Located in the north west of England, in the county of Cumbria and not far from the Scottish border, the Lake District is characterised by glaciated landscapes of deep U-shaped valleys, steep ridges, and a series of lakes that radiate out from the central point of Grasmere.
Lake Windermere is the largest lake and also one of the most accessible, being situated in the south not far from the market town of Kendal. The northern Lakes are no less dramatic and are focused around Ullswater. To the west, the picturesque landscapes of the north and south give way to altogether wilder and more rugged scenery. Scafell Pike is England’s highest mountain and presents a significant challenge to hikers. Due to their relative isolation, the western Lakes attract much fewer visitors and are an ideal destination for those looking to escape the clamour of the modern world.
These are the landscapes that inspired the Romantic poets such as William Wordsworth, a Lake District native, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Much derided in their day, their poems are celebrated today for their wonderful evocation of the Lake District’s landscapes. Wordsworth’s daffodils can be seen at Glencoyne Bay, Ullswater and the contribution of these literary figures remains an important part of the area’s heritage.
One lifelong lover of the Lake District was Beatrix Potter, creator of Peter Rabbit and friends. From her childhood days, the Lakes inspired the budding author to write and her charming tales have since delighted generations of children.
Beatrix Potter was passionate about the heritage of the Lake District and sought to protect old ways of life by buying up working farms to protect them from developers. She left her land to the National Trust who continue to preserve the landscape and traditional farming practices, mostly notably the breeding of Herdwick sheep, which are unique to the area.
Beyond hiking and an exploration of the Lakes’ literary heritage, Cumbria has so much more to discover. Nestled in the valleys are some fine manor houses, home to families that have lived in the area for generations. The Dalemain estate is famous for its Marmalade Festival, held every year in March, and adds a quirky touch to this distinct corner of England.
What to do
- Hike among some of England’s most dramatic landscapes
- Discover the homes of Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth
- Explore charming English manor houses and gardens