Having now had it confirmed just what it really was, it begs the question is the Lake District really a good and geologically stable place to store long term Nuclear waste?"

Westmorland Gazette cartoonist Colin Shelbourn, who lives at Windermere, said he heard a rumbling just after 11pm last night.

He said: "I thought it was a jet flying overhead or perhaps Santa Claus crashing into a chimney!"

Janice Hamilton, of St Martin’s Court, Coniston, was reading in bed when her house started shaking.

She said: “The whole house and doors were rattling. It was really weird. I thought the reservoir had burst so I ran and got my dog and brought him up to bed.

“I thought if we were going to die, we would die together. Looking back now I realise it wasn’t as bad as I first imagined.”

Owner of the Yew Tree Hotel, Coniston, Peter Kelly and his dog Millie were also shaken by events.

He said: “I had just come downstairs to close up the bar and we had a few locals in. We heard an amazing bang and the bottles rattled behind the bar.

“We thought a lorry might have crashed but it went on for between 10-20 seconds — we just wondered what on earth had happened.”

Hayley Savage said: "I felt it. My hubby thought it was the pipes seizing at first when he heard the bang but quickly realised it was an earthquake when we shuddered for a few seconds and the baubles on the tree moved!

"Weird and much stronger than the last one we had."

Pippa Wilson, of Windermere, said the earth moved for her as she sat watching Sex and the City.

But she said her young son was terrified and many people in her street believed there had been a gas explosion.

Neil in Ulverton said: "Our house shook for about 10 seconds at23.17."

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