Visit the Lake District for cracking views, energy-sapping walks and pretty villages (Dreamstime)

Lake District: top 5 highlights

England's largest national park offers something for every type of traveller: walk, cycle or climb the rugged landscape; sip tea or sample top pub grub in the area's array of eateries; or explore country estates and marvel at well-groomed gardens. Below are our top five highlights you simply shouldn't miss.

1. Muncaster Castle

Uncover the area's history in the walls and grounds of Muncaster Castle. Dubbed the UK's most haunted castle a night spent here is only for the brave. Explore the 70-acre woodland gardens, which date back to the 18th century and burst with colour every spring and autumn.

Take in glorious views over Ravenglass – the only coastal village in Lake District National Park – and over the Esk Valley toward towering Scafell Pike, England's highest peak.

2. Buttermere

Think Buttermere and you think creamy scones or cupcakes with lashings of buttery icing smeared on top? You couldn't be further from the truth...

Buttermere is one of the Lake District's most beautiful lakes, while a two-hour, four mile walk around the circumference showcases the area's rugged peaks and fells.

Stock up energy levels at the nearby Syke Farm tea room, for homemade ice creams or a good, strong pot of tea.

3. Dove cottage

This is a 'must-see' for literature lovers and was home to William Wordsworth from 1799 until 1808. Tour the picturesque cottage the world-famous poet once lived in and see the rooms he composed his greatest writings in. Stop by the adjacent museum – packed full with manuscripts and quirky memorabilia.

The idyllic cottage is nestled near the village of Grasmere and it's not hard to see how the poet was inspired, with sublime landscapes all around.

4. Whinlatter Forest Park

On your trip to the Lake District take time to explore the UK's only real mountain forest: Whinlatter Forest Park. Perfect for adventure seekers and lovers of all things outdoors, the park has an abundance of walking trails, bikes for hire and even a high ropes course. Varying lengths make it the perfect setting for all abilities and families are welcome.

Visit from April to September and you can watch the osprey web-cam – streaming footage of the local osprey population from their nest.

5. Castlerigg Stone Circle

One of the oldest British circles, dating back an estimated 5,000 years, the site at Castlerigg is impressive. Historians and archaeologists are unsure why this site was created or what it stands for. Take in the panoramic views and the surrounding mountains while you're at the top.

Those with the energy can walk up to the site from nearby town of Keswick following a well-marked trail along an old railway-line. Those lagging can park at the top...

Need somewhere to stay in the Lake District?

Sykes cottages in the Lake DistrictSykes cottages – the UK's leading independent cottage rental agency – offers a wide range of fantastic accommodation across the Lake District. Whether you're looking for somewhere to relax after a hard day walking, a cottage with a pub close by, somewhere to take your dog along or a romantic place to relax, Sykes will have a property to suit your every want and need.

Find out more about their properties in the Lake District and across the UK here.