The Best Things to Do in the Lake District England
Lake District has never been so attractive to me like this. Honestly, I was so surprised by the beauty of the region at the first glance when searching about it. Then, I was stunned by the scenery of the Lake District’s villages, lakes, and mountains. I’m so sure, you will have the same feeling as me when visiting the Lake District. Indeed, the rolling hills and vast lakes of England’s Lake District have inspired countless artists, poets, and writers to visit the area or call it home. If you travel to England, make sure you visit the Lake District. And here are the things to do in Lake District for you.
Visiting the Towns and Villages
Your trip may start from the villages in Lakeland; it’s another name of the place by the way. It’s where you can find a place to stay, shops, and restaurants. The roads that connect the villages will also take you to the beautiful attraction of the Lake District. Pick a village, and your dream trip to Lake District National Park begins.
Gorgeous stone houses, quaint shops, and excellent restaurants fill Ambleside’s winding streets. Its central location and number of nearby amenities make it the perfect home for a vacation to the Lake District. Besides that, the village has no shortage of walking paths with perfect views. For example, the hike to Ghyll Force Stock is a short but steep jaunt that begins in Ambleside and heads towards a roaring waterfall that makes for a great picnic spot. Also, the walk to Jenkins Crag offers great views of the iridescent lake Windermere. Additionally, you shouldn’t miss the Bridge House, a tiny National Trust home, housed by a family of six children.
Grasmere, with its stone cottages and tea shops, is a picturesque village in Lake District National Park. Do you know? William Wordsworth’s former home, Dove Cottage, is located in the village along with the Wordsworth Museum and Art Gallery and the family burial ground at St. Oswald’s church.
The area is surrounded by Central Fells. Therefore, you should take some time to enjoy the natural beauty on footpaths like the Coffin Trail or head to Easedale Tarn. Moreover, you can head to Faeryland Grasmere for afternoon tea and amazing views of the lake. The charming cafe has an outdoor tea room with views of Lake Grasmere, and colorful wooden rowboats are waiting to be rented for the day.
By the way, don’t forget the famous Grasmere Gingerbread. It’s one of the main reasons that people come to the village.
On the south side of Lakeland, the village of Hawkshead offers a nicer and more atmospheric alternative. On top of that, it has significant connections with Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth. You can visit Potter’s old house, a 17th-century cottage known as Hill Top, where much of her work is inspired. Additionally, Wordsworth attended school in Hawkshead and lived for a time in Grasmere, a few miles north.
Keswick is located in the middle of the beautiful, ancient Skiddaw region, in the northwest of the Lake District National Park. Coming here, you can drop your soul into the scenery and watch the charming streets. Or, you can immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the Keswick Mountain Festival held in May or June every year.
About 1km to the west is the most famous and busiest Lake Windermere. It is about 16 kilometers long and you can explore it with the Windermere Lake Cruise, which also serves as a ferry between points. At the southern end of the lake, the locomotives of the Haverthwaite Steam Railway transport tourists into the Leven valley. You can combine that trip with a cruise on the lake. Also at the south end is the Lakes Aquarium, with Britain’s largest collection of freshwater fish. At the renovated Victoria Fell Foot Park, near Newby Bridge, you can picnic and rent rowboats at the beautifully restored old houseboats to explore the lake and the River Leven. In addition, the park has a good playground for children.
Wandering Around the Lakes
Lakes are abundant here, of course. To illustrate, the Coniston Water and Esthwaite Water are west of Lake Windermere. Then, from those two lakes to the northwest are the valleys of Wasdale and Wast Water, the deepest lake in England. In the North of Wast Water, you’ll find Lake Buttermere, incredibly scenic from every angle. East of Buttermere is Borrowdale valley and Derwentwater with its lovely wooded islands. Farther east, Ullswater is said to be stunning with many majestic mountains surrounded. Also, it’s said to be where Wordsworth wandered lonely like a cloud. Finally, if you want to see the wettest place in the country that receives the most rain, go to the one called Sprinkling Tarn.
The size of Lake Windermere is amazing. As the largest natural lake in England, the length of the lake is up to 17km, with the widest place being 2km. More importantly, this lake has created a beautiful landscape in the heart of the park.
The water in the lake is clear that you can see the bottom. On the surface of the water, each blue cloud is silhouetted. By the lake is the smooth, lush green of trees. In addition to the small islands scattered on the lake, flocks of swans swim around. This is a beautiful scene you often see quite a lot in movies.
More simply, you can scatter around the lake, sit down to chat with friends, drink beer, eat ice cream, and relax watching boats go by or flocks of white, gentle pigeons. The best time to admire the lake is the moment when the sunrise or sunset suddenly turns off. Surely, it’s great if you can share this meaningful moment with your loved one.
About eight kilometers long and less than a kilometer wide, Coniston Water lies beneath the eastern slopes of the mountain known as the Old Man of Coniston, which towers over the lake and Coniston Village. You can explore the lake aboard the 1859 steam yacht Gondola or launch Coniston on solar power, or go under your own steam, renting a boat or bike from the Coniston Boating Centre.
A scenic boat ride includes a stop at Brantwood, home of John Ruskin, one of the most influential minds of the Victorian era. His former home offers insights into his work, as well as fine art and objects collected during his extensive travels. The house is set in a garden with views of the lake and marsh. In the village is the Ruskin Museum, which tells the story of Coniston from its early Stone Age inhabitants.
Less than five kilometers, Derwentwater is an idyllic lake north of the national park and a 10-minute walk from central Keswick. To its west is the slopes of the Catbells. And extending into the lake on the east is Friar’s Crag, a favorite viewpoint. Then, the beautiful Borrowdale Valley opens up at its southern end.
Keswick Launch Company creates an hour-long circuit on the lake in small boats that stop at seven points. You can hop off at those places to explore, or follow the lakeside trails and catch the next boat at another stop. Around the entire perimeter of the lake is a 12 km walk. In Keswick, it’s hard to resist a stop at the quirky Pencil Museum, where you’ll learn how they were made and how the discovery of graphite started a local industry.
Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District. It’s 14 kilometers long and less than two kilometers wide. Its setting is also beautiful, under Mount Helvellyn. Visitors can explore the lake on the 1887 Lady of the Lake or the 1889 Raven, both of which leave from the fascinating village of Pooley Bridge, which has 16th-century roots. Ullswater is a particular favorite for hikers, who can track the 32km Ullswater Way around the lake, or combine the trail with boat trips for a 12km hike.
A highlight on the walk around the lake, between Aira Force and Glenridding, is the magnificent Aira Force Waterfall. It’s where a stone arch bridge spans a 19-meter waterfall. Between Pooley Bridge and Aira Force, Ullswater Road leads to Maiden Castle, an old hill with spectacular views of the Ullswater Valley.
Wast Water is the deepest lake in the Lake District. It lies along the road to Wasdale Head, a small village at the head of the Wasdale Valley, and an area formerly the point of departure for many walks of life. The majestic lake is surrounded by stunning mountains, including the towering Scafell Pike. The Screes, broken rock fragments covering the southeast side of the lake and extending almost 2000 feet or more are a warning of danger. Wordsworth describes the lake as ‘long, narrow, stern, and desolate’. In 2007, this was voted Britain’s favorite view.
Roaming the Mountains
Not surprisingly, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the outdoors in Lakeland, including mountain biking, climbing, and canyoning. Indeed, the Lake District has some of the best hiking trails in the world. Hence, deciding where to go can be difficult due to the overwhelming amount of choices. Here are some of the favorites:
Catbells High Ridge
The Catbells’ distinctive peaks attract hikers of all abilities. The short half-day climb to the end falls on a long ridge separating Derwentwater from the Newlands valley. The peak is 451 meters. You can hike up and back from Keswick for a breathtaking view. Although it is a short climb and the trail is good, it is steep in places. Once at the summit, powerful hikers will be irresistible behind the ridge along with the lands of Maiden Moor, High Spy, Dale Head, Hindscarth, and Robinson before descending into the Newlands valley. It’s a 14-kilometer hike, with dramatic scenery along the entire stream of open ridges.
As the highest peak in the UK, climbing Scafell Pike is only for experienced hikers. The peak stands at 978m, or 3,209ft, above sea level. Therefore, it offers glorious panoramic views of the Lake District. Even, on clear days, hikers can see Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and the Isle of Man. The hike is a rewarding challenge and an all-day event, even the fastest route to the top, from Wasdale Head, takes around 2 to 3 hours. Don’t forget to check the weather before you head out, double-check your gear, and make sure to bring a map or two.
This amazing tour is only for experienced drivers. Lake District villages are connected by small, winding streets lined with high stone walls. Even people who’ve driven on roads like this before can find their heartbeat as they climb steep slopes and drive the blind roads of Kirkstone Pass. Although the drive between Ambleside and Patterdale is difficult, it is the most scenic route. You should take advantage of the few and far between areas for photographs, or stop at the Kirkstone Pass Inn to see the grand landscape.
Admiring the Scenes and Places of Attractions
Of course, there aren’t only villages, lakes, and mountains in the Lake District. There are points of interest around the region that are waiting for you to explore. Here they are:
Castlerigg Stone Circle
Of the more than 300 rock circles in the UK, Castlerigg is not only one of the oldest but one of the most atmospheric. It is remarkably laid out, with 38 stones lined up with the tallest hills around. Also, the scene is unobstructed by admissions offices or souvenir stalls. You might be the only car there. Unlike most British stone circles, which are Bronze Age burial sites dating from 2000 to 800 BC, it was built around 3000 BC during the Neolithic period. Over 30 meters in diameter, the original circle contained 42 stones, over two meters high. For dramatic effect, you should go at sunset.
Hill Top Farm of Beatrix Potter
Bought in 1905 with proceeds from her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, the 17th-century farmhouse at Hill Top and the surrounding countryside inspired many of Beatrix Potter’s books. When she left the house and farm for the National Trust, she stipulated that it be presented in the same condition as when she lived. In each room, you could see objects related to her story. Along with setting up the dollhouse for The Tale of Two Bad Mice, you’ll see the table she writes on. The garden is a charming and seemingly random mix of flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruit. This is a very popular attraction so there is usually a wait to enter the house. Thus, a pre-booked ticket is strongly recommended for your entry.
It’s the first family home of the great English poet William Wordsworth. In fact, Dove Cottage is a traditional Lakeland cottage with dark wood-paneled walls and stone floors, heated by a coal fire. Still decored with the Wordsworth family furnishings, the house looks as it did when the poet lived and wrote here. It is a mirror of life in the early 19th century.
Next door, inside a separate museum, you can see memorabilia about the poet, his family, his travels, and his work. Actually, his years at Dove Cottage were among his best time, as he was inspired by the Lakeland landscape and the garden he and his sister planted outside their home. He wrote some of his poetry here among flowers, vegetables, butterflies, and birds.
Rydal Mount & Gardens
Poet William Wordsworth lived at Rydal Mount from 1813 until his death in 1850, aged 80. In this house overlooking Lake Windermere, Rydal Water, and bushes, he wrote some of his most beloved works. He also revised many of his earlier works for publication, including his most famous poem Daffodils. Larger rooms were added to the original Tudor cottage in 1750, but the original stone floors and wooden beams remain in the dining room, part of the old cottage. Elsewhere, you’ll see Wordsworth’s bedroom and attic study. Throughout the house are portraits, memorabilia, and early editions of Wordsworth’s works.
Compared to the poet’s garden made at Dove Cottage, the one at Rydal Mount is a little over four acres, with terraces, rock pools, rare species, and brilliant displays of blooms in different seasons. It has been kept as much as he originally designed it. In good weather, from March to October, the tearoom spills out onto the garden courtyard.
The ruins of Kendal Castle enjoy a prestigious position atop a steep hill, offering visitors superb views of the city and the rolling hills below. The castle was probably built in the late 12th century, and it has been in ruins since Tudor times. The Kendal Museum shows an exhibit on the castle, which includes recreating what it looked like when it was completely standing. Picnic to enjoy in grassy areas, which have been used for public enjoyment since 1897.
Located on the banks of the River Lowther, Shap Abbey was founded in the late 12th century as one of a small group of religious houses in England belonging to a Catholic religion called the Premonstratensians. A beautiful, fine, nineteenth-century tower still sits among the remains of old buildings. There was a way into the monastery: a very steep and narrow path that ran along the hillside. Not only are the ruins a scenic sight, but the drive to the monastery is also a scenic tour of the rambling countryside.
Located in Coniston Water, Tarn Hows has been bequeathed to the National Trust by Beatrix Potter, best-known author for the children’s book The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The man-made body of water is one of the most famous spots in the Lake for its stunning views of the natural landscape. The apartment, a circular walk around Tarn Hows, which is 1¾ mile long, is wheelchair accessible and perfect for families looking for a light walk. In addition, the quiet space is a great place to have a picnic or relax.
Tasting the Best Food
Food is mainly pub grub, often in generous portions, although a growing number of places offer top-quality fine dining, including Drunken Duck and Pheasant Inn.
On top of that, there are must-try foods that you have to taste:
- Grasmere Gingerbread – Sarah Nelson invented this legend gingerbread in 1854. It later claimed ‘the best gingerbread in the world that’s also one of the top attractions in Grasmere village.
- Cumberland Sausage – It’s Cumbria land, then Cumberland pig, and finally Cumberland sausage. Yes, it’s one of the best sausages in the country with a PGI label.
- Damsons – The fruit can be found across the UK. However, Lake District National Park has the most delicious one with a unique flavor.
- Sticky Toffee Pudding – Created in the 1970s by Francis Coulson. It’s hard to find a better pudding after a try of STP.
- Kendal Mint Cake – One of the top choices of Cumbrian delicacy. Its high energy content makes it a good food for climbers to conquer the mountains.
Relaxing at Hotels
Most accommodation is in the four main towns – Bowness, Windermere, Ambleside, and Keswick. Yet, most villages have at least one B&B option. Furthermore, there are plenty of campsites and bar hostels for the youth.
Alongside, we recommend these delightful hotels and guest houses in the Lake District National Park:
- Cedar Manor Hotel and Restaurant – A luxury boutique hotel in Windermere. Walking distance to town, lake view, great food, elegant decor. Book now!
- Lyzzick Hall Hotel – A 3-star, family-run country house. It has great views, a great restaurant, a heated indoor pool, a sauna, and a whirlpool. Book now!
- Waterhead Hotel – A mid-range Ambleside hotel on the lakeside. There are spacious rooms, nightly make-up service, and gingerbread. Book now!
Enjoy, and have a great trip to the Lake District National Park!
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