I was almost irreversibly put off the Lake District by a miserable Geography field trip when I was about 14. It rained solidly and we had to analyse the river's flow by timing how long dog biscuits took to travel along the streams and measure pebbles for signs of erosion. True story. But some 15 years later, I plucked up the courage to return and actually found I had got it totally wrong.
Second only to London in the UK tourist popularity polls, the Lake District offers chocolate box-pretty villages, huge expanses of open countryside and outdoor pursuits galore. It’s the UK’s largest National Park and home to lots of England’s superlatives -- highest mountain, deepest lake, etc. More importantly, there is a plentiful supply of tea rooms where you can refuel on scones and cakes.
So what to do when you are there? It’s a very family friendly destination with gentle options such as the pleasure boats pottering about on the large waterways (Windermere, Ullswater) or the Keswick Launch on Derwentwater which flits between seven jetties. Stay on for the 50-minute circuit or hop off to explore pebble beaches and lakeside footpaths and pick up the next boat. Muncaster Castle has special events throughout the year such as the Muncaster Festival where the Fool of Muncaster is crowned -- many are aimed squarely at the family market.
There’s almost too much choice when it comes to walks in the Lake District. We like the Cumbrian Tourist board’s website which has free downloadable pdf guides for family-focused walks or this selection around Keswick, some of which are a bit more strenuous.
A nice long country walk is great, but sometimes, it’s just a bit, well, slow. There are so many cycling trails and tracks for mountain biking, long-distance challenges and road racing through the Cumbrian countryside, taking you from valleys to hilltops. For a gentle introduction follow this route along the old railway line out of Keswick towards Threlkeld, and loop back to town on country lanes. For something rather more off road, how about the Whinlatter Trails?
We see deals to the Lake District year round. Predictably, they tend to be more aggressive in the depths of winter, but keep your eyes on this page and you could snap up a bargain at any time.