Why winter is the best time to visit England’s Lake District

The wind is up and the white horses stampede along the surface of Coniston Water, making this Lakeland icon resemble the high seas rather than the sultry bucolic setting for idyllic childhood holidays. The Old Man of Coniston is wrapped, scarf-like, in wisps of icy mist, offering only fleeting glimpses of its scarred and pitted slopes.

The setting feels rather eerie – a sense compounded by dense Grizedale forest, where closely planted conifers close out the light and separate you from the lake on the other side of the hill, Windermere.

Catch winter on a good day – clear skies, frost underfoot – and it’s a superb time of year to visit the Lake District: there’s a rawness to the landscape at this time of year that’s lacking during the busy summer months. What’s more many trees are bare, now, opening up views obscured during summer. You can see Coniston Water as you clamber uphill towards Windermere; normally the two lakes are separated from one another by Grizedale Forest.

Rather unfairly, Grizedale is like the person at a party standing in the corner with no one to talk to: neither mountain, nor picturesque woodland in the sylvan sense that got Wordsworth in a lyrical frame of mind, it abuts water rather than encircles it. Most visitors come to the Lakes for the mountain views and the shorelines. Here, though, you’re in a dense woodland of conifers and broadleaf trees.

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