(CNN) — Now UNESCO-protected, England's Lake District is one of Europe's most beautiful places. Wild mountains soar up from vast lakes, while postcard-perfect villages offer truly bucolic places to stay and soak it all up.
This is by no means a museum, though. The landscape is still worked by traditional sheep farmers, with their livestock inescapable when out tramping over the fells. The walking here is legendary, whether it's scaling Scafell Pike, England's tallest peak, or exploring wilder hills like Blencathra, further north.
Intrepid travelers will find much to do on the water, too. Windermere offers superb sailing and water skiing, while swimmers can enjoy a dip in pretty Grasmere or in harder-to-reach spots such as Easedale Tarn.
While the weather can be temperamental all year round, the Lakes are particularly special in late spring. Wildflowers are in bloom, trees are blossoming and the cool temperatures make long strolls a real pleasure.