The Lake District



Often referred to as "The English Alps," the Lake District is arguably one of the most beautiful parts of the country. In fact, the area has an almost mystical attraction for the British, so expect it to be very crowded in summer. The Lake District is located about 55 mi/90 km north of Liverpool.

There's not much to do except relax and enjoy the scenery, take a boat trip or hike, but that's part of the attraction. Many authors and poets, including Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, were inspired by this scenic land of trees, hills, lakes and England's tallest mountains. Besides having some of the best walks in England, the area also gives you a sense of British history: You can stand on a hill and see prehistoric stone circles, castles, 18th-century manors and Victorian villages all in one glance.

Windermere serves as the tourist center, and we found Grasmere, home to Wordsworth's Dove Cottage, to be equally crowded. Ambleside is smaller and cuter but similarly popular. Quieter Keswick is known for its more extreme outdoor activities, such as rock climbing and abseiling. If you like the Arts and Crafts style, be sure to visit Blackwell House before leaving Windermere to the throngs of other tourists. Beatrix Potter's farmhouse, Top Hill, is in Near Sawrey (expect to wait to get in).

To best enjoy the area, you should spend as little time in the towns as possible. Instead, just strap on your hiking boots—or other suitable shoes—and take to the hills. (But don't forget your rainwear—The Lake District is one of England's wettest spots.) Opt to stay near Wast Water, Buttermere or Crummock Water lakes to escape the crowds.

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