This is the country of William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter, and Arthur Ransome, of steep-sided valleys and long deep lakes, long walks and steep climbs. The Lake District National Park occupies about 2/3rds of the area and is riddled with hiking paths and climbs for all ages and offers access to some of the best scenery in England, and also proximity to some of its rarest wildlife.
To the east of Cumbria are many delightful cottages in Northumberland and Durham and to the south is some lovely self catering accommodation in North Yorkshire with its wild scenery but to experience some of the most magnificent scenery in England The Lake District is difficult to beat. Many Lancashire holiday cottages are close to the border with the Lake District where the Cumbrian/Lancashire border becomes blurred.
This used to be frontier country with marauding Scots hell-bent on a bit of pillage appearing at dawn and carrying off the local damsels, not that the locals didn't do the same in return, so the landscape is peppered with small castles and fortified farms, many of which offer accommodation. There are also signs of earlier occupation with pre-historic remains in the shape of stone circles and burial cairns, and, not to be outdone the Romans also left their mark on the landscape, not least with Hadrian's Wall stretching from coast to coast. Not all of it still exists, but what does shows the endeavour of the Legions and their endeavour to keep the 'Northern Hoard' from invading their territory. If you rent a cottage in Cumbria you will experience the holiday of a lifetime.
The main tourist destination is Windermere, a cross between a seaside resort and a health-spa without reaching either the highs or lows of each. Much favoured by the Victorians there are a multitude of villas along the shores of the lake, and vintage steam-launches will chug you elegantly from one end to the other in smoke-stacked style.
Water is a main feature of this area, as is denoted by its name, with many World speed records set on Coniston Water, and wind-surfing, water-skiing, sailing, and other sports being popular in this region with something forall abilities on offer wherever you turn. The sailing is exceptionally good as is recorded by Arthur Ransome in his'Swallows and Amazons' books and has been a draw for generations of prospective pirates!
So on to Wordsworth. Born in Cockermouth, educated in Hawkshead (where he carved his name in his school desk), Wrote some of his best known works at Dove Cottage in Grassmere, and spent the last years of his life in Rydal, where he is buried. He has to share Hawkshead with Beatrix Potter who wrote several of her books whilst living in Hill Top Farm just outside the village and many of the old buildings can be seen in her original drawings. Now, if your brain has taken too much literature for one day you can relax in one of the local pubs, serving local ales, and pretty good food.
The lakes here are suffixed by either 'Mere'or 'Water', and so we come to Coniston Water the place of water speed records. Both Sir Malcolm campbell and his son Donald set World records here, but it Brantwood that people come to see these days. The home of the Victorian art critic John Ruskin and set in 250 acres of gardens, this is a jewel and there is a ferry-boat service from Coniston to take you to and from the estate. Most noted for his ascerbic tongue and his peculiar sex-life it is little known that he spent 20 years working on the house and gardens here.
There are reminders of technology in the region, from a museum dedicated to Thomas Bessamer to the Sellafield Nuclear Power Station visitor centre, and alongside these there are a multitude of things to do in the area, most of which you are more than likely to trip over rather than be directed to. Enjoy the local markets, farm produce and clothing, and especially the people.
In the centre of the National Park is the town of Keswick, a haven for walkers, hikers, and climbers, and with a must see attraction. The Pencil Museum. The town was the world hub of grafite production and the first pencils were produced here, and so on such insignificant claims to fame are riches made.