Visit your very own Eden this year with a trip to Cumbria

If you are an independent traveller who fancies themselves as somewhat of a trailblazer you now have your chance to do something that friends, family and colleagues will never have done before in that glorious national park affectionately known as The Lakes.

Taking a holiday in Eden couldn’t be more different from staying in the traditional picture postcard area such as Keswick or Windermere and Nurture Eden, the responsible tourist organisation, are going to great lengths to emphasising what Eden has to offer to those free spirits whose idea of fun is doing things under their own steam and at their own pace.

The first thing anyone arriving in Eden will note is the wide-open space that greets the eye, wherever you look on the horizon. Eden offers every opportunity to enjoy outdoor fun, whether you wish to pack a picnic in a pannier and head off for a cycle on peaceful roads and country lanes, or have a carry on in a canoe on the beautiful River Eden under the guidance of experts from Eden Outdoor Adventures.

Fun is where you choose to find it in Eden and if you are an adventurer, you are sure to uncover it. Adventure is defined differently according to who you are, so it could mean heading off on a walk that has an intriguing and ancient standing stone circle such as Long Meg and Her Daughters as its focus.

It could just as easily entail hiring an electric bike and letting it take some of the strain off the legs as you explore the nooks and crannies of the area that intrigue you. For some, used to high street and big city shopping, it might mean nosying around Penrith’s independent and original shops that offer something very different.

Others might wish to become a time traveller with the kids and mooch around a beautiful little village such as Melmerby, to discover features such as the ancient cock-fighting pit and the Andy Goldsworthy ‘Sheepfold’. It might involve getting a magnificent view that stretches for miles while in the saddle of a horse hired from Stonetrail Holidays in Ravenstonedale and then relaxing outside your shepherd’s hut at A Corner of Eden. Or perhaps it’s a case of taking your canvas out on to the North Pennines and painting the view with Pennine Paintings.

If you are a little undecided as to what to do to find your Eden, just ask a local. The residents of Eden are passionate about their area and always ready to recommend something for you to do and somewhere that you simply must explore, if you want to make the most of your time in Cumbria’s secret Eden.

Eden is not only blessed with fantastic scenery, but with a unique point of differentiation – its gorgeous pink sandstone buildings that communicate the fact that this area once sat on the Equator. Set against the landscape, the buildings provide a photo opportunity wherever you turn, making Eden an ideal place for keen photographers to spend time.

Those seeking an adrenalin rush will have enormous fun with their mountain bike, while those who want a guided walk and a bit of excitement too, can board a Settle to Carlisle Railway service, alight at a station in Eden and take advantage of a guided walk, if they time things right.

All of this activity is sure to build up an appetite and whether you stay in a hotel or charming B&B, or a delightful self-catering cottage, you will get an opportunity to eat the view. If you stay with a Nurture Eden member like Swanson House, Brough, who is committed to putting local produce, with a fully traceable provenance on your plate, this treat could be delivered at breakfast, or as you wind down over dinner.

If you are self-catering, you can head to a vibrant farmers market at Brough or Orton, shop at the fabulous Westmorland Farm Shop at Tebay, explore the delicatessens of Appleby or Penrith, or visit the fantastic Cranstons Food Hall in Penrith. You could buy your fresh bread at the organic Little Salkeld Watermill, or treat yourself to some smoked trout pate from the Bessy Beck Trout Fishery at Newbiggin-on-Lune.

Many local outlets will allow you to take a taste of Eden home with you, whether that is some award winning cheese from the Appleby Creamery, a delicious dessert from Country Puddings or a mouth-watering pie from Burbush’s of Penrith.

In your truly adventurous way, you may wish to stay somewhere unusual – maybe in a gypsy caravan at Drybeck Farm, Armathwaite or New Ing Lodge, Shap, or in a shepherd’s hut built on a World War 1 lorry chassis at The Summer House at Brampton Mill near Appleby.

You may wish to visit heritage attractions such as Dalemain near Penrith (home to the World’s Original Marmalade Festival) and Hutton in the Forest, or perhaps explore the National Trust’s Acorn Bank or the ruins of Pendragon Castle, Penrith Castle or Brougham Castle. Some may wish to cruise from Pooley Bridge on beautiful Ullswater with cruise company, Ullswater ‘Steamers’, or visit the various stone sculptures located by the River Eden and known as the ‘Eden Benchmarks’. Your day could, however, involve walking the Poetry Path in Kirkby Stephen, or exploring Lacy’s Caves.

Others may wish to spend time in the fascinating Penrith Museum, visit Lowther Castle and Gardens to learn all about ‘Wicked Jimmy’, track down the intriguing stone sculptures of the Dacre Bears in Dacre, or learn anything from blacksmithing to baking at the Greystoke Cycle Cafe.

The Settle to Carlisle Railway will take you into Roman Carlisle, if you wish to have a day out, or you could hop aboard a nostalgic heritage vehicle from Cumbria Classic Coaches and have a spin around The Dales.

The world can be your cloister in Eden, if you indulge in some faith tourism or follow the history of a character like Lady Anne Clifford, whose life is documented in many of Eden’s churches, historic buildings and heritage homes.

Appleby is a great starting point for this journey, or you can always blow the cobwebs away by getting the walking boots on and taking to Lady Anne’s Way, which you can pick up in Penrith, Appleby, Brough and Kirkby Stephen, as well as smaller villages.

With all of this relaxing pleasure at your fingertips, with no sitting in traffic jams or fighting to be served in an eatery, Eden is the perfect destination in which to unwind, do your own thing and create unique memories and experiences that will make you the envy of your social circle.

You can always leave the car behind and reach Eden via the mainline Virgin train service from London Euston to Penrith, or park the car up during your stay, save on petrol costs and take to two wheels, two feet, bus, horse or Settle to Carlisle Railway.

Eden is ready to greet you … the question is, are you free spirited and less obvious enough to make the most of Eden? Head to www.agreeneden.org to source accommodation and responsible tourism activities and to www.visiteden.co.uk for other information, if the answer is ‘yes’.