Located in the north-west of England, the Lake District National Park and Cumbria is a hugely popular and worthwhile area to visit. It is the largest national park in England, and second largest in the UK after the Cairngorms in Scotland.
This travel guide aims to explore some of the key aspects of this area of England.
Getting to the Lake District
If by road, the M6 motorway leads right the area’s door. Rail options are available, if somewhat slower than the road, but the coastal train route does offer some great views of the surrounding area.
To maximise your time spent here and allow for a good level of exploration of the area, your best bet is to take a car, you can hire as an option. Be prepared for slower, more winding roads than you may be used to, and always expect a random herd of sheep to be blocking your way!
Most of the accommodation is found in the main towns of Windermere, Ambleside, Keswick and Bowness, however, you will find places to stay across the region such as B&B options, campsites and hostels.
Things to do
The Lake District is best explored outdoors, by walking, exploring and visiting the different areas. The region itself isn't huge, meaning you can easily navigate around different parts throughout your stay. Fell-walking, and visiting the regions lakes, are really what you need to be doing on any trip here. Some of the views you will see will stay with you for a long time.
One of the main activities you will likely partake in will be some local walks. You can venture on routes which progress up the Fells or by the Lakes. Delve into any number of the local shops and pick up a map to detail the walks which fill the area, and plan out a truly memorable route.
Depending on the type of walking you plan to do, you will need to ensure you are well-prepared. If you plan on scaling the peaks of Scafell Pike or Helvellyn – walking boots and waterproofs are a must!
Places to visit
The town of Windermere is the entry point for most, to the Lake District. There is a railway station here, making public transport to the area a possible option. It was the opening of this station in the mid-19th century which enabled mass tourism to take hold. Lake Windermere, which is alongside the town, is the largest natural lake in England, at just over 11-miles in length. The lake itself is a must-see on any visit. You can take a cruise along it, which is an experience you will share with many others.
A mile north of Windermere, you will find Ambleside. This is a town which offers a variety of shops – from outdoor equipment, gift shops, and restaurants, and makes a good base to explore the rest of the Lake District from.
The opposite side of Lake Windermere, to Windermere itself, is Hawkshead. With cobbled streets, you will find this picturesque village a memorable place to visit.
Further north, you will find the town of Keswick. Another key place, where you can base yourself, this town offers a selection of outdoor equipment and other shops to keep you entertained.
Within the Lake District area, you will find numerous pubs, serving traditional English food, normally with generous portions to satisfy your hunger after all the outdoor fell-walking!
As you would imagine, the presence of lakes throughout this area represents a number of worthwhile excursions. The aforementioned Lake Windermere may be the biggest, but be aware it is also the busiest. It is well worth a visit, but be sure to explore some others, to gain a less tourist-based picture too.
Coniston Water is the third largest lake in the Lake District, at 5-miles in length. To the north-west of the lake, you will find the Old Man of Coniston rising above, at 2,634 feet. This is a popular fell with tourists, and paths to the summit are well-marked.
To the north-west of Coniston, lies Wastwater, which is the deepest lake in England. The awe-inspiring lake is surrounded by a number of mountains, including Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England.
To the north of Wastwater is Lake Buttermere, which is incredibly accessible, and can be walked around in about 2-3 hours, making it entirely manageable. Head a little to the north-east for Derwentwater, which is about a 10-minute walk from the town of Keswick.
Continue east, past Helvellyn – England’s third highest peak – and you will find Ullswater. Ullswater is the second largest lake in the area and offers the ability to partake in activities such as sailing, kayaking and boat trips. Short to more challenging walks are available, and some of the views of the fells are unmatched.