Head for the Lake District for your next weekend vacation.

Weekend vacation

Windermere, Buttermere, Grasmere; the names themselves have a poetic ring. You don't need to go into rhapsodies about daffodils to appreciate the Lake District, but it is an ideal location for a weekend vacation filled with hikes, lake cruises and great meals in country pubs.

Virgin Trains (virgintrains.co.uk) have regular trains on the West Coast mainline that stop at the closest stations for the Lake District, Oxenholme (for the south lakes) and Penrith (for the northern lakes).

Book well in advance for the best tickets. It's possible to ask for an email alert to let you know when the discounted tickets for your route and chosen dates have become available. As an example an Advance Saver single from London Euston to Oxenholme costs just £15.

In the southern areas of the Lake District, around Windermere and Hawkshead, expect to find coach parties and hordes of fellow tourists enthusing about Wordsworth and thronging the souvenir shops.

For a quieter weekend, head for Borrowdale, stretching south from the busy little market town of Keswick, along the shores of Derwent Water. Self-catering acommodation in the area can be booked with an agency like Lakeland Cottages (lakelandcottages.com).

Seek out the village of Stonethwaite, and the excellent food and ale at the Langstrath Country Inn (thelangstrath.com). You can enjoy the Herdwick lamb on your plate, while watching the same herd outside the pub window.

There's a pleasant, and mildly strenuous, hike from here past an English tea-shop at Watendlath, where you can replace any lost calories with plenty of home-baked ginger-cake and fruit scones. Head down from here to the picturesque cascade of the Lodore waterfall.

If that's enough exercise for this particular weekend vacation, take the Derwent water cruise (keswick-launch.co.uk) that can drop you off at various points on the lake, either for sight-seeing, or for another visit to one of the excellent local pubs.

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