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Brantwood Jetty, Coniston Water, Lake District
Brantwood Jetty, Coniston Water, Lake District

Things To Do In The Lake District

Charlotte Bronte, who was drawn here on holiday by the area's reputation for beauty, wrote: "The Lake country is a glorious region, of which I had only seen the similitude in dreams..."

Lakes, Fells, Culture and Ginger Bread

The Lake District is the British holiday to end all holidays. If you want the chance to scale England's highest peak, to find solitude on the fells or fish on crystal clear lakes, to eat and drink like you have never gorged before, or just find a quiet spot to sit and soak up the sort of beauty that has drawn artists and writers to it for centuries – you will find all this here, and more.


Discovery Days

Discover the Lake District

At more than 900 square miles, The Lake District National Park is enormous. You could easily spend a year on holiday here and still not discover all its amazing treasures. Here are a few to whet your appetite and help you plan your holiday.


Grasmere is not as much chocolate-box pretty as it is a gingerbread house. A visit to the village is not complete without stopping at Sarah Nelson's historic shop in Church Cottage, which has been serving tourists and locals Grasmere Gingerbread since 1854. Invented by Sarah, Grasmere Gingerbread can best be described as a ginger brownie biscuit - it's soft and sticky and utterly scrumptious. The shop is next to St Oswald's church and is tiny - it was Sarah's home, and she is buried in the churchyard next door. If you have a sweet tooth, you should also stop by the Chocolate Cottage on Stock Lane to pick up some luxurious Lakeland chocolates.

Picturesque Grasmere

Another of Grasmere's famous residents is William Wordsworth, also buried in St Oswald's churchyard. His home, Dove Cottage, where he wrote poems like Daffodils, is now a museum devoted to his life and works. Grasmere is a small village, and it can get very crowded on a sunny spring or summer weekend, but it should certainly be on your itinerary.


Too many people only know Ambleside as the place where you get a ferry to Bowness or Lakeside, but this town has a Victorian beauty worth stopping to appreciate. Thanks to the ferry terminal, Ambleside is good for parking with five Pay and Display car parks. Your waistline won't care about the vast choice of cafes and bakeries because you can walk those calories off with a stroll to Stock Ghyll waterfall. It's best seen after the rain but is beautiful anytime.

Ambleside is one of the Lake District's bigger towns so don't be disappointed to find familiar high street names and obviously touristy shops. It's still pretty.


Buttermere is the sort of place that makes you wonder whether it's possible to quit your job and take up the simple life. Where some of the Lake District is raw and rugged, Buttermere is as soft as its name implies, with lush dairy pastures nestling beside a beautiful lake and framed by hills and fells. It is renowned for the quality of its footpaths which, given that it has the rest of the Lake District to compete with, is saying something!

Beautiful Buttermere

Fans of Alfred Wainright's Lake District walking guides may recognise some of the paths as those he featured in his books, particularly those around Crummock Water and Loweswater.

Coniston, Ullswater and Derwentwater

Coniston Water
Coniston Water

After a few days in the Lake District, you'll reach the realisation that the postcards and tourist websites weren't lying and it truly is that beautiful. Coniston and Ullswater are two lakes which underline the reason why the National Park is one of Britain's best natural resources. Another pretty special lake to visit is Derwentwater. Whether you want a big walk (some guidebooks report it as eight miles, but we find it's more like ten miles around the lake) or just to admire the view and skim a few stones, it's a magical place found just south of Keswick.


Like Grasmere, Hawkshead is almost too small for its fame. Little seems to have changed about Hawkshead since Beatrix Potter fell in love with it. Despite its popularity with tourists, it is always pleasant to visit as it is car free. The twisty cobbled lanes are lined with houses and interesting shops several hundred years old. (Note to tall people: watch your head on beams as you walk through doors!). Stop by William Wordsworth's old school, as well as at the Beatrix Potter Gallery for souvenirs.

The Lake District's often inclement weather is part of its appeal but there is nothing appealing about being wet and cold, so stop by the Hawkshead flagship store on the High Street for quality outdoor clothing to keep you warm and dry during your holiday.

Rainy Days

Herdwick lamb
Herdwick Lamb, a regular sight in the Lakes

You're almost certain to have at least one rainy day on your holiday in the Lake District but, unlike other destinations, wet weather does nothing to detract from the fun!

Windermere and Bowness

At the heart of the Lake District, Windermere and Bowness were made for rainy days with great shopping and plenty of places for a long lazy lunch or afternoon tea. Lakeland, the holy grail of all kitchen gadgets, is in Windermere. It has a cafe, but it can get very busy in summer and on weekends. The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-on-Windermere is sure to put a smile on younger faces; and some fine dining in the restaurant or pamper time in the spa at Holbeck Ghyll is always a great choice for adults who prefer to admire the view of Windermere from the luxury of a country house hotel. If the weather is forecast to rain all day, Windermere Lake Cruises can offer a full fun day of activities. The Yellow Cruise is a particularly good choice starting at Bowness and taking in the Lakeland Motor Museum (with over 30,000 vehicles) and the Lakes Aquarium.


Keswick is popular for wet weather activities because there is a lot to do indoors, but it is also lovely when the sunshine breaks through the clouds. Its streets are packed with cafes, pubs and interesting shops selling anything from gifts to local produce tempting you in out of the rain. Bustling at any time of the year, Keswick has more than its share of outdoor clothing retailers (for those who forgot waterproofs!) as well as a number of excellent wet weather attractions. Stop at the Puzzling Place with its quirky array of visual tricks and wonders to delight and entertain. Even though admission charges are low, you will find it hard to leave without parting with some money at the shop, crammed with fun and intriguing puzzles and gadgets. The Theatre by the Lake has a calendar full of productions and events throughout the year, and you can still have an 'outdoor' adventure indoors at the Keswick Climbing Wall.

Keswick road sign
En route to Keswick

If the weather breaks, walk (30 minutes from Keswick) or hop in the car and visit Castlerigg Stone Circle. You have to wonder if the Neolithic farmers who built the stone circle knew it would still be standing 4,500 years later. It is surrounded by mountains and has a reassuring sense of permanence that it will remain long after the current generation of visitors have gone. Open during daylight hours, there's no charge for visiting this English Heritage site.

Honister Slate Mine and Nenthead Mines

It doesn't matter what the weather is doing when you're underground! Take a tour of Honister Slate Mine and get an entirely different perspective of the Lake District. Adventurous souls may want to climb the walls as well as explore the history of the last working slate mine in the UK, which has been giving up its treasures since 1728. If you are blessed with sun and full of adrenaline, you may also want to take on the challenge of the Via Ferrata! If subterranean is your thing, there is also Nenthead Mines in Alston.

Driving Day

Road in Wastwater, Lakes
Road through Wastwater, Lake District

Rainy days are good for driving and the perfect time to tick off some of those 'must see' Lakeland villages and towns. You're unlikely to have to share the beauty spots with anyone, and the Lakeland scenery is at its most dramatic and beautiful when the waterfalls are in full force cascading down the mountain sides. Head off and see where the roads take you, or plan your day with one of fifteen Lakeland driving routes.

Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway

Alternatively, if you fancy a day off walking or driving then embrace a rainy day and a slower pace of Lake District life and see the sights by train. Hop on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway, a historic steam train which runs on a three-mile track from Haverthwaite to Lakeside, where you can spend a happy few hours at the Lakes Aquarium.

Country Houses

The National Trust manages a lot of properties around the Lake District. Good ones for a rainy day include mock-Gothic Wray Castle, which is best approached by boat (Windermere Cruises run regular trips on the 'green' route), Sizergh Castle and Dalemain. Pay your respects to your favourite Lake District author at Rydal Mount (Wordsworth), Hill Top (Beatrix Potter), or Brantwood (Ruskin). There are also museums devoted to all three writers if you want to find out more about their lives and the landscape that inspired them so deeply.

Adventure Days

Helvellyn Mountain, Lakes
Helvellyn Mountain, Lake District

The Lake District was made for adventure!

Mountain Biking

There is a wealth of roads and trails suitable for all fitness levels just begging to be explored. Whether you head to the forests of Whinlatter and Grizedale to tackle the exhilarating trails; gently pedal Muncaster Fell, alongside the La'al Ratty Railway line (relatively flat for little legs!) to see the castle; or tackle one of the Lake District's most challenging peaks (and the country's third highest!), Helvellyn Ridge, you are guaranteed a thrilling day. Take a look at some of the Lake District's best mountain bike routes and start planning your day.

Go Hiking

Backpacker on Catbells Mountain
Fellwalking on Catbells Mountain, Lake District

Scafell Pike, just near Keswick, is England's highest peak and certainly worth a look if not a climb. Skiddaw, Helvellyn, and The Old Man of Coniston are easier, though no less impressive options. None of them are for the faint hearted. The Old Man of Coniston is particularly deceptive and, unless you're part mountain goat or a fell runner, you will want to keep some energy in reserve for coming back down. Always check the weather forecast and make sure you're sensibly equipped when you go walking in the Lake District. The weather is very changeable, and even experienced climbers can be caught out.

Dry Mushing

Walking, cycling, paddling and driving are all popular forms of travel in the Lake District but how about dry mushing? There aren't many places in the UK where you can go husky sledding! These dogs love to run so save your legs and enjoy the exhilaration and ride.

A Tricky Descent

This adventure may not be energetic (unless of course you do it in reverse and tackle the climb on a mountain bike!) but it will get your adrenaline rushing. Together, the Hardknott and Wynrose passes hold the claim of being the trickiest roads to drive in Britain. Whether or not you agree with the assessment, they will certainly test your driving skills and are not for the faint hearted! The reward is a tremendous sense of accomplishment and incredible views of the achingly beautiful scenery.


Kayaker on Derwent Water
Kayaking on Derwent Water

With some 16 'lakes' in the Lake District, it is hardly surprising that there are endless opportunities for kayaking (and canoeing). Coniston Water, Derwentwater and Lake Windermere and all good paddling places but if you don't have a kayak or want instruction, contact a company like West Lakes Adventure.

Ghyll Scrambling or Canyoning

If you are not afraid of getting wet and your idea of a fun day out is scrambling across rocks, whizzing down rocky gulleys and jumping in and out of water, then you are sure to love a day ghyll scrambling (great for families) or canyoning (for those a little braver). Father and son team, Andy and Chris Brown, will help you tackle everything the dramatic Lakeland terrain throws at you (whether you have two or four legs!) and promises a great day of fun whatever the weather. There are many outdoor adventure companies including Keswick Extreme who also offer rock climbing, abseiling and white-water tubing (or lazy tubing for the less adventurous) which looks really fun.

Lazy Days

Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows, nr Coniston

Have we made it sound like the Lake District is non-stop fun? Well, yes it is, but that doesn't mean it can't be delightfully relaxing as well.

Tarn Hows

Tarn Hows will give you the sense of accomplishment that comes from walking around a lake, without you having to break into your emergency supply of Kendal Mint Cake (though we wouldn't blame you for wanting to - it's seriously moreish!). The nice flat walk is less than two miles and suitable for wheelchairs and buggies even when it rains. There are plenty of places to stop for a picnic and also a trail orienteering course if you like your walks mentally rather than physically challenging.

Langdale Valley

A visit to this beautiful part of the Lakes should be on everyone's itinerary. There are lovely walks such as the gentile trail around Sticklebarn Blea Tarn. Whether you take a picnic or have lunch at the family-friendly Sticklebarn Pub afterwards, the setting of the Langdale Valley offers all the right ingredients to relax and unwind.


There's a fishing quote that goes "time wasted on the lake is time well spent", and that certainly applies to the Lake District. Rain or shine, you will notice something different every time, whether you cruise Windermere, Ullswater, Derwentwater, Bowness or Coniston. Unless you're going on a Bank Holiday, it's best not to book in advance so you can decide what you want to do on the day based on the weather.

Boats at Keswick boat launch
Keswick Boat Launch

An exception to this is if you're treating yourself to a trip on the Steam Yacht Gondola which leaves from Coniston. The wonderfully restored Victorian steamer runs between April and October, offering picnics and cream teas, including a fun "Steam and Cream" tea where you can see the engine room.

Long Lazy Lunch

There are plenty of places to enjoy a long lazy lunch tasting the finest of local produce. A few of our favourites for a memorable meal are L'enclumes in Cartmel where the reputation of this riverside Michelin Star restaurant speaks for itself (pre-booking essential); Crown Inn at Pooley Bridge with its excellent traditional fare and riverside terrace; Drunken Duck Inn near Ambleside where the beauty of the surrounding scenery rivals the food quality; and the Pheasant Inn near Bassenthwaite Lake with delicious food and a warm welcome to dogs and well-behaved owners!

Chill-out in Coniston

Jetty, Coniston Water
Brantwood Jetty, Coniston Water

It is hard to choose a favourite part of the Lake District, but Coniston is somewhere people tend to return to from one holiday to the next. Start at the Bluebird Cafe for a strong cup of tea and a superb bacon butty. There is no such thing as a bad seat in here because every one of them has been positioned to take in the incredible lakeside views. It's a favourite spot for winter sunshine. Tuck yourself up with a blanket and a hot chocolate knowing that you have nowhere else to be and nothing else to do other than just enjoying the moment. Take a stroll around the lake or walk into town, stopping off at a great pub (or two) for a drink.

Take a Tour

Sit back and take a private tour of the Lake District. It's a great way of seeing all the best bits (particularly if your time is limited), and there are tour operators happy to show you around including Lake District Tours who run specialist photography tours.

Weekenders' Guide

Essential Guide to the Lake District
A whirlwind tour!

A few things you absolutely must experience on your Lake District holiday, even if only staying for a night or two.

Drive the Honister Pass

You'll get a real sense of accomplishment and see the sort of natural beauty that will take your breath away. Stop by the Honister Slate mine if you really want to get your pulse racing.

Be Greeted by a Host of Golden Daffodils

Visit Ullswater in early March to witness the sight that inspired Wordsworth to pen one of his most well-known poems. The writer saw the flowers with his sister as they walked in the woods by Gowbarrow Fell, and the fields of yellow flowers at Wordsworth Point near Glencoyne Bay are a sight you will never forget.

Cruise the Lakes

Whether you set sail from Windermere, Coniston or Ullswater, make the time to soak up the scenery from the water's edge.

Visit a local pub

The Lake District has been welcoming visitors for hundreds of years and has perfected the art of hospitality. There are countless fantastic pubs pulling pints of locally brewed beer and serving plates of the finest hearty local fare. Make the time to stop at one and enjoy the magic of a Lakeland pub.

Have a night with the Stars

The Dark Sky Discovery Site at Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre is in Ennerdale, which has no public lighting and is two miles from the nearest public road. It is the most remote village in the Lake District and one of the best places in the UK to see the stars.

Last Minute Offers in The Lake District

Thinking of a break in The Lake District? Let us tempt you with a selection of our best last minute offers. Remember, we don't charge a booking fee, so the price you see is the price you pay.

Did you know?

The Lake District technically only has one 'lake' (Bassenthwaite Lake) but don't let that disappoint. Whilst the others may not have 'lake' in their title, there are fifteen other glorious bodies of water.

Not only is the Lake District National Park home to England's highest peak (Scafell Pike at 978m), it is also home to the country's longest lake, Windermere, which is 10.5 miles long.

One of the country's oldest sports is still played in the Lakes. Cumbrian wrestling is a legacy of the Vikings who settled here more than a century ago.

George Washington's granny is buried at St Nicholas' Church in Whitehaven. She died while living there with her second husband and never knew her grandson would become the first president of the United States of America.

The Lake District's most infamous son is Lancelot 'Lanty' Slee. In the 1700s he used his knowledge as a quarryman to hide stills for brewing moonshine which he smuggled out via the Wynrose Pass, bringing back illicit tobacco on his return.