Sunday 29 September 2013
Why go? Skirting the eastern edge of the Lake District National Park and meandering northwards to Carlisle, this beautiful river valley offers a less touristy alternative to the honeypots of Windermere and Coniston. It’s heaven for hikers, especially in October, when the autumn colours are at their richest.
What to do Explore the market towns of Penrith and Appleby-in-Westmoreland, whose 12th-century castle recently opened its gates to the public for the first time (applebycastle.co.uk). Combine a boat trip on nearby Ullswater (ullswater-steamers.co.uk) with a stroll around the lake shore. Take a ride on the scenic Settle to Carlisle Railway (settle-carlisle.co.uk). You can download eight new car-free trails and cycle tours for free at nurtureeden.org.
Where to stay Askham Hall, a 12th-century peel tower near Penrith, has been reinvented as a country house hotel, with 13 bedrooms and a restaurant (B&B from £150 a night, askhamhall.co.uk). In the grounds you’ll find 12 acres of gardens and the Kitchen Garden Café serving pizza from a wood-fired oven.
Places to eat The George and Dragon in Clifton serves up posh pub food using locally sourced rare-breed meat and veg (georgeanddragonclifton.co.uk). Choose from 40 flavours of home-made Jersey ice cream at Abbott Lodge, a working dairy farm (abbottlodgejerseyicecream.co.uk).
Insider tip Lindsey Robinson, events assistant at Askham Hall, recommends picking up a posh hamper from the deli at J&J Graham, a Penrith institution dating back to 1793 (jjgraham.co.uk), and heading to Aira Force (nationaltrust.org.uk/aira-force-and-ullswater) for a picnic. “It’s one of the most dramatic waterfalls in the Lake District.”