The Lake District is the UK’s largest national park with more than 200 peaks to climb and hundreds of small towns and villages to explore. You’ll find it in the county of Cumbria and if you’re driving up from the south of the UK, you’ll know when you’ve arrived just by looking out of your window.
The Lake District covers more than 2000 square kilometers of greenery and is home to England’s deepest waters, over 26 miles of coastline, and around 28,500 hectares of woodland. You’ll also be interested to know that, despite its name, the Lake District is only home to one official lake – Bassenthwaite. The rest are considered ‘waters’.
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Now we’ve covered the facts, we’re sure you’ll want to know more about the North-Western region of England and the best things to do in the Lake District – as told by the team over at Adventure Pending.
1. Take on an adventure at Honister Mine
Honister Mine is the last working mine in England and is also home to a fantastic range of activities to suit all abilities. Purchase the Honister Experience pass to combine any of the mine’s high-adrenaline activities with its famous underground tour to get the most out of your trip.
Start the day with a guided mine tour where you’ll learn the history of the area and take a trip back in time thanks to special effects and enhanced reality technology. Then, in the afternoon, you’ll take on a climb of Fleetwith Pike, walk the Infinity Bridge, or even go Gorge Scrambling.
Honister Mine has even added a range of brand-new guided walks for 2021, encouraging walkers of all ages and abilities to explore the Lake District safely this year.
Stay near Honister Mine at the Langstrath Country Inn, built around 1590, this was originally a miner’s cottage. Today there are en-suite rooms, excellent home-cooked food in the Inn, and a great location. Check dates and availability here.
2. Climb England’s tallest mountain
A large percentage of the Lake District’s yearly visitors come to hike. This comes as no surprise – the Lakes is home to hundreds of fantastic fells including England’s tallest mountain, Scafell Pike. This glorious fell stands at 978 meters above sea level and is part of the UK’s Three Peaks Challenge.
Most begin their hike at Wasdale Head and take between two and three hours to reach the summit. Near the top, you’ll find the highest standing water in England – Broad Crag Tarn. You might be surprised to learn that you’ll also come across England’s highest war memorial, as cared for by the National Trust.
If you’re going to take on the challenge, we’d recommend using a dedicated hiking backpack, a good pair of hiking boots, a filter water bottle, and some hiking poles. Be prepared! However, if you don’t fancy the walk, there’s also plenty to do around Scafell that’s closer to the ground. Enjoy a picnic in Wasdale Valley or explore Wast Water – England’s deepest waters.
Book a room at the fabulous Strands Hotel and Microbrewery. It’s in the perfect location for making your attempt on Scafell Pike and some of the other fabulous hikes around here. All rooms are ensuite, the food here is amazing and you’ll be extremely comfortable. Book dates early, especially during holiday periods!
3. Visit the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop
Those with a sweet tooth will really like this stop on the Lake District map – it’s one of our favorite things to do in the Lakes. Head into Grasmere to find the gingerbread shop that claims to be home to the world’s best gingerbread.
It was invented by Victorian cook Sarah Nelson in 1854 and has clearly stood the test of time, now run by third-generation owners Joanne and Andrew Hunter. The dainty cottage shop welcomes hundreds of visitors each week with people flocking from around the world to try Grasmere Gingerbread for themselves.
Plus, if you’re not a fan of gingerbread, the shop also sells award-winning rum butter, fudge, chocolates, conserves, and more.
Heidi’s Grasmere Lodge is perfectly located for a visit to Grasmere. Rooms here are individually decorated and are SO comfortable. An amazing breakfast is included in the room rate, which you can check here. And, of course, the all-important free parking is included here too!
4. Take in the scenery by railway
The Lake District is huge and there’s simply way too much to fit into a long weekend, so why not take some of it in by rail? Hopping on a train at any Lake District railway station will take you on a beautiful scenic tour of the area and all it has to offer.
We’d recommend taking the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway – it’s considered one of the oldest and longest narrow-gauge railways in England and offers spectacular views of the Lakes. The steam train stops at multiple points of interest including Ravenglass and Hardknott Pass, and it takes around 40 minutes to travel each way. If views are important to you, then check out these amazing, even sublime views from hot tubs.
You’ll want to book a room at the Inn at Ravenglass to enjoy your time here in Ravenglass. Rooms are comfortable and it’s in a great location, with free private parking. There are fabulous views and breakfast is fantastic! Check room rates here.
Buy an all-day pass to hop on and off the train as you please, enjoying the views as you travel in style. It’s easily one of the most enjoyable things to do in the Lake District.
5. Tuck in at some of the best restaurants in the UK
There’s no doubt you’ll constantly work up an appetite when visiting the Lake District. Luckily, Cumbria has you covered- boasting some of the best restaurants in the UK. You’ll find good pub grub alongside the best fine dining locations in the Lakes, so you’re sure to come across plenty to suit your style.
For a luxury dining experience, visit The Forest Side in Grasmere. This award-winning restaurant serves up some of the best dishes in the Lake District alongside a glimpse of the Lakeland Fells. Treat yourself and book a room at the Forest Side for the night. The hotel is located in a forested estate in the Lakes – and the stately home is incredible. You’ll need to book rooms early, this is a popular spot.
If you prefer a good pub meal, take a trip to The Drunken Duck in Ambleside. This regional favorite has been around for more than 300 years serving up local ales and some of the best food for miles.
6. Head to Lake Windermere
We simply couldn’t write a list of the best things to do in the Lake District and miss out on Windermere. At 10.5 miles long, it’s considered the largest body of water in England.
A small village less than a mile from the shores of the lake also takes the name Windermere. We’d recommend taking a boat cruise along part of the lake, then spending the rest of the day visiting all the attractions that surround it. There are heaps of places to stay around Windermere, but our favorite is the Swan Hotel at Newby Bridge. It’s in a great location, so you can explore, but rooms here are fabulous, views are amazing and the rooms are pretty special too. Check dates and availability here.
An equally gorgeous place to stay, especially if you have kids is Brockhole – there’s more here as to why it’s perfect for the active family in the Lake District.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hire your own boat to get out on the water. On rainy days, you might enjoy a trip to Wray Castle on the western shore or the Lakes Aquarium – home to the UK’s largest collection of freshwater fish.
Like the Lake District? You’ll love Keswick, one of the most beautiful villages in the UK.
Travel Tips for Exploring England
- Book the best tours and guides on GetYourGuide
- Book Trains & Buses with Omio
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Final words on the best 6 things to do in the Lake District
The Lake District is a destination you’ll be able to come back to time and time again, yet find new attractions and fun activities with each visit. This UK national park is home to miles upon miles of water, woodland, and rocky mountains to keep you guessing. There’s simply an unending list of things to do in the Lake District.
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