Gill Haigh Manging Director of Cumbria Tourism

In light of the Lake District's recent status elevation to World Heritage Site, Gill Haigh shares some of her thoughts on why Cumbria is the perfect place for groups to visit.

Why do you think the Lake District has been awarded World Heritage Status?

The success of Lake District’s bid is undoubtedly down to the unrivalled natural beauty of our landscape; the mountains, valleys, lakes and woodlands. The landscape has been inspiring artists, writers and philosophers for hundreds of years. The Lake District was also the catalyst for the conservation movement; the birth of the National Trust and protected areas such as UK National Parks so it is only fitting to be supported by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.  

What walking trail would you recommend for active visitors?

For groups visiting the region, Grizedale Forest, nestled between the lakes of Windermere and Coniston has plenty of outdoor activities to suit all abilities. The Grizedale Sculpture Trail is a particular highlight, with around 40 artistic pieces to discover.

Borrowdale, Derwent Water and Skiddaw

Pictured: Views of Borrowdale, Derwent Water and Skiddaw. (Photo credit: Cumbria Tourism).

What about a beautiful landscape for photographers?

The Ullswater Valley is a treasure trove for photographers; the fells give amazing panoramas of the lake, or a cruise on the steamers from Glenridding to Pooley Bridge give the opposite views of the fells from perspectives you couldn’t reach on foot.

Can you suggest a great attraction for families?

Lowther Castle is a particular gem and makes for the perfect summer family day out. The Grade II listed site contains the impressive remnants of significant historic buildings, beautiful gardens, interesting exhibitions, and a huge adventure playground resembling the castle itself.

Where would you send those seeking culinary excellence?

Cartmel, a village on the cusp of Morecambe Bay is the ultimate foodie destination; home of the famous Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding, a range of delightful independent artisan shops, a brewery, a cheesemaker and Simon Rogan’s two Michelin star restaurant, L’Enclume.

Is there a particular place that you’d describe as a ‘must-visit?’

Kirkby Lonsdale borders three counties; Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire, and really encapsulates the best of them all. The weekly market, independent shops, brilliant food and drink establishments and beautiful countryside to explore make it a must for groups looking to discover a traditional countryside market town.

Windermere Lake Cruises

Pictured: Windermere Lake Cruises' MV Teal.

Can you name somewhere tourists might not necessarily have heard of that is worth visiting?

The west coast of Cumbria has an amazing history from Roman artefacts to the industrial heritage of Cumbria. There are great attractions such as Muncaster Castle, the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, and Senhouse Roman Museum in Maryport to discover.

And whilst its namesake lies in Lancashire, much of Morecambe Bay lies on the Cumbrian Coast and areas such as Barrow, Arnside and Grange-over-Sands are great for walkers and cyclists or for wildlife enthusiasts.

Is there anywhere in particular that has an amazing group offering?

A lot of attractions and hotels across Cumbria go above and beyond for groups visiting Cumbria. Attractions such as Blackwell: The Arts and Crafts House and Windermere Lake Cruises work together to provide groups with interesting and good value packages.

Mountain Goat can offer bespoke private tours to groups so they see the things they want to see, and food and drink establishments such as The Lakes Distillery can offer tours and dining packages so visitors get a fully immersive experience.