The first flights to the Lake District are starting in June – Top Reasons to book a trip
The National Park's airport, UNESCO World Heritage Site, will finally open for the first time since 1993 with services from London, Dublin and Belfast
Located in the northwest region of England, the Lake District famous for its craggy hilltops and beautiful valleys was hardly accessible last 25 years. Even though the Lake District Airport was never closed, it has welcomed mostly private aircraft, military planes, and helicopters. All these 25 years, the closest commercial flights are to Manchester, a 90-minute drive to the south, which couldn’t stop all those who have a great passion for natural beauty spots.
The Lakes is genuinely stunning all year round, whether you want to walk for miles inhaling the fabulous air and getting high on the scenery during its flourishing spring or green summer or staying in its beautiful cottages and houses in front of a cozy fire with a hot chocolate in winter, enjoying its snowy mountain landscapes or finally to admire its colorful autumn. Go in November to avoid the summer throng and get yourself in the Christmas spirit with frosty walks.
Famous for being a cultural landmark that inspired poet William Wordsworth, the region was visited by more than 41 million people every year, which made North West's most popular area. Visitors spend a total of £1.8billion each year, providing 18,000 jobs. Thanks to this new travel opportunity, this figures is guaranteed to increase.
In 2017, the Lake District was recognized as a World Heritage Site by Unesco, placing it in importance alongside the Taj Mahal, Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef and the Tower of London.
According to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, “the combined work of nature and human activity has produced a harmonious landscape in which the mountains are mirrored in the lakes.” Visitors can hike through the Lake District National Park and find England’s largest natural lake, Windermere, and the country’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike.
Since Unesco added the site to its list, noting its contribution to conservation itself, the project to open commercial flights has received the support of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), with a commitment of £4.95m for the development of the airport.
Previous attempts to establish passenger flights from the airport have been largely unsuccessful. In the 1940s, 60s, 80s and 90s connections were launched to destinations such as Belfast and London but all were shortlived.
Stobart Group, which owns the airport, said the routes will be to “major tourism and business hubs including London, Dublin and Belfast”.
The airlines which are going to be flying in and out of Carlisle are yet to be revealed - but the airport will be open for business from June.
Kate Willard of Stobart Group, said: “We look forward to working with partners in the visitor economy over these next months.
"[We hope] to help develop packages and promotions to make sure that our air services match the needs of our visitors.
"[We also hope] to attract new visitors to Cumbria and the surrounding area… through the development of a sustainable and really fantastic airport.”
Being admired for centuries, the Lake District “inspired an awareness of the importance of beautiful landscapes and triggered early efforts to preserve them”.
It was an inspiration not only for William Wordsworth, whose house, Dove Cottage, where the poet and his sister Dorothy lived during the turn of the 19th century, but also for many others of the country’s most beloved writers including Beatrix Potter, John Ruskin, and Norman Nicholson who all have memorials in the area.
History buffs can also find entertainment in the Lake District by visiting King Arthur’s Round Table.
But what to do there?
You’ll enjoy the Lake District best if you’re of an outdoorsy bent. A trip up Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, is a must. Though the mountain has clearly defined paths nearly all the way and hundreds of thousands of people reach the summit each year, it’s not to be taken lightly. Plan your trip carefully and if you’re not an experienced walker, join one of the many guided tours available.
Thanks to Wordsworth, Grasmere is probably the region’s most famous village, occasionally referred to as Gras Vegas by the locals for its popularity. Wordsworth’s home that he shared with his sister, Dorothy, Dove Cottage – the place where he wrote most of his poetry – is now a museum to his life and work. If you’re feeling literary, head nine miles south to Hill Top in Hawkshead to visit Beatrix Potter’s house, complete with doll’s house and writing desk.
You can’t go to the Lakes without an actual trip on a lake. Take a cruise ship from Bowness to Ambleside as a non-landing round trip or disembark and stop for lunch. For DIY exploration, rent a historic powered wooden boat or simple row boat and play at Swallows and Amazons.
Derwent Pencil Museum
The Derwent Pencil Museum is worth a visit. The Cumberland Pencil Company created its first pencil in 1832 and this museum takes you through a replica graphite mine into a fascinating look at how we’ve created and used pencils over the centuries. With everything from ingenious secret WW2 pencils (with hidden maps) to one of the biggest colour pencils in the world (measuring nearly 8m), it’s definitely something to write home about.
Even though you go to the Lake District to escape dusty cities, and especially for enjoying mountains, not the buildings, Wordsworth’s former home, Allan Bank, a Georgian villa on the edge of Grasmere, is a must. The villa which became a pilgrimage place not only for Lake Poets lovers but also for esthete who prefer unrefurbished sights.