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Our guide to luxury holidays in Cumbria

A tapestry of poetic lakes, lofty peaks, and ancient valleys; if the great outdoors is calling, Cumbria is the answer. Cover every corner of this coveted county with the Unique guide to luxury holidays in Cumbria.

"Cumbria is a symphony of nature, a chorus of tranquillity, and a canvas of dreams,” wrote the naturalist writer, John Muir. Every season in this craggy county is as thumb-stopping as the next; where storybook villages mark calendar events with gusto, bunting is strewn between storefronts come summer, and ivy wreaths adorn the doors each winter. Whether tracing the footsteps of literary giants Wordsworth or Coleridge, or forging your own path off-piste, let our guide to luxury holidays in Cumbria — with its insider tips on what to see, do, and where to refuel — be the prelude.

Nature takes centre stage in Cumbria, and the Lake District is its crowning jewel. A landscape cast in verse and brushstrokes, it's home to iconic fells — such as Helvellyn, Catbells, and England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike — and the waters of Ullswater, Windermere, and Derwentwater. Embark on a journey aboard the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway (affectionately known as the "La'al Ratty”), walk the ancient ruins of Hadrian's Wall, or visit in the spring to swim, dance, and sample at the Keswick Mountain Festival. However you choose to fill your days in Cumbria, wild things are always on the agenda.

Locations in Cumbria

Wander the cobbled streets of Kirkby Lonsdale and Staveley, step back in time at Hadrian´s Wall, or venture into the slate frontage of Windermere, where booksellers and bakers converge at the gateway to the Lake District.

Collections in Cumbria

Rewrite the rulebook in Cumbria. Our curated collections bid adieu to the same-old corporate escapes, and replace raucous weekends with sophisticated hens, where Cumbria´s tarns set the scene for waterside yoga and firepit yarns.

Things to do in Cumbria

Water babies, welcome home. Pick up a paddle board at Pooley Bridge, soothe trail-tired muscles with a wild swim at Tarn Hows, or take the family (four-legged friends included) on an old-school steamboat across Ullswater.

Things to see in Cumbria

Drink in scenes of ancient glades and cascading water at Aira Force, gaze at soaring turrets and towers at Wray Castle, and send the green-fingered ones off with binoculars for a closer look at the Wellingtonias lining Windermere.

Where to eat in Cumbria

With more Michelin stars than any other county outside London, Cumbria is the hub of haute cuisine; but staying true to its roots, it has a clutch of quaint tea rooms, farm shops, and humble inns made for post-hike pitstops.

Journals about Cumbria

Steep a fresh pot and embrace a slower pace with these tales of mindful mornings between the fells, rambles through scenes that inspired Swallows & Amazons, and the scavenged homes with Narnia-esque magic.

Meet the storybook homes

Meet the storybook homes

Here they are. With turrets and follies and islands and eiderdowns, the storybook homes welcome you not just to walk through their front doors — but to fall down the rabbit hole to a life of fairytale proportions.

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Scavenger hunts

Scavenger hunts

This month we celebrate the scavengers amongst us; the genius craftmanship that turns tumbled trees into grand dining tables and repurposed sea relics into pieces of art at luxury self-catering homes around the nation.

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Channel 4’s Extraordinary Escapes

Channel 4’s Extraordinary Escapes

Sandi Toksvig returns with a star-studded line-up of celebrity friends to showcase the very best homes across Britain and Ireland, with a few Unique Homestays visited en route.

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The best surfing beaches in the UK and Ireland

The best surfing beaches in the UK and Ireland

Surfing nirvana needn´t be confined to far-flung places. Whether a seasoned boarder or a born-again “grommet”, surf trips on home soil know how to pack a punch (and stay under the radar).

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Cumbria FAQ´s

Looking for advice on reaching the border county by rail? Want to know the best hikes in the land? If you have a Cumbria-specific query, you might find the answer here. For everything else, visit our general FAQs.

How far is London to Cumbria?

It can be quite the road trip by car, often taking around four to five hours. By train, the travel time from London to Penrith or Carlisle typically takes two to three hours. The train ride is quite something – you’ll transition from the concrete suburbs surrounding London, eventually, into majestic mountains of the Lake District, which can’t be helped but met with awe. The journey sets the stage for a memorable adventure, where verdant hills, serene lakes, and rugged fells await to be explored.

What month is best to visit the Lake District?

The best time to visit the Lake District is probably during late spring or early summer, from May to June. The landscape comes to life with vibrant colour, as wildflowers bloom in the meadows, and the hills are carpeted with shades of green. The temperature typically ranges from around 10°C to 18°C, pleasant for exploring the quiet lakeshores or embarking on an invigorating hike. The summer’s longer daylight hours are also a welcome gift for meandering trails over dramatic vistas, without running out of sun to get back to the pub again.

Can you walk around the whole of Lake Windermere?

While walking the entire circumference of Lake Windermere is possible, it’s quite the undertaking – this is the Lake District’s largest body of water, encompassing 11 miles all-in-all. The circular route passes by charming villages like Bowness-on-Windermere and Ambleside, through shaded woodlands, and several viewpoints. But if you’re on a mission, it might take you about three hours, the fresh breeze off the water invigorating your senses.

Where is the best place to see Hadrian´s Wall?

Built in 122 AD and running for 73 miles, it would take over a week to walk the entirety of this Roman feat of engineering. Built by Hadrian, to defend against Scotland, much of it now lies in ruin but there are some parts still standing today. ‘Housesteads Roman Fort’, near Bardon Mill, is well-preserved and offers a glimpse into the Roman Empire's legacy, with its stone fortifications and commanding views over the rugged Northumberland countryside. Wonder the remains of this once mighty wall, and marvel at how this remarkable frontier came together. Standing atop the fort's battlements, you can almost hear whispers of the past in the wind, in the very footsteps garrison soldiers would have once paced to guard the empire.

Where are the best hikes in Cumbria?

There is a real abundance of trails to choose from; Cumbria is walking territory. Among the most spectacular is the ascent of Scafell Pike, the highest peak in England. Adventurers that conquer the summit are rewarded with panoramic views of the county below, a patchwork of farmland and flint walls. For something more leisurely, try the serene shores of Buttermere or Crummock Water, providing a calm setting for mindful lakeside among the surrounding fells. The Catbells hike near Derwentwater also promises an intrepid expedition, offering breathtaking vistas of the lake and the Derwent Valley.

Own a property in Cumbria?

Are you the keeper of a family farmstead? Or the custodian of a lakeside summer house? From Cartmel to Coniston to gentle Hawkshead, we´re seeking Cumbria´s most unique homes to join our growing portfolio.

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