THE LARGEST survey ever conducted into the UK’s hiking habits was recently carried out by ITV. More than 8,000 walking enthusiasts voted for the top 100 of Britain’s Favourite Walks.
That five of the top ten walks were located in the Lake District tells its own story. Names such as top of the list Helvellyn, Cat Bells (fourth), Scafell Pike (fifth), Buttermere (seventh) and Old Man of Coniston (eighth), have for years been massively popular with those who like nothing more than pulling on a pair of boots and exploring the stunning diversity offered by the British countryside.
Some of said walks are not for the novice, while others are more family friendly but what they share in common is their popularity.
There is no getting away from the fact that if a little peace and quiet is the aim, then it would probably be best to search out an alternative. The joy of the Lake District is that there are hundreds of different walks to suit all ages and levels of experience – from soaring peaks to gentle strolls.
Ambleside is located in the very heart of the Lakes, nestled on the northern shore of Windermere. It is a perfect base for exploring the wonderful natural beauty of this corner of Britain, which while far from a secret, has never lost its charm.
While the town itself is busy, particularly in high season, its not hard to escape the crowds, with many different walking options on the doorstep.
Even a short walk offers great variety. A three mile round walk from Ambleside to High Sweden Bridge (a charming little bridge spanning a brook which was used by packhorses, but which is nothing like as grand as it sounds) offers rolling farmland, a wooded ravine and dry stone walls.
Another option is a slightly longer, at 4.5 miles, stroll from Ambleside to Rydal via the Big Cave. It takes in the beauty of Rydal Lake, said cave which was a by-product from slate quarrying, and also the house of Rydal Mount, which was home to the poet William Wordsworth, and the place where he died in 1850.
Or for a fine view of Windermere take the easy three mile walk through Skelghyll Wood to Jenkins Crag. Victorian visitors were enchanted by the vantage point of the lake from the crag, and it remains every bit as special to this day.
Autumn is an excellent time to visit the Lake District. Crisp autumn sunshine can produce ideal walking days.
Visit www.lakedistrict.gov.uk for further information on walking in the Lake District.
The Waterhead Hotel in Ambleside provides an ideal base for walkers, or anyone else looking to explore this exceptional region.
The four star boutique hotel, run by the English Lakes group, offers great British hospitality in a great British setting, and it does so with great style.
Nothing has been left to chance at this hotel overlooking Windermere. Attention to detail means guests can be rest assured a stay to remember.
Rooms at The Waterhead are wonderfully comfortable, with huge beds and contemporary bathrooms, complete with all mod cons.
Guests who do not eat at The Waterhead will be doing themselves a disservice. The cosy restaurant is nothing short of superb, and has established an enviable culinary reputation for good reason.
It serves a contemporary British menu with an inventive twist, from blue cheese pannacotta to smoked mackerel & chive pate starters; blade of a beef and braised Cumbrian lamb shank, both melt-in-the-mouth, for mains; to orange marmalade cheesecake and panettone bread & butter pudding for dessert. There’s also a fantastic cheese board of epic proportions offered with a white port.
The wine list is well-chosen and reassuring unpretentious, and for those who think gin is simply gin, then they need to check the speciality gin menu on offer.
And then prepare for breakfast – a range of cooked options, from the Waterhead Grill to smoked haddock, and an extensive buffet.
Guests can also take advantage of the leisure and beauty facilities just a couple of minutes drive away at The Waterhead’s sister Low Wood Bay resort.
It is not hard to understand the allure of the Lake District, and the reason people return again and again. The same can be said for The Waterhead.
Visit englishlakes.co.uk to book and for further details.