“The fleeting hour of life of those who love the hills is quickly spent, but the hills are eternal….These are for the seeking, and those who seek and find while there is still time will be blessed both in mind and body.”Alfred Wainwright
The Lake District has long been known as a popular destination for hill walkers, culture vultures, artists, and those of us who are keen to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life. As a visitor, it’s hard not to relax as the majesty of its vast landscape unfolds before you in a National Park containing England’s highest mountain and longest lake. Tourists flock to destinations such as Windermere, Ambleside and Keswick hoping to conquer nearby peaks in the footsteps of serial fell walker and author, Alfred Wainwright. Others, prefer to take a step back in time, inspired by the life of Beatrix Potter or William Wordsworth, visiting historic houses such as Hill Top or Dove Cottage. These destinations are all enchanting in their own right but as a result, can get rather crowded, even in the less popular seasons of Autumn and Winter. If you want to try something a bit different and a little less busy, you might want to give these destinations a go instead…
(please be aware of the current Covid guidance found in the link to each attraction)
Muncaster Castle and Gardens
Home to 77 acres of beautiful gardens and a Hawk and Owl Centre, Muncaster Castle and Gardens lies on the less visited western fringes of the Lake District. It offers much to visitors, whilst allowing them space to soak up the centuries old history which the castle exudes. Believed to have stood on Roman remains, the castle has been home to the Pennington family since 1208. The castle even offers a ghost tour for the bravest of visitors! There is a café and tearoom and daily flying displays which, I can say from personal experience, are awesome! Many of its pathways and indoor facilities are accessible for everyone, whilst mobility scooters and wheelchairs for hire can be booked in advance. What’s more, its miles of garden paths are dog friendly and water bowls are available at several locations in the grounds.
On a clear day, the ascent of Black Combe, located towards the south west of the Lake District, offers spectacular sea views from its 600 metre summit. If you get the weather right, you can see as far as Wales, Ireland, Scotland and even the Isle of Man. The trek to the top is achievable for most walkers and takes several hours, so be prepared to take layers as well as a good packed lunch. Most people start their walk near Silecroft where its beach is another reason to visit this area of Cumbria. With the fell as your backdrop, this quieter beach, popular with dog walkers, provides you with a perfect opportunity after your climb of Black Combe, to paddle in the ocean waves and refresh those well-worn feet.
Staveley and Crook
If you’ve ever headed along the main tourist highway towards Windermere and Ambleside on the A591, it’s likely that you will have been greeted by a stunning vista of mountains, hills and sheep filled fields, which has usually been your first glimpse of the Lake District. However, rather than continuing along this route and then a few minutes later, having to wait in traffic, (as you realise everybody else also decided to take a trip to the Lake District today), consider stopping off at Staveley instead. Home to the Hawkshead Brewery, the Eagle and Child Inn, and the beginning of many beautiful paths along lowlands and highlands, this is a destination, which many tourists totally ignore, preferring instead to head to the more popular resorts. It’s a shame to miss this village, as it provides you with beautiful scenery and amazingly easy access to many of the fells surrounding it. If you fancy more of a lowland amble, walk to Crook, where you’ll discover a very friendly landlady and amazing Sunday lunches at the Sun Inn. She also provides dog friendly food and has been more than happy to serve our dog, Cherry with a small bowlful of carrots when we’ve visited! Burn off those calories along the route back, whilst enjoying the Lakeland views from every angle. Of course, there’s also a short cut from here to get to Bowness to avoid those slow car queues, but that’s for another post!…
For more information about Lake District attractions visit https://www.visitlakedistrict.com/