Through the Viewfinder
And What Alice Found There
Some may say that it's a sweeping statement and many people will argue that their home ground is the best, but I truly believe the Lake District is the number one place in the whole country. From sweeping coastlines to looming mountain peaks and everything in between, the Lakes is a dream for outdoor lovers and city-dwellers alike. Still need convincing? Read on to see the evidence!
1. It's home to England's deepest lake
Being the Lake District you'd expect there to be a lot of water around but did you know Cumbria contains the countries deepest lake? Wastwater sits at an impressive 260ft deep in the secluded Wasdale valley. This quiet corner of the national park feels like a true bit of wilderness and is perfect for a peaceful break away from civilisation for a while! The lake is free of rental boats and ferries, so if you own your own craft then you have free run of the water. Or if you're feeling brave you could even go for a swim! Read my blog about spending a weekend in Wasdale here.
2. It also boasts England's longest lake
Windermere stretches an amazing 10.5 miles through the Cumbrian countryside, offering a wealth of places to picnic, boat, try out water sports or go for a swim! Look out for Bownessie while you're there - the Loch Ness Monster's English cousin!
3. You can climb England's highest mountain
As well as the lakes, Cumbria is known for it's beautiful mountains that form the stunning lakeland landscapes. England's highest peak, Scafell Pike, is among them standing at a mighty 3,210ft tall! You can literally stand on top of the country and admire the 360 views from the summit, which is also home to England's highest war memorial! Pretty impressive, right!
4. In fact, England's 9 highest mountains are in the Lakes!
As well as Scafell Pike there's also Sca Fell, Helvellyn, Ill Crag, Broad Crag, Skiddaw, Great End, Bowfell & Great Gable - phew! So if you're into hiking, climbing or mountaineering then the Lakes is a dream for you!
5. The Wainwright Fells await you!
While we're on the subject of hiking, one of the biggest walking challenges undertaken in the Lake District is the conquering of all 214 fells written about by Alfred Wainwright in his infamous guides to the Lake District. From small hour-long rambles to full day treks you can sample a bit of everything while ticking off the Wainwrights - how many have you done? I'm on 127 so far - the end is creeping ever closer!
6. England's steepest road is also in Cumbria!
If you've ever driven, walked or cycled up and over Hardknott Pass it probably won't surprise you to know that it's been deemed as the countries steepest road! This winding mountain road isn't for the faint-hearted driver but if you dare to make the journey you'll be greeted with unforgettable views and a fantastic experience! (I have to admit I've still never driven it myself - I'll stick to just being a passenger!)
7. You will find the UK's best preserved Roman Fort here
If you make it up Hardknott Pass look out for the roman fort hidden away up there - it's apparently the best preserved in all of the UK! I don't have any photos of this myself as I've never stopped to see it while travelling over that way. Definitely something to put on my bucket list!
8. You won't find a bigger National Park in England
Yep you guessed it, another 'England's Number 1' for the Lake District - the biggest national park in the country! So if you love the outdoors, this place is your heaven! There's so much to explore and it always leaves you wanting more. I've lived here all my life and there's still tons of places in the Lakes that I've not been to - so much to see, so little time!
9. It's now an official UNESCO World Heritage Site
Earlier this year the Lake District was officially crowned as a World Heritage Site, with HRH Prince Charles paying a visit to Keswick for the unveiling of the plaque! Sitting alongside the likes of the Taj Mahal & The Grand Canyon, The Lakes will now hopefully get the recognition it has long deserved as a place of stunning natural beauty and cultural importance.
10. Cumbria has 26 miles of coastline
If the beach is more your thing then you'll find plenty of it in Cumbria! While not all our local beaches resemble those over the ocean in sunny Spain, they still make lovely locations for a stroll. Whether you're after some sand dunes to explore or a bustling promenade to wander along, you'll find what you're looking for here!
11. There's a wealth of archaeological sites in the area
Cumbria is the most densely populated area for stone circles in England, boasting some amazing sites such as Castlerigg and Long Meg & Her Daughters. I personally have a little obsession with stone circles (thanks to my discovery of the book / TV show Outlander) so I find these places even more fascinating, but even for those with just a mild interest in history can't help being curious about these megalithic sites. Why and how are they here? There are theories but I guess we'll never know the truth...how mysterious! Also, if you are one of those who are interested in stone circles, watch this space for a project I'm hoping to release early next year on the subject!
12. It's the home of the Herdwick sheep!
Everyone recognises the iconic fluffy faces of the Herdwick sheep, but not many know that they're native to the Lake District! Beatrix Potter also played a vital part in their survival, carefully breeding them on farms across the national park to ensure the hardy mountain-dwelling Herdy's can live on in the Lakes for many more years to come...
13. There's also some amazing local food that originates from the Lakes!
Cumberland sausages, Kendal Mint Cake and Grasmere Gingerbread are to name just a few of the local delicacies Cumbria offers. In most towns and villages you'll be able to find some kind of unique culinary invention, making the Lake District a fantastic place for a foodie to explore!
14. You can drink at the UK's only National Trust pub
Take a ride out to Sticklebarn in the Langdales for a pint at the only pub owned by the National Trust in the whole of the UK. They also host live music events there and new for this year is the Langdale Octoberfest - one I'll definitley be checking out! You could also stop here for a bite to eat after hiking the Langdale Pikes - a welcome refueling stop!
15. Visit the Dog Friendly Capital of the UK
If you have a dog you'll know what a pain it can be to find places that will allow you to take you furry friend with you. However, Keswick has been voted the most dog-friendly town in the UK with a whole host of holiday cottages, cafes, restaurants, shops and museums all happy to accept pets through their doors!
16. Discover rare wildlife
The Lakes is home to a selection of rare or endangered species including red squirrels, ospreys, red kites, peregrine falcons, deer, otters, and stoats just to name a few! Not to mention the many stories of big cat sightings in and around Cumbria - if you're lucky you might spot the odd Puma roaming around!
17. Be inspired by the landscape
Many well known artists have come to the Lakes for inspiration, and some have actually discovered their talent while admiring the lakeland scenery. William Wordsworth wrote many a poem about the Lakes including his infamous work 'I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud', while authors such as Arthur Ransom and Beatrix Potter used the Cumbria landscape as a backdrop to their enchanting stories. Even more modern works such as Postman Pat were based here - it seems we just can't get enough of the Lake District!
18. You can spend the local currency!
Yep that's right - the Lake District now has it's own unique currency; the Lake District Pound! The notes are available to buy from selected Post Offices throughout the National Park and can be spent in local businesses, or you can keep them as a souvenir if you prefer. They're beautifully decorated with illustrations of the lakeland landscape and inspirational figures from the area - get your hands on some while you can! I'm proud to be the first person to ever buy the notes from Windermere Post Office - a historic moment!
19. You can wild swim in some of the most beautiful places!
Wild swimming has quickly become a favourite hobby of mine (see my blog post here for tips on where to try it out) and what better place to have a go than the Lake District! Take your pick from vast lakes, mountain tarns, river pools and waterfalls - there's some real hidden gems out there and there's no better feeling than floating on your back, on a hot summers day, just taking in the landscape around you...
20. Wild camping is also a fun way to discover the landscape
Waking up to a gorgeous orange sunrise, not another person in sight and just the sounds of the birds singing is such an amazing feeling - I wish I could have that every day! If you're willing to put in some effort and lug your camping stuff into the mountains then you're in for a real treat! If you do wild camp, please do so responsibly - get permission before camping where possible or camp unobtrusively and respectfully, stay for just one night away from footpaths, take all rubbish home with you, and don't have an open fire - we've all seen the effects these can have in recent dry months!
21. And finally...the views are unbeatable!
OK so I might be a bit biased having lived here all my life, but I've travelled to some stunning places in the world and nothing can quite push the Lakes off the top spot for me! There's such a perfect mix of the highest peaks in the country, to rolling valleys, magical woodland, idyllic lakeshore beaches, quaint villages and hidden mountain tarns. If you're in the right place on a clear day you can see up to the mountains of Scotland or out across the sea to the Isle of Man. Everywhere you look there's amazing scenery and still to this day (after 24 years of living here) the views can really take my breath away. I'm so lucky to call this place home - why oh why would you ever want to live anywhere else...