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Lake District

Information about the Lake District

In the County of Cumbria, on the border of England with the Scottish Lowlands, the Lake District is a region of mountains, lakes, and waterfalls.  Enjoyed by visitors all year round because every season sees the awesome countryside clothed in staggering beauty. The Lake District is a hiker's paradise. Often called "Little Switzerland," it is beautiful, full of charming little lakes rolling hills and rugged open country. It was also the haven of great English poets, notably Wordsworth. Ambleside, Windermere (the largest lake is here), Grasmere and Keswick are all quaint little towns with good inns and restaurants. Any one of them would make a good base for seeing the Lake District. In springtime there is a profusion of spring flowers covering the hillsides, fields and gardens, the abundance of snowdrops and daffodils inspired William Wordsworth to write his famous 19th century poem, 'The Daffodils'. In summertime the verdant countryside is heavy with the scents of high summer and alive with birds and butterflies. Look out for the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, the Dark Green Fritillary and even the rare High Brown Fritillary. At Tarn Hows, The National Trust Park, through its conservation project, has successfully managed to attract ' Beatrix Potter's butterfly' the Mountain Ringlet.  This beautiful butterfly can be seen for a short period in midsummer on the high fells. Bird lovers will find the whole region to be a haven for a wide variety of birdlife such as the mountain blackbirds, ravens, buzzards, peregrines and towards the eastern fells, England's only pair of golden eagles. On the moors you can see red grouse and on the lakes themselves a huge variety of water fowl including golden eye, goosander, tufted duck and at Bassenthwaite Lake or Overwater Tarn look out for ospreys who come here to fish. In October the dramatic landscape presents a different picture as the landscape dons the magnificent colours of autumn.  If you are lucky you may see the shy woodland creatures such as red squirrels and deer. Among the most visited towns and resorts in the Lake district is Bowness on Windermere , Bowness, Kendal, Grasmere, Patterdale.

The Lake District is one of the most popular walking areas in England and the visitor can find a wealth of walks and rambles ranging from a leisurely stroll to a more challenging high level walk.  Detailed information, guides and maps are available at the 28 Tourist Information Centres located throughout the County.  A telephone weather forecast, updated twice per day, is provided by the National Park Authority.  This is very important for walkers who wish to try the more challenging mountain walks as weather conditions on the high fells can be substantially different to those on the lower levels.  The weather line service is on 0870 0550575.

For those who just want to enjoy the beautiful countryside without the effort of walking, many of the lakes offer cruises and canoe,  sailing or rowboat hire.  Cyclists can hire mountain bikes and explore the region via cycle routes.  The Tourist Information Centres can provide information regarding these.  Alternatively, go sightseeing by open-topped bus or train. In the south is the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, which is the oldest,  picturesque steam railway service taking the traveller through spectacular valleys from Ravenglass on the west coast to the Delgarth Visitor Centre at the foot of England's highest mountains.  In the north, at Alston, is the South Tynedale Railway which is Northern England's highest narrow-gauge railway  which steams through the beautiful South Tyne Valley and through the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  For buses, an explorer ticket offers unlimited travel on Stagecoach buses throughout Cumbria.  This enables the visitor to hop on and off whenever and wherever they choose.  The Lake Rider and Ruskin Explorer combine travel by open-topped buses with lake cruises.

Finding somewhere to stay in the Lake district should not be difficult as there is a wide range of accommodation available throughout Cumbria, ranging from simple hostels, B&B, guest houses, inns and hotels.  The Lake District is a popular destination for visitors all through the year and weekends tend to be the busiest, especially in and around Windermere.  Pre-booking accommodation is advisable although in the smaller villages the visitor will always be able to find something.  With regard to price there is a huge range but better deals can be obtained mid-week, Monday to Thursday. At this time it is possible to find accommodation in 5-Star hotels at a fraction of their weekend cost if it is out of high season.

The Lake District, however, is not just for walkers.  The County of Cumbria offers something for everyone.  In the north is Hadrian's Wall to wonder at. Built by the Romans and begun in AD122 it spans73 miles across the width of northern England.  It's purpose was to create a barrier between Roman Britain and the ancient Scottish tribes.  Today it is a World Heritage Site and it is possible to walk in the footsteps of Legions on a fascinating journey across the dramatic countryside of the English and Scottish borders.  Throughout the whole Lake District region there are castles, abbeys, priories, stately homes and gardens to visit as well as countless museums and activity centres that will fill your holiday with unforgettable memories.

Helvellyn and the Central and Southern Lakes:

Central Westmorland, contains almost every feature of mountain scenery and is to many, one of the loveliest and most satisfying part of the Lake District. It has two of the largest lakes, Windermere and Ullswater, and the most popular of the peak climbs, Helvellyn.  There are fertile valleys and lofty fells, noisy mountain streams=reams and a rich literary heritage.  The landscape is virtually unchanged from the days when William Wordsworth explored the hills and dales from his homes at Grasmere and Rydal Mount.


2007 travel guides