Category: Holiday Activities

The 13 Best Places To Visit In The Lake District

If you’re looking for a quintessential British holiday destination, the Lake District is one of the most popular spots in the entire country. With miles and miles of beautiful scenery, plenty of charming little towns and villages and an impressive historical legacy, there are hundreds of different things to see and do around the area that bring all kinds of visitors at all times of the year.

The range of different places to visit in the Lake District is vast, but this list has brought together some of the top-rated locations and attractions to help you decide where to go when you’re next in the area.

Grasmere

Grasmere is a village that is maybe best known for the iconic gingerbread named after the area, but it’s also one of the best places to visit in the Lake District that was described by the famous poet William Wordsworth as the “loveliest spot that man hath found”. Wordsworth lived in the village for fourteen years, and many literary fans come here to pay respects at his grave at St Oswald’s Church and visit some of the locations that the poet was said to have spent his time.

Despite its small size, tourism in Grasmere has meant that there is a great range of different things to do in the area alongside the literary attractions. Several established walking routes begin and end in the village, there are two nearby lakes and of course, the famous Grasmere Gingerbread shop is well worth a visit.

Tarn Hows

Tarn Hows is well regarded as one of the best places to visit in the Lake District if you’re looking to enjoy the stunning scenery that this part of the country is so well known for. Found to the north of both Hawkshead and Coniston, the tarn was originally three small bodies of water that were joined together in the 19th century and was once the property of famous author Beatrix Potter, who gave the land to the National Trust in her will.

There is a popular, circular walking trail around Tarn Hows that is paved and suitable for wheelchair users or pushchairs, and its short length makes it a great walk for families with younger children. The tarn is in quite a remote location, but there is a car park nearby that has an ice cream and refreshment van during the high season for tourism.

Scafell Pike

Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England, so it’s no surprise that this is often recommended as one of the best places to visit in the Lake District. Rising 978 metres into the sky right in the middle of the national park, all kinds of walkers come here year after year to tackle the ascent and enjoy jaw-dropping views from the summit (as long as the weather is good).

As well as being an iconic walking spot, many people don’t know that Scafell Pike is also a memorial to the memory of those who died in WW1, gifted to the National Trust so that the population could enjoy the freedom of exploring the mountain. It’s a relatively challenging climb so preparation is needed, and can be tackled from either the north at Seathwaite or the south at Wasdale Head.

Coniston Water

The Lake District is (obviously) most famous for its large bodies of water, and Coniston is one of the best known in the area. The fifth-largest lake in the national park, there are three small islands in the middle of the water that are owned by the National Trust and a range of attractions around the edge including the popular Coniston Boating Centre where visitors can enjoy a range of different water sport activities.

Coniston Water is a great Lake District place to visit if you’re interested in historic and literary figures. Author Arthur Ransome based the popular children’s book ‘Swallows and Amazons’ on the lake, influential Victorian philosopher John Ruskin lived next to the water in the late 1800s, and Sir Malcolm Campbell attempted the water speed record on Coniston Water in 1939.

Ullswater

The second largest lake in the Lake District is Ullswater, located at the foot of Helvellyn. Stretching out for 7.5 miles, there is a range of beautiful scenery around the water that makes this a great alternative location to Windermere if you’re after dramatic lakeside views but don’t want to share the area with quite so many tourists.

Many people claim that Ullswater is the prettiest lake in England, but as well as the attractive views it’s also a great place to visit if you’d like to travel across the lake on one of the famous Ullswater Steamer boats or visit the famous market town of Penrith.

Bowness-on-Windermere

Lake Windermere is one of the best-known places of interest in the Lake District, and the town of Bowness-on-Windermere is one of the highlights of the area. The large tourist town is right on the edge of the water and is a great place to stay if you’re looking to explore the surrounding Lakes and are a big fan of enjoying outdoor activities on your holiday.

Boat trips or watersports on the lake are one of the most popular things to do when visiting Bowness-on-Windermere, and many well-known walking trails start or end in the town that bring plenty of tourists through here year after year. The World of Beatrix Potter is a top attraction for families, and there are plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants that make it a brilliant place to come for the day or a longer visit.

Kendal

Kendal is a large town that is home to some of the best attractions of the Lake District. Whilst technically outside of the official Lake District National Park, it’s still a very popular place to visit for those staying in the area and is perhaps most famous for its iconic Kendal Mint Cake.

If you’re looking for arts and culture in the Lake District then Kendal is one of the best places to visit, with festivals and events happening all year round that celebrate art, music, theatre and outdoor pursuits. It’s also a thriving location for shopping, whether that’s from the wide range of independent shops and better-known brands or at one of the local markets that are organised every month.

Another top attraction is Kendal Castle, built in 1200 and overlooking the rest of the town in a ruined state that is still visited by thousands of visitors every year.

Keswick

The large town of Keswick on the shores of Derwentwater is one of the biggest tourist hubs in the northern part of the Lake District, and is a brilliant place to visit if you’re looking for great food, culture and scenery. Originally a market town, there have been markets held in Keswick for the past 700 years and it remains a great location for shopping, both from the visiting stallholders and the range of stores lining the streets.

The food and drink scene in Keswick is very impressive, with plenty of lovely little cafes as well as high-quality restaurants and welcoming pubs. A cultural highlight is the famous Theatre By the Lake that has two stages and hosts a wide range of different performances and events, whilst other notable attractions are the town include the Wordsworth House and Garden, Keswick Alhambra Cinema and Derwent Pencil Museum.

Eskdale

Eskdale Valley is part of the South West Lake District and home to some of the best views in the whole area. The River Esk runs along the bottom of the valley that was formed by ancient glaciers and creates brilliant terrain for walking and hiking which is what many visitors come to the area to enjoy.

Top Eskdale tourist attractions include the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway – also known as the La’al Ratty – Stanley Ghyll Force waterfall, Burnmoor Tarn and Blea Tarn. It’s a great place for fans of wild swimming, with plenty of tarns and deep spots in the river that are ideal for a refreshing dip on days when the weather is warm.

Ambleside

Found about a mile inland from Lake Windermere, Ambleside is a very popular place to visit in the Lake District if you’re a walking fan. Its close proximity to many of the best walking trails and outdoor attractions in the area means that lots of people choose the town as a place to base themselves for active holidays, either on Windermere or in the surrounding hills.

A great walk from Ambleside is to Stock Ghyll Force; one of the best waterfalls in the Lake District where you can watch water cascade down a 70-foot drop surrounded by dense, forest greenery. Ambleside has also become known as one of the top locations for shopping in the Lake District, with a brilliant range of high street shops and independent brands as well as pubs, cafes and restaurants.

Wastwater

Wastwater is famous for being the deepest lake in the Lake District. At 260 feet deep it’s an impressive body of water with mountains rising up on each side that make it a lake with some of the most dramatic scenery in the entire national park.

Scafell Pike is one of the mountains found near Wastwater, so it’s a nice place to stop for a rest either on your way up or down the mountain. St Olaf’s Church is found right at the end of the lake which holds the title for England’s smallest church, surrounded by the graves of climbers who have lost their lives trying to tackle the challenging terrain around the water.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle is the Lake District’s answer to Stonehenge; a dramatic landmark that was thought to have been raised in about 3000 BC. It’s one of the oldest examples of a monument like this in Europe, and you can understand why it was chosen by ancient people as a place for ceremonies and performances when you take in the thrilling panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and fells that include Helvellyn and Skiddaw.

Located just outside of Keswick, it’s a beautiful place to come as the sun is rising or setting to really get a sense of the magical atmosphere of this place.

Honister Pass

Honister Pass is a piece of land that connects Buttermere and Borrowdale Valley in the northwest of the Lake District. It’s a very popular place to walk that many hikers use as the start of their journey up to Great Gable or Dale Head, but the pass itself is still a steep 1167 foot climb to the summit.

In the centre of the Honister Pass is the Honister Slate Mine adventure centre, which offers visitors a range of outdoor activity experiences including rock climbing, mine tours and canyoning.

Summary

The Lake District National Park covers a vast area of the UK, and trying to narrow down the best places to visit within it can be challenging. What you decided to see and do on your trip will very much depend on what you enjoy on your holidays, but this list has covered a little bit of everything. Whether you’re a walker, a foodie, a shopping fan or are seeking arts and culture, there are plenty of places you’ll find them all in the Lakes.

If you’re planning a holiday to this famous national park and are looking for outstanding accommodation options, why not take a look at our range of Lake District self-catering properties.

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