Families and honeymooners, lone wanderers and adventure seekers – all sorts of travellers have fallen in love with the county of Cumbria. The reason? That vast swathe of English greenery that dominates its map, otherwise known as the Lake District National Park. Fells and peaks rise and fall between shimmering lakes there, while enchanting tales of great Romantic poets abound. But that's just the main story, because Cumbrian cottages can also be a ticket to the primeval forests of the North Pennines and the salt-washed UK coast alike.
The most popular spots for Cumbrian cottages
The Lake District National Park naturally dominates the line-up of Cumbria's most popular rental spots. It really is somewhere worth talking about, with a UNESCO World Heritage tag and more breathtaking vistas than you can shake a Cumberland sausage at. The highlights include:
Keswick – a bucolic dream
Locals of Keswick like to wax lyrical about their home's location in the most beautiful valley of the whole Lake District. And why not? The slate-topped cottages here are sunk into an amphitheatre of stone-speckled mountains. Overhead looms the great Skiddaw massif – if you're feeling adventurous – while down below it's possible to repose on the side of Derwent Water for days.
Bowness-on-Windermere – for lake lovers
You'd be wise to book Bowness-on-Windermere cottages as early as you can. Accommodation in this enchanting Cumbrian jewel always sells out fast, especially in the warmer summer months. It's easy to see why too, what with elegant white-painted pubs rubbing shoulders with chic boutiques on Crag Brow. This is also the terminus of the famous Windermere steamers, which provide panoramic evening cruises over the water.
Ambleside – for the walkers
Amble into a cottage in Ambleside and you'll find yourself surrounded by some of the most acclaimed hiking paths in all of England. Just metres from your door are trailheads leading to the scree-covered slopes of the Langdale valley, where challenging grykes provide the route up to Jacks Rake. Others wiggle through to meet Scafell Pike – the tallest summit in the country.
More off-the-beaten-path Cumbrian destinations
Don't think you're limited to the much-vaunted Lake District when you holiday in Cumbria. This ceremonial county covers plenty of other places, even if they are rarely in the spotlight. Check out this selection of 3 more off-radar retreats.
The Yorkshire Dales are an option
While the name might imply otherwise, the Yorkshire Dales actually poke just a little into Cumbria. Places with cottages include Dent, a chocolate box of a village that's criss-crossed with higgledy-piggledy alleys made of cobble, and Sedbergh, where Jacobean-style pubs lean over the streets.
Consider the coast
The shores of Cumbria are probably the best place to get a feel for the rich industrial heritage of the North as a whole. Head to Seascale to settle between the old tracks of the Furness Railway. Or, go to Whitehaven, where Georgian rowhouses spill down to docks laden with bobbing sailboats.
Other Cumbria cottages in the North Pennines
You're bound to be warmed by the rural communities of the North Pennines. Set between soft valleys of rolling woods and babbling rivers, walking holidays here tend to be a little easier on the leg muscles than down in the Lake District.
How to get a great deal on Cumbrian cottages
For trips to the Cumbrian landscapes that are easy on the wallet, these 3 tips can help.
Steer clear of the Lake District
While the famous national park that dominates Cumbria is unquestionably the region's piece de resistance, it's certainly not its cheapest holidaying spot. That honour goes to the lesser-known reaches of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or the cottages that pepper the countryside around the city of Carlisle.
Visit in the winter
When the north winds blow down from Scotland in the winter months, the Lake District gets dumps of snow and ice that turn it into a veritable wonderland of glinting waters and brilliant peaks. You can often also find enticing deals on cottages at this time of year, provided you're willing to skip Christmas.
Book well in advance
Be aware that the fells and valleys of the Lake District are no hidden gems. They are among the UK's most coveted wildernesses, which means the best bargains in these parts tend to get snapped up fast. So, before you start planning those treks to the top of Scafell Pike, it's important you secure a Cumbrian cottage.