Thinking of booking a Lake District holiday for 2019? Whilst Windermere, Ambleside, and Keswick might be top for most visitors to the area, we take a look at why you should consider basing yourself in West Cumbria instead. From the depths of Wild Ennerdale, to the sweeping sands of the Solway Coast, West Cumbria has lots to offer to those seeking something a little more off the beaten track.

1. It’s Quieter

Whilst the towns and villages in the central Lake District, such as Grasmere and Ambleside, certainly do have a chocolate box charm to them, during the peak holiday seasons they can be somewhat of a tourist honey pot. However, head out towards the west and the roads become quieter, the cafes are less fraught, and the lakes are more peaceful.

2. There Is a Magnificent Coast Line

Allonby Bay Sunset

Allonby Bay Sunset

Cumbria isn’t known for its beaches and it is true that you won’t find miles of golden sands here. However, the coastline is ruggedly charming in places, from the sweeping muddy beaches that are a treasure trove for rock pool enthusiasts in the north around Allonby and Silloth, to the glorious sandstone cliffs that overlook St Bees, and down to the award winning Haverigg beach with its RSPB reserve. Pack a bucket and spade, bring your kite and surf board, and join us for a trek through the sands.

3. The Lakes Are Simply Beautiful

West Cumbria has Britain’s favourite view, that of Wastwater, as voted for by ITV viewers back in 2007. This stunning lake is also one of the most isolated and most people who visit tend to be passing through on their way to the summit of Scafell Pike. The south-west shore in particularly is an idyllic spot to have a picnic.

Ennerdale is the subject of a unique re-wilding project and amongst the woodlands that surround the lake you may be lucky enough to encounter a deer or a red squirrel. For a true sense of adventure, drop your car off at the Bowness Knott car park and hike your way to Black Sail Hut, a youth hostel deep in West Cumbrian fells that is only accessible by foot or bike.

Further north, you will find the trio of lakes that is Loweswater, Crummock and Buttermere. Busier than those mentioned above, being a lot more accessible, these are still incredibly charming places to visit, with an ice cream from Syke Farm in Buttermere being an absolute must.

4. There Are Walks to Suit All Abilities

Experienced walkers may wish to take on England’s highest mountain by climbing Scafell Pike, setting off from Wasdale Head. Alternatively, explore the mighty Pillar fell above Ennerdale. It takes its name from Pillar Rock on its north face, once considered one of the wonders of the Lake District and acknowledged to be the birthplace of rock climbing in the area.

For those who prefer something slightly less challenging but still a great accomplishment then Haystacks above Buttermere is a rewarding and classic walk. Alternatively, there are plenty of lower level fell walks to choose from, including Sale Fell near Cockermouth that most children could easily manage, and the romantically named Darling Fell, which has fabulous views.

5. The Georgian Era Towns Are a Delight to Explore

Castlegate, Cockermouth

Castlegate, Cockermouth (Humphrey Bolton /

The town of Whitehaven on the west coast of Cumbria was once an important trading port in the Georgian era, with ships coming from the United States of America bringing a host of exotic goods, including rum. The town was the site of the only American invasion of the mainland UK in 1778 during the American War of Independence and the grandmother of US president George Washington once resided here. The town has over 250 listed buildings, most of which are from the Georgian era. Whitehaven has seen a lot of regeneration in recent years, and the harbour is a pleasant place to take a stroll and admire all the boats.

Cockermouth is another Georgian era town in West Cumbria, lying on the fringes of the western Lake District. Brimming with history, the town is the birthplace of Cumbria’s most celebrated poet, William Wordsworth, and it’s possible to visit his childhood home, which is now known as Wordsworth House and owned by the National Trust. The town has a plethora of independent shops selling unique gifts and other items, as well as numerous cafes and bars.

6. There Are Plenty of All Weather Attractions

Over in the port town of Workington, there’s a cinema showing all the latest blockbusters, an entertainment centre with bowling, laser games, and glow in the dark crazy golf, and there is a brand new leisure centre with two swimming pools, a gym and a climbing wall. In Whitehaven, the Beacon Museum explores some of the history of the area and has a regularly changing exhibition space. It even includes an interactive section exploring the nuclear physics behind Sellafield. Whitehaven is also home to the Rum Story, a unique visitor attraction in a Georgian era rum shop that explores the links between Whitehaven and the rum trade.

If you prefer to get a bit closer to nature but still stay dry then take a ride on La’al Ratty, a narrow guage railway line that is better known as the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway. Whilst there, pop into Muncaster Castle and get up close to some magnificent birds of prey.

7. The Accommodation Offers Great Value for Money

Being away from the more popular areas in the Lake District, the hotels in West Cumbria tend to offer slightly lower rates and it’s possible to grab yourself a bargain. Whether you are searching for a family run, cosy bolt hole, such as the Old Ginn House Inn in Great Clifton, elegant country chic, such as the Hunday Manor Country House Hotel in Winscales, something cheap and cheerful, such as the Premier Inn in Whitehaven, or you are after sophisticated luxury, such as the Trout Hotel in Cockermouth, West Cumbria has something to suit almost all tastes and budgets.

Furthermore, a drive to Keswick will take you just 25 minutes from Cockermouth, and 35 minutes from Whitehaven, meaning that you can still easily access some of the more well-known places in the Lake District.