In 2017, the Lake District was granted UNESCO World Heritage status for its cultural landscape. The imprint of man's footprint on the landscape is seen in the quarries and mines dotted around the valleys, and also the drystone walls that give the area so much character. The beauty of the area inspired the literary works of William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and Hugh Walpole, the artist J.M.W. Turner, and the art critic John Ruskin.
The heart of the Lake District is relatively small. The distance from Keswick in the north to Ambleside in the central Lakes is about 20 miles by road and Windermere several miles further south. Ullswater is about 25 miles east of Eskdale over the Wrynose and Hardknott Passes. Everywhere is fairly close to everywhere else, remembering of course that roads have to go around the mountains, and that the Passes can be steep! On foot, it is possible to approach mountains from a number of different places, and do circular walks which encompass a variety of landscapes.
The Northern Lakes, where Grange Fell Cottage is situated, includes the attractive market town of Keswick, as well as Derwentwater, Borrowdale and the Newlands valley. Three of Britain's top 10 walks, according to the National Trust, are within this area. The Central Lakes, where Oxen Fell Cottage is situated, includes the market town of Ambleside, and the Langdale Valley, Grasmere, Elterwater and Rydal Water. Another of of Britain's favourite top 10 walks falls within this area. The Western Lakes, accessible from Oxen Fell Cottage via the Wrynose and Hardknott Passes, include Wastwater, Britain's favourite view, Eskdale and the gem of the Duddon valley. Further north, accessible from Grange Fell Cottage, Buttermere, Crummock Water and Loweswater also lie in this Western area. Ullswater and Patterdale, in the Eastern area, lie about 12-15 miles from both Grange Fell Cottage and Oxen Fell Cottage. Helvellyn, Britain's favourite walk, lies in this area. Windermere, a few miles south of Oxen Fell Cottage in the Southern Lakes, is England's longest lake.
At the top of the Honister Pass, at the southern tip of Borrowdale, you can tour the restored Slate Mine of Honister.
Derwentwater’s water activities include canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding and windsurfing. A ferry takes you to Keswick and pretty Ashness Bridge.
Keswick has a market twice a week, and a Pencil museum, Cinema, Theatre, Mirehouse, brewery, and a distillery. Castlerigg stone circle, with its 360° view of many of the highest peaks, is nearby. Whinlatter Forest has a mountain bike trail and GoApe. Keswick Adventure Centre and Rookin House Equestrian and Activity Centre offer activities such as abseiling and quad biking.
Tarn Hows is one of the most visited places in the Lake District. A two mile walk around it is suitable for wheelchairs.
The town of Ambleside boasts two cinemas. Bridge House over Stock Ghyll is much-photographed, whilst nearby Stock Ghyll Force is a 70 foot waterfall. Steamers over Windermere leave from colourful Waterhead. There are plenty of opportunities for enjoying water activities from Low Wood Bay Watersports Centre and Activity Centre.
Over the Honister Pass from Borrowdale (Grange Fell Cottage) you get to first Buttermere, with its near-perfect reflections, then Crummock Water and peaceful Loweswater.
From the the Wrynose Pass, that passes through Little Langdale (Oxen Fell Cottage), you can descend to the tranquil and beautiful Duddon Valley, also known as Dunnerdale.
If you're up for a challenge, try crossing the Hardknott Pass to Eskdale. Eskdale is famous for La'al Ratty, a steam train that runs to Ravenglass, the only coastal village in the Lake District National Park.
From Eskdale, Wastwater is only a short distance away. Britain's favourite view (as voted by ITV1 viewers) is of Wastwater, with the beauty of the almost symmetrical fells at its head offset by the dark, steep screes along one side.
Ullswater, with its clear water and attractive serpentine appearance, may be best enjoyed from one of the steamers which cruise the lake. Ullswater is the setting for Wordsworth's 'Daffodils' poem. Aira Force is a spectacular waterfall which has a number of viewing platforms.
Glenridding is a walker's centre, and a popular start for climbing Helvellyn via Striding Edge. Patterdale lies at the foot of the Kirkstone Pass, which leads to Ambleside. The well-placed Kirkstone Pass Inn at the top is the highest inhabited building in Cumbria. The pretty hamlet of Hartsop lies outside Patterdale, with its spinning galeried cottages.
At Coniston you could visit John Ruskin’s home, enjoy water activities, or cruise on a gondola. Duncan and Sir Malcolm Campbell set many water-speed records on Lake Coniston, and it is where Donald died in the Bluebird. Arthur Ransome's 'Swallows and Amazons' is based here. John Ruskin, the leading Victorian art critic and visionary lived in Brantwood, on the shores of Lake Coniston.
Beatrix Potter lived in Near Sawrey, where she drew inspiration for her illustrations. Nearby Hawkshead is a popular market town, and has connections with Wordsworth and Beatrix.
Bowness-on-Windermere is a boating centre, and has many attractions for a wet day! Windermere, England's longest lake, is the entrance to the Lake District, with its views of the higher peaks beyond.