The Lake District, England’s largest national park, is a true natural beauty of soaring mountains, stunning lakes and mysterious woodlands and valleys. There is no better place to explore the great outdoors, and the picturesque landscapes will leave you in awe.
A holiday with family or friends, a romantic trip for two, or a solo adventure of self-discovery and escapism, the Lake District is diverse in that it offers something for everyone. Find yourself climbing, kayaking or wake boarding on an action packed, adrenaline fuelled adventure, or book into one of the many luxurious spa hotels for a weekend of pampering and Prosecco.
The Lake District is an inspiring location as proven by the many poets, writers and artists whom famously drew their inspiration from the surrounding landscapes and natural beauty, dating all the way back to the 1700’s. It comes as no surprise that the Lake District remains a popular destination for such creatives to this day, as many museums have been dedicated to the famous, and their former homes cherished, maintained and carefully transformed into popular tourist attractions.
When to visit?
Whilst the peak of summer, between June and August, sees traffic jams, pedestrian flooded streets, packed car parks and high prices, the months before and after tend to quieten down, offering the ideal setting for a tranquil, countryside retreat. The weather tends to warm up come April and May with a slight breeze remaining, a real delight when tackling a mountain hike.
Although the Lake District is the ideal location to bring the family for a winter break, be warned that it is not uncommon for local roads to be closed off due to heavy rainfall or snow between November and February. With that being said, a cosy stay in the heart of a quaint village is unbeatable. Wrap up warm for a leisurely walk whilst admiring the unmissable snow topped mountains, and later hide out with a warm mulled wine in a cosy café. September and October sees families get back to routine as new school term begins, students head back to city life, and the Lake District is left tranquil, with a nice combination of locals and tourists filling the streets.
Where to visit?
The south lakes consists of Windermere, Bowness-on-Windermere, Ambleside and Grasmere, which are all scenic areas with many shops, pubs and restaurants surrounded by high mountains and the beautiful Lake Windermere right on the doorstep. From here, Great Langdale valley can be reached within 15-20 minutes by car, as can the charming village of Coniston and Coniston Water. Beatrix Potter’s 17th century farmhouse at Hill Top is also nearby, 6 miles from Ambleside, and 7 miles from Coniston by car.
The former homes of famous poet William Wordsworth can be found in the village of Grasmere, around 8 miles from Ambleside, heading to the north towards Keswick. The breath taking valleys of Borrowdale and Buttermere can also be found in the north, whilst Keswick offers a good central point for exploring the surrounding areas and boasts many shops, pubs and restaurants, as well as a local crafts market every Thursday and Saturday.
From an adventurous outdoor activity, to a cosy, romantic dinner admiring the breath taking scenery, the beautiful English Lake District is the idealistic retreat for escaping the rat race, and homing in to Mother Earth.
Be challenged by England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, absorbing the tranquillity and personal achievement as you reach the top, or surround yourself with lush green fields as you take a wander through the National Parks most wonderful woodlands and waterfalls.
Explore Lake Windermere
Find yourself on a guided cruise of Lake Windermere, and be educated on the historical surroundings, whilst soaking up the mountain scenery and woodland islands. There are multiple pick up points including Waterhead pier at Ambleside, Bowness pier, Brockhole or Lakeside pier, and various cruises to choose from.
Row boats, motor boats and historic wooden boats are all available for hire too, holding up to eight people, and are a great opportunity to create some unforgettable memories as you blissfully make your way around the lake.
For the thrill seeking adventurer, canoeing, kayaking, water-skiing and wakeboarding are amongst the long list of activities on offer at Low Wood Watersports & Activity Centre, boasting a backdrop of the stunning Lakeland fells. Suitable for all ages and abilities as full instruction is given, this is a great opportunity for a heart racing, adrenaline pumping day out.
Lake Cruise: Prices start from £10.80 per adult, £6.40 child.
Private Boat Hire: Prices start from £14 for 2 people per hour, and vary dependent on which style boat you choose.
Pubs & Restaurants
Amongst the winding country roads and charming villages there is a great variety of places to grab a scrumptious bite to eat. Whether it’s some good old pub grub or a spectacular 5* dining experience, you will truly be spoilt for choice. Below, I have listed a few of the top places to eat throughout the Lake District.
The Lily – Ambleside
Perfect for a relaxed dinner with family and friends. Cheese board platter, leg of lamb, or a simple sandwich are amongst the delicious menu.
Zeffirellis Vegetarian Restaurant – Ambleside
The ideal spot for enjoying the terrace and balcony on a warm, summers day, and later hiding away in the romantic restaurant, enjoying a glass of wine over a candle lit dinner. Excellent value for money.
Wateredge – Ambleside
Set on the edge of the lake the food here will keep you full for days, and the stunning view from the wonderful garden is not to be missed.
The Log House – Ambleside
Expect to splash the cash over a hearty, local source of Lakeland meat.
The Swan Hotel – Grasmere
Perfect spot to enjoy some tasty, posh pub grub.
Tweedies Bar – Grasmere
A lively spot to catch up with friends and enjoy a local beer.
The Lighthouse – Windermere
A great hangout for a coffee catch up with friends through the day, and a lively dinner followed by cocktails at night. The interior is spectacular, spread across three floors with views of Windermere, with a fine menu to boot.
Café Italia – Windermere
A new addition to Windermere, Café Italia has took off like a storm. Superb atmosphere, and tasty menu day to night. A blissful spot to watch the world go by tucked up with a blanket under the outdoor heaters with an authentic Italian coffee in hand.
The Village Inn – Bowness-on-Windermere
A spot you would expect to find city central with their contemporary décor and lively atmosphere, the hanging kebabs and burgers here are super tasty and satisfying.
Saddleback Café – Keswick
The best place for a morning coffee fix whilst tucking into a hearty breakfast ahead of a morning mountain hike.
Stay the Night
Nestle away in a quaint cottage and enjoy a cosy night in snuggling up in front of the log burning fire. If you prefer to be catered for, opt for one of the many luxurious hotels set amongst glorious acres of greenery, boasting lake view rooms and stunning spa facilities. In the heart of each village admirable country guest houses can be found offering B&B facilities conveniently located with amenities right on the doorstep.
Heidi’s of Grasmere – Grasmere Village
A perfect, romantic little hideaway. The rooms at Heidi’s are beautifully decorated with modern, shabby chic interior, offering large bathrooms and a delightful little balcony in selected rooms. A true gem in the heart of the village, with Heidi’s café below, and pubs and shops right on the doorstep. The B&B is minutes away from Grasmere Lake and around 200 metres from Easedale tarn where you can enjoy the stunning view of Grasmere and beyond as you reach the top.
Prices from £89 per room
Low Wood Bay Resort Hotel & Marina – Ambleside
Hotel with modern Spa facilities & gym
The 4* hotel has 111 tastefully designed ensuite bedrooms, with some offering spectacular views of Lake Windermere. Enjoy dinner in the hotel’s own restaurant of an evening, and pop down to Café del Lago to enjoy a coffee on the terrace whilst admiring the backdrop of the distant Langdale pikes and Lake Windermere.
Rejuvenate your mind and body by taking a dip in the pool, soaking in the hot tub, or simply taking a moment of detoxification in the sauna and steam room. The gym upstairs has been recently refurbished and boasts a whole host of outstanding equipment ready to be taken advantage of. Whilst the beauty salon downstairs offers a range of treatments from shellac nails to a European seaweed body wrap.
Prices from £122 per room per night
The Hideout – Windermere
Just a five minute walk to Windermere’s railway station, shops and restaurants, the hideaway is the perfect, luxury retreat for a romantic break in the Lakes. All eleven rooms are delicately decorated and they even offer complimentary tea and homemade cakes on a daily basis.
Guests can also take advantage of free access to the spa located at MacDonald Old England Hotel, a leisurely 20 minute walk away.
Prices from £90 per room
White Cross Bay Holiday Park – Windermere
Self-catering lodges, ideal for families
Set amongst idyllic, picturesque woodlands, White Cross Bay offers self-catering lodges and caravans accommodating the whole family, and includes facilities such as an indoor pool, gym, sauna and steam room on site.
White Cross Bay is in the ideal location for walkers and cycling enthusiasts, whilst the park itself offers family entertainment such as Pip Squeaks Mousehouse and Movie Under the Stars.
Prices from £200 per 3 night stay
The Osprey – Windermere
Self-catering boat house
An exclusive, luxury boathouse on the shores of Lake Windermere. This truly inspiring property available for self-catering rental accommodates up to four people and is the perfect retreat for a special occasion such as a honeymoon or Christmas. Exquisite facilities and quirky works of art grace the property, combined with the private mooring and private balcony to admire the jaw dropping views, make The Osprey the ultimate place to stay in the beautiful Lake District.
Prices from £1,400 for 2 people, minimum 5 night stay
Tips before leaving home
Whilst the UK weather remains incredibly unpredictable, it is a Lake District necessity to have a waterproof coat and trousers at the ready. The muddy, rocky trials and steep hills climbs can be tough, so a pair of sturdy, waterproof walking boots are essential, ensuring a good, comfortable fit. Detailed walking maps are available at most outdoor shops, offering both leisurely and challenging routes. It is a great idea to plan a suitable route ahead in line with the amount of time available and the fitness level of participants. Check the weather forecast, start early, take enough food and water for the duration, and ensure you arrive back in time for sundown. A mobile phone is ideal, don’t forget to take photos along the way, but there is no guarantee of signal.