I couldn’t start a travel blog without the first post being about the place I hold most dear in my heart, The Lake District in Cumbria, England. It’s always strange to think about people going on holiday to the place you’ve always called home, but the Lake District is actually a very popular holiday destination for many Brits and the occasional European or American visiting from Scotland. I, myself, as a horse crazy, outdoors type tomboy girl, couldn’t have asked for a better place to grow up (except maybe one where it didn’t rain ALL the time). Despite this, I never truly appreciated the beauty and benefits of the Lake District. That is, until of course, I moved away.
Moving to Belfast, in Northern Ireland, was a perfect step from me as it really is a country city, but I’ll talk more about that in a separate post! It’s a true enough saying that “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” and I realise now that I was so incredibly lucky to grow up in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK. The fact that the featured image for this post was taken by one of my best friends (and unfortunate Londoner) who said he’d never come so far North and yet thought it was beautiful enough to spend a rare tube of disposable camera film on says a lot about my home.
Cumbria is the second largest county in England and yet one of the least populated. We’re infamous for cold, rainy days but without rain there wouldn’t be any beautiful lakes now would there? Cumbria is home to at least the top three highest mountains (or fells) in England and these are so popular with walkers that tourists are really one of the main sources of income in the county (even despite the rain). We’re also infamous farmers with broad Northern accents and our own dialect that is complete gibberish to anyone from south of Kendal: “Nivver ivver avver sin owt like it” “Owz’t ga’an?” etc… As a visitor to the Lakes however I wouldn’t worry too much about the dialect, I promise we also speak English like regular people.
I’m from the North Lakes (technically just outside the designated Lake District) and so some of my favourite places to reccommend would include the ‘honey pot’ walker and tourist ideal town of Keswick. We often went out to Keswick for the weekly Saturday market and to visit the sweet shop, Ye Olde Friars, which was every bit worth the journey alone. As a town dedicated mainly to walkers and outdoor-types there is a local joke about every other shop in Keswick being an outdoors shop such as North Face or George Fishers. In reality it’s probably closer to every 4/5 shops being ideal for hikers. This does mean there’s no excuse to be ill-equipped out on the fells though!
The fells themselves are incredibly beautiful and it only takes being away from them for a few weeks to realise how much you take them for granted when you actually live by them. There are numerous paths up and down the fells for every level of expertise and experience, dog friendly paths, paths suited to photographers or experienced rock climbers. In the winter there is also occasional skiing offered on the highest mountain slopes. Honistor Slate mine offers some spectacular views that make you feel like you have been taken back in time to the stone age (look out for genuine stone age arrow heads in the streams too, seriously!) The local slate is also a key feature of the landscape all over the county thanks to the Dry Stone walls that separate farmer’s fields and livestock. Many of the buildings in the Lake District are also made from this slate, leaving you as to no doubt about where in the world you are whenever you look up.
In terms of other things to do in the Lakes, even if you aren’t really into fell walking, the local ‘gem town’ of Cockermouth is actually the birth place of famous poet laureate William Wordsworth, of daffodil fame. If you are from Britain you probably read the Beatrix Potter books when you were younger too, these were written in the Lake District and you can visit the Beatrix Potter museum in Bowness-On-Windermere. If shopping is more your style, the border and historical city of Carlisle is less than an hours drive from the Lake District and offers all the traditional high street shops as well as Tully House museum and gallery for a bit of culture. It is impossible to truly capture the whole beauty of the Lake District in one post but I would highly recommend a visit (even if I am a little biased). For photographers (which I am not) there are endless opportunities for stunning pictures, for hikers there is no better place to spend a week walking the fells and taking in the stunning views from the peaks.
I am very proud to be able to say I come from here, but if you don’t you should definitely visit. You won’t be disappointed! (As long as you take a rain jacket)