Local knowledge: Cumbria

Six Lakeland insiders share their favourite haunts in England’s wildest county.

It is England’s topmost landscape, crammed with majestic fells, darkling crags, limpid lakes and other such travel hyperbole. Surely there is no conceivable way you can escape the tourist throng there? Actually, you can – but to find the loveliest backwaters, you need to consult the locals…


KIM WILDE The green-fingered pop princess has family in Keswick, and she potted a gold medal at last year’s Chelsea Flower Show for her “Cumbrian Garden”. “I first went to the Newlands Valley when I met my husband, Hal, 10 years ago, but I think its magic was already part of me. Perhaps I remembered it from Beatrix Potter’s illustrations in childhood ” Mrs Tiggy-winkle and Squirrel Nutkin are set on Catbells, and it’s my favourite fell: not rugged, as you’d expect, but sensual, like a reclining woman with shapely hips and breasts. “We love taking a picnic down to Derwent Water with our children: we walk across this secret meadow to the shore and spend all day there, making toy boats out of feathers and driftwood, watching the launches slide up and down the lake, and carving our initials on the fallen tree where Hal made his den as a boy. The water is black as ink, and cold, but we still take jelly shoes and swim. Afterwards, we might walk to the Swinside Inn for a bite: they do some really chunky bread and cheese.”

Details: Kim’s favourite swimming spot is on Kitchen Bay. You can walk there from the car park at Gutherscale, just south of the Swinside Inn (017687 78253); or chug there on the launch from Keswick (www.keswick-launch.co.uk, £6.50).