We stayed in a village called Crook, less than 15 minutes from Kendal and Windermere, super quaint with only 10 or so houses and a pub - all you need right :)
Reason 1: The Lake District is beautiful
Okay so this is no secret. Alongside the highlands, the Peak District and Wales the Lakes are one of the UK's greatest beauties. In 2017 it also became a UNESCO World Heritage site* and is home to England's tallest mountain- Scafell Pike (3209 ft), England's deepest lake - Wast Water and longest lake - Windermere. Fun fact the National Trust owns a quarter of the total area meaning lots of free parking for those with membership!
*A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area which has been officially recognized by the United Nations, specifically by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Sites are selected on the basis of having cultural, historical, scientific or some other form of significance, and they are legally protected by international treaties. UNESCO regards these sites as being important to the collective interests of humanity.
This website is well worth checking out before visiting the area: http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/
You can enjoy boat rides on most of the lakes or steam train rides from various areas. We opted for a self hire boat to admire the views of Windermere. And hour cost us £36 for 4 people.
Reason 2: There are plenty of walks for every ability
And the walks are varied. You could be at Aria Force enjoying water falls (a mile long circular route)
Orrist Head (a 2 mile gentle climb up a path) enjoying stunning views of Windermere
Spending an few hours hiking up and over Cat Bells (6 mile walk with rocky climbs to get up/down the peak.)
Reason 3: It's perfect for weekend getaways, mini breaks or long holidays
With the Lake District you have choices. You can pick a destination and stay there to explore - areas we know are great include Windermere, Grasmere and Loweswater. All have great areas to explore, pubs and enough entertainment - even in the rain!
Or you can stay somewhere and explore from there - a car is suggested if that's your plan.
Or you can spend a few days in each place and head to the Northern, Western and Southern lakes. There's so much choice!
If picking a location wasn't hard enough you then have to pick where you plan to stay - tent (you're brave), caravan, camper van, B&B, Airbnb (recommended and covers all types of places), hotel, country inn, cottage and even yurts. There are even glamping options available - check out options here for an idea.
Wherever you stay and whatever you stay in you'll have a great time.
Reason 4: There's plenty of history
Okay not always a sales point but for a history fan like me having the chance to visit two castles in one town (Kendal) was a treat. Not only that but the town has history boards telling the stories of bygone years - there is even a 1800's home for old, poor widows that has a charity box built into the wall. The boards bring the town to life 100's of years ago.
If castles aren't your thing there is always a visit to Beatrix Potter's house near Swarey (it's National Trust owned) or the World of Beatrix Potter in Windermere that takes you into a world of her famous characters - Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggywinkles, Jemima Puddle-Duck and more.
Or you can check out all the old pubs and inns....more on them later!
Reason 5: Every town and village has a pub
This has to be a plus right?! I mean Laura and I are not big drinkers but there is something so satisfying about sitting in a cosy pub with a pint (usually fruit cider or fruit juice in our case) after a long walk. We found a pub that had been in the same location since the 1500's - called Kirkstone Pass Inn. It's located at the top of a road called 'The Struggle' where a lot of cyclist test their strength against the winding hill. The pub at the top is a just reward. In our case it was our reward after our Gowbarrow hike. The pub itself has outdoor space where you can sit and enjoying the views.
Another great find was The Swinside Inn, which was in.Newlands Valley and a short drive from where we finished our Cat Bells walk. On arrival we were greeted with a cosy bench and menu with mouth watering food. The portion sizes were generous and the veg was fresh from the garden. It may have been that fact that we walked 7 miles and it was almost 8pm but that meal was SO SO good! I had a chicken and leek pie, Laura had pulled pork with sweet potato mash and Laura's parents had steak pie. There were clean plates in no time at all and even Bisbee benefited from some steak chunks as the pie was crammed full.
Our favourite discovery was the pub in Crook though, The Sun Inn. Our Airbnb guest book was full of comments saying 'try the pub - the food is delicious'. We decided to have Sunday lunch there before heading home. Super convenient as we checked out of Airbnb, packed the car and then walked the 2 mins to the pub. At 12pm it was already starting to fill up - it turns out we aren't the only ones who know about it.
The roasts were indeed delicious. The cheesy leaks were an exceptional accompaniment but it was the fact we got two types of potatoes that won it for me. I had the trio of meat (lamb, pork and beef) while Laura and her Mum opted for lamb and her Dad went for beef. If the main meal wasn't enough we actually had three courses. Starter was fishcakes for 3 of us and soup for the other - all were delicious. Desserts were a vanilla cheesecake for me - so good! Rhubarb and apple crumble for Laura and her Dad and Apple Pie for her Mum. Testament to the dessert we finished them all!
One thing is for sure, we will definitely be back to explore more!