Howe Foot Holiday Cottages
Lake District Blog
40 great reasons to visit the Lake District / Cumbria (and stay at Howe Foot)
For over 300 years travellers have come to this north west corner of England, drawn at first by the mystery and then later by the magic of its lakes and mountains. These days people come to the Lake District and the other parts of Cumbria for all sorts of reasons. Here are 40 of them…
Adventure. Climbing, walking, cycling, kayaking, ghyll scrambling, open water swimming, sailing, horse riding and mountain biking. No wonder Cumbria is often called the 'adventure capital of the UK'.
The Coniston fells, Grizedale Forest (for walking and mountain biking) and the Coniston Boating Centre (pic, boat and bike hire) are all within 30/40 minutes drive of Howe Foot.
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Cumbria has three AONBs: the closest one to Howe Foot is Arnside and Silverdale (in the south around Morecambe Bay), then there's the North Pennines around Alston and finally the Solway Coast, to the west of Carlisle.
Artists and makers. Painters, potters, printmakers, photographers, furniture makers, weavers (pic, Laura's Loom), wood workers, jewellers, glass artists, sculptors and more. All maintaining a long tradition of creativity in this part of England.
Arts and Crafts. Head for John Ruskin's old home of Brantwood at Coniston Water (pic) or Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House, near Bowness-on-Windermere. Look out for the stained glass work by William Morris and artist Edward Burne-Jones in a number of churches.
Buttermere. Favourite of walking guide writer Alfred Wainwright. Overlooked by Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks, with Crummock Water and Loweswater up the road. Not far from the Georgian town of Cockermouth.
Cartmel. Pretty village about 12 miles south east of Howe Foot, with a beautiful 800 year old Priory Church, a racecourse, 17th and 18th-century stone buildings and a cobbled market square.
There's also a brewery, a village shop where Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding was once made and two of Simon Rogan's restaurants, L'Enclume (two Michelin stars) and Rogan & Co (one star). The historic home of Holker Hall is not far from Cartmel. See Howe Foot blog from July 8, 2021.
Coast. 2021 was Cumbria's Year of the Coast and with more than 100 miles of coastline there is plenty to celebrate. It comes with history as well: Ravenglass a Roman port; Whitehaven, third busiest harbour in Britain in the 18th century; Barrow once a great centre for iron and steel making and later shipbuilding.
About 15 miles west of Howe Foot is the huge beach at Silecroft (pic). See Howe Foot blog from August 27, 2021.
Coniston. North of Howe Foot, Coniston village bags a glorious setting, comes with a rich mining history and has three famous people - the Victorian polymath John Ruskin, land and water speed ace Donald Campbell and writer Arthur Ransome - embedded in its historic strata. The Ruskin Museum is in Coniston while Ruskin's old home of Brantwood is outside the village.
Coniston Water. Third biggest lake in the Lake District which you can explore with either Coniston Launch or the Steam Yacht Gondola. Coniston village is located at its northern end. See Howe Foot blog from June 25, 2021.
Country shows. Cumbria's great unsung attraction. The Cumberland Show June 11, 2022) and the Westmorland County Show (September 7 and 8, 2022) are the two biggest. And there are plenty more between May and October, but check for any cancellations.
Ones within striking distance of Howe Foot include Coniston Country Fair (July 24), Ulverston and North Lonsdale Show (July 27), Cartmel Show (August 3), Lakeland Country Fair at Torver (August 21), Millom and Broughton Agricultural Show (August 27) and Black Combe Country Fair at Bootle (August 29).
Cultural landscape. That's what earned the Lake District its World Heritage status. A landscape shaped by nature, farming, mining, quarrying, tourism and other human activities. This in turn influenced the Romantic poets, other writers, artists and conservationists like Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, one of the founders of the National Trust.
Derwentwater. Queen of the Lakes and royally served by the traditional vessels of the Keswick Launch Company (pic). There are seven stops around the lake.
Fells. Scafell Pike (the highest mountain in England), Helvellyn, Blencathra, Fleetwith Pike (pic), Catbells and the Old Man of Coniston. Just six of the 214 fells that Alfred Wainwright wrote about in his classic, seven volume A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells.
The hand-written, hand-drawn books which make up the series were compiled between 1952 and 1966. Wainwright's first visit to Lakeland was in 1930.
Festivals. From music, mountains, wool and walking to pottery, print, lanterns and literature. Every taste, every genre is catered for. Ulverston, birthplace of Stan Laurel and home to the Hoad Monument (pic), is the 'festival town' but Keswick's not far behind.
Ulverston festivals include Print Fest, Flag Fortnight, Lantern Festival, Dickensian Festival, Another Fine Fest and the Ulverston International Music Festival. Check the 'Events calendar' on www.ulverston.com
Food and drink producers. Some 30 small breweries, plus producers of gin, whisky and vodka, and makers of everything from cakes, chutney and cheese to jams, puddings and sausage. A great foodie story.
Ulverston, for instance, is home to Shed 1 Gin Distillery, Wolftown Gin, the Ulverston Brewing Company and Lakeland Brewhouse. Coniston is home to the Coniston Brewing Company, producers of two champion beers of Britain: Bluebird Bitter and No 9 Barley Wine.
Forests. Grizedale Forest near Hawkshead, famous for its outdoor sculptures (pic), and Whinlatter Forest near Keswick 'England's only mountain forest'. Both places are great for cycling and walking. Grizedale is the closer of the two to Howe Foot.
Fresh air. How many times do you hear visitors remark on the quality of the air in the Lake District and other parts of Cumbria?
Grasmere. Village and lake share the same name and the same lovely setting (pic). Forever associated with poet William Wordsworth.
Hadrian's Wall. Celebrating its 1,900 anniversary in 2022. Built by the Romans, the 73 miles of wall linked Bowness-on-Solway, west of Carlisle, to Wallsend near Newcastle. One of the best parts of this World Heritage site is a stretch near the Cumbrian fort of Birdoswald.
Hardknott and Wrynose passes. Amongst the highest road passes in England, they link Eskdale with Little Langdale. Scary for some, sublime for others. You get to see a Roman fort at Hardknott along the way.
Herdwick sheep. The native breed of the Lake District and an icon of the fells (pic). Rough Fell and Swaledale sheep feel just as much at home here too.
Independent shops. Disappearing from high streets everywhere but still plentiful here: butchers (almost in every town), bakers, bookshops, outdoor, clothes and fashion, specialist food, hardware stores (surprisingly numerous) and such like.
In Ulverston, for instance (pic), you'll find Irvings Butchers, Gillam's (specialist grocers), Lake District Lobster and Seafood Co, Floral & Hardy and Bluebell & Ivy (both florists), Two by Two (clothing) and Working Class Heroes (men's streetwear).
Keswick. Overlooked by Latrigg and Skiddaw, the fourth highest mountain in England, with Bassenthwaite Lake to the north, Derwentwater and Borrowdale to the south and the Newlands Valley to the south west. How's that for a prime location?
The town, one of the most popular tourist places in the Lake District, is great for outdoor clothing shops too (like Ambleside).
Michelin starred restaurants. There are eight in Cumbria, the most of any county in the UK. Simon Rogan's L'Enclume in Cartmel (pic) - celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2022 - was awarded its third star in February this year.
Rogan & Co in Cartmel, The Old Stamp House in Ambleside, Allium at Askham Hall near Ullswater, Cottage in the Wood at Whinlatter near Keswick, Forest Side at Grasmere, Hrishi at Gilpin Hotel near Windermere and the Dog and Gun pub at Skelton near Penrith all have one star.
National parks. Cumbria's got two: the Lake District - 70 years old last year - and the Yorkshire Dales. And if you head through the Lune Gorge on the M6, south of Tebay, you'll have one on each side of you.
Potter. Beatrix Potter. Mycologist, children's author and Lakeland farmer. Hill Top, her first home in the Lake District (pic), is a must for any Potter enthusiast. Plus the Armitt Museum and Library, Ambleside for her paintings of fungi, and the Beatrix Potter Gallery, Hawkshead for watercolours, drawings and memorabilia.
Railways. Standard or narrow gauge, Cumbria's got some pretty scenic rail journeys. The nearest one is the Lakeside and Haverthwaite (pic), Settle to Carlisle, Ravenglass to Eskdale, the South Tynedale Railway in the North Pennines and the journey along the Cumbrian coastline. That's five of them. See Howe Foot blog from August 1, 2021.
Ransome. Arthur Ransome, author of Swallows and Amazons, spent his childhood holidays around Coniston Water and his later life elsewhere in the Lake District. He married Leon Trotsky's secretary, Evgenia Shelepina, both buried at Rusland Church.
Ruskin. John Ruskin, the great Victorian polymath - art critic, painter, writer, social commentator, environmentalist and more. He bought Brantwood, overlooking Coniston Water, in 1871 and then spent the last 29 years of his life there.
Sedbergh. England's Book Town, within the Yorkshire Dales and close to the Howgill Fells (pic). A few miles north of the pretty town of Kirkby Lonsdale.
Stay. Hotels, pubs and inns, B&Bs, self-catering places and campsites. There's a huge choice of places to stay.
Ullswater. Second largest lake in Cumbria and, for many, the most beautiful of them all (pic). Judge for yourself from one of a number of historic vessels operated by the Ullswater Navigation and Transit Company...Ullswater 'Steamers'.
Valleys. Some very well known like Borrowdale near Keswick, Eden, Eskdale and the Langdales. Others slightly less familiar like Newlands, Duddon, Rusland, Lyth and Winster. The Duddon Valley (pic) was a great favourite of William Wordsworth.
Views. There's one round nearly every corner. Just up the hill from Howe Foot is Lowick Beacon from where there are great views. Then, take your pick from Castle Crag, Scout Scar, Loughrigg Fell, Wastwater, Binsey, Fleetwith Pike, Arnside Knott, the Langdale Pikes and hundreds of others.
Villages. You could start with Dent, Troutbeck, Hawkshead (pic), Caldbeck, Grasmere and Cartmel for six pretty places.
Walking. On the flat or on the fell. Tough on the sole (sometimes) but good for the soul (generally). Cumbria is a walkers' paradise.
Wasdale and Wastwater. One's the birthplace of British climbing, the other's the deepest lake in England. Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, is close by.
Windermere. England's largest natural stretch of water and biggest of the area's 16 lakes (pic). Best seen from Tern, Teal, Swan, Swift or any of the other vessels belonging to Windermere Lake Cruises, Cumbria's number one tourist attraction.
Look out for Windermere Jetty Museum, one of six buildings shortlisted in 2021 for the Royal British Institute of Architects Stirling Prize. Lakeside and Newby Bridge, at the southern end of the lake, are not far from Howe Foot.
Wordsworth. William Wordsworth. England's greatest poet was born in Cockermouth in 1770 and spent almost all of his life in the Lake District. He wrote much of his best known poetry at Dove Cottage in Grasmere next to the Wordsworth Museum. He spent three years at Allan Bank at Grasmere and the last 37 years of his life at Rydal Mount (pic).
World Heritage sites. Cumbria's got two UNESCO World Heritage sites: Hadrian's Wall since 1987, the Lake District since 2017.
Posted 18 February 2022