England's Lake District is one of the U.K.'s most majestic regions, an inspiration to outdoor enthusiasts and bookworms alike. Indeed, poet William Wordsworth is the district's King Midas, and you'll find all of his old stomping grounds dispersed throughout the region. Here are our picks for six quintessential stops not to be missed.
1. William Wordsworth's Home on the Range
The famed Romantic poet once dubbed Grasmere's environs as the "loveliest spot that man hath ever known." Such lofty claims might be a bit biased considering Wordsworth called the area home for almost 50 years, but the small village and one of Wordsworth's homes, Dove Cottage, do not disappoint.
2. Waddle into the Drunken Duck Inn
Talk about killing two birds with one stone. By checking into Hawkhead's Drunken Duck Inn (photo,top), you'll be assured fine food and lodging, as well as the perfect subject teaser for your Lake District trip report.
3. Green Thumb Envy in Kendal
Levens Hall(photo,right), four miles south of Kendal, is a handsome Elizabethan house famous for a topiary garden on a par with France's finest. Laid out in 1694, the garden retains its original design, and the yew and beech hedges, cut into amazingly complex shapes that resemble enormous chess pieces, rise among a profusion of flowers.
4. Drooling over Brantwood
John Ruskin, the Victorian sage, cherished his home on Coniston's eastern shore. And with good reason. The rambling, white, 18th-century house is on a 250-acre estate that stretches high above the lake.
5. Detours along the Derwentwater
Keswick sits on the shores of Derwentwater and tourists pack its cobbled narrow streets. Escape the frenzied masses with a short walk from the town center to Derwentwater's shore and follow the Friar's Crag path. This pine-tree-fringed peninsula is a popular vantage point for its view of the lake, its tiny islands, and the encircling mountains. Ahead, crags line the Jaws of Borrowdale and overhang a dramatic mountain ravine.
6. Windermere: Perfectly Posh
Treat yourself in this lakeside village to an indulgent night of fine dining followed by cushy slumber at the Samling. The inn's highly regarded restaurant serves up delectable eclectic fare--pigeon is a specialty (photo,right).