The Lake District, is one of England’s most popular holiday destinations.
Located in the north western region of the country this rural area stretches around thirty four miles across. Numerous eras of glaciations has created this unique geography that has been immortalized in the poems of the Lake Poets, the most famous of whom were William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey. U-shaped valleys that were carved by ice are now lakes bordered by mountains. Its beauty had attracted visitors for ever but organized tourism really began with A Guide to the Lakes by Father Thomas West that was published in 1778 where the Father lists vista points that best showcased the landscape. William Wordsworth’s Guide to the Lakes [later editions were called A Guide through the District of the Lakes in the North of England] published a little more than three decades later made the region even more popular.
Official estimation is that about fourteen million visitors visit the Lake District of England every year, so much so that tourism has become the main contributor to the local economy. The most used guide today, however, is Alfred Wainwright’s Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells. There is an unofficial competition among tourists to see who manages to visit the complete list mentioned in Wainwright’s guide. Everywhere you look it is like a living picture postcard. Scenic beauty, abundant and extraordinary wildlife, a rich cultural heritage and numerous small towns are all reasons why the Lake District is the most visited tourist site in the country.
A mix of lakes, mountains, forests, woodlands, and farms give this region a diverse landscape. Each valley, with its own distinct visual, has its own unique way of making the tourist’s trip memorable. The Lake District National Park is the largest National Park in England. It includes England’s highest point which is the Scafell Pike mountain and the country’s deepest point in Westwater Lake. Because of its geography the National Park, and in fact the whole Lake District, is high in humidity. This encourages the growth of Atlantic mosses, ferns and lichen. The green of the pastures here is unmatchable. The hills mirrored in the stillness of the lake waters are a sight to behold. The National Park not only has enough to please the eyes but it has so much for the thrill seeker in the tourists. There are great opportunities for trekking and mountaineering. A plethora of guides offer mapped routes through the district along with an elaborate web of public rights of way. The more adventurous tourist can, with unrestricted access to the forests and fells, make their own expeditions. A swim in the lakes isn’t off the list of things to do either. If a dip is not on your cards, how about sailing or fishing? Windermere Lake Steamer rides have become one of the most popular charged rides in England. Dunnerdale or Duddon Valley in the Lake District National Park was Wordsworth’s favorite place.
Flora and Fauna
The Lake District is home to some species which are not found anywhere else in England. The red squirrel, an omnivorous tree rodent, is common here, in spite of its decreasing numbers all over England. Sundew and Butterworth are two carnivorous plants that exist in large colonies here. The Vendace, the Schelly and the Arctic Charr are three species of fish that are on the rare and endangered list. Limestone pavements, mires, lakeshore wetlands, estuaries and dunes are all key habitats.
With so many artists and littérateurs enthralled with the Lake District cultural tourism is the new trend here. People come to visit the place that strengthened Wordsorth’s Nature philosophy, his idea of the one spirit running through man, nature and God. The daffodils blooming on the shores of the lake Ullswater inspired his famous ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’. The poet’s childhood home in Penrith and his last resting place in the Grasmere churchyard are both important stops in the tourist’s route. Coleridge’s son is also buried nearby. John Ruskin spent his last years in a home in Brantwood. Beatrix Potter lived at Hill Top Farm and used her home and its surroundings as the setting for her famous children’s books, the Peter Rabbit series. Some theories even suggest that the Arthurian legends’ Grail kingdom of Listeneise was also actually the Lake District.
Towns in the Lake District
It isn’t just the mountains and lakes and fells, the quaint little towns in the Lake District of England are great tourist attractions too. Ambleside has some great place to stay in and eat at. Appleby is a great base for a trip to the Eden Valley. The Bewcastle Cross in Bewcastle is a seventh century artifact. Bowness was a site of the Roman army camp and is closest to Hadrian’s Wall’s western end. Keswick with some of the most beautiful landscapes in the whole district is called the Queen of the Lake District. Kendal is often referred to as the Gateway to the Lake District. An ancient market town, Kendal is located in the heart of Cumbria and has several attractions like the Church of Holy Trinity from the thirteenth century and the twelfth century Kendal Castle ruins. With a charming downtown that has shops, restaurants and pubs and also important museums of the Lake District, Kendal is the ideal vacation spot for the wearied tourist.
So whether you are looking for history or literature or just heavenly peace and quiet, this is your place to be.
Photo of Wastwater Lake, Cumbria, UK, by Ennor