The Lake District is the most wonderous place in the UK. That’s a big claim but not unfounded. From climbing rugged mountains to boating on glacial lakes and shopping in historic market towns to adventuring through woodlands, there’s a huge amount of things to enjoy that will suit everyone’s interests.
It is the largest National Park in England after all. And now a World Heritage Site. There are in fact 16 lakes, with Windemere being the largest, and it is home to the 10 highest mountains in England. My point is, it is big and beautiful.
I booked a super last minute weekend getaway to recharge from a difficult few weeks and it totally reinvigorated me. The crisp fresh air and surrounding nature settled my brain and body.
Read on to see where I stayed and find out my 4 favourite things to do in The Lake District.
Where we stayed
Keswick is a market town that dates all the way back to the 1200s. It’s a stunning location not only because it’s neatly nestled between mountains, but because it’s fairly central to everything.
We booked a room at (AD) Bluestones Bed & Breakfast and it’s the best B&B I’ve ever stayed in. A short walk from the centre, inside you will find quirky displays and decorations, large and comfortable rooms, a great power shower (important!), and scrummy hot breakfast. The owner is super sweet too. I would certainly stay here again.
If you’re looking for places to eat, we very much enjoyed an Indian feast at Sultan of Keswick and terrific Thai dishes at Asaya Thai. Thankfully they had room for us to drop in but I would recommend you prebook restaurants.
Some things we didn’t have time to do in Keswick, but would next time is:
- Explore Derwent Pencil Museum. The home of the first pencil! A small, quirky museum. £5 entry.
- Have a laugh at Puzzling Place. An optical illusion attraction where you can take funny pictures. £4.50 entry.
- Relax at Derwent water. A peaceful lake only a short walk from the centre. There is a circular walk you can take.
- Climb to Castlerigg Stone Circle. A mountain top, 5000-year-old stone circle with panoramic views.
4 things to do in The Lake District
1. Hike Old Man Coniston
Old Man Coniston is one of the higher fells in The Lake District and is definitely a walk everyone should attempt. It’s said to be an easier one, but honestly, I was exhausted. I’m a fairly good walker but I found it difficult.
Those who do try the walk are rewarded with dramatic views across Coniston and all the way as far as the Irish Sea. The path is clear but there are rocky and steep sections to navigate. Along the way you’ll meet flocks of sheep grazing on the fields.
We took this circular walk, across Brown Pike and Buck Pike but didn’t make it to the summit. Instead we dropped down to Goat’s water as the winds were too dangerous at the top.
It took us 5 hours as we stopped for regular breaks and picnics. There is a car park at the start of the walk. Use postcode: LA21 8HD.
2. Explore Aira force waterfall
We spent a day in the utterly stunning Ullswater, where you’ll find the second largest lake and the most incredible green pastures. On the drive into the town we just had to stop and capture the dreamy scene above.
We grabbed spot on a layby and walked to Glenridding. Parking is a nightmare and it gets busy at the weekends, so arrive early or squeeze into a layby like us.
Glenridding is a tiny village at the foot of Helvellyn, another gigantic mountain popular with climbers. We skipped that and instead rested by the shimmering lake to watch the dogs in the fields and boats on the water. We grabbed a bite at Helvellyn Country Kitchen before heading to Ullswater Steamers.
Key things to know about Ullswater Steamers:
- Pre-book your boat trip
- There are several departure times
- They have a diverse fleet of boats depending on the cruise you choose
- You have to wear a face mask onboard
- You have to social distance from other passengers
- £8 each for a one-way trip to Aira Force
- You can catch a boat to Aira Force, Pooley Bridge and Glenridding
A cute boat chugged us through the waters and over to Aira Force. We took the short walk to entrance of the park.
From here you can follow a network of trails around the forests. The waterfall was much bigger and more powerful than I was expecting. We experienced the 70 foot falls from the ancient stone bridge at the top and rocky pool at the bottom. A gorgeous spot and easy walk for all.
We took a 1 hour walk back along the lake to our car. You could book a return boat trip if you prefer.
Make sure you read about these beautiful walks less than an hours drive from Manchester!
3. Zoom around on Segway’s
A short drive away you can immerse yourself in Grizedale Forest – a totally epic woodland full of adventure. There are endless trails and physical activities to enjoy. From tree tops courses and zip trekking to mountain biking and hunting hidden sculptures. There is also a visitor centre, playground, café, shop and ample parking.
We booked a Segway experience with GoApe, which was a right laugh. After a thorough briefing and training session, we were let loose in the landscape. Our guide toured us through different terrain as we sped up and down hills. With the wind in our face, the vistas in our eyes and wheels at our feet, it was a truly memorable way to explore.
4. Captain a motorboat
Back in Coniston at the boating centre, we wanted to earn our sea legs so we hired a motorboat. AHOY! For only £40 between 4 people, we were assigned our own vessel to explore the magnificent lake.
Don’t worry, everything was very polite. I promise we didn’t commandeer other water crafts, however I wish we could of flown a pirate flag.
In the hour timeslot, we had a wonderful time either steering the electric motorboat, navigating through those on the water or sunbathing on the back. It drove much slower than we had hoped, but it didn’t take away from the fun factor.
Afterwards we grabbed a spot of lunch at The Bluebird Cafe, conveniently located on the lakeside. It was much needed after a hard day’s work at sea.
I can’t believe it’s taken me 30 years to finally visit this place. And it’s only a 2 hour drive from Manchester! I was blown away by the scale and beauty of The Lake District, and I only did a fraction of the things on offer.
Let me know if you’re planning on visiting! Did you find this guide helpful?