Buttermere Geraldine Burles

Geraldine Burles

The Lake District is England’s largest national park, situated in Cumbria (near the Scottish border) and home to all of England’s highest mountains and England’s biggest body of water (Lake Windermere, which confusingly is not a lake). This gets more rain than anywhere (so bring your rubber wellies) although the spectacular scenery is worth it. The village of Arnside & Silverdale (a few miles south) is one of England’s Areas of Outstanding Beauty. And in a county with 6 times more sheep than people, learn how to right an overturned sheep or it will die (hold it upright until rain has drained off, to prevent recurrence).

The area suffers from summer tourism, but you can go off the beaten track to more peaceful lakes: Buttermere, Crummock, Loweswater and Bassenthwaite (the only ‘real lake’) Lake Windermere has been in the news recently, with protests against the local water company paying millions in dividends to shareholders, while pumping raw sewage into the water. And councils have rapped tourists on the knuckles for dropping litter and over-feeding swans (they can easily find food underwater – some are now so tame they go up to dogs, and waddle up the road to the supermarket to look for ‘easy pickings’).

Nearby is Carnforth Station, the setting for the beautiful film Brief Encounter (the bridge the couple cross is in the village of Langdale). The seaside village of St Bees marks the beginning of Wainwright’s coast-to-coast walk (which ends when you paddle your toes in the East Yorkshire’s Robin Hood’s Bay).

one of the best places to spot ospreys

And alongside Rutland, the Lake District is a place to spot ospreys (fish-eating birds of prey). Read Wild Fell on how volunteers rewilded the area, after England’s last golden eagle died alone on the Eastern Fells, a sad day for conservationists.

home to England’s deepest lake

Although Windermere is England’s largest body of water, the Lake District is also home to England’s deepest lake. Wastwater (in the Wasdale Valley in west Cumbria) is surrounded by England’s highest mountain (Scafell Pike) and voted Britain’s Favourite View. It’s 243 feet deep (about the height of a giant sequoia tree).

home to many of England’s best writers

Wordsworth hails from here, he and his sister lived in the pretty town of Grasmere (now known for its gingerbread). Also from these parts was Beatrix Potter, who left her estate to the National Trust on her death – she was a passionate conservationist. Her home is not far from Hawkshead, named one of the prettiest chocolate box villages in England.

home to all of England’s highest mountains

Scafell Park is England highest mountain, but there are also many other mountains here including Catbells and Old Man Coniston (hold on tight to your friend, if climbing on a windy day!) This sits above the pretty village of Coniston (on Coniston Water, this area has pretty little zero waste shops and independent cafes).

home to (nearly all) of England’s rain!

blunt umbrella

Cumbria is by far the rainiest county, and so bring your waterproofs! Also invest in a good umbrella (Blunt Umbrellas were designed by an engineer). They don’t blow inside out in a storm nor poke you in the eye! Most umbrellas a little more than ‘rags on sticks’ but invest in one of these, and it should last a lifetime (unless you lose it!)

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