The Lake District, also known as “Lakeland”, is located in Northwestern England and it’s a popular holiday destination. Here, classic English towns are scattered among expansive lakes and gently rolling hills that create beautiful scenery associated with many Lake Poets and their writings in the 19th century.
The Lake District, actually ( at least to me), doesn’t have many “one-of-a-kind”, unique, or iconic landmarks compared to any other English town in England. Having said that, it has a subtle beauty and a poetic quality that has been an inspiration to countless artists, poets, writers, and basically everyone who visited the region or called it home. Many artists got inspired here, for example, the author of Peter Rabbit Beatrix Potter. Under their pens or brushes, they have made a concerted effort to make this place even more romantic. So, it is the atmosphere and poetic quality that makes the Lake Districts a wonderful destination for tourists.
“Our first ascent in Lakeland, our first sight of mountains in a tumultuous array across glittering waters, our awakening to beauty.”
The Outlying Fells of Lakeland – Alfrd Wainwright
The best time to go to the Lake District
While summer is usually the peak season for families and locals to spend their holidays, there’s really no strict period of time for you to go there. The sceneries in different seasons offer a different look and feel.
The best time to go there hiking is in autumn, the foliage adds layers of colors to the hills and the sceneries are magnificent. To stay away from the busy crowd – get cozy, and stay in a bed and breakfast during winter, head out to appreciate the looming beauty of nature. Back to spring, the district is a bit quieter, where you can just have a stroll under trees that are starting to bud and the hard ground softens. The Lake District does get damp with rain in wet seasons (usually around winter and spring), while the dry season is between May to September.
How many days should I spend in the Lake District?
It depends on your own plan because the Lake District comprises a number of towns and villages. Some decided to focus only on one place, and some want to explore. A “general” sightseeing trip should take about 3 days. Add more days if you want to join an activity or tour, for example, going on a hike, rowing a boat, or going on a yacht trip.
What are the highlights in the Lake District?
The lake district is all about its own lay-back and poetic charm. Still, it has a few attractions and landmarks worth a visit. Some well-known beautiful places in the district include Buttermere, Haystacks, Crummock Water, Wasdale Valley, Galleny Force Waterfall, Saint Herbert’s Island on Derwentwater, Grasmere Village, and more.
How to get around the Lake District?
There are buses and many public transportations available in the Lake District. There are trains heading to Windermere, and hop-on-hop-off coach buses running from Ambleside to Lakeside through Bowness-on-Windermere.
Tour buses that run around the Lake District are not so frequent, I was on the bus planning to go to the peak but then I got off at the wrong stop and ended up at a place called Hawkshead… I had to wait for the returning bus home an hour later or I might have to sleep in the wild for the night…. One of the most lovely moments that I had with the bus tour was sitting on the upper deck (Open-top!), playing Olly Murs’s ‘Army of Two’, and enjoying the breeze and the view as the bus ran alongside Lake Windermere (The branches might hit you in the face though).
Scenic train like the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway connects Lakeside to Haverthwaite. To go a little further, minibus tours go around the Lake District. Of course, cruises on Lake Windermere connect to several points of the lake, serving for both transportation and sight-seeing purposes. It is convenient to rent a car and head to different places with freedom, yes it’s not a problem to explore on a bike or simply on foot.
Main sights and towns around the Lake District
The Lake District spreads widely in the County of Cumbria, and England’s largest natural lake, Windermere, is the hub for tourists visiting the district. Windermere Train Station is the window to the outside world.
Lake Windermere is the largest lake in the area with a length of 17 kilometers. It is also the largest in the United Kingdom. In the south, stay at Amberside or Grasmere, or in the North, Keswick – these are the most popular locations as a hub to head to other places in the district.
The Windermere Lake Cruises is a very popular scenic lake cruise and it offers several routes that take tourists to different spots around the lake in 45 minutes to an hour.
Bowness: There are many historic sights located around the lake, together with country pubs, intimate bed and breakfast, tea houses, and gift shops; Lake Cruises and tour buses run between the towns such as Bowness / Windermere, Ambleside, Hawkshead, Grasmere, and more.
Bowness is the closest to the main train station Windermere and the commercial district is the busiest with tourists traveling around. The World of Beatrix Potter showcases the 23 fairy tales with the Peter Rabbit. The museum recreated the Peter Ribbits world in 3D where visitors can experience what it’s like in Peter Rabbits’ world (including McGregor’s greenhouse) and interact with the characters. By the lake, Windermere Jetty Museum showcases historic heritage steamboats.
Lakeside: The Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway is a classic steam train ride with delicious scones sold at the train station. L’Enclume is Simon Rogan’s flagship restaurant, located in the Lake District village of Cartmel, situated in a former 13th-century blacksmith’s workshop, and it’s constantly named the best restaurant in the UK.
Ambleside: It is a quiet town with lots of restaurants, and B and B, check out the farmer’s market on Wednesday morning as you will find a lot of homemade jam, bakeries, and fresh produce.
Grasmere: In the north, the town has a number of landmarks like the Dove Cottage, and Rydal Mount – the former residence of important poet William Wordsworth.
Hawkshead: Head to Hill Top and check out Beatrix Potter’s former residence, the Beatrix Potter Gallery is a charming gallery from the 17th century that showcases original sketches and artworks of the influential artist.
Carlisle: The town is located at the border of England and Scotland, and it’s been quite unstable for centuries until the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. It is now a charming town with heritages like Carlisle Castle, Carlisle Cathedral, Tullie House Museum, and Art Gallery.
Keswick: By Lake Derwentwater, the town has a beautiful view and is a great hub for those who would love to explore the northern area in the Lake District. It is the starting point for a number of walking trails (as I will mention in the next paragraph) – in fact, the Castlerigg Stone Circle, located about 3 kilometers away from the village, is a heritage that is older than Stonehenge.
Beautiful trails in the Lake District
There are many walking trails between Amberside and Grasmere the Skiddaw is a mild peak that is suitable for families. Seathwaite in Duddon Valley is perfect for foliage in autumn. For a more challenging route, head to Saint John’s in the Vale and climb Castle Rock. Cumbrian Way from Carlisle to Ulverston is a 100-kilometer long trail, and Coast-to-Coast Walk is a 306-kilometer trail that connects the Lake District to York.
High Wray / Wray Castle Walk: Take a boat to the north side of the lake, and then head to the Wray Castle. Go trekking along the west side of the lake and head to the Ferry House, take the boat, and head back to Amberside.
Beautiful trekking trails in the Lake District:
- Blea Tran Trail
- Aira Force and Gowbarrow Trail
- Tarn Hows Circular Walk
- Ambleside to Troutbeck
- Stickle Tarn Trail
- Rosthewaite, Watendlath, Grange in Borrowdale Circular Walk
A sweet little short vacation in the Lake District: it has romantic beauty but also exciting activities for different types of tourists. I stayed there for a few days to enjoy the sights, and it was possible to explore nature with outdoor sports or trek through the hills as well. For the Lake District, to me, it’s not about seeing all the historic sights and attraction spots (because there is so much more in other English towns like Durham (my town :P), York, Oxford, and Bath, … it’s about slowing down and feel.