PATRICK LENNON and JOHN MAHONEY visit the Lake District
TURNING yet another corner, we were stopped in our tracks by five words hand-painted onto a crude sign at the roadside: "Not suitable for sat navs."
Confirmation we had found ourselves precisely where we wanted to be.
The Lake District has plenty for most species of tourist, from those who have jetted across the globe for a taste of quaint Britain to city dwellers looking for a weekend of village life and country air. Click here now for amazing offers to Lake Windermere!
South Lakeland is a spear's throw away from the heart of the action, Windermere, but it boasts a special kind of isolation, perfect for letting your hair down.
Our base in the Gilpin Valley was named after Sir Richard de Gilpin, who restored peace in the neighbourhood with sword and spear by ridding it of its most troublesome resident, a ferocious killer wild boar.
The wild boar trail through the valley starts and ends, funnily enough, at the fantastic Wild Boar Inn.
The two-hour stroll is very much up hill and down dale, weaving among the hills and tree-lined lanes.
Gilpin Beck sings alongside your path as you begin to get a feel for the deep history of each corner and stone-walled track.
Here, at Gilpin Mill, was where waterpower was first harnessed to ignite the Industrial Revolution. Want incredible offers to Lake Windermere? Click here now...
The Wild Boar Inn boasts a 70acre patch of woodland, which rises up over the valley behind the hotel. The forest is carpeted with bluebells in spring and teeming with birds and wildlife.
You'll even find adders, our native snake.
A pint of tasty local brew Mad Pig is the perfect complement to country walks.
But you can't come to the Lake District and be a landlubber.
Low Wood Watersports and Activity Centre, perched on the eastern shore of Windermere en route to Ambleside, is the perfect spot to enjoy what the area is famous for.
The centre offers lessons in activities including water skiing, sailing, wakeboarding, canoeing and kayaking.
Windermere is England's largest lake, 10 miles in length and 220ft deep. Our guide said it would take six hours to paddle the 26-mile circumference.
Thankfully a swim was not on the menu, particularly after the size of my grilled breakfast. We settled for a paddle and a foray into a river.
Windermere Cruises operate steamers to ferry you around the lake if you don't feel like using your arms. Boats run every 20 minutes during the summer, and Bowness or Ambleside are the best spots to hop on.
Another claim to fame for this area is Beatrix Potter's house Hill Top, nestled away in Sawrey, near Hawkshead.
As a child, my idea of being naughty was stealing radishes from Mr McGregor's garden, getting stuck under a gate and running home naked.
The place is preserved and managed by the National Trust and her possessions are beautifully displayed.
Gardeners will be impressed with the herbs, vegetables and orchard outside too. As would that pesky rabbit. FACT FILE PATRICK stayed at the newly refurbished Wild Boar Inn, Grill and Smokehouse in Crook, Windermere. The kitchen has a good reputation, with dishes such as steak, duck and the Wild Boar Chop. A three-course meal for two with drinks costs around £80. See elh.co.uk or call 08458 504 604. Prices start at £39 per person per night, based on two adults sharing a twin/double room and including full breakfast. Car rental with Enterprise costs from £11.99 per day with the weekend rental package. See enterprise.co.uk or call 0800 800 227. A two-hour kayaking lesson with the Low Wood Watersports and Activity Centre, on Lake Windermere, costs £75 for two people. See elh.co.uk/watersports/index.aspx or call 015394 39441. A family pass with Windermere Lake Cruises, giving 24 hours unlimited travel, costs £36. See windermere-lakecruises.co.uk to book. For train times in the area and to check fares, see virgintrains.co.uk.