The Lake District is an incredibly popular holiday destination in the UK with over 15 million people visiting each year. With its reputation for rain, many visit during the summer months. However, it has so much to offer outside the peak times, as we discovered during our recent October visit to the South Lakes.
With the highest peaks and the largest and deepest lakes in the country, the scenery is simply stunning. Clear lakes, tarns and rivers; ancient woodland; magnificent mountains and the open character of the fells are just waiting to be explored. The area is also incredibly dog friendly, so you can take your faithful friend away with you to enjoy the holiday. Our 8 year-old Parsons Jack Russell Terrier was made to feel very welcome in every pub that we visited.
The tranquillity of the lakes, valleys and fells provide a vast sense of open space and freedom, a place where wildlife and cultural heritage are incredibly apparent and abundant. Many a famous writer has been inspired by the spectacular landscape, in particular, John Ruskin, William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter who were hugely influenced by the area.
Local traditions have been celebrated for centuries with many still continuing on today. The fell runners leave you speechless, as they often pass you at great speed, tackling some of the most gruelling mountainous routes, with what appears to be the greatest of ease!
At any time of the year, you cannot help but marvel at the pure natural beauty of the Lake District National Park, yet the autumn seems to hold something extra special. The beauty of the changing tree colours look irresistibly photogenic on bright sunny days, attracting photographers, walkers and cyclists alike. The changing weather can also add to the diversity and intriguing nature of the landscape, where a peaceful still lake can quickly turn into an exciting turbulent scene as the waves crash along the shoreline. The occasional rain shower also bring with it wonderful waterfalls that cascade down the rock faces, a pleasure you might not always get to see during the dryer months.
Other benefits for visiting out of the busy peak period are reduced rental rates on holiday cottages and self-catering accommodation. Many holiday homes offer cheaper rates during the autumn and winter months, along with greater flexibility for short breaks. With many cottages offering log burners or open fires, they provide perfect cosy retreats to return home to after an exciting day exploring the fells. The area is also generally quieter with fewer visitors and less traffic on the roads adding an extra bonus.
The cooler weather and risk of a rain shower, does nothing to deter outdoor enthusiasts who come prepared with clothing and equipment suitable for all weathers. Certainly walking is a lot more comfortable in the autumn than in the heat of the summer. There are also plenty of shops in the towns and villages selling outdoor clothing and equipment (with many offering end of season bargains), along with gifts and excellent local produce.
Renowned as a walker’s paradise, The Lake District has something to suit all energy levels and abilities – from a gentle stroll around a tarn, to a challenging hike up Scafell Pike or The Old Man of Coniston. Plenty of people bring their dogs along with them to enjoy the great walks, but owners must ensure they clear up after them. Many areas also require dogs to be kept under close control or on-lead, due to the abundance of wildlife and grazing livestock. A breakfast planning session, using one of the myriad of walking guides available will help you to choose the most suitable distance and terrain for the days activities. Also, with a little extra planning, visitors with accessibility needs are catered for too, many of the car parks have free parking for blue-badge holders and some walks have level, man-made pathways.
The pubs provide a warm welcome where walkers and climbers congregate at the end of the day (dogs are often welcome too!). With their crackling log fires, local ales and traditional hearty meals, you can treat yourself to locally sourced delights including the famous Cumberland sausage and Herdwick lamb, reared on the fells.
We had planned some visits for a rainy day (the Wordsworth museum in Grasmere and the Ruskin museum in Coniston), but the wheather was so kind to us that we didn’t get the chance to go! Perhaps next year…
Take a look at our holiday cottages in the Lake District, many of which have last minute offers.