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Top 10 things to do in Cumbria and the Lake District

By Mark Campbell

There are so many things to do in Cumbria and the Lake District, but here are the top 10.

Walk Hadrian’s Wall

A whole industry has grown up around coast-to-coast walks along the route of the wall, but you will be in awe of the most famous Roman frontier just by following a stretch of it in Cumbria. Visit Birdoswald Roman Fort and look across the longest remaining stretch of the wall.

Travel the length of Windermere

Lake Windermere is the biggest natural expanse of water in England, at nearly 11 miles long, up to one mile wide and up to 220 feet deep. It is surrounded by magnificent mountain scenery and you can travel the entire length with Windermere Lake Cruises from Bowness, Ambleside or Lakeside.

Visit Aira Force waterfall

Probably the most famous Lake District waterfall, the main force falls 70 feet from below a stone footbridge and from there you can also head to Gowbarrow summit for stunning views of Ullswater. There is a landscaped Victorian park and a welcome tearoom.

Bag a Wainwright or two

The Wainwrights are the 214 hills and mountains described in author-climber AJ Wainwright’s Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells. It’s a mission by some to complete all of them; you could start with just one, perhaps the distinctive Cat Bells overlooking Keswick and Derwentwater.

Don’t miss the passes

They’re a challenge, but the steep mountain roads simply have to be experienced. Kirkstone Pass is the Lake District’s highest pass open to cars. It connects Ambleside to Patterdale and is known by locals as The Struggle. Hardknott Pass heads west and is the steepest road in England, with a maximum gradient of 1 in 3.

Ride the La’al Ratty

The Lake District has a few steam railways but arguably the one with most character is the scaled-down Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, known locally as the La’al Ratty. It’s a great ride for the whole family, ambling through beautiful countryside and offering scenic views and cafes and shops at both ends.

Go deep into a forest

Cumbrians are lucky to have so many forests and woodlands remaining. Here are two to explore: Grizedale, between the lakes of Coniston and Windermere, offers stunning walking and cycling trails. Whinlatter is England’s only true mountain forest, with great views, challenging trails and adventure play areas for the kids.

Walk with an alpaca

Alpacas are gorgeous creatures, and Alpacaly Ever After offers guided private alpaca walks around the beautiful grounds of the Lingholm Estate. You can even take them for a paddle in Derwentwater!

Sample Cumbrian delicacies

Don’t just view the county, taste it. Cumberland Sausage is a famous national dish but local butchers all have their own versions. Grasmere Gingerbread is a delicious cross between cake and a biscuit. Cumberland Rum Nicky is a dessert of shortcrust pastry, dates, brown sugar and rum. And the list goes on…

Laurel & Hardy Museum

You won’t find this anywhere else in the world so you have to make time for a visit. The museum devoted to famous comedy duo Laurel and Hardy is in Ulverston, where Stan Laurel was born in 1890. There is an amazing collection of memorabilia about Stan and Ollie.

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Image credits: ©Benjamin Hugget/Unsplash; Dan Holbrook/Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway; Discover Carlisle; Graham Prentice/; Hadrian's Wall Country/Andrew Heptinstall

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