England's Lake District: The Breakout Star of 'Supernova'

by Ivan Quintanilla

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday March 1, 2021

Bassenthwaite Lake
Bassenthwaite Lake  (Source:VisitBritain)

England's Lake District is the breakout star of "Supernova."

The pristine beauty that inspired the Romantic poetry of William Wordsworth, the landscape paintings of J.M.W. Turner and the beloved children's stories of Beatrix Potter will be steering the movie's audience toward northwest England.

Available on streaming platforms on February 16, "Supernova" tells the story of long-term partners Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) as they travel in a campervan throughout the Lake District, following a life-altering diagnosis. The film quietly packs an emotional punch, much like its setting.

When eager travelers emerge from lockdown, nature, fresh air and wide-open space will be in premium demand. Already a beloved holiday for Brits, the Lake District will be ready to host a new generation of nature-loving travelers, just a five-hour drive from London and a two-hour drive from Manchester.

Home to Lake District National Park, the country's largest, the Lake District contains 16 lakes and a collection of smaller waterways. Nestled in the county of Cumbria, the region boasts Scafell Pike (England's highest peak), six national nature reserves and about 400 towns of varying sizes—all within 912 square miles of stunning countryside. In 2017, the English Lake District gained UNESCO World Heritage status for its Outstanding Universal Values of "Identity, Inspiration and Conservation."


Pack your hiking boots and raincoat (this is the wettest part of England) and fuel up the camper to follow in the footsteps of "Supernova"'s Firth and Tucci. From Keswick, the film's primary location, head to Whinlatter Forest to cycle the longest mountain bike trail in the Lake District or meander through the nine walking trails.

Just east of Keswick, a visit to Castlerigg Stone Circle reveals one of the country's most notable prehistoric monuments and, arguably, the one with the most stunning views.

Literature and Lakes

You'll want to pay tribute to the literary foreparents who became the region's first ambassadors. On the main route from Keswick to Ambleside, Dove Cottage, once the home of William Wordsworth, has been meticulously restored and will be opening a new museum in Spring 2021.

Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's 17th-century farmhouse, is the most visited literary shrine in the District. Though best known for writing "Peter Rabbit," Potter's contributions extend far beyond her stories. Assisted by her solicitor, she purchased local farmlands to protect them from early developers.

"Her children's books are still popular with some families, but her legacy is unspoiled valley after valley, farmed and cared for by tenant farmers in the farms that Potter's estate left to the British National Trust," says Johnnie Mitchell, that solicitor's gay grandson who now splits his time between London and the Lake District.

And, of course, there are the lakes! Windermere, the largest lake in all of England, is bustling in the summer and a perfect home base for first-time visitors. The most popular attraction in the county, Windermere Lake Cruises, will take you through secluded bays and uninhabited islands aboard a historic steamer. For a more independent experience, hire your own boat on the less-crowded Coniston Water. Coniston Boating Centre rents motorboats, paddleboards and canoes for a low-key voyage around the five-mile lake and its wooded shores.

From camping yurts to luxurious cottages, you'll find no shortage of accommodation options. The lesbian-owned Broadoaks boutique hotel is a traditional Lakeland country house on seven acres of magnificent woodland. Though near Windermere, Broadoaks feels worlds removed from the busy tourist areas and is a popular spot for LGBTQ weddings.

Regardless of your lodging, look up. The remote beauty that blesses your daytime views is no less spectacular at night. Without the light pollution of nearby cities, the Lake District is ideal for stargazing. For ultimate darkness, visit Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre in Ennerdale, an accredited "Dark Sky Discovery" site, a nationwide network of places dedicated to connecting us with the night sky.

Follow the Rainbow

Follow the Rainbow
(Source: Broadoaks)

With tourism as a primary industry, the Lake District welcomes LGBTQ visitors, but "you don't go to the Lakes to get laid," says Johnnie. "You go there to rebalance, to reconnect with nature and with simpler, more innocent pleasures... A smarter approach would be to plan a trip with gay mates, rather than try to find them there."

However, if you are looking to raise the queer quotient of your trip, stop by Sticky Bits Cafe at LGBThq Cumbria, the region's LGBTQ Center in Carlisle, just north of the District. Or plan to visit the last Saturday in September, when (pandemic allowing) Cumbria Pride celebrates at Carlisle Castle where the Lake District's extensive beauty extends to its Pride festivities, held on the parade grounds of a Medieval castle.

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Cuban born, Miami raised, Dallas and London educated and New York seasoned, Ivan Quintanilla is a travel writer and professional actor living in Hell's Kitchen, NYC. Read about his latest destinations at TravelingIQ and follow him on Instagram at @TravelingIQ