And relax …
Needing a breather after a hectic summer, my partner and I escaped for a relaxing weekend. While summer in the Lake District can be as packed as a Barcelona beach, in autumn it’s easy to find your own slice of tranquillity.
Our stay in the charming village of Bowness-on-Windermere (Windermere is the largest of the district’s 16 lakes and the longest in England) couldn’t have been nicer. And I don’t mean nice in a bland, boring sort of way.
I’m talking whitewashed pubs and B&Bs so cute you’ll want to give them a cuddle; cobbled villages like nearby Ambleside or Hawkshead that are as quaint as they come; and rolling green valleys, dales and lush forests that are the very definition of pleasant.
Steamers leave every half hour to ply their way through Windermere’s morning mist.
The scent of six types of freshly baked scone lures us into Aunty Val’s Tea Rooms by the shore. Even the walking and hiking trails (of which there are hundreds) meander through private farms where, instead of a ‘keep out’ sign, you’ll find the owner waving from atop a hay bale and his dog demanding a scratch behind the ears.
Chapter and verse
It’s easy to see why some of the best-known Romantic writers – William Wordsworth, John Ruskin, Samuel Taylor Coleridge – hailed from the Lake District.
One can’t help but feel a little flutter when confronted with another gorgeous vista or sparkling lakeside sunset.
Of course, not everything in this part of the world is simply nice.
The region can be cold and wet, particularly in winter, while for outdoor enthusiasts it’s a place of extremes – home to Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, and Wastwater, its deepest lake.
Something to write home about
Our long weekend of hiking, cosy pub dinners, steamer rides and romantic strolls soon comes to an end, but before heading home we stop to grab a couple of souvenirs.
Marion from the tourist office pops a couple of free boiled sweets into the brown paper bag along with our postcards.
“For the trip home,” she says with a smile.
Now isn’t that nice?
■ Out and about
Hiking, trekking, walking, tramping – call it what you will, a visit to the region is all about using your feet. There is more than 3500km of walking paths, while bikers should check out Whinlatter Forest and Grizedale Forest.
■ Hit the water
Cast off aboard a historic steamboat, or try rowing, sailing, kayaking, fishing, windsurfing or just splashing around in the shallows (until hypothermia sets in).
■ Village life
Go exploring in Ambleside, Bowness-on-Windermere, Pooley Bridge, Hawkshead, Keswick and Seatoller.
All those valleys produce some top-notch farm fare. Try traditional Cumberland sausages, sweet Herdwick lamb and famous energy food Kendal mint cake.
There’s lots to do but don’t forget to relax. Savour the scenery and fresh, fresh air.