In many ways, Cumbria needs no introduction. Here is one of the most beautiful corners of Britain, a place of wild contours and spectacular views where Lake District National Park bursts forth as a wonderland of water - that great glacial ribbon lake Windermere, stretching out for 11 miles; serene Derwentwater; the timeless calm of Coniston Water.
It is a region where grand mountains shape the horizon - Scafell Pike, at 3209ft (978m), stands proud as the tallest peak in England. It is a county blessed with 150 miles of coast along the Irish Sea. It is an area written into the past via one of Ancient Rome's finest relics, Hadrian’s Wall. It is a realm ideal for days of exploration, where you can sail and swim, cycle and climb, kayak and canoe - or simply admire the scenery.
So much is already documented. This is the Cumbria that people of all ages know and love. But Cumbria's appeal goes far beyond valleys and vistas. Take a closer look and you will glimpse a wealth of life, art, food and fun - all of which define the Cumbria experience.
Food, for example, is something of a speciality. Visitors can eat exceedingly well in Cumbria, whether they are picking up organic cheeses, zingy marmalades and artisan chocolates at Low Sizergh Barn in Kendal, or enjoying freshcaught fish at Zest - a seafood eatery that gazes at the waves in the pretty port of Whitehaven. Or they may be sitting down for a seven-course feast at Holbeck Ghyll, the much-celebrated Windermere restaurant that has been able to boast a Michelin star for the last 13 years. It also provides accommodation.
Holidaymakers can sleep soundly in every part of Cumbria, in hotels to suit all budgets. The Drunken Duck, for example, set high above Ambleside, offers dramatic views of the Lake District fells and is a deservedly popular hideaway, with its log fires and flavoursome ales.
There is culture too - the Cumbrian calendar is packed with festivals and extravaganzas, covering everything from music and theatre to things that make you laugh. The Freerange Comedy Festival, held in Kendal in May, features appearances from first-rate comics. And if you head for Carlisle, you can retreat into the 12th century at the city’s cathedral, or gaze at a splendid line-up of watercolours and other paintings at the Tullie House gallery.
All of this is hugely accessible. Cumbria is only 2.5 hours, by road or rail, from a third of the UK's population. There are direct trains from London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds Bradford and Newcastle Airports are also nearby.
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