An alternative guide to the Lakes: how to escape Cumbria’s twee side

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Avoid the tourist hotspots of the Lake District and you’ll discover a more authentic side to the area with artists, microbreweries and community pubs

You’d be forgiven, as a visitor to the Lake District, for imagining that the governing attractions are daffodils, Grasmere gingerbread, Herdy (the bleating fell-side variety and the brand), mountain watercolours and lake steamers. So fixed have these associations become with the region that it’s now the victim of its own twee, commercial image.

Millions of tourists tromp the same routes each year, seeking out waterside and lookout points, and bagging famous peaks. Queues at Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread stretch round the cottage bakery and past Wordsworth’s grave. Wainwright’s ridges become polished with footfall; the roads into the national park jam with holiday traffic. There’s even speculation that the now horribly polluted Windermere will be shut this summer.

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