The Lake District is England’s most hyped scenic area, and for good reasons. Within an area a mere thirty miles across, sixteen major lakes are squeezed between the country’s highest mountains – an almost alpine landscape of glistening water, dramatic valleys and picturesque stone-built villages. Most of what people refer to as the Lake District lies within the Lake District National Park, which, in turn, falls entirely within the northwestern county of Cumbria. The county capital is Carlisle, a place that bears traces of a pedigree that stretches back to Roman times, while both the isolated western coast and eastern market towns like Kendal and Penrith counter the notion that Cumbria is all about its lakes.

Given a week you could easily see most of the famous settlements and lakes – a circuit taking in the towns of Ambleside, Windermere and Bowness, all on Windermere, the Wordsworth houses in Grasmere, and the more dramatic northern scenery near Keswick and Ullswater would give you a fair sample of the whole. But it’s away from the crowds that the Lakes really begin to pay dividends, in the dramatic valleys of Langdale and Eskdale, for example, while over on the coast are more off-the-beaten-track destinations, like the estuary village of Ravenglass – access point for the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway – and the attractive Georgian port of Whitehaven.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

England features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The best pub walks in Britain

The best pub walks in Britain

From its dramatic coastline to its upland mountains, from its stirring moorland to its bucolic inland shires, Britain’s wildly diverse landscapes make for som…

28 Mar 2018 • Daniel Neilson insert_drive_file Article
Taking the plunge: the joys of wild swimming in Britain

Taking the plunge: the joys of wild swimming in Britain

Travel writer and wild swimmer Joe Minihane travels from London to the Isle of Skye in search of one of Britain's most remote wild swimming spots. A pair of …

22 Mar 2018 • Joe Minihane local_activity Special feature
The many faces of Bristol: Britain's coolest city

The many faces of Bristol: Britain's coolest city

Bristol's enterprising spirit is one reason we named it the coolest city in Britain earlier this year. And this spirit is all down to the chefs and artists a…

21 Dec 2017 • Ruth-Ellen Davis local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right