Visit County Cumbria’s Lake District, England, one of three ways: on a budget, spending a bit more, or when the getaway calls for a splurge.
Trip tips: World renowned for its stunning landscapes, England’s largest national park (885 square miles) offers a backdrop of rugged mountains and picturesque villages with fine restaurants and cozy pubs. Full- or half-day minibus tours visit key beauty spots and attractions (www.lakedistrict.gov.uk) as does the local bus service (www.golakes.co.uk). When dialing direct, use the prefix 011 followed by 44 (country code) + phone number shown below. At press time, 1 pound = $1.56.
Getting there: Typical journey times by train to Penrith (center of Cumbria County) from London are about 3.5 hours; about two hours from Manchester. Round-trip rates are $1,069 for Oct. 27-Dec. 15 or Jan. 9-March 27, 2014, departures. Add $35 per round-trip for departures now through Oct. 26 or Dec. 13-18. Nonstop to London on British Airways or Delta; Delta nonstop to Manchester; via London on BA.
Stay: The three guest rooms at the Lookout are stylish, contemporary and spacious with views of Latrigg Fell; from 95 pounds. The guest house has a lounge, a balcony to watch the sunset and a garden for birdwatching. Town center is about a 15-minute walk along an old railway footpath. Chestnut Hill. 07786-547-459, www.thelookoutkeswick.co.uk.
Eat: The Pheasant Inn, on the outskirts of Keswick, is a traditional pub serving a range of mains (Beef & Ale Pie to Mediterranean Risotto) with a traditional twist (10 pounds and 15 pounds), and the best Real Ales. Bassenthwaite Lake. 017687-76234, www.the-pheasant.co.uk.
Experience: Levens Hall & Gardens is an Elizabethan mansion and a surreal topiary gardens designed in 1694; 8.50 pounds Gardens only; House and Gardens 12.50 pounds. 015395-60321, www.levenshall.co.uk. The cosmopolitan city of Carlisle (about a 45-minute drive from Keswick) is the gateway to Hadrian’s Wall Country (wall construction began in A.D. 122). Start at Carlisle Cathedral (circa 1122) and its famous 14th-century stained glass. The city’s life and times are displayed at the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery. There are 20 places to visit along Hadrian’s Wall. For an overview, visit Birdoswald (by way of the pretty town of Brampton and its octagonal Moot Hall, built in 1817), the best preserved of the 16 major forts and garrisons — once home to Roman soldiers 2,000 years ago. Birdoswald sits high above River Irthing with one of the most picturesque settings. The Visitor Center displays unique artifacts, including a model of the Wall at its full height; 5.40 pounds. Gilsland. 0870-333-1181, www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/hadrianswall.
Stay: Oak Bank Hotel is an ideal base from which to explore the surrounding lakes, fells and tarns. The hotel offers 14 uniquely decorated guest rooms, two lounges with comfy seating and breakfast; 72 pounds-96 pounds. Broadgate, Grasmere. 015394-35217, www.lakedistricthotel.co.uk.
Eat: The Jumble Room is a small and quirky spot with an equally unique menu. Sofa seating with loose pillows adds to the fun atmosphere. Entrees 14 pounds-25 pounds. Langdale Road, Grasmere. 015394-35188, www.thejumbleroom.co.uk.
Experience: Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum, the 1799-1808 home of William Wordsworth, features an award-winning museum and one of the greatest collections of manuscripts, books and paintings relating to British Romanticism; 7.50 pounds. Grasmere. 015394-35544, www.wordsworth.org.uk. Alcock Tarn (a small mountain lake), with lovely views, is easy to reach from Dove Cottage. Other easy walks surround Grasmere: Rydal Water, and around Easedale Tarn, in the moor-covered hills above the village. Enjoy a boat ride on England’s largest lake on a steamer boat. A “Freedom of the Lake” ticket gets you around the lake from any pier (valid through Nov. 3). Tickets permit unlimited travel for a 24-hour period; 18 pounds. 015394-43360, www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk.
Stay: Cragwood Country House Hotel & Restaurant is a stone and slate house set atop a hillside with stunning views of Lake Windermere. The house is surrounded by a 20-acre estate of landscaped gardens and woodland. This hidden treasure has only four guest rooms, so book early; 75 pounds per person, per night. Add 35 pounds per person to include a four-course dinner. Eccelrigg, Windermere. 015394-88177, www.lakedistrictcountryhotels.co.uk/cragwood-hotel.
Eat: The seafood served at Hooked is locally supplied and prepared with flavors from the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia and Australia. The menu changes daily depending on the fresh catch. Entrees 12 pounds-19 pounds. Ellerthwaite Square, Windermere. 015394-48443, www.hookedwindermere.co.uk.
Experience: Between a driving tour of the Lake District and stops along the many walking trails, hop aboard the Steam Yacht Gondola — once enjoyed by wealthy Victorians. Through Nov. 1, a 105-minute tour steam-powers on Coniston Water, Cumbria’s third largest lake; 20.50 pounds. Coniston Pier. 01539-432733, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gondola. The yacht calls at Brantwood (visit the home of the eminent Victorian John Ruskin) and Monk Coniston at the north of the lake. A recommended “moderate” 5-mile, figure-eight trail (allow 2.5 hours) begins at the entrance to Monk Coniston Hall grounds through a woodland to Tarn Hows (a man-made landscape). Learn more about the best 150 walks in the Lake District and Cumbrian Pennines at Where2Walk, http://where2walk.co.uk/category/lake_district.
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Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.