For North Americans, England’s Lake District will seem reminiscent of the Hamptons, the tony area on the eastern end of New York’s Long Island where ritzy mansions mix with laid-back culture in a gorgeous setting.
The beauty and charms of the national park have earned the Lake District its reputation as a destination for romantics and nature lovers. In a nation of 53 million people, the Lake District is blissfully rural the deeper into it you explore. At 912 square miles (2,362 square kilometres) it is approximately the size of Luxembourg but has only 50,000 residents, about one-tenth the population of that country in the European lowlands.
Scribes and poets have feted the Lake District with superlatives seemingly since language was invented. What you will learn about the region when you visit is its historical importance is just as fascinating as the influence it had on literary talents such as William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. Having been home to Druids, Romans, Vikings, Normans, and more, the Lake District is teeming with sites of interest.
- CastleRigg: This circular formation of stone monoliths was reputedly designed by the Druids about 5,000 years ago. CastleRigg is a mini-Stonehenge and like that famous attraction 300 miles (483 km) to the south was a meeting place for religious worship in the ancient world.
- Buttermere Ayrshires: This farm is where the name “butter” originates. These days, it’s also home to a cafe and very popular ice-cream shop with treats made from the farm’s dairy.
- Windermere: The largest lake in England is 10.5 miles (16.9 km) long and dotted with small communities, historic structures, and museums.
- Scafell Pike: The tallest mountain in England, this peak climbs 3,000 feet (914 metres) above sea level, and requires about five hours for a round-trip hike.
- The Struggle: A road that climbs a quarter-mile (about 500 metres) is a historic path plied by carts, donkeys, and agrarian workers.
- Patterdale Passage: This route is named after St. Patrick, who baptized the Vikings while traveling through the Lake District. A small town of Patterdale is also the starting point for numerous hikes and activities, as well as the site of a church named after the Irish saint.
The Vikings structured the district by cutting down trees, breeding farm animals, and erecting stone walls. The roads throughout the Lake District are winding and twisty because they follow the original paths that horses helped to make by walking between, and sometimes through, trees. Visitors, though, have numerous routes to select from as they explore the Lake District.
While there are many options of places to see and things to do in the Lake District, where to base your stay is an easy choice. Lindeth Howe is a stately home built in the 1800s. It was bought by Potter, the author of the Peter Rabbit series of children’s books who was also a conservationist and champion of the Lake District. Having undergone a recent multimillion-dollar renovation, Lindeth Howe provides modern appeal that blends with the quaintness and charm many associate with England’s country manors.
Along with Peter Rabbit-themed decor, the property features large bedrooms, massive ornate bathrooms, and welcoming lounges and restaurant. Its lush gardens and a charming patio area allows guests to enjoy meals outdoors and linger while watching the sun set. Lindeth Howe is about a 20-minute walk to the harbor of Bowness-on-Windermere, where tour boats depart for scenic rides down the main lake. The boat tours are a whimsical way of seeing some of the towns on Windermere, including lovely Ambleside and Brockhole, a community with tourism offerings that have kept up with the times, including a treetop-trekking adventure that runs through 250-year-old oak trees.
While the cruises are hugely popular, the best way to explore the Lake District is through a combination of car ride and hiking. Short walks like the one to Aira Force, a picturesque waterfall, are worthy excursions while a stop at Derwentwater provides the opportunity to picnic or swim on the site where key sequences of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was shot. The town of Keswick, with a population of about 5,000 people, was so loved by Wordsworth that he once said it was too beautiful for human habitation.
As with much of the Lake District, it left him and many others since in awe.
More About Visiting England’s Lake District
Getting There: Tour buses arrive daily from Liverpool and Manchester. BritRail stopping points in the region include Windermere and Oxenholme Lake District stations.
Tours: Mountain Goat Tours offers outstanding experiences to explore the Lake District, including a trek to Scafell Pike. Visit the tour operator’s website to search the options best suited for you.
Where to Stay: Lindeth Howe (Longtail Hill, Bowness-on-Windermere) features 34 renovated rooms and suites. Nightly Rates: A recent search of the hotel’s booking engine returned a starting rate of $177 (USD) for a weekend night in September.