The Lake District in Cumbria in North West England, became a National Park in 1951 and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site just this year. It is home to the highest mountains in England, Scafell Pike being the highest point, as well as 16 beautiful lakes, offering visitors plenty of opportunities to sail, canoe, fish and even swim in the warmer months of the year. However, if watersports is not your thing but cycling is, then there are plenty of cycle routes to choose from for all ages and experience, from country lanes to bridleways and proper cycleways. However, if you fancy being a bit more adventurous and doing some mountain biking, well then you might like to try some off-road routes in some of the forests, such as Winlatter and Grizedale.
Hiking, Dog Walking and Lake District Pubs
For those of you who enjoy hiking with or without your dog, then the Lake District has a great deal to offer, from taking in the stunningly beautiful scenery to seeking out those hidden away pubs the region become known for, in which to take a well-earned rest. In fact the pubs have become so popular that both locals and walkers call this part of Cumbria the ‘best beer garden in the world’, which is quite an accolade! As a result, many of the pubs are pooch-friendly.
Bowfell, the Lake District’s sixth-highest mountain, is perhaps one of its most popular for hikers, who also like to hike along Crinkle Crags to Cold Pike, ending up at Pike O’Blisco. The New Dungeon Ghyll pub is well worth a visit for its real ales and craft beers and your thirsty dog will also be offered a doggy bowl in the aptly named Walker’s Bar.
From here you might like to make your way to the next watering hole, the Sticklebarn in Langdale, which is actually a National Trust pub and prepares all its meals on the premises and stocks some great real ales. Muddy dogs will be provided with towels, water bowls and doggy treats and yes, there is even a special doggy menu!
If you and your dog still have the energy, then a further 40-minute walk down the valley will take you to Wainwrights Inn, which is another dog-friendly pub and serves a superb pint of bitter.
A visit to the Lake District would not be complete without a visit to stunning Lake Windermere. The lake itself is 10½ miles long and 219 feet deep and is England’s largest lake. Its name is derived from the Scandinavian for ‘lake of a man called Vinandr’. Just a mile from Windermere you’ll find the bustling town of Ambleside with its outdoor equipment shops, gift and bookshops as well as plenty of cafés and restaurants. Bowness-on-Windermere is where you can watch steamers coming and going from Bowness Bay. And if you fancy taking to the water yourself, you can always hire a rowing boat if you’re feeling energetic. The Lakes Aquarium in Lakeside is well worth a visit as is Windermere itself, where the Oxenhale and Windermere railway line terminates.
Where to stay in the Lake District
Whilst the Lake District is the perfect place for a family staycation or a more romantic long weekend away, the question of where to stay is of course of paramount importance. Whilst some people prefer all the trappings and luxuries of a comfortable hotel, others may prefer a cosy cottage tucked away from the noise of everyday life or a small village pub which has just a few rooms. For those of you who enjoy taking in the natural environment, then camping may be more your style and the Lake District can offer plenty of places to stay or if you’re watching he pennies, then a hostel may be more up your street.
Whatever kind of accommodation you’re looking for and whatever activities you are looking to do, the Lake District has something for everyone and is most certainly one of those places you should visit at least once in your lifetime to take in its sheer natural beauty.
Simon Burrell is Editor-in-Chief of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.