The Lakes in 2-3 days

Find a campsite or B&B (depending on the season) near Keswick or Windermere and explore the local area.

If you opt for north Lakes take a walk around Derwent Water or, if you’re game, hike up nearby Skiddaw or Blencathra and reward yourself with a local ale at Keswick’s George Hotel or Dog & Gun.

On day two head to Ullswater for a cruise or more rambling in the surrounding area – Helvellyn is a challenging climb. If you can’t afford dinner at the Sharrow Bay country house hotel afterwards, at least treat yourself to a cup of tea. On your last day take a look at Castlerigg Stone Circle, a ring of 48 stones believed to be at least 3000 years old. Or visit the Pencil Museum if you’re into that kind of thing…

If you chose to bed down further south then spend the first day exploring England’s longest lake – take a cruise or row boat from Bowness and, in the evening, take a trip to Ambleside for anorak shopping and bistro dining.

If you’re staying near the northern tip of Windermere, take a drive over Hardknott Pass on day two, or head to Wast Water for a chance to scale England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike. Those based further south should check out the more peaceful waters of Coniston or see it from up above on Coniston Old Man.

On your last day Visit Grizedale Forest and hit the Go Ape rope course or follow the sculpture trail on foot or bike.

In a week

Seven days in the Lakes gives you a bit more time to wind down through the gears to the local speed. You could probably combine all of the above, or you could just stick to north or south and linger over your picnic (in summer) or by a cosy pub fire (in winter). Make sure you take at least one day getting know a more isolated corner of the Lake District such as Borrowdale or Buttermere.

Alternatively, forget about relaxation and attempt the Cumbrian Way. It takes about 6-7 days to complete, starting at Ulverston, in the south of the Lake District and continuing through Coniston, Langdale and Borrowdale to finish at Carlisle 71 miles later. There are various chances for high-level detours along the way but whichever route you pick you’re guaranteed some stunning views and much-needed pubs. As long as you’re reasonably fit the walk shouldn’t be too much of a mission in a week.