By guest writer Emily Dodd
Are you a fell-trekker, thrill-seeker, or food-fanatic? Maybe you’re just looking to explore – whatever you have in mind, this place has it all and there are plenty of reasons to visit the Lake District.
Famous for its lakes, forests, and fells, the Lake District has infinite adventures that await you.
Whether you plan to venture solo, with friends or family, or as a couple, the Lake District is the right choice for you. Wherever you go, and whatever you do, travel here to not only immerse yourself in spectacular scenery, but to make memories that will last a lifetime.
Come rain or wind, sun or snow, you can never have a dull day in the Lakes – so get planning now with our top picks of reasons to visit the Lake District.
Along with its many magnificent mountains, most of you might expect to find an abundance of lakes within the Lake District but, surprisingly, there’s only one true lake in the region – and that’s Bassenthwaite Lake. The rest are meres, tarns, and bodies of water. All of which are equally as stunning, and what better way to enjoy them than a boat ride?
There would have to be a very long list to name every scenic spot within the region, as there’s simply no place that lacks beauty here. With plenty of photographic opportunities to be had, you will be spoilt for choice.
At an altitude of 1,489 ft, prepare for a breath-taking journey along Kirkstone Pass. Although daunting, this is the Lake District’s highest pass, and the most scenic route that connects Ambleside to Patterdale. Brother’s Water lies at the foot of Kirkstone Pass, providing a home to a rare species of fish, the schelly, and has remarkable views.
Admire dramatic views in a venture up Blencathra’s saddle, with an exhilarating scramble to the summit across Sharp Edge – definitely not one for the faint-hearted – although, with numerous routes, this mountain of many moods caters for most.
Choose a clear day and ascend Scafell Pike for panoramic sights where you can see as far as Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and the Isle of Man. As the tallest mountain in England with an elevation of 3,209 ft above sea level, Scafell Pike towers over Wast Water, England’s deepest body of water.
For a lakeside stroll, Windermere is the largest ‘lake’ in the region – in England in fact – that reaches over ten miles in length. Along with Ambleside, these locations are some of the busiest, most popular attractions for Lakeland explorers. But, if you prefer to escape the hustle and bustle, Ennerdale and Wast Water are quieter alternatives that lie a little more remote.
You can walk, bike, ride or drive, swim, sail, or even glide if you’d like – however you wish to explore the Lake District, there are ways and means for everyone.
Take advantage of the fells, forests, and waters, as there’s an abundance of outdoor activities to get involved with; from kayaking and canoeing, to rock climbing and ghyll scrambling – not forgetting the various fells to climb and routes to hike.
The Lake District National Park has devised an extensive list of routes, designed for those with limited mobility. ‘Miles Without Stiles’ contains almost 50 routes to explore within the region with wheelchairs, pushchairs, or impaired vision. With a choice of rough dirt tracks and easy tarmacked trails available in certain locations, no one in the family is left out.
Lace up your boots and head to the mountains to follow one of the famous Wainwright walks across the region. Have you considered walking up Scafell Pike as part of the national Three Peaks Challenge, joining Snowdon and Ben Nevis? Find the perfect path for you here.
Why not challenge yourself to a shot of adrenaline from canyoning or via ferrata, with jaw-dropping heights in the depths of the Lake District.
Discover new perspectives of the Lake District with one of the region’s popular boat rides. Cruises can be experienced on all sorts of boats, steamers, and even gondolas – whilst Windermere and Ullswater offer their very own buoyant attractions.
The food (and drink!)
The Lake District offers a plentiful supply of food that suits all types of budgets, ranging from fine dining to local cuisine – and everything in between.
From artisan bakeries to eminent eateries, your stomach will no longer rumble. Treat your sweet tooth at Grasmere Gingerbread Shop or, for a more savoury option, try the little Steam Bistro in Coniston for a range of fresh, local food.
Still hungry? Fill yourself with eighteen gastronomic courses at L’Enclume, and if that isn’t enough, finish off with a delicious dessert at Choccobar – the proof is in the pudding!
Hailed to be home to some of the best beer in Britain, The Lake District boasts a multitude of microbreweries and its very own distillery. Hawkshead Brewery in Kendal and The Lakes Distillery in Cockermouth might be the first destinations to help quench your thirst.
With all that sight-seeing, settle down somewhere comfortable and budget-friendly at one of YHA’s properties within the Lake District.
YHA has plenty of places to choose from, but here are the top five most popular properties within the region:
This is the perfect lakeside location, situated right on the shores of Windermere. Admire the stunning views of Langdale Pikes from the lounge, or sit outdoors to enjoy the sights with a breeze. The quaint village of Ambleside lies within walking distance, so you can keep yourself entertained with a selection of shops, cinemas, pubs, and restaurants nearby – you can never go wrong with good food and local ales! The Ambleside Pier is just next door, with YHA’s very own jetty and slipway too.
YHA Ambleside offers a total of 249 beds across both private and shared rooms, with some en-suite options available as well.
A destination set in the valleys of the Lake District, surrounded by mountainous views and an incredible atmosphere. Borrowdale is a favourited landscape within the region, and a recommended stop on Wainwright’s Coast to Coast guide. Keswick is located just seven miles away, where you can find the Theatre by the Lake to enjoy various productions throughout the year.
YHA Borrowdale offers a total of 89 beds across both private and shared rooms, with camping pitches able to accommodate up to 25 campers – as well as heated camping pods.
3. YHA Keswick
Laid in the heart of the busy tourist town, Keswick, this property has recently been refurbished with an on-site Riverside Bar and Restaurant. The balconies overlook the River Greta, with views of Latrigg and Skiddaw in the distance. This is the perfect stop for visiting local attractions like The Puzzling Place and Derwent Pencil Museum.
YHA Keswick offers a total of 107 beds across 26 shared rooms, with some en-suite options available as well.
Grasmere may not be the cheapest of places to find accommodation, but YHA solves this problem with their affordable Victorian mansion, YHA Grasmere Butharlyp Howe – enclosed by spectacular sights of the Rothay Valley and nearby fells. Best suited for groups of friends and families, this property is ideal for treating your taste buds at Grasmere Gingerbread Shop, or visiting Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum.
YHA Grasmere Butharlyp Howe offers a total of 80 beds across both private and shared rooms, with camping space for up to 12 people.
This Grade II Listed building looks over Esthwaite Water, in a setting so tranquil that you’ll be lost for words. This property has its very own village of camping pods, cabins, tipis, and bell tents, with extra space for camping – the perfect option for glampers and an interesting way to sleep under the stars. You can explore the nearby forests and Beatrix Potter country from here too.
YHA Hawkshead offers 106 beds across both private and shared accommodation, with some en-suite options available as well.
Heritage and history
The Lake District is a wonderous landscape created by the work of both nature and human activity. From Ice Age glaciers forming the valleys that lie in the region, to the characteristic drystone field margins of unique farming systems – it is no surprise that the Lake District was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status, joining places like the Taj Mahal and Great Barrier Reef.
Some of Britain’s best historical landmarks and monuments can even be found in the Lake District.
Dating back to 1123, admire the rich sandstone of the impressively ornate Furness Abbey in Barrow-in-Furness; or maybe soak up the Neolithic atmosphere at Castlerigg Stone Circle in Keswick, with extraordinary panoramic views and a glorious backdrop of Helvellyn.
In the summer months, watch traditional Westmorland Wresting at local events; and let’s not forget one of the most renowned of all: the Appleby Horse Fair.
Wintry weather shouldn’t discourage a visit either, as there are a number of prestigious events that take place throughout the seasons – from horticultural and agricultural shows, to music, beer, and film festivals.
There are also plenty of museums and galleries to choose from, with choices to cater for all ages.
Possibly the most iconic of all, Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere is a great place to relish some of Britain’s finest poetry.
For a more comedic jaunt, prepare yourself for optical illusions at The Puzzling Place in Keswick, or take a trip to the world’s only museum dedicated to Laurel and Hardy in Ulverston.
Plan a family day out to meet Peter Rabbit at The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction, or see eight-metre long pencils at Derwent Pencil Museum.
Originally from Buckinghamshire, Emily moved to Carlisle to study BA(hons) Wildlife Media to expand her knowledge of the natural world through pens, paper and photo. She strives to create a positive impact in the world through her favoured mediums of photography and writing.
Upon completion of her degree, Emily decided to stay in Cumbria to take advantage of the beautiful scenery and escape the hustle and bustle of life further south. As her love for the outdoors shines through, she maintains key relations with local organisations to offer media independently, allowing her to branch out into various sectors.
Emily hopes to break the mould and pursue a creatively unconventional path that avoids traditional 9-5 work, whilst promoting the cultivation of creativity in all aspects of life.