The UK's most popular national park...
The Lake District was established in 1951 and is the largest of the UK’s National Parks. The spectacular scenery, coupled with easy access from centres of population such as Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Liverpool have made it a very popular destination.
Tourism in the Lakes is not a new phenomenon – the area began to be visited by travellers in the late 18th century. Tourism became much more popular in Victorian times with the building of the railways, and towns such as Windermere became established around railway stations.
The Lake District has strong connections with English Literature in the 18th and 19th centuries. Thomas Gray wrote about the area in a journal of his “Grand Tour” of 1769, but the best-known connection is with William Wordsworth. Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey became known as the Lakes Poets – Wordsworth lived for a total of around 60 years in the Lake District, in Hawkshead, Rydal and Grasmere. Coleridge and Southey have connections with Keswick. Many other literary figures of the period either lived for a time in the area or made frequent visits, for example Shelley and de Quincy.
Later, the well-known writer of children’s books, Beatrix Potter lived at Hill Top at Sawrey, to the West of Windermere, and Arthur Ransome lived in the area and set some of his famous “Swallows and Amazons” books in fictional locations based on the Lakes.
Today the Lakes is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Britain, and some parts of the area can become busy with people on summer weekends. However, there are still quiet areas to be found for visitors who prefer to get away from the crowds. Quaysiders in Ambleside is perfectly placed as a base to explore the Lakes. Being situated on the shores of Lake Windermere, the scenery is superb and there are many walks and much of interest to see within walking distance. It is also possible to explore the area by taking a boat – cruises to Bowness and Lakeside are available only yards from your door.
Hawkshead and Coniston are 2 nearby villages which can be reached by a short drive. Near Hawkshead is Hill Top, the former home of Beatrix Potter and now owned by the National Trust. Coniston is situated at the head of another beautiful lake, Coniston Water, and this was the scene of the tragic death of Donald Campbell in his boat Bluebird, in 1967, while attempting to break the water speed record. His body and the remains of Bluebird were recovered from the lake in 2001. Coniston was also the home of John Ruskin, who lived at Brantwood on the East shore of the lake, from 1872 until his death in 1900.
Also close to the accommodation at Quaysiders is the village of Grasmere, which also takes its name from the nearby lake. Grasmere Lake is a smaller body of water, but no less beautiful, and the village nestles at the base of Helvellyn and Fairfield, with the smaller fell of Helm Crag directly above. Helm Crag is better known as “The Lion and the Lamb” due to the distinctive rocky outcrops seen from the village. Strangely enough, there are 2 groups of rocks at its summit, both resembling a Lion and a Lamb when seen from different locations. Grasmere of course, is known as the home of William Wordsworth and his former home, Dove Cottage can be visited. Directly opposite is the Wordsworth museum, dedicated to Wordsworth and the Romantic period.
Just over the Kirkstone Pass from Quaysiders is Ullswater, with the villages of Patterdale and Glenridding at the head of the Lake. Ullswater again offers cruises on the Lake, and a popular excursion is to take a boat to Howtown and walk back along the Eastern shore. This walk offers superb views of the lake and fells, and will take the average walker about 3-5 hours. A little further down the Western shore of the lake is Aira Force, a waterfall of about 20 metres in height with a stone footbridge spanning its top and providing a spectacular view.