Holiday by the BBC: Lake District
Radio Cumbria's Belinda Artingstoll reflects on the undeniable charms of Windermere and Keswick as well as the less visited delights of the Western Lakes, Eden Valley and forest parks.
What should I see?
I'm torn here. The best known and, some would argue, most attractive places are in the central Lakes in the Keswick, Ambleside and Windermere areas. The views of and from the fells are stunning and ever-changing. A walk by a lake or a boat ride on one is a truly special way to enjoy the area. But there is so much more to the Lake District and Cumbria than this.
The Western Lakes of Buttermere, Ennerdale, Wasdale and Loweswater are just as scenic but, because they are off the beaten track, these areas tend to be less busy than the so called 'honeypots'.
Away from the National Park, the Eden Valley is green and lush and dotted with beautiful little villages. Carlisle and Hadrian's Wall are also well worth a visit as is the far south of the county around the Furness and Cartmel Peninsulas - again off the beaten track for many tourists and often all the better for it. The west coast, although very industrialised in parts, also has some lovely spots including the Georgian port of Whitehaven.
What should I do?
Walking the fells or around the lakes, boat trips on the lakes are a must as I say above. There are lots of outdoor activity providers who can get you involved in all sorts of things, like watersports.
There are numerous lovely heritage properties owned by the National Trust and others including Wordsworth House in Cockermouth where the poet was born. One of my favourites is the Blackwell Arts and Crafts House on the shores of Windermere.
Other attractions include the aquariums at Lakeside and Maryport. There are disused mines like the Honister Slate mine which are now open to the public. The forest parks at Grizedale and Whinlatter are also lovely spaces to spend some time and again get involved in outdoor activities.
Where should I stay?
The Central Lakes are of course geared up for catering for lots of visitors in hotels and B&Bs. But again I would urge you to look elsewhere. Why not stay just outside the National Park so that you enjoy the best of both worlds - maybe get a self catering cottage?
What local delicacies should I eat or drink?
Cumberland Sausage goes without saying. Cumberland Rum Nicky is a little harder to find but is very yummy. It's a pastry tart filled with dates and spices…and rum. Rum butter is a must - very nice on scones.
Go to the little shop in Grasmere to buy your Grasmere gingerbread, which is more like a spicy biscuit than a cake. We have a lot of great food producers in Cumbria now so watch out for them at Made in Cumbria events and farmers markets.
What would be the best night out?
If it's during the summer, try to catch one of the free Lakes Alive spectaculars. These often feature performers from all over Europe and are amazing to watch. Otherwise one of my favourites is to eat in one of the nice restaurants in Grasmere and then sit in the bar having a good old crack over a few pints of Cumbrian real ale. I don't like real ale but my friends often do.
What's the best local secret?
It may be all of the above, especially the bit about searching out the quieter areas. I also think Blackwell House is another hidden gem for many. Otherwise, how about the areas around Kendal, Sedbergh and Kirkby Lonsdale - lovely towns with lots to see and do and oozing with history.