‘The loveliest spot that man hath found’ were the words used by William Wordsworth to describe the Lake District. Located in the county of Cumbria, it is 912 square miles of elevated ridges, lush meadows and sparkling blue lakes. And lovely indeed it is.
Lakeland, as it is locally known, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the England’s most popular regions for tourists, drawing around 18 million visitors each year. It’s easy to see why. With steep, craggy fells plunging into shimmering waters, the scenery is nothing short of majestic.
There is something deeply poetic in these green hills. For centuries, painters and writers have lauded the romanticism of the Lake District. Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, JMW Turner, Ruskin and Beatrix Potter all either set up home here or kept coming back for artistic inspiration. Today, the artists continue to come, as do lovers of the outdoors and thrill-seekers.
Walking for pleasure and exercise has long been a firm favourite with visitors, and the range of trails is very impressive, from short, family-friendly strolls beside water, to epic several-day hikes that reach some of the highest points in England. The landscape can be appreciated in other ways, of course, including on horseback, from a bicycle, or just meandering along in a car, pausing here and there to enjoy the breath-taking scenery on all sides.
Communities such as Keswick, Windermere, Grasmere, Coniston and Ambleside offer all that the visitor could wish for in terms of great bases from which to explore. They also provide plenty of things to see and do, as well as a good range of shops, including outdoor clothing, shoe and equipment stores, something of great importance in an area that’s so focused on adventuring into the more exposed areas of the landscape.
For those that fancy a change from the Great Outdoors, there are castles, museums, gardens, aquariums, and plenty of other places of interest to enjoy in this much-loved part of England.
These two communities, with little obvious separation between them these days, are very much focal points for visitors to this part of the Lake District. Between Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere, they offer all that a tourist could ask for in terms of accommodations, places to eat at and shops, and with a railway station and bus station, it makes them the most easily accessible places in Lakeland.
A bustling and animated town, Ambleside is one of the key locations for visitors to the Lake District to base themselves in, and a real focal point for what the area is all about…the Great Outdoors. It has everything that’s required of a community within a National Park. An extensive range of accommodations, plenty of shops, most importantly several that focus on outdoor activity, lots of eateries, and a good deal more besides make this small but active town a popular destination.
With the dual attraction of its literary associations, and the magical composition of craggy fells encompassing the two lakes, Grasmere and Rydal Water, the vast appeal of this small community and its immediate surrounds is unsurprising. Possibly the most visited village in Lakeland, Grasmere does get somewhat crowded at times. However, it’s hard to ignore the appeal of a place that embodies so much of what the Lake District is about, and that inspired one of England’s best loved poets to base himself here for many years whilst he penned his famous lines.
With such a range of first-class scenery on its doorstep, Keswick is the obvious major location from which to explore the northern Lake District. Its role as a bustling market town in earlier centuries, serving the mining industry in nearby valleys, changed during the 19th century when tourism came to Keswick in the form of hotels and lodging houses. Whilst the town has a rather Victorian flavour as a result, it has a modern-day energy and all the amenities that visitors could wish for.