Tucked into the north west corner of England but less than three hours by train from London is one of Britain’s most beautiful areas, the Lake District. In the summer of 2017 this part of Cumbria should discover if it has been successful in its bid for World Heritage status. Success will mean the Lake District joining an elite group, one that includes the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, the Great Barrier Reef, Yellowstone National Park and more than one thousand other sites worldwide.
Such an accolade will simply confirm what many people have long felt: the Lake District is a very special place indeed, home to generations of farmers who have shaped its landscape, an inspiration to writers and artists for over 200 years and a destination for millions of visitors who revel in the beauty of lakes and fells and valleys.
But Cumbria is not defined by the Lake District alone. The historic city of Carlisle and the World Heritage site of Hadrian’s Wall to the north, the Pennines and the Eden Valley to the east, the west coast with its mining and maritime heritage, the Cartmel and Furness peninsulas that jut out into Morecambe Bay to the south, the Solway plain, and the wilder frontier land to the north east of Carlisle are all part of the beauty and diversity of this corner of England.
Added to this geographical mix is the enormous variety of outdoor and adventure activities that are possible here. You can walk to your heart’s and legs content, you can cycle, mountain bike, sail, canoe, kayak, ghyll scramble, gorge scramble, raft-build, horse ride, paraglide, rock climb, abseil and more. To some people, Cumbria is simply the Adventure Capital of the UK.
Then there is the rich cultural landscape. This, after all, is the land of poet William Wordsworth and the Lake Poets, of the Victorian polymath John Ruskin, of writers Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome and poet Norman Nicholson. The artist Kurt Schwitters came here to live and work, Turner and Constable once painted here, and William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones created wonderful stained glass windows for numerous churches in the county. Today Cumbria is home to many artists, makers and writers while music and other cultural festivals abound. There are also plenty of museums, galleries, and historic homes and gardens.
Tarn Hows near Hawkshead in the Lake District
Cumbria also has a well deserved reputation for food and drink, not only for its choice of pubs and restaurants – the 2015 edition of the Good Food Guide gave L’enclume at Cartmel number one spot in the UK for the second year running – but for what is produced in the county. There’s meat, sausages, bacon, cheese, bread, jams, chutneys, cakes, pies, puddings, chocolates and beer, the number of small breweries in Cumbria now amounting to about 35.
The food, farm and family butchers’ shops which sell local produce are part of another attraction, which is the variety of independent retailers. They may be disappearing from the high streets elsewhere in Britain but they’re still very much a presence in Cumbria. And for an insight into local farming life, country and agricultural shows are certainly worth visiting as well.
If you want to stay for a night, a week or even longer, to savour what Cumbria has to offer, you’re certainly spoilt for choice: welcoming country house hotels, cosy pubs and inns, an enormous range of B&Bs and self-catering properties, campsites and a lot more. It goes without saying that many of them are found in beautiful locations.
The Dymond Guide to the Lake District and Cumbria – with 368 pages and more than 300 photographs – is a comprehensive travel guide to this much loved area. It is packed with information on what to see, do and visit, where to eat and drink, where to stay, what to buy, where to walk and a lot more.
In essence it’s an indispensable companion…… for those who don’t know the Lake District and Cumbria, and for those who may like to discover more.
The Dymond Guide to the Lake District and Cumbria by Christian Dymond. Published by Dymond Guides. Price £14.99. ISBN: 978-0-9554726-2-6. Check www.dymondguides.com for more information.
*The opinions expressed are the guests own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Health Innovation Summit.