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The ultimate guide to the Lake District holiday cottages

England

The ultimate guide to the Lake District

Kate W 31 May 2018

When picturing an escape, the mind conjures scenes of misty mountains, shimmering bodies of water and endless horizons.

The spectacular landscape you’re imagining is the Lake District.

Known for its woodland, fells and of course its lakes, this rare British wilderness is one of the most gorgeous parts of the UK. The mountains and valleys are dense with volcanic rock, which prevents the water from the lakes seeping away into the oceans, giving this area it’s iconic name.

The Lake District was awarded World Heritage Site status by UNESCO in 2017, making it part of an exclusive group of special landscapes that includes the Great Barrier Reef, Yellowstone National Park and the Galapagos Islands.

We have pieced together the highlights of this unforgettable corner of the world.

LUXURY BY THE LAKE

The lakes

Let us tell you a secret about the Lake District: it is home to only one true lake.

It is called Bassenthwaite Lake and happens to be one of the largest bodies of water in the national park. All other stretches of water in the Lake District have been named ‘mere’, ‘tarn’ or ‘water’.

The area is also home to two record-breaking bodies of water. It is the location of the deepest and longest bodies of water in England, Wastwater and Windermere respectively.

WANDER THE FELLS

The fells

The Lake District is an entirely unique area of England in that it is home to all the land located higher than 3,000 feet (914m) above sea level. If you want to travel somewhere with extraordinary panoramic views, the Lake District should be top of your list.

At the heart of the region you can find the gorgeous Scarfell Pike. It is the tallest mountain in England at 978m and forms part of the famous Three Peaks Challenge that also encompasses Snowdon in Wales (1085m), and Ben Nevis in the highlands of Scotland (1345m). Every year many visitors accomplish the impressive feat of climbing all three mountains, this may be the year that you join them on that incredible journey.

Or you might prefer to retreat into the fells with friends and family for the perfect celebration or group holiday. Roam across the mountains and search out absolute seclusion or find a spot where you can stay put and take in the splendour of the natural world.

PICTURESQUE VILLAGES

Ambleside

Ambleside

The most photographed building in the Lake District could well be a quaint stone hut in the heart of Ambleside, called The Bridge House.  It was originally constructed to allow access across the river and used as an apple store. As times changed it was transformed into a family home and eventually became an information centre.

Ambleside itself is a gorgeous town on the northern shore of Windermere and is overflowing with cafés and independent shops for browsing and treating your loved ones. At the edge of the town is Waterhead Pier, the departure point for ferries on Windermere if you are looking to take a trip out onto the water.

Ravenglass

This natural harbour is known as the only coastal village in the Lake District. With spectacular mountains towering over the village and the glorious Atlantic stretching out as far as the eye can see, this is an astonishing place and once-in-a-lifetime experience.

It is located at the estuary of three rivers: the Esk, Mite and Irt. Travel down the glorious coast either on foot or via the steam railway train, which offers group tours along the incredible region and onboard dining.

Cartmel

A charming village nestled at the edge of the Lake District, Cartmel is riddled with cobbled streets and old stone cottages. A few years ago, it ranked 44th on a New York Times list of must-visit worldwide destinations making it a true Lake District treasure.

Within the village you’ll find a 14th century gatehouse and a 12th century priory, for which the village is famous. There are many old shops and pubs and, the best bit, it is home to the famous Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding.

ADVENTURE AND EXPERIENCE

Climber

Are you a daredevil? Do you value incredible experiences over the quiet life? There’s plenty for avid adventurers in the rugged Lakes District.

Water sports are a must-do when visiting the area famous for its glassy waters. From long, luxurious boat trips to exhilarating white-water kayaking there are endless opportunities for having fun.

Aquaseiling, combines abseiling with jumping down waterfalls, or perhaps take part climbing inside an abandoned mine. Ghyll scrambling and potholing are popular activities for families with older children, and for the more refined adventurer, there’s the opportunity for sailing and dining on Windermere.

For the traditionalist, other popular outdoor pursuits are available. Go back to the medieval period by practicing your archery skills, climb and abseil across shear rockfaces with magnificent views or test your aim with some clay pigeon shooting.

Whatever you chose, it is essential that you spend time on or beside the breath-taking lakes. Make the most of the wonderful waters.

WEDDING BELLS

Wedding

Misty mountains, sun-dappled forests and clear lakes reflect stunning skylines. The Lake District is picture-perfect and an inspiring destination for celebrations and extra-special occasions.

Pre-wedding, indulge yourself and your friends in a luxury spa and, if you’re feeling brave, take a dip in one of the icy lakes. For a delightful day-out with your hen party you can find the Rhegad Centre sat on the edge of the incredible Ullswater, which has shops, a popular cinema, crafts and its own spa.

Romance is embedded in the history of the Lakes. It’s possible to book to get married in the family home of the English Romantic poet, William Wordsworth. The National Trust-owned Wordsworth House and Garden is a wonderful place to visit, and even if there are no wedding plans as yet, anyone is welcome to bring a group for a guided tour of the gorgeous property.

For a unique wedding experience, you can charter a Steam Yatch Gondala and give your guests a celebration they will never forget.

Anyone with wanderlust can certainly venture into the Edan Valley. While walking along River Edan, keep an eye out for Edan Benchmarks – a collection of artfully crafted sculptures and seats that are dotted along the footpath.

GASTRONOMY

Food

From seafood to country cuisine, there are endless fabulous restaurants in the Lake District making it a top destination for foodies. Amongst the mountains and sweeping valleys you can find the perfect dish to suit your palette.

L’Enclume – Famed throughout Britain, this is a twice Michelin-star awarded restaurant that uses seasonal ingredients to produce fine cuisine. It can be found in the gorgeous village of Cartmel.

Lake Road Kitchen – This eatery has countless awards including ‘2017 Sustainable Restaurant of the Year’ and is based in lovely Ambleside at the edge of Windermere.

Holbeck Ghyll Nestled between Bowness-On-Windermere and Ambleside, this restaurant offers a fine dining experience named the Chef’s Table, absolutely ideal for groups.

The Old Stamphouse – The former workplace of William Wordsworth. Two brothers bought it up and set about creating a dining experience based entirely on the local cuisine.

LITERATURE AND THE ARTS

Peter rabbit

As its name suggests, Theatre by the Lake sits on the edge of the gorgeous Derwenwater and is close to the popular town of Keswick. This unique venture showcases new talent, so it is a great place to find original work from aspiring writers and artists.

Another popular playhouse is The Old Laundry Theatre, a theatre-in-the-round located at Bowness-on-Windermere in the heart of the Lake District.

Prefer to hideaway with a good book? Wordsworth’s own house, four-hundred-year-old Dove Cottage in Grasmere, has been transformed into a museum and is open to the public.

In the village of Tarn Hows you can find Hilltop, Beatrix Potter’s 17th century farmhouse, now owned by the National Trust. It is full of objects that once belonged to Beatrix Potter including original drawings, paintings and pages of her writing.

DAY TRIPS FOR YOUNG ONES

Aquarium

There are fantastic attractions and experiences all over the region to draw families and keep little ones entertained.  Of course, the Lake District has endless natural spaces where children can investigate the local wildlife or play a game of football or cricket.

Get close to rare and endangered animals at South Lakes Safari Zoo and learn about their ongoing conservation efforts. Walk with wolves at The Predator Experience or gaze on the magnificence of a hawk in flight at Muncaster Castle Hawk & Owl Centre.

Investigate our underwater world at the Lakes Aquarium and lose yourself in the dappled light and incredible colours of the wildlife that inhabit our oceans.

HISTORIC SITES AND GHOST STORIES

ghost stories

Finally, do you enjoy delving into our past? Explore unique and atmospheric places throughout the Lake District.

There are many magnificent ancient ruins to visit including Kendal Castle, Castlerigg Stone Circle and Ravenglass Roman Bath House.

Hadrian’s Wall in north west Cumbria is a historic British landmark leftover by the Romans that makes a wonderful walking route for travellers, and Long Meg and her Daughters Stone Circle in Penrith is a peculiar relic of a lost world and an excellent place to visit.

Amongst the lakes and fells are many magical natural places so curious that ghost stories have developed around them.

Windemere in particular has its fair share of ghosts but perhaps the most haunting is the mysterious White Horse of Windemere. It is said to appear and walk shore-to-shore when trouble is coming to the people that live by the lake. This mere is also home to the fairy-like Tizzy-Whizzies and the ghoulish Crier of Claife. Delve deeper into these mysteries with a ghost tour.

SPECIAL MENTION

waterfall signs

It would be impossible not to include the highest waterfall in the Lake District, a waterfall so spectacular that both Wordsworth and Coleridge just had to write about it.

Hidden in a deep gorge between Red Pikem and Crummock Water is the magnificent Scale Force Waterfall. This striking feature has a drop of 120 feet.

William Wordsworth called it ‘a fine chasm, with a lofty, though but slender, fall of water’, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote ‘Scale Force, the white downfall of which glimmered through the trees, that hang before it like the bushy hair over a madman’s eyes.’

The Lake District is a phenomenal destination for any special occasion or group gathering, and it doesn’t take much to make the most of your time there. Feeling inspired to make plans? Have a browse of our portfolio of big houses in the UK.

Around The World
Kate W 06 August 2019
United Kingdom
Ruth 02 August 2019
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