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Cumbria and the Lake District

The Lake District

“And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”—Wordsworth, 1804

Standing at the edge of Ullswater lake, the Lake District, in 1804, Wordsworth was inspired to write his most famous poem, “I wander’d lonely as a cloud”. Because of his many poems on the Lake District, the area has now become known as “Wordsworth Country”. But there is plenty more to this national park than just this 19th century poet.

The Lake District national park, formed in 1951, is situated in North West England and takes up the entire county of Cumbria. Not only are there many lakes but it also consists of several mountains, Scafell Pike being the highest peak at 978m (3,210ft). Cumbria is bordered to the south by the county of Lancashire, to the north by Scotland, to the west by the Irish Sea and to the east by County Durham and Northumberland. The national park has an area of 885 square miles, and lies 34 miles (54km) across.

The main towns and villages in the Lake District include Kendal, Windermere, Staveley, Ingleton, Lowick, Hawkshead, Skelwith, Ambleside, Keswick, Hutton and Barton. The M6 motorway runs to the east of the Lake District, giving easy access to the national park, whilst the A591 runs from Kendal to Keswick.

Not only is the Lake District associated with poets such as Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey, but is also known as the “land” of Beatrix Potter. Although she was bought up in London, Potter took a great liking to the national park and settled here in later life. The beautiful countryside inspired many of her stories and illustrations.

The Lakes

Whichever part of the national park you decide to visit, you will never be far away from one of its majestic lakes. From north to south, the main lakes comprise of Bassenthwaite Lake, Derwent Water, Ullswater, Crummock Water, Buttermere, Ennerdale Water, Thirlmere, Wast Water, Grasmere, Rydal Water, Windermere, Coniston Wayer, and Esthwaite Water. Many of the lakes, including Coniston and Windermere, have opportunities for sailing, and the latter also offers boat trips across the lake.

Walks

The Lake District is the perfect place to enjoy a walk, taking in the breathtaking scenery and magnificent views.
The Walking on Water! Walk: (90 minutes, plus a 20 minute boat ride). This is a two mile trek from Coniston to Torver Pier, taking.
Tarn It! Walk: (3 and a half hours, 5 miles). This is a scenic walk beginning at High Cross and finishing at Coniston, via Tarn Hows.
Claife Heights Potter Walk: (4 hours, 6 miles) This walk includes Beatrix Potter’s home at Sawrey.

Bike Trails

Why not take a bike ride through the Lake District? There are many bike trails through numerous areas of the national park, each ranging in length and level. Pedal up challenging hills or enjoy an easy ride along the side of a lake.
North Circular cycle: (2 hours with an additional 35 minutes bike ride, 4 miles). This a trail that all the family can enjoy, with a boat ride from Coniston to Brantwood, the home of the late John Ruskin.
Windermere Wheeling cycle trail: (2 hours, 5 miles). This trail runs through the forests of Claife, close to the shores of Windermere lake.
Grizedale Getaway cycle trail: (3 hours, 7 miles). This is a more challenging bike ride through the scenic Grizedale forest.

Family Attractions

The World of Beatrix Potter Museum: This large museum located in Windermere is home to every one of Potter’s characters, from Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck to Mrs Tiggywinkle and Jeremy Fisher. Walk from Mr McGregor’s garden right down to Jemima Puddleduck’s pond. There are Virtual Walks displays, short films and impressive exhibits along the way.

Beatrix Potter’s home: Beatrix Potter’s home, Hill Top, is located in Sawrey, across the lake from Windermere, and can be accessed via a car ferry across the lake. Take a tour around the house, open from 13th February to 31st October (2010), and see where Potter would sit and write some of her tales. Then make your way out into the garden to see some of the familiar scenes which feature in Potter’s illustrations, such as the green garden gate which was part of the ‘garden’ illustration in The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The gift shop next door sells gifts for all ages, including bookmarks, china and ornaments.

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