I first visited The Lake District in England, a little over a month ago, and was excited to be going there as I’d heard many wonderful things about its natural beauty. At the same time, though, I almost felt ashamed that as a person who loves her home country I hadn’t been to such a beautiful place sooner. Granted, I’d grown up in the south of England and there are many corners of the southern counties that I’ve yet to visit, but The Lakes (as they are commonly referred to as), are in the county of Cumbria and aren’t exactly a million miles from my birthplace (in fact, relatively speaking you could argue that nowhere in England is very far from my birthplace!), so my visit felt long overdue.
Had I have realised I would be facing near arctic conditions when I arrived, I might have revised my choice of footwear and purchased an umbrella to protect my newly coiffeured barnet from the deluge of icy white flakes, but I can’t deny that my heart skipped a beat when I saw the landscape covered in a thick layer of snow. My head, meanwhile, told me to keep an eye on my husband who had been gunning to lob a snowball at my face since our arrival!
The Lake District is a mountainous region interspersed with lakes, forests and pastureland; its rolling green fields (or during my visit, rolling white fields) slope nearly vertically, and which might make those unaccustomed to the ways of the countryside wonder how the sheep don’t end up rolling down them and thwacking into the grey stone walls at the bottom with almighty woolly thuds.
Designated as a National Park in 1951, The Lakes are the UK’s most visited park, and home also to Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain. Aside from all of the obvious reasons for visiting such a beautful place, the area is also associated with notable folk like Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth and John Ruskin.
There are hotels and guesthouses to suit all budgets around every corner, and on our recent trip, we were fortunate enough to find ourselves quite literally snowed in at a gastro pub in the tiny village of Troutbeck near Windermere; I say ‘fortunately’ as it gave us ample time to sample the array of ales on tap and work our way through the scrumptious menu!
One area of outstanding natural beauty often most commonly associated with The Lakes is Lake Windermere, and at 10.5 miles long and fed by numerous rivers, it’s the largest natural lake in England. After having been voted as one of the most romantic places to get married in the UK, every year there are countless brides and grooms who choose to exchange their vows on the shores of the lake, and with such scenes of tranquil ruralness flanked by mountains, why wouldn’t they? Steamboats and various other types of water vehicles operate on the lake, providing tourists with a relaxing way of taking in the surrounding scenery, and the homes of many of the wealthy late 19th century businessmen who built their mansions overlooking the water, can still be seen, many now converted into hotels.
Visitors are naturally drawn to the region for all of its walking, hiking and mountaineering opportunities, and the wildlife in the area is rich and diverse too, due to the variations in landscape. Red squirrels have flourished here (their numbers are fast dwindling in the UK), and England’s only pair of nesting Golden Eagles have made their nests here too.
Every town and village in the Lake District has something special to offer its visitors, many are home to quaint and ancient buildings, others give great views of the lakes and mountains, and most are full of shops selling local produce and handcrafted fare. Bowness-on-Windermere is perhaps The Lakes most popular holiday resort.
So, if pastoral tranquility, history, natural beauty and rustic charm, are all things that float your steamboat, then The Lake District is the place for you. In the winter, warm you and your walking boots by a log fire in one of its many traditional English pubs, or in the summer months, hike in your shorts for as far as the eye can see, then stop and refresh yourself with a cool drink in a quaint beer garden with a stunning view. Bliss.