Windermere edges in just behind Chester Zoo as one of the UK’S principal visitor destinations, while Liverpool is among the top 10 most visited cities. The North-west also boasts important industrial heritage – one of Britain’s busiest ports – and breathtaking scenery attracting visitors from all over the world. The stunning, acclaimed Lake District is part of the varied landscapes of Cumbria, which takes in Hadrian’s Wall, the Eden Valley and the North Pennines – you’ve got to love trekking in the wild, but if pulling on walking boots is not for you, the area is strewn with historic houses and gardens. Windermere is England’s largest lake at 10.5 miles long and 219 feet deep. The Brockhole Visitor Centre is on its shores, where families will find plenty to keep them busy. If you don’t want to scale the fells, try the walk in the Langdale Valley from Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge, or take a tour of Coniston Water on the Victorian Steam Yacht Gondola. Visit the Lakeland Motor Museum to see the Campbell Bluebird Exhibition, and magnificent Holker Hall and gardens near the medieval village of Cartmel. In the village, seek out the Village Shop and try its famous sticky toffee pudding. Cartmel
On the waterfront
even has its own racecourse. And don’t forget Cumbria’s coast, where local museums and heritage centres tell the story of its industrial past, while its fine beaches attract visitors to Seascale, St Bees, Allonby and Silloth. Head to Liverpool for a close-up view of quayside giants – the visiting cruise ships – from its World Heritage Site waterfront. Visit a real U-boat at the Woodside Ferry Terminal and the Merseyside Maritime Museum at Albert Dock. Don’t forget its musical heritage and two cathedrals. Delve into Lancashire’s past with ‘A history of Lancashire in 70 objects’ (http://bit.ly/2euppje), a guide compiled by local people. It’s a fun way to discover what makes this fascinating county tick. Morecambe Bay stretches from the south-west coast of Cumbria to Fleetwood in Lancashire, taking in the coastal towns of Grange-over-sands, Morecambe and Heysham. Farther along is the queen of seaside resorts, Blackpool – visit between 31 August and 4 November if you want to see the famous Illuminations, but there’s plenty to keep you entertained there all year round.
■ Turn to p39 of the Top 100 guide for site info
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT Blackpool’s Illuminations are turned on at the end of August. Cartmel, home of the sticky toffee pudding. Pier Cottage campsite is home to the Steam Yacht Gondola