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Lake District

Let's visit

Cycling, hiking, strolling or scrambling – Lorraine Ansell visits the UK's Lake District and finds outdoor activities to enjoy at your own pace

Thwaites beers
Lake District
Wainwrights book
Lake District

If you fancy a more physical challenge, there are plenty of routes for cyclists and runners, with gradients to test even the hardiest of legs and with opportunities to spot sheep, ducks, swans, and Georgian cottages.

The Lake District offers a variety of activities for any pace. Whatever you choose to do, you will find something to enjoy while you wander around the Lake District amongst the tourists like a crowd of golden daffodils.

There are plenty of opportunities in the UK to take an extended long weekend break and explore the countryside. Nestling near Scotland is the lovely Lake District – a beautiful part of England where mountains, streams and lakes all compete for attention.

After a quick train journey – with stops connecting all the main areas of the Lake District to Lancaster, Glasgow and beyond – you arrive where even the air smells different. Even light rain is not enough to dampen the beauty of this place. Green, lush and bursting with life, the area is a wonderful place to explore at any pace.

The Lake District is known for its walks, natural beauty and lakes, and is a haven for cyclists. If you prefer the gentle walks that follow the curves of large lakes then you are in for a treat. The lake water laps up against pebbled shores where dogs, children, adults and ducks all share the space and you can see pretty Georgian houses dotted around the lakeside, taking you back to another era.

If you are after a more serious walk, then be prepared for some amazing fell walking with views to match. Whichever you choose, arm yourself with a good Ordnance Survey map, compass and the essential books by Alfred Wainwright, which provide information on easy-to-understand walks with great illustrations so you know how to get there and back again.

Be safe and wear the proper footwear, especially for long walks, and take waterproofs and plenty of water. A snack of some kind is good but remember to take your rubbish away with you. Nothing spoils the views or nature more than a discarded crisp packet or a loitering empty drinks can!

On our trip we stayed just outside Ambleside for a few days. This small Lakeland town to the north of Windermere is a great base to explore the district, with gentle and more strenuous walks starting right outside the front door.

On a luckily sunny day we headed towards Pavey Ark. This fell, with an elevation of 700m, does require some stamina and effort. We started walking along an almost vertical path at a brisk pace, following the waterfalls upstream. If you have trekking poles, be prepared to dig them in for support. If you don't have any sticks, then use your hands, knees and elbows – in fact anything to get you over the rocks.

About two-thirds of the way up, we scrambled over waterfall rocks, the cold crystal-clear waters a welcome shock as we grew hotter, crossing them to reach an easier path that led to a beautiful lake. A few ducks and lost seagulls were paddling about in the water, breaking the stillness.

We crossed a few more boggy paths, watching as our walking boots bounced over the mossy grass or sank into the dark mud. We hastened as much as we could, aiding one another with another scramble up to the top. Despite the mist rolling in and away, we were rewarded by an amazing view.

Once at the top, catch your breath, preferably with a packed lunch and a warm drink or two, then you have a choice of routes to trek back down.

We chose to trek across the top mountainscape, punctured by large, smooth, oblong rocks. As we began the descent back to the green, rolling ravines, a few grazing sheep looked on.

Watch out for sheep that dash down the fell with such grace and ease you may just want to run after them. We stopped every so often to enjoy the scenery, and after a leisurely few hours we finally made it to the pub – where we had a treat from a selection of cream teas, ice creams (it was a hot day) or a fun choice of Thwaites ales, served on a paddle.

For a once-in-a-while walker, this trek will take about four hours and will be quite tough. If you are used to fell walking then it will be three hours or fewer. If you have hooves then you can be up and down it like a mountain goat.

In contrast, if you are looking for a quiet, gentle walk, then a stroll into Grasmere from Ambleside is just the ticket. Here there are paved paths with views of lakes, rolling green hills and wildlife at every turn. Spot a few wild swimmers in the lakes or even try it yourself – but keep warm!

Grasmere is a very picturesque village where William Wordsworth once lived and composed his poetry. It also hosts a humble cottage shop that produces excellent traditional gingerbread, made to an old secret recipe. You can also stock up on all and any ginger flavoured products, including ginger beer and ginger Kendal Mint Cake.

We enjoyed more than one bag of gingerbread as we walked around, and then walked to Dove Cottage where Wordsworth used to live. The pretty, petite cottage with an overflowing garden stands along the way towards the oddly-named coffin route – so-called as this is where people used to carry the coffins. Despite the name, there is nothing scary about the route, and after a while you find a handy rest stop right next to a money tree! For some more unusual sights look upwards and you might even spot a couple of jets swooping down along the valleys.

Wordsworth poem
Lake District
coin tree
Lake District

Green Adventures February 2016

The Lakes

Lorraine Ansell is an experienced bilingual voice over artist showcasing British (Received Pronunciation) and Spanish (Latin American) voices. Lorraine focuses on bringing scripts to life to engage the target audience, and delivering a professional sound. She works with a home studio, skype and ipDTL, and is based in and around London, UK. Loves to travel, eat and speak! Twitter @LAvoiceart.