The English Lake District has been popular with tourists for centuries. Its beauty achieved public attention thanks largely to poets, writers, and artists. Beatrix Potter, author of many children's books such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and William Wordsworth, perhaps best known for his Daffodils poem, are two notable examples. But when is the best time to visit?
Lovely spring sunshine.
Although the Lake District is a very much a year-round destination nowadays, its main season still runs from April to the end of October. The winter months are a lovely time to visit, particularly if you appreciate a little tranquility. The summer is a beautiful time but the central Lakes are, of course, much busier at that time of year. Autumn is magical – particularly for photographers – with the fells and woodlands exhibiting all manner of colours.
But the best time has to be Spring and, more specifically, the month of May. At this time of year, Wordsworth's daffodils have maybe seen their best, making way for beautiful carpets of bluebells to take the centre stage. Blossoms are on the trees, particularly in the Lyth Valley, famous for its damsons. May is one of the driest months in the Lake District – a region which, to be fair, gets its fair share of rain (but let's not forget… that's why it's so beautiful!).
By May, the tourist season is in full swing but the Easter rush has passed. The local calendars are brimming with a huge of variety of events and activities – some to entertain adrenaline junkies and outdoor enthusiasts, and others of a more sedate nature for those who just want to soak up the atmosphere, take in a few tearooms, and enjoy the area in a more relaxed manner… and lots more in between.
For those who don't like to take it easy, there’s the Fred Whitton Challenge, a charity ride of mammoth proportions. This year it takes place on 13th May and will cover 112 miles (180 km) of road cycling over some of the toughest passes in the Lake District. This is not for the faint of heart – even the very best will take 6 hours or more, and others (who are probably still pretty fit!) will take nearer 10.
Like a challenge but not on two wheels? Then how about the Brathay Windermere Marathon on 20th May – it’s a full marathon (26.2 miles) and one that I took part in a couple of years ago. Don't think it's going to be easy… it's not flat like London! Spare a thought also for the crazy individuals who take on the ‘10 in 10’ (11th-20th May) which requires you to do the Brathay Windermere Marathon 10 times in 10 consecutive days!
As I said, though, there's plenty to keep you entertained even if you're looking for something a little more gentle and less extreme. As well as the fells to walk, the lakes to admire, and some lovely cafes, pubs and tearooms to visit, there's a wide variety of things going on. For example, there’s the Keswick Jazz Festival (3rd-6th May) in the north of the county, the Cartmel Medieval Festival (4th-5th May), the Cross Bay Walk across Morecambe Bay (2 weekends in May), Music on the Terrace at Brockhole near Ambleside (22nd May), Kendal Farmers Market (25th May) and the Westmorland County Show not far from Kendal (26th and 27th May).
Whether you like to relax and unwind, or take on a physical challenge of some description, there's no doubt that May is a truly wonderful time to visit the area and see what the Lake District has to offer, whether you're coming for the first time or you're already a seasoned visitor to the area.
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