The beauty of Cumbria and the Lake District has inspired writers and artists for centuries – a spectacular landscape of craggy mountains, glistening lakes, picturesque valleys and a long, varied coastline. Visitors come here to unwind, they come here to have an adventure, they come to learn about the past, to sample some of the best fine dining outside of London, to walk the hills, to take boat trips on the lakes, to cycle, to visit festivals, to dangle from the tree-tops, to explore underground... There really is something for everyone in Cumbria.
The Lake District, England’s largest National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, covers much of the county of Cumbria and stretches right out to the cliffs and beaches of the Irish Sea. This is a place of superlatives – it’s home to England’s highest mountain, the 978-metre Scafell Pike; its longest natural lake, Windermere; and its deepest lake, Wastwater. These famous natural features, created by glaciers millennia ago, are enhanced by a cultural heritage that has given rise to pretty villages, white-washed farmhouses, dry-stone walls that snake up and down the hills – known in these parts as fells – and more than 16,500 archaeological sites and historic monuments.
But Cumbria isn’t just the Lake District... The eastern side of the county contains a big chunk of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Visitors can also see the Roman remains that make up part of the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site, and explore no fewer than three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – Arnside and Silverdale; the North Pennines; and the Solway Coast. It’s a landscape that’s been cherished and nurtured for generations, and is now afforded some of the highest levels of protection in the land.
The county, one of England’s largest, is tucked away in the far north-west of the country, right up against the border with Scotland. There are good road and rail links with the rest of the UK – it’s less than three hours by train from London Euston to Oxenholme near Kendal, and little more than an hour from either Glasgow or Edinburgh to Carlisle. In addition, Carlisle Lake District Airport operates flights to London Southend, Dublin and Belfast City.
Tourists have been flocking to the region since the first Lake District guidebook was published about 250 years ago, so it’s hardly surprising that, over the years, Cumbrians have learned a thing or two about how to make visitors welcome. Holiday-makers can choose from a broad range of accommodation options – anything from luxury boutique hotels and well-appointed guesthouses to campsites and self-catering cottages. Just about every town and village – from Cartmel to Carlisle, from Keswick to Kendal, from Windermere to Whitehaven – has a wide choice of dining options. You’ll find hearty pub grub, Michelin-starred fine dining restaurants, vegan options, afternoon tea, high-quality local produce, Indian, Thai, Jamaican, Mexican, Japanese, Malaysian, Greek, Italian... You name it, there’s a good chance Cumbria’s got it!