The Lake District, England’s largest and most popular national park, vividly displays this time of year with carpets of bright and vibrant leaves and the towns’ local festivities. Historically renowned for being a peaceful getaway and source of inspiration for literature’s favourite romantic poets, Cumbria’s ‘Lakeland’ consists mostly of 16 lakes and waters, around a dozen quaint towns and villages and plenty of woodland area. Having once been a home to the Viking settlers, it still retains its Nordic influence around the park and local dialect: the hills and mountains are named ‘fells’, derived from the Old Norse fjallr; the place names of clearings are ‘thwaites’; and ‘keld‘ originates from the Scandinavian word for a spring, many of which are commonly found around the picturesque valleys.
In the mid-19th century, the invention of steam engines enabled the Kendal and Windermere Railway to attract many tourists and industrialists, until it was replaced by more accessible steamboats that travelled across the waters. Nowadays visitors have the choice between travelling around the park via the local train service and enjoying the stunning views of the lakes on a steamboat cruise.
Windermere, the longest lake in the country, is a central destination for outdoor water activities including fishing, boating and swimming. It is considered to be the heart of the Lake District. Surrounded by the pleasant villages of Ambleside, Windermere, Lakeside and Bowness-on-Windermere, it is an ideal place to spend the day. The town of Windermere offers plenty of cosy bed and breakfasts, pubs and cafes. Windermere can be appreciated through country walks along its circumference; the crisp autumn dawn may mould a magical mist over the surface of the water and on a clear evening its succulent sunset illuminates across the sky and horizon – a dream for landscape photographers.
For the hikers who seek a challenge, Cumbria boasts Scafell Pike, the highest point in England (an elevation of 978 metres above sea level) where 360 degrees of breathtaking views may be admired on a fair day. An extensive range of the UK landscape can be seen: including the Isle of Man across the Irish Sea, the tip of Wales’s Mount Snowdon, the mysterious Morne Mountains of Northern Ireland and the southern parts of Scotland.
Sticking close to the rivers and lakes of the district, a collection of vibrant waterfalls may be discovered. Aira Force, a particular beauty located near Ullswater, flows through the woodland of Gowbarrow Park and can be observed on two stony arched bridges. The world-famous poet Wordsworth is known to regularly visit the waterfall, he has passionately written about it in his favoured works.
November holds many local festivities for residents and visitors alike. Penrith, a market town serving as a northern gateway to The Lakes and famous for the medieval Penrith Castle ruins, hosts the Winter Droving ritual. This gathering features local games, Cumbrian food and drink specialties, fun street entertainment and the ever-popular mystical masquerade, fuelled by fire, music and agricultural exhibitions.
Outdoor enthusiasts, digital artists, writers and academics arrive from many destinations to attend the international Kendal Mountain Festival held during the third week of every November. Famous for its varied activities, the festival hosts a collection of art exhibitions, film premieres, environmental documentaries, literature programmes, photography and film competitions depicting the beauty and love for the wild and mountainous terrains of the planet. It offers the perfect opportunity for aspiring artists to showcase their work from all creative spheres.
For those with a taste for history, the Dickensian Christmas Festival in Ulverston is a spectacle to behold. Towards the end of every November the townsfolk clad themselves in traditional Victorian attire and ride around in horse carriages parade through the cobbled streets. There is much to do during these days, from browsing through the unique specialist shops, entering competitions and experiencing the festive season’s delicious food market to enjoying the exhilarating experience of a traditional fairground ride.
What other famous locations in the world would be appreciated this season?