The Lake District in Cumbria, England, is quite simply one of Britain’s most stunning locations.
A National Park and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Lakes should be on anyone’s top 10 of places to visit in the UK.
Not only is the scenery spectacular, replete with mountains, forests and, yes, lakes to explore, but there are also plenty of fascinating man-made attractions, from castles and forts to wonderful restaurants and cosy country pubs, with something to please everyone.
There are many ways in which to “do” the Lakes.
There are great hotels, hostels and inns and many of them boast great scenery. Yet arguably the best way to experience England’s largest national park is to camp in it.
That way, you get to experience its beauty both day and night.
“Wild camping”, also known as pitching your tent wherever you like, is not allowed in the Lake District.
However, there are plenty of places that offer nearly-wild camping, including in the grounds of many of our YHA properties.
Pitching your tent by the edge of the gorgeous wooded grounds at YHA Windermere guarantees a secluded experience.
Alternatively, you might like to try YHA Patterdale’s wild camping field, which is about as far from a commercial campsite as you can imagine, with space for just a handful of tents by a small river that runs down to Ullswater.
Camping vs glamping
Before you decided where to camp, it is a good idea to ask your party what kind of camping experience they want.
Most of the YHA properties now not only offer camping plots but also so-called luxury glamping options such as bell tents, tipis, landpods or even cabins, which offer varying degrees of comfort.
Multi-generational camping in the Lake District
If you are thinking about going camping with a group of people who span the generations – young children, teenagers, adults and older adults – it will inevitably take some forethought.
Camping with kids and camping with teenagers is fairly easy to navigate: simply bring separate tents, or get the teenagers a funky tipi or a bell tent, decorated with solar lighting, all to themselves.
For older adults, or anyone who wants a few more creature comforts while still feeling closer to nature, try the camping pods or cabins at YHA Hawkshead in Ambleside, which have comfy beds already made up for you – and some of which have additional heating to boot.
At YHA sites with various camping and glamping options, once everyone’s set up in the tent, cabin, landpod or tipi of their choice, the family can still be together outdoors for sing-songs and cookouts, enjoying all the benefits of camping, without any of the discomfort!
Best camping locations in the Lake District
As the name suggests, the Lake District is first and foremost about the water.
The national park contains 12 of England’s biggest lakes, including the largest, Windermere, whose name alone inspires the imagination.
It is no wonder it is perennially popular with visitors, as there is so much to do around the 10.5 mile long lake.
Windermere and surrounding areas
Often, the first place many people head to is Brockhole. Not only is there a grand house and garden, containing an info point, shop and restaurant, but there are plenty of activities to do in the huge grounds, including archery, laser clay shooting, boat hire, a treetop adventure area, bike hire, mini golf and so much more!
YHA Windermere is situated close to Brockhole, as well as nearby attractions such as Windermere Lake Cruises, Go Ape, Hill Top and the World of Beatrix Potter, the Lakes Aquarium and Ambleside Roman Fort! The area just has everything.
Borrowdale and around
YHA Borrowdale is ideally situated to explore the northern lakes, including the nearby Derwentwater.
Not only can you organise boat trips (including dragon boats and Viking longboats!), bike hire and climbing outings from nearby businesses, but you can check out the extraordinary Theatre by the Lake, Whinlatter Forest (perfect for mountain biking), Honister Slate Mine, the famous Honister Pass, and the Lake District Wildlife Park.
Or just relax by the firepit in one of its five landpods, overlooking the River Derwent.
Coniston and around
The picturesque Coniston Water might be the perfect setting for your adventures in the Lakes.
YHA Coniston Holly How is in John Ruskin’s stomping ground, with Brantwood and the Ruskin Museum easily accessible.
You can explore the lake via a steam yacht gondola and Coniston Cruises.
And there’s natural and man-made wonders to be found at the Tom Ghyll Waterfalls and Cathedral Quarry.
The western Lake District: Buttermere and Scafell Pike
If you want to avoid the crowds in the Lakes, go west.
Climb England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike from YHA Eskdale.
Or, slightly further north, visit the pair of lakes near YHA Buttermere, which is set in a former Victorian slate hotel near the Honister Slate Mine.
There is loads of climbing, cycling and water sports to be found, plus you are close to the Wordsworth House and – for a more down-to-earth pursuit – the Jennings Brewery.
*Access to shared areas is currently restricted following the Coronavirus pandemic. See our Covid statement for more information.