HAWKSHEAD, midway between Coniston and Ambleside, wears its beauty well, its patchwork of cottages and cobbles backed by woods and fells and barely affected by modern intrusions. Huge car parks at the village edge take the strain, and when the crowds of day-trippers leave, Hawkshead regains its natural tranquillity. It’s a major stop on both the Beatrix Potter and Wordsworth trails (Potter’s house, Hill Top, is nearby, while William and his brother went to school here), and makes a handy base for days out in Grizedale Forest.
The best local walk is to lovely Tarn Hows, a body of water surrounded by spruce and pine and circled by paths and picnic spots. It’s two miles from Hawkshead on country lanes and paths; it takes about an hour to walk around the tarn.