You don’t have to travel out of the country for some of the most spectacular views in the world. The Lake District’s beauty has provided inspiration for many a poet, including Wordsworth and Coleridge, and is easily accessible from both Blackpool and Newcastle International Airport. Regular coaches connect the Lake District to Blackpool, which lies 60 miles south of Windermere, and Newcastle is only two hours’ drive away.
Divided into nine regions, the Lake District National Park, England’s largest National Park, also holds the title for containing all of the English land higher than three thousand feet above sea level and the longest and deepest lakes in the country. Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England, and is a spectacle to behold standing at 3,210 feet in the Mid Western Fells among the other giant peaks.
There are a huge number of holiday cottages to choose from, from cosy and traditional sixteenth-century buildings hidden in the valleys, to more modern purpose-built houses in villages like Ambleside. The towns around the Lake District can be visited by taxi, while trains connect the longer distances between the main lakes, including Windermere and Derwentwater. It is generally agreed that there are sixteen lakes and many other tarns, however technically Bassenthwaite Lake in the North West is the only official lake around.
Over half of the Park (which stretches approximately 34 miles across) is free to be walked upon, and volunteers provide free guided tours varying from short picnic walks to day-long hikes where you can really take in the scenery. There are treasure hunts for children and more laidback routes for those with limited mobility or pushchairs; just remember to bring your walking boots and waterproofs!
Mountain bikers will want to head to Whinlatter and Grizedale Forests which are criss-crossed with routes for beginners up to more experienced riders. There are also lots of opportunities to make the most of the water, with designated swimming areas, boat hire and water sports such as windsurfing and kayaking available at Coniston, Windermere, Derwentwater and Ullswater lakes.
The picturesque market town of Keswick in the north lakes has become a popular place to stay and visit thanks to its location between the enormous Skiddaw mountain group and Derwentwater. Here among the cafés and pubs are parks, galleries and museums with collections including the original manuscripts of the Lake Poets. It is also home to the very successful Theatre by the Lake, which puts on a range of plays produced by Cumbria’s leading theatre company. Book in advance to avoid disappointment as the rave reviews and beautiful setting means the theatre is often full.
A number of buses link Keswick, Grasmere, Ambleside, Windermere and Kendal with Carlisle, making it easy to have a day trip in this historic city. Here you will be able to see the remaining parts of Hadrian’s Wall and the great medieval fortress of Carlisle Castle.