July 11, 2017
Located two hours north of Manchester is England’s beautiful Lake District. While the region has been beloved by the British for centuries (Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter, and John Ruskin are among the notable figures who called the area home), it is finally being recognized on a global scale- by 2018 it will likely receive UNESCO World Heritage Site status. When it’s too rainy to walk its countless trails- and it will be rainy- the Lake District’s towns offer charming cafes, pubs, and shops to while away the day.
Gilpin Hotel & Lake House is the top luxury accommodation in the area. It’s country chic décor- think floating glass fireplaces and stacks of antique books- is welcoming and cozy. Holbeck Ghyll is another great option. Although a bit more old fashioned than Gilpin, its commanding views over Lake Windermere more than make up for its lack of panache. If you’re looking for a more traditional experience, the Lake District is teeming with great B&Bs.
Derwent Water and the nearby town of Keswick warrant at least one day. Buy a hop-on-hop-off boat ticket and explore the many sites surrounding the lake including Walla Crag with its panoramic views of Keswick and the Catbells, a moderate two hour hike through fields of sheep. Just a 30 minute walk outside of town is Castlerigg Stone Circle, one of the nearly 1,300 prehistoric stone circles in the British Isles. Go at sunset for the most picturesque landscape.
The towns of Grasmere, Ambleside, and Windermere each have their own distinct personalities and are worth a visit. Don’t miss Grasmere Gingerbread Shop- a local institution since 1854. Wordsworth fans have the opportunity to tour his former residences, Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount. Enthusiasts of the Arts & Crafts movement will adore Blackwell, an enchanting historic house built in 1900.
Adrenaline junkies will love the Via Ferrata at the Honister Slate Mine. After suiting up in your harness and a quick introduction to using carabiners, you’ll set off scaling the cliffs of this former mine.
Local Cumbrian produce is the name of the game when it comes to dining in the Lake District. Although opened in just 2016, The Crafty Baa is a must in Windermere. It has nearly 100 different beers to choose from and a rotating selection of brews on tap. The one-person kitchen means you’ll wait 30 minutes for your food, but the sandwiches and charcuterie plates are well worth it. In Grasmere, Baldry’s is a quintessential English tearoom. The freshly baked cakes, scones, and tarts are absolutely scrumptious. A word of warning- the Lake District is notoriously dog friendly so you’re guaranteed to have a friend licking up your dropped crumbs.
If your flights are through Manchester be sure to leave at least one day to explore this often overlooked city. The Lowry Hotel, Manchester’s hottest new spot or the opulent Hotel Gotham are both central options walking distance from all main sights, shops, and restaurants. There are a slew of wonderful museums in the city including the Museum of Science and Industry, People’s History Museum, and Manchester Art Gallery. You’re guaranteed a delicious meal at one of Manchester’s many Indian restaurants. On a sunny day, the restaurants and pubs surrounding Manchester Cathedral spill out onto the streets creating a buzzing atmosphere.
Photos and Text: Elyssa Roberts
A view from my window at dusk.
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