The Lake District is England’s largest National Park. It’s also England’s most spectacular National Park; you won’t see scenery like it anywhere else. This is where you’ll find the country’s highest mountains, its largest and deepest natural lakes, its most dramatic glacial valleys where atmospheric ancient woodland survives… It’s a landscape that, for centuries, has been moulded by human activity, most notably by farming, giving us the dry-stone walls that snake up and down the fells, scattered farmhouses, and towns and villages that have retained a traditional look and feel. It’s no surprise then that, in 2017, Unesco recognised it as a ‘World Heritage Site’, placing it up there with some of the planet’s most famous landscapes, including the Pyrenees, the Canadian Rockies and parts of the Swiss Alps.
People come here to walk through Borrowdale or around Buttermere, to climb Helvellyn, to paddle on Coniston Water, to sail on Bassenthwaite Lake, to swim in Windermere or Crummock Water, to go mountain biking in Grizedale Forest, to cycle the high passes of Hardknott, Kirkstone, Honister… There’s even a good stretch of coastline encompassing long, sandy beaches, dune systems and the estuary at Ravenglass. But that’s not to say the Lake District’s just about the great outdoors. Visitors also come to enjoy the scenery from the launches that cruise up and down Derwentwater, Ullswater and the other lakes, to visit museums, galleries and stately homes, to discover the region’s fascinating history, to sample some of the best dining opportunities outside of the big cities and simply to unwind.
Those wanting to holiday within the Lake District itself should head for Keswick, Windermere, Grasmere, Ambleside, Coniston or Glenridding/Patterdale, where they’ll find a broad range of accommodation types – everything from farm campsites and hostels to classy hotels with Michelin-starred restaurants. The towns just outside the National Park boundaries offer good facilities too. These include Kendal, Cockermouth and Penrith, all just a 10-minute drive from the fells.