The Lake District UNESCO World Heritage Site
What do the Grand Canyon, the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu and Britain’s Lake District have in common? As of this week, they are all Unesco World Heritage sites.
The Lake District in Cumbria, north-west England, has just become Britain’s first national park to be awarded this momentous status by the World Heritage Committee, bringing the tally of Unesco World Heritage sites in the UK and its overseas territories to 31.
If that’s not reason enough to visit this stunning area of Britain this summer, here are ten more.
1. Its award-winning food scene
From gastropubs to Michelin stars, the Lake District’s ever-growing gastronomic menu sees local chefs making the most of the region’s abundant natural produce. As a result, many of its restaurants have won awards, including coveted Michelin stars. The Forest Side is a gastronomic boutique hotel and Michelin-starred restaurant in Grasmere headed up by Kevin Tickle – former sous chef and head forager for nearby two Michelin-starred restaurant L’Enclume, which frequently tops lists of Britain’s best restaurants.
2. The view from Catbells
Picking out just one Lake District view is a tricky task, in an area blessed with landscapes so striking they’ve inspired writers and poets throughout history. One of the loveliest vistas to be found is looking east from the top of Catbells hill across the lake of Derwentwater to the mountain of Skiddaw. The Catbells Lakeland Walk is a short, sharp, steep 451-metre climb, but well worth the effort.
3. New lakeside hotel and spa, Another Place
This August, the team behind the acclaimed Watergate Bay Hotel in Cornwall are opening Another Place, The Lake on the shores of Britain’s second largest lake, Ullswater. This stylish new hotel and spa has been designed around the lakeside environment, with a homely feel. Among its 18 acres of parkland are trees strung with hammocks and a wooden jetty by the lake, where open-water swimming and stand-up paddle boarding are encouraged.
4. Monkeying around in the treetops
Treetop Trek is a network of more than 30 treetop challenges in an ancient woodland canopy for adventurers to swing, climb and fly through. Complete the adventure by racing down the park’s triple zip: three parallel 250m (820ft) zip wires taking in spectacular views of Lake Windermere.
5. The ‘best gingerbread in the world’
Test this well-substantiated claim for yourself at Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread shop in the village of Grasmere. This legendary gingerbread’s special recipe has been a closely-guarded family secret since Victorian cook Sarah Nelson concocted it in 1854. A trip to the Lake District wouldn’t be complete without visiting the original tiny green shop and bakery to sample this spicy-sweet cross between a biscuit and cake.
6. Crossing Europe’s longest Burma rope bridge
Walking aside, the Lake District is renowned as an outdoor adventure playground, including the Via Ferrata Xtreme (Italian for ‘iron way’) in Honister. Inspired by the popular mountain climbing route of similar construction that traverses the Dolomites in northern Italy, this adrenaline-boosting course involves vertical climbs, cliff-edge ladders, and Europe’s longest Burma Rope bridge suspended 2,000ft/610m over the valley.
7. Wandering lonely as a cloud
The Lake District has long been a place to stop, pause, and reflect on nature’s beauty – just like world-renowned poet William Wordsworth, who lived in Dove Cottage in Grasmere from 1799 to 1808. Here he wrote much of his best-loved poetry, including ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’, fondly known as ‘Daffodils’. Now a museum, the cottage is full of Wordsworth’s personal belongings and looks remarkably unchanged since he and his family lived here.
8. Drive an eco-friendly Twizy
Get behind the wheel of an electric Renault ‘Twizy ’ branded with its own distinctive sheep personality and name. These groovy two-seater vehicles are available to hire around Keswick and Ullswater. With no engines, exhausts or fuel systems, at the push of a button these silent, eco-friendly vehicles are ideal for exploring quiet and remote corners of the Lake District.
9. Afternoon tea aboard a gondola
Push the boat out with a sailing trip on the steam-powered Steam Yacht Gondola. With its opulent saloons and open-air decks, this impressive example of Victorian engineering glides across Coniston Water, with several cruises every day from the start of April to the end of October. You can even enjoy afternoon tea during your journey.
10. Test your nerves with a giant abseil
If it’s extreme outdoor adventure you’re after, Adventuremakers will make it happen – and summer is a great time to do it. Conquer new heights with the Cathedral Quarry’s impressive 100ft abseil; you’ll get to practice on a smaller abseil first. Getting to the rock face is an adventure in itself, passing through tunnels into the huge, dramatic Cathedral Cave which starred in Hollywood movie Snow White and the Huntsman.
Getting to the Lake District: The nearest airport is Manchester Airport and there is a direct train from Manchester to Windermere. Travelling from London, the nearest train station is Oxenholme, reached from the capital in two hours and 40 minutes.