Summer in the Lake District is hot (occasionally), congested (comparatively), and expensive (objectively). Its lush beauty vastly outweighs these cavils, of course, but I still wondered whether the off-season might have more going for it than its cheap room rates and empty town centres might indicate.
Thus to Keswick in January. It’s a small market town that lies a boulder’s roll from the slopes of Skiddaw. It’s very much a touristy staging post for the fells around it, but unambiguously Lakes-ish. Think wet-look slate, 10,000 outdoor gear shops, and a 360-degree horizon so dominated by hills that you feel like you’re in an enormous terraformed stadium.
Now that the Lakes have joined sites including the Grand Canyon, Machu Picchu and Easter Island in acquiring Unesco World Heritage status, I suspect off-season chumps like me will become increasingly numerous here.
To my fellow naïfs I say: bring a proper coat! Bring proper walking boots! Failing this basic adherence to maternal common sense, at least buy the stuff when you’re here, because there are good January discounts on the outdoor gear. Lord knows why.