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The Best Things To Do In The Lake District

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Friday, 8 December 2023

The Best Things To Do In The Lake District

The Lake District is a national park in Cumbria, famous for its beautiful scenery and excellent walks (and of course, for being the home of Peter Rabbit!).

It’s one of the best-loved visitor destinations in the UK and the perfect place for all sorts of holiday. Whether you’re after an outdoor adventure, a romantic retreat or lots of family fun, the Lakes is an excellent option. Here’s a quick look at some of the best days out in the Lake District.

The famous lakes

There are sixteen lakes in the Lake District, plus a number of spectacular tarns (a smaller mountainside pool). Everyone has a favourite lake; however, each one has its own character and beauty, from bustling Windermere to remote Wastwater. Add these seven lakes to your Must Visit list:

  • Windermere is the largest lake in England and the place to come for watersports or a leisurely boat trip. Bowness-on-Windermere and Ambleside both nestle on its shores, and there are no fewer than 18 islands scattered across the lake.
  • Derwentwater is in the heart of walking country and there are some gorgeous hiking trails in this part of the Lakes. Keswick is on Derwentwater, which is a great place to eat, drink and shop.
  • Grasmere inspired William Wordsworth, and when you catch your first glimpse of this pretty lake, you’ll easily see why. It’s not the biggest of the lakes, but it’s definitely among the loveliest. Walk from Grasmere to neighbouring Rydal Water.
  • Wastwater is better described as “brooding” than pretty. It’s in a remote and mountainous part of the National Park, with spectacular scenery and some challenging walking. At 260 feet, Wastwater is the deepest lake in the Lake District.
  • Buttermere has a lovely bucolic setting, with rolling hills and lush farmland. Come here to admire the scenery and enjoy gentler walking. There are also some beautiful waterfalls around Buttermere.
  • Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District and is a very popular spot. The Ullswater Steamer, which takes you on a circular tour around the lake, is a real holiday highlight.
  • Coniston Water is best-known as the setting for Arthur Ransome’s Swallows & Amazons books. It’s also a great place for water sports and Coniston itself has a choice of inviting places to eat and drink.

If you want a lakeside cottage, The Great Barn not only has stunning uninterrupted views of Ullswater, it also has half a mile of private shoreline.

Walking in the Lake District

The Lake District is one of the best-loved places in Britain for a walking holiday. The high peaks such as Scafell Pike, Scafell, Helvellyn and Skiddaw provide experienced hikers with plenty of challenges, while the gentler paths around Windermere and Grasmere are accessible for many walkers.

Whichever walk you choose, the views are always stunning and you’d be extremely unlucky to pick a route that doesn’t take in a pub! BBC Countryfile recommends a selection of Lake District walks for all abilities.

Geltsdale at Howscales is in a great location for walkers (in the lovely Eden Valley) and also welcomes four-pawed walking companions.

Historic visitor attractions in the Lakes

From Beatrix Potter’s home to dramatic old castles, if you love history, you’ll find plenty of fascinating places to visit in the Lake District. Hill Top (National Trust) is where Beatrix Potter wrote most of her books and you can see how the old house and its surroundings inspired her work. You can also visit William Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage in Grasmere and John Ruskin’s home in Coniston.

Enjoy exploring old castles? Try Sizergh near Kendal or the ruined Brougham Castle near Penrith. Wray Castle is a Victorian fairytale version on the shores of Windermere: take the boat over for the full experience. Townend Farmhouse gives you a glimpse into the life of a 17th-century farming family.

If you love historic buildings, you can stay in one…Gorgeous Lady Anne’s Cottage is in the Inner Bailey of Appleby Castle.

Family days out in the Lake District

The Lake District is a great place for a family holiday, not least for all the water sports opportunities. The lakes themselves provide great entertainment for families, from kayak lessons and boat trips to simpler pleasures like paddling and duck feeding.

Explore Muncaster Castle & Gardens, which is also home to the Hawk & Owl Centre. Meet the birds in their aviaries then watch them in action in a flying display. Animal lovers can also head out for an alpaca trek with Alpacaly Ever After, while fans of Peter Rabbit and friends will love the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction. Lowther Castle has a spectacular adventure playground, which is ideal if the kids need to let off some steam.

And speaking of steam… No family visit to the Lake District is complete without a trip on the “Ratty”, the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway.

The Lazy Fish is a lovely family-friendly barn conversion near Keswick, which also welcomes dogs.

Explore Cumbria’s towns and villages

Finally, don’t miss the Lake District’s many appealing towns and villages. You’ll find unique little shops wherever you go, among those distinctive stone and slate buildings.

Ambleside and Hawkshead are full of lovely independent shops and cafes, while Bowness-on-Windermere has a choice of pubs and restaurants. Keswick is a good option for outdoor shops and if you’re feeling a bit peckish, don’t miss the famous gingerbread shop at Grasmere.

Luxury holiday cottages in the Lake District

Here at Handpicked Cottages, we have a collection of luxury holiday cottages in the Lake District. From romantic little lodges for two to palatial places that will house the whole family, we have a great choice of comfortable and superbly appointed cottages.

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