Lake District – A brief illustrated guide
(while the real site is under development)
The lake district covers an expanse of 2,292 square kilometres and is home to over 42,000 people. Both these numbers pale into insignificance however compared to the number of people who visit this beautiful landscape each and every year – a whopping 16 million.
It isn’t difficult to see why so many people visit this area of the UK, it’s high mountains and deep lakes setting the perfect backdrop for the quaint villages and expansive views.
Home to Sca Fell Pike, the highest mountain in England, Wastwater and Windermere – the deepest and longest lakes in England it’s understandable that it is the top destination for hillwalkers, climbers, boatsmen (and ladies) as well as people just wanting to get away from the drab urbanscapes and cities and into the countryide – and I can’t think of a better place to do it.
Towns within the Lake District:
Ambleside, situated at the head of Windermere is a popular base for mountain biking, hiking and mountaineering. It has a large number of guesthouses, pubs and restaurants as well as specialist, independent shops, so is one of the most frequented towns for people visiting overnight or for any length of time. The old market cross still marks the town centre and the most famous landmark has to be the Old Bridge House, which is two rooms and an external staircase built atop a old packhorse bridge. Originally thought to be a summerhome the building is now run by the National Trust and houses the Tourist Information Centre.
Appleby, now Appleby-in-Westmorland is a traditional market town within a loop of the river Eden. Overlooked by Appleby Castle, made up of the 12th Century Keep and stunning Mansion House, the town is best known for it’s Horse Fair held annually in early June which attracts over 30,00 visitors who travel the length and breadth of the country to attend the unique festival.
Grasmere, a small village overlooked by Helm Crag, takes its name from the adjacent lake and is one of the most photographed areas of the Lake District. The home of William Wordsworth for over 14 years is famous for its Gingerbread, made to a secret recipe and sold throughout the village and surrounding areas. Grasemere Sports is an annual tradition which has been running since 1852 and is the main event for the village who welome participants from all across the district to compete in challenges such Cumberland Wrestling and fell running.
Kendal, the ‘Southern Gateway to the Lakes’ is most famous for its Mint Cake, the high-energy bars capable of helping you climb even the highest of mountains. A popular destination for visitors, especially those entering The Lakes from the south and recognisable due to the majority of building being constructed from the local grey limestone. It is home to two castles, neither of which would be very good at defending the town today, Kendal Castle dates back to the 12th Century but today is in ruins and Castle Howe, an even older castle, now just earthwork remins. The town has rows of houses dating back as far as the 1600’s but unfortunately a lot of the other historic buildings have been knocked down over the years.
Keswick is located between Derwentwater and the Skiddaw hills and is the most popular destination in the North Lakes for holidaymakers and daytrippers. Welcoming visitors for its annual Film Festival and Beer Festival, during which you can taste over 200 real ales, or try to at least. Visitor numbers for these however are tiny compared to the number of pilgrims who visit just to see the pencil museum, home of the world’s largest pencil. Be sure to add this to your itinerary if you are in the area.
Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere, the latter being a district of the former, are commonly referred to interchangably and although they still have two distinguishable town centres the actual settlements have expanded and overlapped creating one large tourist honeypot reaching down onto the banks of the lake. The town is named after the railway which was introduced in 1847, before that it was known as Birthwaite. The railway gives easy access to visitors with a direct line from Manchester and Manchester Airport.