The Lake District in Cumbria was awarded World Heritage Site status in July, the first of the UK’s national parks to be put on Unesco’s list. With its rolling hills, picturesque mountains and beautiful lakes, it’s not hard to see why. The Lakes provide a welcome relief for city dwellers looking for respite from “packed tubes, congested roads and pollution” and to take “a lung-cleansing blast of fresh autumn air in the wilds”, says Julian Robinson in the Daily Mail. If you’re coming from London, a “stunning waterfront hotel, bracing walks, sumptuous food and scenic boat trips” are just a five-hour drive away.
The grand Lakeside Hotel is a perfect spot to hole up. Originally a 17th-century coaching inn used as a staging post and resting place for travellers working in the cotton trade of Lancashire and Yorkshire, it is now a hub for tourism and a port of call for cruises to Bowness and Ambleside. It’s an ideal resting place for walkers – a 20-minute trek up Gummer’s How will give you “breathtaking views looking down Windermere” – and you can rest your tired feet in front of the hotel’s log fires or ease your aching muscles with a treatment in the Aveda spa. The hotel has two restaurants, both of which are “outstanding”. (Rooms from £179, see LakesideHotel.co.uk.)
More challenging treks in Coniston
As keen hill walkers and fans of the Scottish Highlands, Gary Simpson and his wife decided to give the Lake District a try instead – “and, boy, are we glad we did”, he says in The Scottish Sun. They headed to Coniston in the southern part of the region to “see how England’s best peaks compared to the ones back home”. They were not disappointed: the mountain walks are just as challenging and the views as beautiful.
The pair booked with HF Holidays, which specialises in walking and activity holidays, and stayed at Coniston House, a “19th-century, Gothic-style estate” situated on the shore of Coniston Water (from £274 per person including food and guides). From this comfortable and cosy base camp, travellers can choose from walks of different lengths and amount of ascent, so you can select activity according to your abilities. One trek takes guests 3,000ft up around the Fairfield Horseshoe, “a route renowned for its spectacular views”; another is a hike through the stunning Langdale Valley and the adjoining Little Langdale.
Getting active on Ullswater
If you’re looking for a bigger adventure than hiking is likely to offer, the Lake District can cater for you too, says Fiona Duncan in The Daily Telegraph. At Watergate Bay in Cornwall, an old-fashioned seaside hotel was transformed into a now “wildly popular ‘ski resort on a beach’”, with its own “Extreme Academy” for outdoor activities, including wild swimming, sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing and trekking by foot or on horseback. The owners have now opened a sister resort on the shores of Ullswater in the Lake District.
The Georgian house has been lavishly redecorated and upgraded, reflecting a “cool, calm and seaside chic” vibe, and the “brilliant” family suites are dog-friendly. There is also a “fabulous” indoor pool, spa and gym, and two restaurants. It’s early days for the hotel (“certainly the food needs to improve”), but “I loved my stay” nevertheless. (Doubles from £160 including breakfast. See the website at Another.Place.)
A Lake District ale trail
Walking and boozing have gone hand-in-hand since the invention of the pub crawl, says Tim Spanton in The Sun. Why not take in some stunning countryside while you’re at it? The Best Western Ale Trail is an 11-mile hike through five pubs in the Lakes. The first leg sets out from the Salutation Hotel in Ambleside and takes in Loughrigg Tarn. A 90-minute hike brings you to Skelwith Bridge; then on to lunch beside Colwith Force, finishing up back at Ambleside taking in Wainwrights’ Inn in Great Langdale and the Bowness Bay microbrewery. It’s an “ale trail” not to be missed. (Rooms from £61 a night; see AmblesideSalutationHotel.com.)