When you attract more than 47 million visitors a year, it’s blindingly obvious you’re doing something right.
But ever since the arrival of the railways made it accessible to more than the wealthy and the artistically curious, Cumbria and the Lake District has ensured it’s moved with the times.
It’s that blend of the old and the new, the unchanging natural beauty and the fresh things to see and do within it, that has kept those visitors coming.
And they’ve really been coming in their droves in the past couple of months as the National Park has been an irresistible magnet for staycation-mad Brits.
Our base for the exploration of the appealingly new and the comfortingly familiar couldn’t have been more apt.
The Ambleside Inn is the latest incarnation of a traditional old slate building that has been a hotel for 300 years. Latterly the Queen’s Hotel, in ever-popular Ambleside, it has been given a fresh lease of life by acclaimed chain the Inn Collection.
They already have a stable of thriving inns-with-rooms in the north-east of England. And this, their first foray west – the Coniston Inn has since been added – has been done with typical style, panache and flair.
Not identikit, just identifiable for those who have enjoyed stays at the other properties.
Far from a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water, the character and heritage have been maintained while giving the smartest of makeovers.
All 30 rooms are bright, modern and bang up to date. And the bar and restaurant attract locals and visitors alike, lapping up the multi-million-pound renovation.
What has helped make the hotel such a winner over the centuries is the location, slap bang in the middle of the town.
Looking out at the Market Place, the former courtroom and market hall buildings have new purposes, just another example of the ever-changing face of this seemingly timeless Cumbrian magnet.
A post-breakfast wander round the character-packed streets of the town reminded just why it’s so popular, as are nearby pretty Windermere and bustling Bowness.
The best way to experience the beauties of the Lake itself is, as always, by getting on it.
Get yourself one of Windermere Lake Cruises’ Freedom of the Lake tickets and you get 24 hours of travel. So, if you hop on one lunchtime, you can take your cruising well into a second day.
We explored all the way from Ambleside to Lakeside, with a stop-off at Bowness, and also doubled up on the fun with linked entry to the Lakeland Motor Museum.
And if you want to get a sense of the rich history of boating life, Windermere Jetty, on the outskirts of Bowness, is the place to head.
A museum has been around there since the 1970s, but last spring saw the royal opening of this super-smart new attraction.
In three stylish new buildings we saw boats of all shapes and sizes – including Beatrix Potter’s frankly pretty hefty old 1890s rowing boat – and how, with loving care, they are returned to their former glories.
You can even take to the waters with a cruise on a restored steam classic.
Even if maritime matters are of no interest, trust me, the views from the café are worth a visit in their own right.
But there’s always much to see away from the waters and Sizergh Castle proved a perfect place to while away a few hours (it’s important to pre-book currently).
It’s been home to the Strickland family for more than 750 and this National Trust cracker remains so to this day.
Those with green fingers will cherish an explore of the beautifully landscaped gardens, as the house is still closed. And should you fail to identify a water lily from a weed, you’ll still be spoiled for choice with a range of brilliant walks.
You can choose from anything from the shortest of strolls to a right good stretch of the legs, following the routes indicated on leaflets at the visitor centre.
Whichever you pick, the views are marvellous – just like the rest of the unchanged but ever-changing Lake District.
2020 marks the 250th anniversary of William Wordsworth’s birth with Wordsworth 250, a year of celebration events. More than £6m has been spent on a project at his Dove Cottage.
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