Out & About: Cumbria

Our guide to the best of Cumbria

Mention Cumbria and most people will talk fondly about memorable family holidays in the Lake District, England's best known and most scenic National Park. Despite its popularity, 'The Lakes' retains its air of emptiness and remoteness, a rumpled, rugged landscape that is hard to beat for sheer natural beauty and grandeur. Immortalised by the Romantics, the area has become iconic: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Ruskin and Beatrix Potter were all inspired by the craggy fells, plunging waterfalls and peaceful lakes.

The only way truly to discover the beauty of the Lakes is to explore it on foot. Even at the height of summer you can escape the crowds by following remote paths and tracks well away from the roads. Walkers are spoilt for choice, with just about every kind of landscape and terrain imaginable to explore.

However, the Lake District only covers a small and compact area in Cumbria - the county has so much more to offer visitors looking for stunning scenery and adventure away from the 'honeypot' Lakes. Seek out the beautiful Lyth Valley east of Windermere; the quiet and unspoiled Eden Valley between the Lakes and the Pennines; historic Carlisle and magnificent Hadrian's Wall country; the wild Howgill Fells around Sedbergh where Cumbria meets the Yorkshire Dales; the Lune Valley and the sandy expanse of Morecambe Bay; and the wildlife-rich north Cumbrian coast, one of the county's secret gems.


Food & Drink

Check out the cool cafes following a day walking the fells, tour the brewery that brewed your favourite pint, or the distillery that produced your tipple of gin, visit the shop on the farm that reared your delicious Sunday roast beef and seek out the markets, deli's and artisan producers that supplied the treats on the inn's menu, then enjoy them at home.


Walks & Nature

Explore challenging upland trails or scenic valley paths, take in the serene Lakeland landscape that inspired poets like Wordsworth and Ruskin, or walk the invigorating Cumbria Way between Coniston and Keswick. And with Haweswater RSPB Reserve, numerous woodland, pasture and lakeshore wildlife havens, and unspoilt estuaries, take some time to discover British flora and fauna.


Culture & Heritage

Take a journey through time, exploring ancient stone circles, medieval castles, Hadrian's Wall, and grand houses. Visit Dove Cottage in Grasmere, once the home of Wordsworth, England's favourite poet, or Hilltop Farm where Beatrix Potter wrote many of her children's books, and explore glorious gardens - Holker Hall and Dalmain - heady with the scent of summer blooms. Allow time to stroll around foodie Cartmel, the book town of Sedbergh, and quirky Kirkby Lonsdale.


Activities & Days Out

Explore the Cumbrian lakes by steamboat, yacht or kayak, go mountain biking through Grizedale Forest or off-roading across the fells in a 4x4 for an adrenaline-rush; or really slow down the pace by fishing on the River Eden or spend time chugging through beautiful countryside on a heritage steam railway. Or, drift silently across the glorious South Lakeland landscape in a balloon.


Great Places to Stay

Escape to Cumbria and treat yourself to a night or two at one of these brilliant foodie inns. Hunker down by blazing fires in beamed bars and rest and refuel having explored local towns and pretty villages, or a stately pile, or following an invigorating fell walk. Expect to find a comfortable room with cosseting extras and smart bathrooms, imaginative menus brimming with local produce, a cosy bar serving tip-top beers and eclectic wines, and great walks from the front door. Explore our Cumbria Collection below.