The natural appeal of this scenic region is undoubtedly its biggest drawcard. Boasting England’s five tallest peaks, its deepest lake, two national parks and three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this is the perfect place to experience all the glories of the country’s great outdoors.
Set amid these picturesque highlights are delightful stone villages, bursting with personalities and languages all of their own. The friendly locals will be more than happy to share their love of the nearby fells, tarns, forces and dales with ambitious climbers and literature-lovers alike. Combine this with some of the finest food you’re likely to find in England, and you’ll never want to leave.
5000 years of history have left an indelible mark on the lakelands of Cumbria, and the cultural landscape of the county is as rich as the natural; from Hadrian’s Wall in the north, to the ruins of Furness Abbey in the south, grand manor houses and castles, opulent gardens and of course, the legacy of literary greats, such as William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Every view in this jewel of the British Isles is picture-postcard perfect. The results of glaciation many thousands of years ago, the upper parts of the district are characterised by ubiquitous tarns (the old Norse word for pool) and typically rocky and mountainous landscape. The lower regions are carpeted in heather-covered moorland, green pastures and peat bogs.
The Lake District is home to a wealth of wildlife, including the red squirrel, and England’s only remaining pair of golden eagles. Bassenthwaite is a particular mecca for bird enthusiasts, as it is one of the key nesting posts for the incredibly rare and endangered wild osprey. Among the region’s floral highlights you’ll find the sundew and butterwort, two of the few carnivorous plant species left on the planet.
Whether you enjoy a gentle lakeside stroll, a brisk fell hike, or a determined grapple up the craggy scree of mountainside, few places in the British Isles can offer the abundance of options or incredible views as this feast for the soul in the heart of Cumbria.
Grasmere, Embleton & Kendal
Lovely Grasmere, on a tiny, wood-fringed lake, is made up of crooked lanes with Westmorland slate-built cottages refitted as shops and galleries. The village is a magnet for literary buffs, as it was the adopted heartland of the Romantic poets, notably Wordsworth and Coleridge. The village of Embleton is situated in the Northern Lakes, between the market towns of Cockermouth and Keswick, and is the perfect base to explore the Lake District and Cumbrian coast. It is a paradise for walkers, cyclists and climbers – the list is endless.
The southern gateway to the Lake District is the ‘auld grey town’ of Kendal, so-named because of the slate-coloured stone used in most of its buildings. Nearby hills provide some delightful walks, giving access to the ruins of Kendal Castle. Pack a slab of Kendal mint cake, the local peppermint candy that British walkers and climbers swear by. Away from the main roads you’ll find quiet courtyards and winding medieval streets known as ‘ginnels’, which wool merchants used for easy access to the Kent River for centuries.
Filling a rocking gorge between thickly wooded hills, Windermere is an idyllic setting for fishing, especially for the famous Windermere char. In summer, steamers and pleasure craft travel the lake, and a trip across the island-studded waters, particularly the round-trip from Bowness to Ambleside or down to Lakeside, is wonderful.
In the late 19th century, the railway line made it a lot easier for visitors to enjoy the wonders of the Lake District, and they started arriving in droves during the summer months. Wealthy industrialists from Lancashire built grand mansions in which to while away their holidays, and many of these have now been transformed into deluxe hotels. You can still explore some of the wonderful homes surrounding the lake, including Brockhole, which holds the National Park Visitor Centre, Wray Castle with its mock-ruins and secret doors, and Hilltop – the first Lake District home of Beatrix Potter, who fell in love with the area when she stayed at Wray Castle with her family at the age of 16.
The Infinity Experience
Stone Bridge in the Lakes DistrictPixabay
Row Boats, CumbriaPixabay