How many visitors realize that the National Park has almost 20 kilometers of coastline and that there is a mountain, Black Combe, that rises almost from the sea? Local news says that, on clear days, you can see 14 English and Scottish counties from its 1,968 ft (600m) summit. And when you’re there, you’re a stone’s throw away from the country’s most exciting railway journey where trains run on time, and the guards are always smiling. Lesser Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, all polished brass and cheery toots, and the iconic Thomas the Tank Engine.
For high culture there are the homes of poet William Wordsworth, polymath John Ruskin, and children’s author Beatrix Potter (you’ll be drawn to the latter, whatever you think). The prestigious Arts and Crafts house, Blackwell, is a class affair; Keswick Museum is a delightful ‘cabinet of curiosities’; the town of Theater by the Lake is full of energy and commerce; while in peace and simplicity you can spend a little time inside the church of St Bega on Bassenthwaite Lake or the small St Olaf’s in Wasdale.
The picturesque villages – Hawkshead, Grasmere, Cartmel (the latter, technically, half a mile outside the Park boundary) – are as good as any in, say, the Yorkshire Dales. Busy, yes, if this bothers you, widen your net. Try Troutbeck with its beautiful views down the valley to Windermere, or Portinscale, an easy walk from Keswick and along the Derwentwater.