The Lake District National Park can be divided into regions based on natural geography. The north and west are composed primary of fells, or mountains. Here, you will find the valleys of Borrowdale and Buttermere joined by Honister Pass, Newlands Fells, Grisedale Pike and the High Stile Ridge. The central part of the Lake District is something of a valley rising to a pass over Dunmail Raise then a long drop down by Thirlmere to Keswick.  Here, you will find Ambleside and the tourist honeypot villages of Grasmere and Rydal with all their literary connections. The eastern part of Lake District is one long north-south ridge in the Helvellyn range, with significantly more vegetation on the western slope than the east. Further east the high moorland stretches on to Shap Fell and the eastern boundary of the area roughly defined by the M6 motorway.   Most of the south is hilly but not mountainous, more forest than moorland. The town of Windermere is here.

There are numerous small settlements in the Lake District area. The largest  - with  high concentrations of hotels, restaurants, and other such businesses -  are Keswick, Ambleside and Windermere. Keswick, located near Derwent Water  has a population of about 5000 and a strong history of pencil making. Ambleside and Windermere are both located near the lake Windermere. Ambleside is very close to the mountains and is popular for hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing. Those who want to take advantage of  Windermere for water sports and similar activities are better off staying in Bowness, which is by the lake, rather than nearby Windermere village itself.