1. Drive over Hardknott Pass
This is a stunning route that takes you over the hills between Eskdale and the Duddon Valley. It’s not for the faint-hearted driver, but if you like a good view and a great escape this is the way to go.
2. Walk up Gummer’s How, near Windermere
Christine Knipe, chief executive of the Westmorland County Agricultural Society said: “This is somewhere I’ve known from childhood but it took me a long time to get round to walking up it. The walk itself is fairly straight forward but it is well worthwhile – the views are brilliant.”
3. Experience Appleby Horse Fair
Watch as hundreds of people file into Appleby in wagons, trailors and on horseback, for their annual pilgrimage to this lively Cumbrian town. This is a vibrant and eclectic spectacle, taking place in June.
4. Head into the woodlands in May and see the bluebells
Nick Owen, leader of Ambleside and Langdale Mountain Rescue Team: “All the deciduous woodland fills with bluebells in spring. It is awesome. The flowers fill the woods around Langdale and also Wansfell, in Ambleside.”
5. Visit St Oswold’s Church, the burial place of William and Dorothy Wordsworth
This tranquil and quaint stone Grasmere church has a really peaceful atmosphere, and is dotted with flowers throughout the year. It is a beautiful place to visit and a real Lake District beauty spot.
6. Watch the herons fly in at Muncaster Castle
This Ravenglass spectacle will make your jaw drop. At 4pm each working day, the castle keepers feed the wild herons, which fly in to the grounds in droves from across the surrounding countryside. The castle also has one of the best owl sanctuaries in the world.
7. Check out Cumbria’s Viking heritage and the tallest cross in Europe
Greg Stephenson, of Cumbria Tourism, said: “Gosforth has a 14 foot high cross that most people haven’t even heard of – but it’s a brilliant historic site right here in Cumbria. The British Museum has an exact replica but we’ve got the real one, in the church yard at Gosforth.”
8. Glide over the Lake District
Greg Stephenson, of Cumbria Tourism, said: “You can get a bird’s eye view of the Lakes from a glider, with Eden Soaring.”
9. See the sunset from Loughrigg, in Ambleside
Nick Owen, leader of Ambleside and Langdale Mountain Rescue Team said: “We did this a couple of years ago and it was just beautiful. Just be careful on your way down the fell. We don’t want to be called out to rescue you!”
10. Go open water swimming
Jeanette Edgar, of the Lakeland Arts Trust, said: “Aim for Rydal, with its pebbly beaches and islands. It is clean, fresh and changes your view point on the scenery.”
11. Compete in Ambleside Sports
This traditional sports day includes Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, centred at Rydal Park, half a mile north of Ambleside. Have a go yourself!
12. Visit Orton Farmers’ Market
Christine Knipe, chief executive of the Westmorland County Agricultural Society said: “The atmosphere among the traders is second to none. The village itself is a destination and without a doubt this market is very special.”
13. Try your hand at Haaf Netting on the Solway
Greg Stephenson, of Cumbria Tourism, said: “This is a thousand-year-old form of Viking fishing and the best place in England is in Cumbria. You can tap into Cumbria’s Viking heritage – a great place to try it is The Highland Laddie Inn, near Wigton.”
14. Climb Scafell Pike
It’s the big one. Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England. Wear proper shoes, take the right maps and prepare for the view of a lifetime.
15. Ride on the Ravenglass to Eskdale Railway
Journey across the estuary, through the hills, past seven request stops with a 1:55 gradient at times, en route to our final destination some seven miles up the line to Dalegarth for Boot Station. The journey itself was one of Wainwright’s favourites.
16. Watch the Ospreys at Bassenthwaite
Greg Stephenson, of Cumbria Tourism, said: “You can marvel at nature’s wonder, and this is a perfect setting. Ospreys are rare but you can catch a glimpse of them here.”
17. Sit outside in the stunning Elterwater landscape and enjoy a beer
Nick Owen, leader of Ambleside and Langdale Mountain Rescue Team: “The Britannia’s quiz evenings on a Sunday are almost legendary now, and you can sit outside with a drink. That is definitely a tip.”
18. Go to Ulverston’s Lantern Festival
Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said: “The Lantern Festival, held on a Saturday evening in September, sees a river of lanterns wind its way along the cobbled streets.
19. Hold a baby lamb
Christine Knipe, chief executive of the Westmorland County Agricultural Society said: “It is important to get close to the sheep in Cumbria because they are so important in the Lake District. They shape the countryside and it is a really special thing to hold an animal that will one day be food.”
20. Walk with llamas
You can try llama handling and trekking at Penrith. The Llama Karma Kafe organises these walks with a difference – this is a quirky experience not to be missed.
21. Do the Morecambe Cross Bay Walk
Stretch your legs right across the Morecambe Bay, with help from the guides to navigate the tides and the quick sands. The routes are between around nine and 13 miles. Bring your sun hat and your camera.
22. Go to Walney Island Bird Reserve, during nesting season
With stunning views across Morecambe bay, this shingle island reserve is a fantastic place for bird watching. Every spring, large numbers of lesser black backed and herring gulls still return. There are also eider ducks, greater black backed gulls, shelducks, oystercatchers, mallards, moorhens and coots.
23. Go to the Dickensian Festival
Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said: “On the last weekend in November the popular Dickensian Festival sees the likes of Miss Havisham, Ebenezer Scrooge and David Copperfield eating roasted chestnuts and sipping mulled wine.”
24. See the sun set from Orrest Head
Looking down on Windermere is the mini-peak of Orrest Head, with the vantage point that once inspired the great writer and walking enthusiast Alfred Wainwright. It looks great at sundown, when all the boats are sailing across Windermere.
25. Cruise out on the Ullswater Steamers
Ullswater 'Steamers' is an award winning attraction allowing you to step out on one of their historic fleet and cruise across Lake Ullswater, just as the boats did more than 100 years ago. This is ideal for a sunny day with the family.
26. Visit Ruskin’s house
Brantwood Country House, on the edge of Coniston, has been kept just as the late writer, artist and social commentator John Ruskin had intended. You can see how this influential thinker lived, wander through his beautiful gardens and take in a view of the Coniston fells across the water.
27. Do a tree-top trek
Challenge your nerve as you swing, balance and climb your way through an ancient treetop canopy, at Brockhole, near Windermere.
28. Find the fell ponies
Fell ponies are mountain and moorland ponies that originated in Cumbria. These hardly, dark-coloured breed once carried supplies of lead, slate, copper and iron ore. They have roamed the northern fells for years, wild and free. Find them in Eden.
29. See the licking stones at Carlisle Castle
The story goes that manacled prisoners were kept in such terrible conditions that they were forced to lick the damp dungeon walls to survive their incarceration at Carlisle Castle. You can see where the stones have been worn away. Creepy.
30. Look up, in Carlisle Cathedral
The blue and gold ceiling at Carlisle Cathedral is stunning. Its decorative patterns date from Ewan Christian’s restoration of the Cathedral 1853. The detailed design and colour with its angles and stars were the work of Owen Jones, who was one of the great artists of the day. Breathtaking.
31. Do the Cumbria Way
Put your best foot forward for this one. The Cumbria Way is a 112km route through classic Lakeland terrain, including Coniston, Langdale, Borrowdale, Derwent Water, Skiddaw Forest and Caldbeck.
32. Go to Damson Day
You will never see as many damson related foods and crafts as at this quirky and popular family fair in the heart of the Lyth Valley. It’s a great day out, with animal classes, food stalls, gifts and crafts, all set in the beautiful countryside.
33. Go to a Cumbrian beer festival
We thoroughly recommend the Boot Beer Festival, in June, which takes place at the Brook House Inn, The Boot Inn, and The Woolpack Inn, at Eskdale. With more than 100 beers to try, along with barbecues and games, this is a great way to spend a sunny weekend.
34. Experience Kendal Calling
This music festival is now one of Cumbria’s largest annual events. Scores of bands head to Lowther Deer Park to amuse an audience of thousands every summer. It’s an upbeat three-day weekend of festivity and escapism in the fresh country air.
35. Try out the Michelin star restaurant L’Enclume
L’Enclume is Cumbria’s Michelin-star riverside location in the historic village of Cartmel, owned by Simon Rogan. Once there, you can sample some of the very best cuisine the English Lake District has to offer.
36. Experience the Westmorland County Agricultural Show
This event has more sheep than you can shake a stick at and more cows than you will know how to handle. The Westmorland County Agricultural Show is one of the greatest open days Cumbria has – and well worth a visit. There are tonnes of food and drink on offer, as well as crafts and games.
37. Try Grasmere Gingerbread, Kendal Mint Cake and Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding
This is a county known for its love of food. You should try all the famous tastes. Here’s three to get you going.
38. Enjoy Staveley Carnival
Experience our own little Notting Hill-style Carnival, weaving through the streets. The costumes are amazing. Check out the three-day event, including the floats and a themed procession.
39. Go to a proper Cumbrian folk night
We highly recommend a Thursday evening at The Rifleman’s Arms in Kendal, which comes alive with folk singers and musicians. This traditional English pub packs out for the occasion, and is one of the merriest evenings on in the county.
40. Spot red deer at Ullswater
Red deer roam around the edges of Ullswater. You can sometimes spot them from a river cruise or a woodland walk, if the time is right.
41. Go to Egremont Crab Fair
This has got to be one of the weirdest fairs in the world, with the World Gurning Championships where competitors must pull the ugliest face to win. There are also fell races, street races and children’s races as well as rare breed and dog shows.
42. Find your own place in the fells
Alex Brodie, owner of Hawkshead Brewery said: “Throw away the car keys and get walking. And don’t believe people who tell you the Lake District is busy, as soon as you start walking up the fells you have huge amounts of countryside to wander.”
43. Go to the All-England Stone Skimming Championship at Ambleside
See the world’s best skimmers take on Windermere this August 17, at Fell Foot Park. It’s a simple challenge, but to master it you’ve got to have the technique. The world record is 51 skips.
44. Go Ghyll Scrambling in the Upper Esk
Kendal mountain guide Phil Latham said: “This is quite a remote spot and it has a massive jump – so it’s perfect for thrill-seekers.”
45. See work by Lucian Freud and David Hockney at Abbot Hall Art Gallery
This Kendal-based gallery has had some of the best exhibitions in the country and has a very varied permanent collection, particularly of twentieth century art.
46. Head to Mintfest weekend in Kendal to check out the performers
You can watch dancers, musicians, artists and acrobats dazzling people on festival weekend, coming up on August 30. A lot of the performances are free and it fills up Kendal for the weekend.
47. Become a Lakeland artist for the day.
The Lake District is a bit of a hub for artists, and you can join them. Pick up some Derwent pencils, made in Keswick, and head out into the hills to draw a Wainwright-inspired view. You could also wander into the National Park to create your own Beatrix Potter landscapes.
48. Get a bird's eye view of life
Take an early morning hot air balloon ride over the Eden Valley for amazing views of the Cumbrian landscape.
49. Hop aboard a historic Lakeland boat
Try traditional boat sailing on Ullswater. You can explore the bays, islands and dramatic scenery at the south end of the lake, by hiring a boat with or without a guide from the Sailing Centre in Glenridding on Ullswater.
50. Go alfresco swimming
Take a dip in Askham’s outdoor heated swimming pool. Our Askam reader told us that memories are made here forever.