The Stunning Surrounds of England’s Lake District
For centuries, some of England’s finest authors, painters and poets have visited the Lake District for inspiration and relaxation. From the time of Wordsworth, who first made the region famous for its beauty, up until Alfred Wainwright’s labour of love in chronicling his journeys amidst the fells, the Lake District has held a special place in English hearts. Athletes as well as artists often make the journey to Cumbria, with traditional fell races providing some of the strictest endurance challenges in the British Isles. For those with a slightly more sedate pace in mind, the Lake District is a perfect place for a hiking and sight-seeing holiday.
“This spot is where Wordsworth first took in the natural beauty of the Lake District, and nearby is the still operating Swann Inn, where he used to breakfast with Sir Walter Scott…”
As many of the artists mentioned above have proved, the Lake District can occupy a lifetime’s interest, but there are certain spots that must be visited during even a brief stay. High on any list for a lover of the outdoors should be the town of Keswick, over which looms the mountain of Skiddaw. Perhaps more than any other place in England, Keswick functions as a Mecca for hikers, climbers and trail runners, and hosts the Keswick Mountain Festival each year in May. With a variety of different summits surrounding the town as well as attractions such as the Castlerigg stone circle, visitors are unlikely to run out of things to do. If a hike further afield is desired, a regular bus service out to Borrowdale can deposit an adventurous walker on the flanks of Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain.
Of course, not every visitor to the Lake District will want to pursue mountain adventures with quite that level of vigour. Fortunately, the village of Ambleside provides just the same level of natural beauty, but with rather more sedate alternatives for experiencing it. Nestled on the coast of Lake Windermere, Ambleside can provide a host of shops, cafes and restaurants with sweeping lakeside views, as well as easier ascents of nearby hills and regular summertime steamboat journeys to other points of interest situated on the coast of England’s largest natural lake. Whilst Windermere might be the venue for regular speed record attempts, tourists can now travel the waters in a calmer manner, whether by yacht or by ferry.
Only a short journey northwards from Ambleside, Grasmere provides more beautiful lakeside views, as well as being the home of Dove Cottage. This spot is where Wordsworth first took in the natural beauty of the Lake District, and nearby is the still operating Swann Inn, where he used to breakfast with Sir Walter Scott. There is no doubt that the famous poet loved Grasmere above all other places. Not only did he describe it as “the loveliest spot that man has ever found”, but he is buried in the village cemetery. To the southwest lies Coniston, another picture-perfect settlement, whilst Kendal serves as a larger base of tourism to the southeast of the National Park.
With all of these stunning rural attractions, the Lake District has only one real drawback. With the exception of Windermere and some of the southernmost settlements, it is notoriously difficult to get anywhere within the National Park at a convenient time by public transport. Whilst bus services are available, they tend to be infrequent and sometimes unreliable. For this reason, many visitors choose to fly into the region and then rent private transport for their stay. Fortunately, car hire from Manchester Airport provides a feasible travel alternative, and makes getting around the entirety of Cumbria and the wider North West of England much easier than relying on trains and buses.
This post was written by Elliot Watts