It was voted Top UK region in our Reader Travel Awards – but what makes the Lake District so special? Here are 5 things to tick off your list next time you visit
The Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre in the Ennerdale Valley is an accredited ‘Dark Sky Discovery Site’ and probably the best place in England to view the night sky. It’s isolated, mountainous setting means that it is largely free of light pollution and the Northern Lights have been spotted here.
Night sky spiral (Shutterstock)
In winter, coinciding with new moon phases, the centre holds Dark Sky Discovery weekends. Experts are on hand to help you get the most of the spectacular night skies above you, a cosy room with a roaring fire if the weather doesn’t behave and a hostel where you can crash for the night.
Forget everything you think you know about gingerbread. Grassmere gingerbread, invented in 1854 by Sarah Nelson, is unlike anything you have ever tasted before. A sweet-spicy cross between a cake and a biscuit, it is gooey in the middle and crumbly on the top. People travel from all over the world just to try it.
The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop is set in Sarah Nelson’s original home, a quaint cottage tucked between St Oswald’s Churchyard and the Wordsworth Hotel. The smell of gingerbread is irresistible and part of the whole experience. Grasmere itself is a great place to go and meander around too. It’s a proper chocolate box village in the Lakes.
You can’t come to the Lake District and not climb a fell. That’s what it’s famous for!
If you’re looking for a good starter fell – or you’re trying to convince someone who’s not to keen on going up a hill to give it a try –the best one to start with is Orrest Head, just above Windermere. It’s a short walk and will take no longer than an hour – and that’s if you’ve got kids or you’re older.
Orrest Head, Windemere (Shutterstock.com)
It’s a nice easy walk. Very little effort required. But the views you get from the top, right the way down into Windermere and over the other fells, I promise you it will make you want to climb the other ones. It was the first fell that Alfred Wainwright, the guidebook writer, climbed and it made him fall in love with the Lakes. Every time I go there it makes me fall in love with the Lake District all over again.
There’s an electric bike network that has been steadily growing in the Lake District. It’s a really good way of actually seeing a lot of the villages really quickly and getting to all the honey pot locations, but doing it with a slightly greener conscience.
There are plenty of charging stations along the way. Most of them are in pubs and cafes, so it’s a good excuse to have a drink and ‘recharge’ yourself. Plenty of energy for both you and the bike.
The Lakes are hilly, so having the electric motor to help out is a boon if you’re not a hardcore cyclist.
It’s very easy to get too caught up on the inland part of the Lake District and forget to explore Cumbria’s coast. OK. it’s not technically part of the Lake District National, but it would be a shame to be so close and not check it out.
Anywhere near the south and west lakes is worth making a detour for. It feels totally different to the rest of the Lake District. Here the fells are behind you as you look across the sea. And you don’t get the crowds.
Solway Firth (Shutterstock.com)
The Solway Plain is worth checking out too. The Smuggler’s Route that starts at Mayport will take your through Allonsby to Mealsgate. Make sure you stop at the Twentymans General Store and try one of their Monster Ice Creams.
Main image: Sheep in Lake District (Shutterstock.com)