Britain's historic Lake District has been home to some of the UK's most significant artistic and literary giants for centuries. Beatrix Potter, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Robert Southey, William Wordsworth, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge have all written here, and many of their homes are still standing and open to the general public. You can take in all the history and natural beauty of the Lake District for yourself during your trip there, but it helps to plan ahead.
The mountains and hills of the Lake District are home to a stunning population of natural wildlife, including some surprisingly friendly mountain goats. Visitors to Cumbria can take an all-day walking tour of the most densely populated hillsides. This is ostensibly to visit the goats, but the real treasure is the amazing scenery and lifetime's worth of memories you bring back when it's over.
The Lake District is surprisingly full of lakes, and some of them are gorgeous. Local companies rent boats out for full- and half-day boat tours of some of the more scenic ones. Tours may be of a single lake, though the more ambitious providers squeeze in the region's ten most beautiful, iconic, and historic lakes.
Beatrix Potter wrote some of the best stories you half-remember from childhood in a gorgeous stone house in the Lake District. Here, in a sprawling ivy-covered country house, Ms. Potter's effects and work spaces are preserved with meticulous care and on display for visiting fans, many of whom are now the great-grandchildren of Potter's first fans.
Visiting musty old studies and famous authors' gargantuan mansions is nice, but the Lake District is also a good place to get muddy and cold. Scrambling water adventures takes you through the woods, over the mossy stones, and right through the babbling brooks that cover the Lake District far and wide. Find a tour that promises adventure, don your (required) helmet and safety gear, and take off for around two hours of muddy fun on foot through beautiful wild acreage.
Lake Windemere is the largest natural lake in all of England, and as a result, it's one of the few freshwater spots where a sailboat has a good enough breeze to work. Multiple tour companies operate here, and they're available for everything from a 2-hour tour of the lakeshore to an all-day trip across the lake for tea and crumpets at a little shop on the opposite shore.
Once upon a time, the lady who wrote Frankenstein, the lady who wrote Wuthering Heights, and the author of Jane Eyre were all friends (two of them sisters), and they used to hang out with the guys who wrote Don Juan and the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. You can see where those hangouts happened on the combined Brontes, Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre tour, which hits all the homes and favorite writing spots of the Bronte sisters and their friends.
The Lake District is mountainous and has some pretty rough terrain. Part and parcel with this scenic beauty are some pretty heart-stopping gorges and lovely tumbling waterfalls. Take a gorge walking tour to see some of the best ones that a tour company's insurance carrier will let you visit, and remember to bring your camera for some spectacular photo ops.
England has always had impressive country houses belonging to the nobility and near-nobility. Levens Hall is one of the oldest ones still standing, and today it operates as a living history museum of the Elizabethan Era. Visit the hall for a nominal fee, and you can see how people of the late 16th century lived and worked and even get a glimpse at their surprisingly sophisticated clocks and other gadgets. Levens Hall is also home to the world's largest and oldest topiary gardens and possibly the last gift shop on earth that still takes travelers' checks.
Sizergh Castle is part of the National Trust and assiduously maintained as a part of the Lake District's rich cultural heritage. Begun as a primitive fortification against the rampaging Scots during the Plantagenet Era, Sizergh Castle gradually morphed into a fortified country house and center of the local economy during the Renaissance. Today it's a tourist attraction with plenty of old furniture, educational displays, and pleasantly landscaped grounds open to the public.
During the Middle Ages, only the local nobility was allowed to hunt in Cumbria, which they often did with trained birds of prey. The old lords and ladies are mostly gone now, but the birds remain. Today, expert falconers can spend an hour teaching visitors about these magnificent animals, their habitats, and even how birds of prey are still used professionally to keep pigeons off airport runways. Local guides safely introduce you to their owls, kestrels, and falcons.