The lakeside town of Windermere is a transport hub for the region due to its train station; Windermere also has the railway to thank for the grey stone guesthouses and impressive villas that were built in the Victorian period. The town does not have the intimate feel of other Lake District settlements, but there are some superb hotels nearby, and the lake – England’s largest – is wonderful to explore by cruise, canoe or rowing boat. Some unique sights are dotted around the lake, chief among them Townend and Blackwell.
A Victorian boom town, Windermere attracted rich industrialists by train loads to build grand villas and stone mansions, many of which have now been converted into smart B&Bs. While there are no unmissable sights here, it is a good place to stock up for a self-catering trip, and you could also stretch your legs in preparation for tougher fell climbs by walking up to Orrest Head, where you will be rewarded with panoramic views over the lake.
Bowness sits south of Windermere on the lake shore, and is the jumping off point for boat trips, whether you want a jazz cruise, a jaunt in a canoe or to pootle around the lake in a rowing boat. With more of an inviting feel to it than Windermere town itself, Bowness-on-Windermere is a good place for a walk along the shore; you can also visit one of the gift shops or cosy pubs that line its charming streets. Windermere Jetty Museum, perched on the edge of the lake, is a big draw for boat enthusiasts as well as kids.
Rising up above England’s windswept northwestern coastline, the Lake District’s wild peaks, rolling farmland, placid waters and winding country lanes have sunk themselves deep into the national psyche. As the inspiration behind William Wordsworth’s and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Romantic poetry, Arthur Ransome’s children’s adventures and, of course, Beatrix Potter’s tales, this landscape has deeply influenced the way in which we picture the British countryside.
Central to the region, pretty Grasmere village was once home to Wordsworth himself. Nearby Windermere, England’s largest lake, offers boat rides, easy walks and attractive Ambleside town, while Coniston Water also boasts a Victorian steamboat. Kendal, the Lakes’ southern gateway, hosts good wet-weather attractions, as does its northern counterpart Keswick. For off-the-beaten-track appeal, it’s hard to beat Langdale or Wasdale, two isolated valleys where facilities are few but the scenery is tremendous.
The Lake District was an important location for the Arts and Crafts move-ment. This began in the late-19th-century and championed traditional craftsmanship - with its precision and respect for materials – against the tide of modern industrial design, with its mass production and mechanization.