- Travel and Places
The Lake District, England
The Lake District (Poetry Country) England
The Lake District in Northern England is a beautiful, peaceful place with large expanses of water to hike around or just sit and look at, charming old hotels and good restaurants. It is a great area to drive around if you don't want to exert yourself too much, with several of the lakes visible and accessible by car.
It is a popular holiday destination with British people and with visitors from Europe and further-afield, so I prefer to go out of season, when the weather is a bit cooler and when fewer tourists are there, but it is a wonderful destination at any time of year.
The area is famous not just for it's beauty and great walks, but also for the many poets and other writers who have based themselves here; William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and Samuel Taylor Coleridge being the most famous (see below) but also Tennyson, Ruskin, Beatrix Potter, Hugh Walpole, Thomas de Quincey and Melvin Bragg.
Here are some of my favourite places in the Lakes, places to stay, travel and hotel recommendations and some of my photographs of the area.
How to get to the Lake District - Where is the Lake District?
The Lake District is near Carlisle in the north of England, south of the Scottish Border and north of Manchester. It is easy to drive there either from Carlisle (50 miles), airports in southern Scotland (150 miles from Edinburgh) or north from Manchester (80 miles). From southern England or London you may need to allow more than a day to drive there (driving 270 miles from London Heathrow Airport to Windermere would take about 6 hours) There are also train services to Windermere station.
Map of The Lake District, Cumbria
Windermere, Bowness and Ambleside
Windermere is the largest natural lake in England at over 10 miles long and a mile wide. It is one of the most popular places to visit in the Lake District and has the towns of Windermere, Bowness and Ambleside on it's banks, with many hotels and restaurants. Winderemere is the largest of these towns, popular in Victorian times because it was the arrival point for most visitors and the location of a main railway station, which was opened in 1847. All make a good base for exploring the other smaller lakes or for boat-trips and hiking.
The lake is just a short walk from the town of Windermere and pleasant walks can be taken along the lake edge, near the piers and boats for hire, where Mute swans glide and waddle past hoping for food from the many tourists. Ferries can be taken to Sawrey and Hawkshead or you can go to the Windermere Steamboat Museum, or the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction, if it is raining.
Windermere has the biggest selection of hotels, shops, restaurants, cafes and bars in the area.
Beautiful and Peaceful
Getting Away From It...
Where to Stay
There are many wonderful old hotels in the Lake district. Here are few of my favourites:
Applegarth Hotel in Windermere. A great location for the town. Quite old fashioned but very comfortable. A good restaurant and there are plenty more good restaurants nearby in the town.
Bridge Inn, Buttermere. Wonderful location. Not much more than a couple of pubs, a lake and some sheep. Nice easy walk round the lake and reasonable packed lunch from the pub/hotel. Either of the pubs would be good for a night or two. The Bridge Inn does a good "5-course" dinner or bar-food. Not much else to do apart from the pubs though.
Wordsworth Hotel, Grasmere. Posh and old-fashioned. 5-course dinner and pleasant bar etc. right in the centre, with plenty to see without using the car.
Ivy House Hotel, Hawkshead. Very small, friendly, Georgian, Grade 2 listed, but comfortable with great food.
None of these are modern hotels, but they were all comfortable and charming.
There are plenty more to choose from though.
If you want to get away from the tourists Buttermere is an excellent location; quieter than Windermere and extremely beautiful.
Grasmere and Ambleside are more popular spots with plenty to keep the tourists amused, especially if you have finished your day's walking or prefer to spend time in shops, cafes and pubs, but it is worth visiting several lakes, towns and villages because they all have their own character.
Here is the full list of lakes:Bassenthwaite LakeBrotherswaterButtermereConiston WaterCrummock WaterDerwent WaterDevoke WaterElterwaterEnnerdale WaterEsthwaite WaterGrasmereHaweswater ReservoirHayeswaterLoweswaterRydal WaterThirlmereUllswaterWast WaterWindermere(Notice that only one of the lakes has the word "Lake" in its name)If you want some more arduous hiking, there is Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in EnglandThe Official Lake District National Park Web-site
Daffodils - The lake district is famous for it's daffodils.
Poetry in The Lakes - Wordsworth and friends
The Lakes were (and still are) a popular place for poets to visit or live; A place of tranquility where nature can inspire you to write beautifully. The most famous poet associated with the region was, of course, William Wordsworth.
William Wordsworth (1770-1850) is perhaps the most famous British poet and certainly the most famous from the Lake District. He was born in Cockermouth, Cumberland in the Lake District and closely associated with the English Romantic Movement after he and Samuel Taylor Coleridge published Lyrical Ballads in 1798 (featuring Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner.")
The inspiration for much of William Wordsworth's work was the beautiful landscape and nature in the Lake District. He lost his parents while still a young child: his mother at the age of eight and his father when he was thirteen. He was able to attend school and gained a place at St. John's Cambridge University and had his first sonnet published the same year in 1791. One of his early works was inspired by an affair with a French girl, Annette Vallon, during a vacation in France and their illegitimate daughter Anne Caroline.
Wordsworth had been separated from his beloved neurotic sister Dorothy as a child and much of his later life was dedicated to her, spending the winter of 1798-99 with her and Coleridge in Germany where he wrote the "Lucy" poems. He moved Dove Cottage, Grasmere in the Lake District on his return and in 1802 married Mary Hutchinson and together they cared for William's sister Dorothy for the remaining 20 years of her life.
In 1843 he was appointed as England's poet laureate and he died on April 23, 1850.
William Wordsworth wrote many sonnets, but the most famous and most often quoted is "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" (so I shall do so again):
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: -
A poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company:
I gazed -and gazed -but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought.
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils.