The Lake District
Sunday June 1, 2014·
It's one of the most beautiful places in the world, but strangely it is comparatively unknown by those who live in London. It is, after all, a mere three hours on the train…get off at Oxenholme and venture North.
First stop: Cartmel is famous for Michelin-starred restaurant L'enclume but also for inventing Sticky Toffee pudding!
Elsewhere, Grasmere is home to one of the Lake District's most famous (sweet) exports: Sarah Nelson's Grasmere Gingerbread. It's magic stuff; I love it - and around the corner from the shop, you'll find poet William Wordsworth's grave.
My advice would be to avoid the perennially overcrowded Windermere. Nearby Ambleside is nicer and less touristy. Of the tourist hotspots, Keswick is most picturesque; the quintessence of The Lakes. They have a famous sweet shop (Friar's) across the square from a decent fish and chip shop called the Old Keswickian.
As for walking and exploring: Catbells in Keswick is a relatively easy climb with amazing views, Skiddaw is among the most famous in The Lakes but significantly higher; Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England. If you travel down the Borrowdale valley from Keswick, that's a lovely drive. You can also take a slight detour on the way, where there's a viewing point called Surprise View. You'll see why…
Of all the actual Lakes, Ullswater is probably my favourite. You park up in Glenridding, go down to the water's edge and catch the ferry to Howtown and then walk back (about 7 miles/ 3hrs) to Glenridding. Pretty easy but a lovely walk.
I happened to grow up in Caldbeck which is a small village equidistant from Keswick and Penrith. It's a beautiful drive from Keswick via either the lakeside road (through Uldale, past Dodd Wood) or along the A66 and the off through the fairly wild common of Mungrisdale and Mosedale. If you're lucky, you'll see Wild Horses on the way.
The Lake District is a magnificent escape; resplendent, green, pastoral and with breathtaking views at almost every turn.