15 Feb Best Places to Visit in the Lake District
The Lake District in Cumbria is one of the most beautiful areas in England, offering stunning natural beauty, mountainous landscapes, quaint villages and picturesque lakes. Not only will the scenery make your jaw drop, it’s also great for outdoors-y types with a sense of adventure. City dwellers often visit the Lakes for a relaxing getaway and to pursue outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, biking and climbing. The numerous lakes also make this National Park a perfect spot for water sports such as sailing, kite surfing and windsurfing.
Located in the North West of England, the Lake District was the home of Beatrix Potter and the inspiration for her children’s books featuring the popular fictional character, Peter Rabbit. The Lake District was also the muse for William Wordsworth’s poems and you can take a tour around the home where he wrote his best work, Dove Cottage. Foodies can enjoy traditional British cuisine from country inns and pubs as well as gourmet food from Michelin starred restaurants, whilst art lovers can browse the many art galleries and exhibitions. If you’re visiting England for the first time, a trip to the Lake District is a “typically English” experience and there is a wide range of accommodation from cute little cottages and luxury hotels to camping grounds and hostels. Camping can be a really fun summer experience, allowing you to get back to nature and bond with your friends and family. If you need gear, planetcamping.co.uk sells everything you need, from tents and sleeping bags to furniture and cookware.
Ambleside- Ambleside is a town north of Lake Windermere and the streets are usually teeming with tourists, especially hikers setting off to follow one of the many hiking trails and climbers attempting to scale the challenging crags. Mountain biking is also extremely popular and bikes are available for rent. Dubbed the “Anorak capital of the world”, the town is packed with outdoors shops, making it the best place to buy gear such as walking boots and wet weather clothing. In Ambleside’s shops you can also buy slate ornaments, watercolours of the landscape and original pieces by contemporary artists and sculptors. You can also dine in fine restaurants or quench your thirst by trying one of the ales on tap in the traditional pubs. Ambleside cottages are a great option if you’re looking for a place to stay for a romantic getaway or a family retreat.
Grasmere- Grasmere lies in a vale in the heart of the Lake District surrounded by fells and mountains. You can take a casual stroll around the lake or if you have a lot of energy, you can scale one of the crags that overlook the town. William Wordsworth is buried here at St Oswald’s church, along with his sister Dorothy, his wife Mary, and four of their children. You can also have a peek around Dove Cottage, which was Wordsworth’s home for nine years from 1799 to 1808. The pretty house has been left just as it was when he lived there, and climbing roses cover the outside walls. The Wordsworth Museum next door covers his life and the age of British romanticism, featuring books, manuscripts, paintings, watercolours and portraits. Be sure to have a bite of a gingerbread man from the famous gingerbread shop which used to be the village school.
Hawkshead- Hawkshead is a picture-postcard village with whitewashed buildings and cobbled streets. It is here you’ll find the grammar school that Wordsworth attended; Hawkshead Grammar School. The village of ‘Near Sawry’, at the southern end of Esthwaite Water, is the location of Beatrix Potter’s home ‘Hill Top’, where she wrote and illustrated some of her famous children’s books. You can also browse the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead, which contains original illustrations from her books.
Kendal – This limestone town is the cultural centre of the Lakes, and used to be important in the manufacture of wool and textiles. Kendal, situated in the southern lakes, is most famous for its Kendal mint cake- a sweet peppermint flavoured treat. Indulge your sweet tooth before heading out on a walk in the fresh air, or have a potter around the museums and Kendal’s renowned art gallery. There are plenty of shops, tea rooms, markets, pubs and restaurants to keep you busy.
Keswick– The town of Keswick sits on Derwentwater Lake in the Northern Lakes and began many years ago as a cheese farm. It is famous for being the town where graphite was first discovered, and where the led pencil was invented. If you want to find out more about the invention of this staple office item and writing tool, you can visit the Cumberland Pencil Museum. Visitors to Keswick can enjoy a range of water sports or follow one of the walking trails and breathe in the mountain air. Keswick Cottages are perfect for visitors who prefer self-catering accommodation, or there a number of B&Bs and Hotels.
Ullswater– Ullswater is England’s second largest lake after Lake Windermere. Wordsworth was in fact inspired to write the famous poem “Daffodils” whilst he was on a walk with his sister along the shores of the lake. Take a ride on one of the Ullswater Paddle steamers and absorb the view of the mountainous backdrop from the water. The steamers sail the length of the lake, stopping at different points along the way. The first paddle steamer was launched on the lake in 1859 and today there are currently five paddle steamers; Lady Wakefield, Lady Dorothy, Western Belle, Lady of the Lake and Raven.
Windermere– Lake Windermere is the largest natural lake in England at over 10 ½ miles long and just over a mile wide. Windermere is served by a railway line and is therefore extremely busy due to the number of tourists piling off the trains. You should definitely try to fit in a cruise on Lake Windermere during your stay, as this is considered one of the ultimate highlights of any trip to the Lakes. Windermere is split into two main tourist areas- the town of Windermere which is about a kilometre away from the lake, and Bowness-on-Windermere, which is where the cruises depart from. People visit Lake Windermere for the boating activities- you can take a cruise, hire a motor boat, canoe or kayak, sign up for a dinghy sailing course, or try your hand at waterskiing. Away from the water, you can visit the ‘World of Beatrix Potter’ where her fictional tales are brought to life. There is a wide variety of Accommodation in Windermere to suit all budgets, including lakeside mansions that have been converted into hotels and cute little Bed and Breakfasts.
There are lots of other places to visit in the Lake District– and any time you have to explore will be time well spent!
photo by Ennor on flickr