Being one of the most beautiful corners of England’s green and pleasant land means the Lake District is hardly off the beaten track. And knowing that its greenness is largely dependent on it being the wettest place in the country, a few tips on how to stay dry and avoid the crowds are worth bearing in mind.
First off, when to go? Summer is high season so if you want to wander lonely as a cloud plan your visit for another time of year. Winter can be bitterly cold and snowy, but prices are cheaper, tourists are fewer and pubs with roaring fires are easy to find. Spring is a great time, especially if you just have to see some Wordsworthian daffodils, plus attractions and ferries are all generally operating. And if that isn’t reason enough, Spring is also the driest season. Autumn is nearly as dry and sees spectacularly colourful foliage.
Windermere has served as the main gateway to the Lake District since the arrival of the steam railway in 1847 and remains one of the region’s busiest spots. As the largest natural lake in England, Lake Windermere remains justifiably popular, so you might want to avoid the area if you dislike crowds. Likewise, the pretty towns of Grasmere and Hawkshead are often bustling with tourists following the Wordsworth trail. In contrast, Wasdale, with its inky black lake (at 79m, the deepest in England!) offers a chance to experience the Lake District untamed.
When it comes to accommodation, choices have moved upmarket and booking ahead is essential at any time of year, especially if you want to stay somewhere particular.
In such a small, popular area, traffic congestion can get very bad so if possible leave your car at home and use the decent public transport. Get a bus pass and hop on and off as much as you like, appreciating the views while avoiding the hassle of finding a parking space.
Hiking is of course one of the highlights of the Lakes and while the local ‘mountains’ might be laughably small to anyone used to the Alps or Rockies, conditions are very changeable and the dangers should not be underestimated. Waterproof clothing and a decent map are the minimum for anything but the simplest of routes, and don’t forget to tell someone where you’re going (mobile phones are useful but coverage can be patchy).
Whatever the weather’s doing when you venture out, take your camera – when the rain stops, the sun comes out and a rainbow arcs across one of the lakes you’ll be glad you did.
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