The landscape painter John Constable (1776-1837) declared that the Lake District, now visited by 18 million people annually, had “the finest scenery that ever was”.
The Normans built many religious houses here, and William II created estates for English barons. Today, the National Trust is its most important landowner.
Within the 30 mile (45 km) radius of the Lake District lies an astonishing number of fells and lakes. Today, all 7% looks peaceful, but from the Roman occupation to the Middle Ages, the northwest was a turbulent area, as successive kings and rulers fought over the territory. Historians can revel in the various Celtic monuments, Roman remains, stately homes and monastic ruins. Although the scenery is paramount, there are many outdoor activities as well as spectator sports, such as Cumbrian wrestling, and wildlife to observe. Lancashire’s portfolio of tourist attractions includes the fine county town of Lancaster, bright Blackpool with its autumn illuminations and fairground attractions, and the peaceful seaside beaches to the south. Inland, the most appealing regions are the Forest of Bowland, a sparse expanse of heathery grouse moor, and the picturesque Ribble Valley. Further south still are the indus trial conurbations of Manchester and Merseyside, where the attractions are more urban. There are many fine Victorian buildings in Manchester, where the industrial quarter of Castlefield has been revitalized. Liverpool, with its restored Albert Dock, is best known as the seaport city of the Beatles. It has a lively club scene and is increasingly used as a film location. Both cities have good art galleries and museums.
Featured: Stable View Cottage, Lancashire
Exploring Lancashire and the Lakes
The Lake District’s natural scenery outweighs any of its man-made attractions. Its natural features are the result of geological upheavals over millennia, and four of its peaks are more sol than 1,000 m @,300 ft). Human influences have left their mark too: the main activities are quarrying, mining, farming and tourism. The Lakes are most crowded in summer when activities include lake trips and hill-walking. The best bases are Keswick and Ambleside, while there are Marypo: also good hotels on the shores of Windermere and Ullswater and in the Cartmel area. Lancashire’s Bowland Forest is an attractive place to explore on foot, with picturesque villages. Further south, Manchester and Liverpool have excellent museums and galleries.
For many, the first glimpse of make for enjoyable outings. the Lake District is from the Regular buses link all the main M6 near Shap Fell, but the centres where excursions are A6 is a more dramatic route. organized. One of the most You can reach Windermere enterprising is the Mountain by train, but you need to Goat minibus, in Windermere change at Oxenholme, onthe and Keswick. mainline route from Euston to Lancaster, Liverpool and Carlisle. Penrith also has rail Manchester are on the main services and bus routes and also Lakes, L’al Ratty, the miniature railway up Eskdale, and then you need to change trains in Lakeside & Haverthwaite Preston. Wherever you go in the area, one of the best means the steamers on Windermere, of getting around is on foot.
Featured: Carr House, Lancashire
Due to its proximity to the Scottish border, this city has long been a defensive site. Known as Luguvalium by the Romans, it was an outpost of Hadrian’s Wall. Carlisle was sacked and pillaged repeatedly by the Danes, the Normans and border raiders, and suffered damage as a Royalist stronghold under Cromwell.
Today, Carlisle is the capital of Cumbria. In its centre are the timberframed Guildhall and market cross, and fortifications still exist around its West Walls, drumtowered gates and its Norman castle. The castle tower has a small museum devoted to the King’s Own Border Regiment. The cathedral dates from 1122 and features a decorative east window. Carlisle’s Tullie House Museum recreates the City’s past with sections on Roman history and Cumbrian wildlife. Nearby lie the evocative ruins of Lanercost Priory and the remains of the unique Birdoswald Roman Fort.
St Martin’s Church dates back to the 15th century. The Windermere Steamboat Museum has a collection of superbly restored craft, and one of these, Swallow, makes regular lake tips. The World of Beatrix Potter recreates her characters in an evhibition, and a film tcl’s her life story. Beatrix Potter ® rote many of her books at Hill Top, the 17th-century farmhouse at Near Sawrey, northwest of Windermere. Hill Top is furnished with many of Potter’s possessions, and left as it was in her lifetime. The Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead holds annual exhibitions of her manuscripts and illustrations.
Timewarp shopfronts on the market square and a 14thcentury castle of sandstone are Penrith’s main attractions.
There are some strange hogback stones in St Andrew’s churchyard, allegedly a giant’s grave, and the 285 m (937 ft) Beacon provides stunning views of distant fells. Environs: Just northeast of Penrith at Little Salkeld is a famous Bronze Age circle (with 66 tall stones) known as Long Meg and her Daughters. Six miles (9 km) northwest of Penrith lies Hutton-in-the-Forest. The oldest part of this house is the 13th-century tower. Inside is a magnificent Italianate staircase, a sumptuously panelled 17thcentury Long Gallery, a delicately stuccoed Cupid Room dating from the 1740s, and several Victorian rooms. Outside, you can walk around the walled garden and topiary terraces, or explore the woods.
Often considered the most beautiful of all Cumbria’s lakes, Ullswater stretches from gentle farmland near Penrith to dramatic hills and crags at its southern end. The main western shore road can be very busy. In summer, two restored Victorian steamers ply regularly from Pooley Bridge to Glenridding. One of the best walks crosses the eastern shore from Glenridding to Hallin Fell and the moorland of Martindale. The western side passes Gowbarrow, where Wordsworth’s immortalized “host of golden daffodils” bloom in spring.
Featured: Lower Flass Farm, Clitheroe
Popular as a tourist venue since the advent of the railway in Victorian times, Keswick now has guest houses, a summer repertory theatre, outdoor equipment shops and a serious parking problem in high season. Its most striking central building is the Moot Hall, dating from 1813, now used as the tourist office. The town prospered on wool and leather until, in Tudor times, deposits of graphite were discovered. Mining then took over as the main industry and Keswick became an important centre for pencil manufacture. In World War II, hollow pencils were made to hide espionage maps on thin paper. The factory includes the Pencil Museum with interesting audiovisual shows. Among the many fine exhibits at the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery are original manuscripts of Lakeland writersm musical stones and many other curiosities.
Northern Fells and Lakes
Many visitors praise this northern area ye of the Lake District National Park for its scenery and geological interest. It is ideal walking country, and nearby Derwentwater, Thirlmere and Bassenthwaite provide endless
The rare red scenic views, rambles and opportunities sauavel native for watersports. Large areas surrounding the regional centre of Keswick are accessible only on foot, particularly the huge mass of hills known as Back of Skiddaw — located between Skiddaw and Caldbeck or the Helvellyn range, east of Thirlmere.
Colourwashed terraces and restored workers’ cottages beside the river are especially attractive in the busy market town of Cockermouth which dates from the 12th century.
The place not to miss is the handsome Wordsworth House in the Main Street, where the poet was born. This fine Georgian building still contains a few of the family’s possessions, and is furnished in the style of the late 18th century. Wordsworth mentions the attractive terraced garden, which over-looks the River Derwent, in his Prelude.
The local parish church contains a Wordsworth memorial window.
Cockermouth castle is partly ruined but still inhabited and closed to the public. The town has small museums of printing, toys and a mineral collection.
From the gently wooded shores of Derwentwater, the Newlands Valley runs through a scattering of farms towards rugged heights of 335 m (1,100 ft) at the top of the pass, where steps lead to the waterfall, Moss Force. Grisedale Pike, Grasmoor and Knott Rigg all provide excellent fell walks. Local mineral deposits of copper, graphite, lead and even small amounts of gold and silver were extensively mined here from Elizabethan times onwards, Little Town was used as a Setting by Beatrix Potter in The Tale of Mrs Tiggywinkle.
Featured: Bilbo, Lancashire
Interlinking with Crummock Water and Loweswater, Buttermere and its surroundings contain some of the most appealing countryside in the region. Often known as the “western lakes”, the three are remote enough not to become too crowded. Buttermere is a jewel amid grand fells: High Stile, Red Pike and Haystacks. Here the ashes of the celebrated hill-walker and author of fell-walking books, A W Wainwright, are scattered. The village of Buttermere, with its handful of houses and inns, is a popular starting point for walks round all three lakes. Loweswater is hardest to reach and therefore the quietest, surrounded by woods and hills, Nearby Scale Force is the highest waterfall in the Lake District, plunging 36 m (120 ft).
This romantic valley, subject of a myriad sketches and watercolours before photography stole the scene, lies beside the densely wooded shores of Derwentwater under towering crags. It is a popular trip from Keswick and a great variety of walks are possible along the valley.
The tiny hamlet of Grange is one of the prettiest spots, where the valley narrows dramatically to form the “Jaws of Borrowdale”. Nearby Castle Crag has superb views.
From Grange you can complete the circuit of Derwentwater along the western shore, Or move southwards to the more open farmland around Seatoller. As you head south by road, look out for a National Trust sign to the Bowder Stone, a delicately poised block weighing nearly 2,000 tonnes, which may have fallen from the crags above or been deposited by a glacier millions of years ago.
Two attractive hamlets in Borrowdale are Rosthwaite and Stonethwaite. Also worth a detour, preferably on foot, is Watendlath village, off a side road near the famous beauty s of Ashness Bridge.
A silent reflection of truly awesome surroundings, black, brooding Wastwater is a mysterious, evocative lake. The road from Nether Wasdale continues along its northwest side. Along its eastern flank loom walls of sheer scree over 600 m (2,000 ft) high. Beneath them the water looks inky black, whatever the weather, plunging an icy 80 m (260 ft) from the waterline to the bottom to form England’s deepest lake. You can walk along the screes, but it is an uncomfortable and dangerous scramble. Boating on the lake is banned for conservation reasons, but fishing permits are available from the nearby National Trust camp site.
At Wasdale Head lies one of Britain’s grandest views: the austere pyramid of Great Gable, centrepiece of a fine mountain composition, with the huge forms of Scafell and Scafell Pike. The scenery is utterly unspoilt, and the only buildings lie at the far end of the lake: an inn and a tiny church commemorating fallen climbers. Here the road ends, and you must turn back or take to your feet, following signs for Black Sail Pass and Ennerdale, or walk up the grand fells ahead. Wasdale’s irresistible backdrop was the inspiration of the first serious British mountaineers, who flocked here during the 19th century, insouciantly clad in tweed jackets, carrying little more than a length of rope slung over their shoulders.
The pastoral delights of Eskdale are best encountered over the gruelling Hardknott Pass, which is the most taxing drive in the Lake District, with steep gradients. You can pause at the 393-m (1,291-ft) summit to explore the Roman Hardknott Fort or enjoy the lovely view. As you descend into Eskdale, rhododendrons and pines flourish in a landscape of small hamlets, narrow lanes and gentle farmland. The main settlements below are the attractive village of Boot and coastal Ravenglass, both with old corn mills.
Just south of Ravenglass is the impressive Muncaster Castle, the richly furnished home of the Pennington family, Another way to enjoy the scenery is to take the miniature railway (La’l Ratty) from Ravenglass to Dalegarth.
Also known as Dunnerdale, this picturesque tract of countryside inspired 35 of Wordsworth’s sonnets (see P3066). The prettiest stretch lies between Ulpha and Cockley Beck. In autumn the colours of heather moors and a light sprinkling of birch trees are particularly beautiful. Stepping stones and bridges span the river at intervals, the most charming being Birk’s Bridge, near Seathwaite. At the southern end of the valley, where the River Duddon meets the sea at Duddon Sands, is the pretty village of Broughton in-Furness.
Stretching from Skelwith Bridge, where the Brathay surges powerfully over waterfalls, to the summits of Great Langdale is the two-pronged Langdale Valley. Walkers and climbers throng here to take on Pavey Ark, Pike o’Stickle, Crinkle Crags and Bow Fell. The local mountain rescue teams are the busiest in Britain. Great Langdale is the more spectacular valley and it is often crowded, but quieter Little Langdale has many attractions too. It is worth completing the circuit back to Ambleside via the southern route, stopping at Blea Tarn. Reedy Elterwater is a picturesque spot, once a Site of the gunpowder industry. Wrynose Pass, west of Little Langdale, climbs to 390 m (1,281 ft), a warm-up for Hardknott Pass further on, At its top is Three Shires Stone, marking the former boundary of the old counties of Cumberland.
Featured: Deer Lodge, Lancashire
Grasmere and Rydal
The poet William Wordsworth lived in both these villages on the shores of two lakes. Fairfield, Nab Scar and Loughrigg Fell rise steeply above their reedy shores and offer good opportunities for walking. Grasmere is now a sizable settlement, and the famous Grasmere sports attract large crowds every August. The Wordsworth family is buried in St Oswald’s Church, and crowds flock to the annual ceremony of strewing the church’s earth floor with fresh rushes. Most visitors head for Dove Cottage, where the poet spent his most creative years. The museum in the barn behind includes such artefacts as the great man’s socks, The Wordsworths moved to a larger house, Rydal Mount, in Rydal in 1813 and lived here until 1850. The grounds have waterfalls and a summerhouse. Dora’s Field nearby is a blaze of daffodils in spring and Fairfield Horseshoe offers an energetic, challenging walk.
Amblesicie has good road connections to all parts of the Lakes and is an attractive base, especially for walkers and climbers. Mainly Victorian in character, it has a good range of outdoor clothing, crafts and specialist food shops. An enterprising little cinema and a summer classical music festival add life in the evenings. Sights in town are small-scale: the remnants of the Roman fort of Galava, AD 79, Stock Ghyll Force waterfall and Bridge House, now a National Trust information centre. Environs: Within easy reach are the wooded Rothay valley and Touchstone Interiors at Skelwith Bridge, with their contemporary design products. At nearby Troutbeck is the restored farmhouse of Townend, dating from 1626.
BEATRIX POTTER AND THE LAKE DISTRICT
Although best known for her children’s stories with characters such as Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleve ey duck, which she also illustrated, – Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) became i! a champion of conservation in the Lake District after moving there in 1906. She married William Heelis, and devoted herself to farming, and was an expert on Herdwick sheep. To conserve her beloved countryside, she donated land to the National Trust.
At over 10 miles (16 km) long, this dramatic watery expanse is England’s largest mere. Industrial magnates built mansions around its shores long before the railway arrived, Stately Brockhole, now a national park visitor centre, was one such grand estate. When the railway reached Windermere in 1847, it enabled crowds of workers to visit the area on day trips. Today, a year-round car ferry service connects the lake’s east and west shores (it runs between Ferry Nab and Ferry House), and summer steamers link Lakeside, Bowness and Ambleside on the north-south axis. Belle Isle, a wooded island on which a unique – round house stands, is one of the lake’s most attractive features, but landing is not permitted. Fell Foot Park is at the south end of the lake, and there are good walks on the northwest shore. A quite stunning viewpoint is Orrest Head 238 m (784 ft) northeast ) of Windermere town. Bowness-on Windermere, on the east shore, is a hugely popular centre. Many of its buildings display Victorian details, and St Martin’s Church dates back to the 15th century.
The Windermere Steamboat Museum has a collection of superbly restored craft, and one of these, Swallow, makes regular lake tips. The World of Beatrix Potter recreates her characters in an evhibition, and a film tcl’s her life story. Beatrix Potter wrote many of her books at Hill Top, the 17th-century farmhouse at Near Sawrey, northwest of Windermere. Hill Top is furnished with many of Potter’s possessions, and left as it was in her lifetime. The Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead holds annual exhibitions of her manuscripts and illustrations.
For the finest view of this stretch of water just outside the Lake District, you need to climb. The 19th-century art Critic, writer and philosopher John Ruskin, had a fine view from his house, Brantwood, where his paintings and memorabilia can be seen today. Contemporary art exhibitions and events take place throughout the year.
An enjoyable excursion is the summer lake trip from ! Coniston Pier on the National Trust steam yacht, Gondola, calling at Brantwood. Coniston was also the scene of Donald Campbell’s fatal attempt on the world water speed record in 1967. The green slate village of Coniston, once a centre for copperK mining, now caters for le local walkers.
Also interesting is the trafficb free village of Hawkshead to the northwest, with its quaint C alleyways and timber-framed = tl houses. To the south is the tt vast Grizedale Forest, dotted L with woodland sculptures.
Just north of Coniston Water is the man-made Tarn Hows, d a landscaped tarn surrounded li by woods. There is a pleasant + climb up the 803 m (2,635 ft) . Old Man of Coniston.
Featured: Squirrel’s Leap, Lancashire
A busy market town, Kendal is the administrative centre of the region and the southern gateway to the Lake District. Built in grey limestone, it has an arts centre, the Brewery, and a central area which is best enjoyed on foot. Abbot Hall, built in 1759, has paintings by Turner and Romney as well as Gillows furniture. In addition, the hall’s stable block contains the Museum of Lakeland Life, with occasional lively workshops demonstrating local crafts and trades. There are dioramas of geology and wildlife in the Museum of Natural History and Archaeology. About 3 miles (5 km) south the town is 14th-century.
Barrow-in-Furness is the peninsula’s é main town. Its Dock, Museum, built over a Victorian dock where ships were repaired, traces the history of Barrow using interactive computer displays. Ruins of the red sandstone walls of Furness Abbey remain in the wooded Vale of Deadly Nightshade, with a small exhibition of monastic life. The historic town of Ulverston received its charter in 1280. Stan Laurel, of Laurel and Hardy fame, was born here in 1890. His memorabilia museum has a cinema. In the nearby village of Gleaston is the Gleaston Water Mill, a 40-year-old, working corn mill.