Monday 3 September 2018


The 5 Best Things to See and Do in the Lake District

One place that has been on my travel wish list for years is the Lake District. I love getaways that involve beautiful scenery, so this national park looked right up my street. Despite its relative closeness to London (it's in the same country after all), train tickets are quite expensive so it never happened. But when I had some time off before starting my new job I decided to make the most it and finally booked a return to Windermere in the heart of the national park. While this was the base for my five-day Lake District getaway, two friends with a car also joined for a day and we drove all the way north as well. The national park was everything I hoped it'd be and here are my top tips for the best things to see and do when visiting the Lake District.

Climb Orrest Head Summit

As the base for my Lake District trip was Windermere, needless to say a few of my highlights are centred in this area – and of those Orrest Head was my absolute favourite. Clearly signposted on Church Street (and handily for me just a minute's walk away from my B&B), this is a relatively easy uphill climb with stunning views along the way and a jaw-droppingly spectacular one at the top. At a very leisurely pace (and taking plenty of stops along the way for some photographs) this walk uphill takes about 30 minutes (and a lot less when coming back down). I recommend scheduling 1.30 hours for Orrest Head, allowing plenty of time at the summit for a break to take in the views, snap some shots and have a snack and refuel. I did this on my last morning in Windermere but did wish I'd done it earlier so I could've returned one night for sunset too. Next time!

Drive Down to Castlerigg Stone Circle

Stonehenge may get all the attention (and it's impressive albeit crowded with tourists, don't get me wrong) but I was far more in awe when we made the brief drive from the cute town of Keswick to Castlerigg Stone Circle. Not only was the stone circle, which dates back to 3000BC, beautiful and far less crowded than its famous big brother, but with the Helvellyn and High Seat mountains (and adorable sheep dotted in the fields) creating a back drop to the ancient stone circle, the view couldn't have been more picture perfect. And if you don't have a car but you are in Keswick then you can walk down to Castlerigg too, it'll take you about half an hour from the town centre, which is totally worth it.

Follow in the Footsteps of Beatrix Potter

Exploring the Lake District feels and looks like you've wandered straight into a Beatrix Potter tale. The beloved children's book author and illustrator lived in the Cumbrian national park for a significant part of her life and her surroundings obviously seeped into her work as there were wonky stone walls covered in brambles and rose bushes, and animal wildlife from her books wherever you looked. I'm planning a separate blog post on Beatrix Potter's Lake District, but some highlights included the stunning hour-long country walk from Claife Viewing Station (free to visit) on Lake Windermere's west shore to her old home Hill Top in Near Sawrey (now a National Trust property and very much worth a visit, if only for the beautiful gardens) and a further hour-long walk to the village of Hawkshead for the Beatrix Potter Gallery (and also to sample the scrumptious offerings of The Little Ice Cream Shop).

Take a Ferry Across Lake Windermere

When in the Lake District you of course HAVE to go on a lake. Whether you're into extreme water sports or are more of a relaxed swimmer, you can probably do all that and more in the lake you're near. In my case though, I took more of a lazy approach. Lake Windermere is big and as I didn't have a car it would've been impossible for me to get from one side of the lake to the other every day without taking a ferry across the lake. While it was more of a necessity than anything, it ended up being an unexpected delight. Unfortunately the official ferry from Bowness-on-Windermere wasn't running when I visited (and it won't be back in working order until at least October 2018), so instead I had to take a Windermere Lake Cruise. They offer a range of different travel options, with various stops along the lake, but since I just wanted to get across to the other side I opted for the Bowness to Ferry House shuttle which was a reasonable £5.20 for a return. The comfortable trip is about 15 minutes each way and gives great views over the lake (different each way because the ferry takes a different route from and to Bowness). Well worth doing, even if you don't necessarily have to get across the lake.

Watch the Sun Set Over a Lake

One my first day in the Lake District I arrived in the evening with little time left in the day besides dinner followed by a walk in the immediate vicinity. I opted for exploring Queen Adelaide's Hill, which was a sheep-filled uphill climb just about 10 minutes away from my B&B and walking down to Miller Ground Windermere, a cute little lakeside area with small wooden jettys that made for some spectacular shots as the sun set over the lake. The mountains in the distance created a dramatic backdrop to my self-timed photos as I was running across the jetty from the beach to get in shot in the mere ten seconds my camera allows for such a picture. It was a fun half an hour or so to get it to work (and all the while I was admiring the increasingly orange hue to the sky and reflections in the lake, a beautiful start to my visit).

And that's it for my top tips of the best things to see and do when in the Lake District! Stay tuned for more Lake District posts in the coming weeks, including on Beatrix Potter locations and great places to eat. 

🎵 Listening to: Taylor Swift – Everything Has Changed ft Ed Sheeran

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