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Pocket Guide: Cumbria

One of the United Kingdom's most magical and enchanting holiday destinations is tucked away in the far north-west of England. There's no other way to say it: the dazzling county of Cumbria is plainly spoiled when it comes to areas of astounding natural beauty. As if the Lake District wasn't enough, Cumbria also boasts sections of the epic Pennines and the picturesque Yorkshire Dales.

The diversity of the landscape in Cumbria attracts all manner of holidaymakers. Keen ramblers are in good company with sailors, golfers and lovers of laziness, indulgence and pure relaxation. From spa hotels in country mansions to affordable rural youth hostels, Cumbria's spread of hotels is as diverse as its list of attractions.

Historic Carlisle

The bulk of Cumbria may be rural, but the county's only city is a buzzing, vibrant hotspot of great eateries, excellent hotels and plenty of things to do. Carlisle boasts a lively cultural scene and a smattering of fascinating historical attractions. There are tons of independent shops to keep visitors busy and a whole host of spectacular restaurants to keep bellies full. One of the country's best-loved attractions of Hadrian's Wall is just half an hour's drive away.

As the county's only significant urban area, Carlisle is home to the highest concentration of guesthouses and hotels in Cumbria. Visitors have their pick of numerous small and intimate B&Bs near the city centre, as well as some reliable brand hotels, such as the centrally located Ibis.

The Magical Lakes

The Lake District is without doubt Cumbria's number one tourist attraction, and with good reason. The network of sublimely beautiful lakes is punctuated by magnificent mountains and picturesque country walks. As you'd expect, many of the county's finest hotels are located by these big bodies of water.

Beech Hill Hotel and Spa is an exceptionally luxurious hotel which really makes the most of its lakeside location. Many of the hotel's exquisitely finished guest rooms boast unhindered views out across the famous Lake Windermere, and there's even a spa overlooking the lake. The gorgeous grounds make Beech Hill Hotel and Spa an ideal choice for Cumbria weddings.

Cumbria's Secret Coastline

With the lakes and mountains stealing all the headlines, Cumbria's lengthy stretch of coastline sometimes seems almost a secret! But don't overlook it for its more dramatic inland cousin, because the pretty coastal part of Cumbria is an excellent place to stay. The western aspect offers wonderful sunsets and there are plenty of excellent hotels and restaurants right on the waterfront. Of course, the lakes are just a few miles away.

Bailey Ground Lodge enjoys a stunning seafront location at the popular seaside resort of Seascale. There's direct access to the beach and the rates offer incredibly good value for money throughout the year.

One of the real highlights of Cumbria's coastline is the plethora of golfing opportunities. The dynamic landscapes of inland Cumbria sometimes make golfing an uphill struggle (literally!), but the more forgiving coastal land is perfect for a few gentle rounds. Expect superb links play all along the west coast, with one of the country's finest links courses being located at Siloth on Solway Golf Club, in the north-west.