Lake District Overview
- Mountains, lakes and meadows
- Country life
- Ramblers, writers and road trips
Cumbria’s dramatic, brooding landscape has inspired creative souls for centuries: poet William Wordsworth penned many of his most famous works in the Lake District, and it’s where Beatrix Potter settled with her beloved flock of Herdwick sheep.
With 16 beautiful lakes, unspoilt shorelines and 100 lofty peaks more than 2,000 feet high, this is the perfect place to go wandering ‘lonely as a cloud’. Silken‑surfaced waters and windswept fells certainly provide a moody backdrop for the region’s legion Arthurian legends and ancient stone circles: it’s no wonder the Lake District is such a magnet for hopeless romantics. Be warned, though – Cumbria’s good looks and pleasing manner can attract style‑cramping crowds in high summer. Flirt with life beyond the bigger towns and tourist traps, and you’ll be rewarded by Ruskin‑approved Arts and Crafts charm and breathtaking scenery.
Literally Lake District
Created by accident when a pan of glacier‑mint mixture was left unattended by a distracted Kendal confectioner, mint cake first went into production in 1869 and was an instant (sugar) hit. Vigorous outdoors types have used it to keep them on the march ever since it was supplied to Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition, and a batch from Romney’s of Kendal famously accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary to the summit of Everest. Get your fix at the Sweet Shop in Kirkby Lonsdale’s Market Square (+44 (0)1524 271570; www.uksweetsshop.co.uk).
- The only option is a good local minicab company; in Kirkby Lonsdale, try 24‑7 Taxis (+44 (0)1524 273395). Your best bet is to ask your hotel to arrange drop‑offs and pick‑ups for you.
- Tipping culture
- As in the rest of the UK, a 12.5–15 per cent tip is expected in restaurants; sometimes it’s included in the bill, sometimes not.
- Packing tips
- Walking shoes and a waterproof jacket, in case you fancy a hike; wine cooler and picnic basket for gathering foraged foodstuffs to consume en route.
- Recommended reads
- Historical novel Haweswater by Sarah Hall; some Wordsworth poetry (try Penguin’s Selected Poems); or Arthur Ransome’s classic children’s adventure Swallows and Amazons, set on Coniston Water.
- Regional specialities
- The region produces a wonderful array of gourmand goodies, from Cumberland sausages to Grasmere gingerbread. Yew Tree Farm Heritage Meats sells delicious cuts of Cumbrian Herdwick lamb and Belted Galloway beef. Visit the farm shop in Coniston or order fleece‑lined hampers online (+44 (0)1539 441433; www.heritagemeats.co.uk). In Lyth Valley, Savin Hill Farm (+44 (0)1539 568410; www.savin‑hill.co.uk) raises pure‑bred British White cattle and Middle White pigs to produce its delicious marbled beef and hams.
- Pound sterling (£).
- Time zone
- Dialling codes
- Country code for the UK: 44.
- Do go/don't go
- June, July and August are the best months for British weather, but be warned that the better-known lakes will be busy with tourists. Visit during spring and autumn for lakeside seclusion.
Don't go home without...
… admiring Ruskin’s View – a spot overlooking the Lune River so named because it captivated that most discerning of Victorian thinkers. It’s in Kirkby Lonsdale, behind the St Mary’s church graveyard (not as ghoulish as it sounds). Drink it all in, then go for a drink at the Snooty Fox Inn (+44 (0)1524 271308).