Where to stay in Britain: January in The Lake District

Local food in the Lake District

Legend has it that the Cumberland sausage was the invention of German miners, who came to the county in the 16th century to dig for coal and ore, and tasked the local butchers with creating a version of the wurst. A Cumberland breed of pig did once exist, but butchers now use locally reared commercial breeds. A mixture of raw chopped pork, seasoning and rusk is used to fill sausage skins, with the meat content typically being very high. Once filled, the sausage is usually left as a long piece, rather than being twisted into links. Black and white pepper, marjoram, nutmeg and mace are popular seasonings.

Also eat: Kendal Mint Cake and Lakeland Lamb

Where to stay in the Lake District

Visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to B&Bs, inns and smart hotels

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For singers
The Blencathra Hunt can recommend the best hostelries to hear a rousing rendition of D’ye Ken John Peel? (www.blencathrafoxhounds.com)

For a relaxed atmosphere
A little further south, not far from the pretty market town of Keswick, you’ll find the cosy Swinside
Lodge Hotel (01768 772948; www.swinsidelodge-hotel.co.uk), renowned for its delicious food

For Pottering
To understand why Beatrix Potter fell so deeply in love with the Lakes, head for Yew Tree Farm B&B (01539 441433; www.yewtree-farm.com). Close to Coniston, the farm was owned by Miss Potter in the 1930s, and retains many of her furnishings

For award-winning luxury
The Georgian Gilpin Hotel and Lake House (01539 488818; www.gilpinlodge.co.uk) near Lake Windermere won Visit England’s Best Small Hotel award in 2010

For poetry lovers
How about renting the house situated immediately behind Wordsworth’s former home, Dove Cottage? The land on which Howthwaite (01628 825925; www.landmarktrust.org.uk) stands is where the great man used to compose his poems

For ale afficionados
The Drunken Duck Inn (01539 436347; www.drunkenduckinn.co.uk) in Ambleside has its own brewer
Nature notes

Cumbria’s Lake District is one of the few areas of England where it’s still possible to see red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris). So, even if there’s snow on the fell tops and a heavy frost under foot, keep an eye out for these most attractive-and increasingly rare-of creatures, which can be seen scampering about in woodland during the day in search of tree seeds and nuts. What to look for: Those hardy souls who drag themselves away from a comfy chair by a roaring fire for a bracing hill walk might well be rewarded by a glimpse of red derr, peregrine falcons and ospreys