At more than 900 square miles, The Lake District National Park is enormous. You could easily spend a year on holiday here and still not discover all its amazing treasures. Here are a few to whet your appetite and help you plan your holiday.
Grasmere is not as much chocolate-box pretty as it is a gingerbread house. A visit to the village is not complete without stopping at Sarah Nelson's historic shop in Church Cottage, which has been serving tourists and locals Grasmere Gingerbread since 1854. Invented by Sarah, Grasmere Gingerbread can best be described as a ginger brownie biscuit - it's soft and sticky and utterly scrumptious. The shop is next to St Oswald's church and is tiny - it was Sarah's home, and she is buried in the churchyard next door. If you have a sweet tooth, you should also stop by the Chocolate Cottage on Stock Lane to pick up some luxurious Lakeland chocolates.
Another of Grasmere's famous residents is William Wordsworth, also buried in St Oswald's churchyard. His home, Dove Cottage, where he wrote poems like Daffodils, is now a museum devoted to his life and works. Grasmere is a small village, and it can get very crowded on a sunny spring or summer weekend, but it should certainly be on your itinerary.
Too many people only know Ambleside as the place where you get a ferry to Bowness or Lakeside, but this town has a Victorian beauty worth stopping to appreciate. Thanks to the ferry terminal, Ambleside is good for parking with five Pay and Display car parks. Your waistline won't care about the vast choice of cafes and bakeries because you can walk those calories off with a stroll to Stock Ghyll waterfall. It's best seen after the rain but is beautiful anytime.
Ambleside is one of the Lake District's bigger towns so don't be disappointed to find familiar high street names and obviously touristy shops. It's still pretty.
Buttermere is the sort of place that makes you wonder whether it's possible to quit your job and take up the simple life. Where some of the Lake District is raw and rugged, Buttermere is as soft as its name implies, with lush dairy pastures nestling beside a beautiful lake and framed by hills and fells. It is renowned for the quality of its footpaths which, given that it has the rest of the Lake District to compete with, is saying something!
Fans of Alfred Wainright's Lake District walking guides may recognise some of the paths as those he featured in his books, particularly those around Crummock Water and Loweswater.
Coniston, Ullswater and Derwentwater
After a few days in the Lake District, you'll reach the realisation that the postcards and tourist websites weren't lying and it truly is that beautiful. Coniston and Ullswater are two lakes which underline the reason why the National Park is one of Britain's best natural resources. Another pretty special lake to visit is Derwentwater. Whether you want a big walk (some guidebooks report it as eight miles, but we find it's more like ten miles around the lake) or just to admire the view and skim a few stones, it's a magical place found just south of Keswick.
Like Grasmere, Hawkshead is almost too small for its fame. Little seems to have changed about Hawkshead since Beatrix Potter fell in love with it. Despite its popularity with tourists, it is always pleasant to visit as it is car free. The twisty cobbled lanes are lined with houses and interesting shops several hundred years old. (Note to tall people: watch your head on beams as you walk through doors!). Stop by William Wordsworth's old school, as well as at the Beatrix Potter Gallery for souvenirs.
The Lake District's often inclement weather is part of its appeal but there is nothing appealing about being wet and cold, so stop by the Hawkshead flagship store on the High Street for quality outdoor clothing to keep you warm and dry during your holiday.