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The Lakes and Cumbria’s Loveliest Locations

Cumbria Tourism’s guide to the region’s best views

Central & South Lakes

Make some memories where majestic mountains meet shimmering lakes. The South and Central Lakes are an ideal base to explore the National Park and beyond. Cumbria Tourism offer their expert insight on some of the best and most beautiful Lake District locations to visit.

Known as ‘the gateway to the Lakes’, the bustling market town of Kendal is a great first stop for some serious shopping, culture and entertainment. With perennial favourites like Windermere, Bowness and Ambleside on the doorstep, you’ll soon find yourself in the heart of the Lakes.

Head to the Langdales for outdoor adventures in an iconic landscape carved out by the power of nature millions of years ago. Or explore England’s longest lake, Windermere, with a quintessential ride on a Lake District ‘steamer’. The charming villages of Grasmere and Hawkshead are intrinsically linked with Wordsworth and the Romantic poets, while the view from Coniston Old Man is one to relish.

Why not take a trip deep into the forest at Grizedale? Have a go at orienteering, cycle along miles of woodland tracks, follow the sculpture trails or take a guided walk with a forest ranger. Beauty spots like Tarn Hows and Esthwaite Water are picture perfect for a quiet retreat.

Don’t miss the historic market town of Kirkby Lonsdale, where the Lakes meet the Dales. Famed for ‘Ruskin’s View’ and the historic Devil’s Bridge, it’s a little-known treasure with a whole heap of character.

Western Lake District

Head to the Western Lake District for secluded beaches and unspoilt countryside. Teamed with a rich Roman and maritime heritage, the rugged fells and tranquil lakes are brimming wih natural beauty.

A special place - where Wordsworth lived and Wainwright walked - this is the home of England’s highest mountain, Scafell, and its deepest lake, Wastwater. Perfect for shoreline adventures, a large stretch of coast is designated as an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Watching a glorious sunset over the Solway Firth is something you’ll never forget, and you don’t have to be an avid birdwatcher to marvel at the vast colonies of seabirds at St Bees Head.

Historic harbours, Iron Age forts and tales of smuggling and slaves all add to the allure. Stop off at Georgian Whitehaven, Roman Maryport and the romantic ‘gem town’ of Cockermouth. Or why not head to Keswick, surrounded by the majestic Grizedale Pike, Skiddaw and Catbells? Whinlatter Forest is perfect for action-seekers and wildlife watchers alike, and you might even glimpse the elusive Osprey from the viewing point in Dodd Wood.

Wind your way into the picturesque Ennerdale and Eskdale Valleys, then head up high over Hard Knott Pass to discover a Roman fort dating back to the 2nd century. Back at sea level, Ravenglass is the only coastal village in the Lake District National Park.

With annual events including Egremont Crab Fair, Maryport Blues Festival and the Keswick Mountain Festival to name a few, the Western Lake District is overflowing with ideas to create your perfect break.

Carlisle & Hadrian’s Wall

Travel back in time to the Great Border City of Carlisle. The capital of Cumbria seamlessly blends 2000 years of history with everything you’d expect from a vibrant, 21st century city.

Built by William the Conqueror's son, the formidable fortress of Carlisle Castle stands proud over the cityscape, with plentiful chambers and passageways to explore. A packed programme of heritage tours, activities and exhibitions in the heart of the city’s historic quarter will open your eyes to times gone by on the edge of an ancient empire.

Venture just a little further towards the Scottish border and this unique historical adventure continues. Hadrian's Wall – an UNESCO World Heritage Site – is the most significant monument built by the Romans in Britain. For a taste of centurion life, drop in to Birdoswald Visitor Centre and see the longest continuous stretch of wall still visible today.

Overlying this rich heritage is Carlisle’s vibrant mix of pavement cafes, restaurants and nightclubs to keep you buzzing, and a busy shopping centre offering a tempting blend of high street brands and independent shops for some intensive retail therapy. Whether you want to get active or sit back and relax, the array of activities on offer ranges from golf to laser tag, ice-skating to horse-riding, and everything in-between.

Round off your stay with inspiring all year-round events, ranging from continental markets and a nationally acclaimed summer music festival to the annual Fireshow, Carlisle Pageant and a spectacular Christmas programme of lights, markets and festive activities.

National sporting events, comedy nights, outdoor film screenings and even ghostly tours mean the choices are almost endless…

Eden Valley & the Eastern Fells

Go off the beaten track to discover an enchanting landscape seeped in myths and legends. The rolling green Eden Valley stretches out into the rugged Pennine hills and Howgills Fells, with prehistoric settlements, glittering waterfalls and stately homes along the way.

With easy access from the M6, A66 and the west coast mainline, Penrith is the perfect base for exploring. Head east to the Pennines and delve deep into some of the most undiscovered walking country you’re likely to find. Alston, the highest market town in England, is surrounded by beautiful and diverse moorland renowned for rare alpine flora and upland birds.

Then there’s Ullswater, descending from the lofty heights of the Kirkstone Pass. See some outstanding views unfold as you stroll along this beautiful lake’s shoreline, enjoy an array of watersports or get on your bike for some adventures on two wheels. The red deer rut at nearby Martindale is one of mother nature’s greatest spectacles, while golden eagles now soar high above the Haweswater Valley. Meanwhile, Aira Beck is home to a series of glorious waterfalls tumbling through a wooded gorge.

Don’t forget the pretty market towns of Kirkby Stephen and Appleby. Or for a treasure trove of secondhand and collector’s books, drop down to Sedbergh at the foot of the Howgills for an amble around one of England’s designated ‘book towns’.

Cumbria Tourism Logo

Cumbria Tourism is the official Tourist Board for the Lake District, Cumbria. Find more information on the great work they do on their website.