Why we love the Lake District
Welcome to nature’s playground. From the tip of England’s tallest peak to the nation’s deepest lake, this national park is stacked with super-sized scenery – and there are endless ways to get involved: wild swimming, pack rafting, canyoning, spelunking, sailing… not to mention some of Britain’s premier hiking trails.
Covering 912 square miles (2,362 square km), the Lake District is England’s largest national park and a Unesco World Heritage Site, home to more than 200 mighty mountains and hills (known as ‘fells’). Between them lie beautiful lakes, rivers and tarns, surrounded by thriving towns and historic monuments – a landscape that has inspired great novels and fine artworks, plus countless adventures too.
To discover its geological wonders and cultural treasures for yourself, here’s how to plan an epic Lake District escape.
Big walks, big adventures
Step on a hiking trail, and you’ll see the Lakes District’s beauty in all its glorious detail: the wildflower-strewn hills, the hefty peaks of Helvellyn and Skiddaw – or, if you fancy a gentler amble, the forested shores of its waterways. For the ultimate challenge, scale Scafell Pike; at 978m (3,208ft), it’s the highest mountain in England.
Jump into the unknown
The Lakes might look peaceful, but it’s a thrill-seeker’s paradise too – with canyoning, rock climbing, zip lining, treetop trails and mountain bike tracks. Honister Slate Mine is full of white-knuckle fun, including a via ferrata and Tarzan swings, plus cliff camping for a night you’ll never forget.
Go wild on the water
Whether you paddle, sail, raft or swim, the park’s waterways are ripe for exploring. Pick up a boat from the likes of Windermere and Ullswater, or join a guided adventure of ghyll scrambling, wild swimming, paddleboarding, windsurfing or pack rafting. One thing’s for sure: you’ll make a splash!
Meet the literary legends
The Lakes have long been a magnet for artists and writers. Visit Hill Top cottage to see where Beatrix Potter penned many of her famous children’s books, or retrace the footsteps of William Wordsworth at his home Dove Cottage, which is now a museum packed full of memorabilia.
Go full steam ahead
Hop aboard a heritage railway, for a steam-powered journey through glorious scenery. You’ll have open-top views and the wind in your hair on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, while the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway links up with steamer cruises on Lake Windermere.
Explore the towns, too
Known as the ‘Gateway to the Lakes’, Kendal makes a great first stop on your national park adventure, while Keswick is ideal for exploring Derwentwater lake and climbing Skiddaw. It also hosts the Keswick Mountain Festival in summer, for wild swimming, hiking and live music.
Things to do in the Lake District
Featured things to do
Take a dip
Made some January fitness goals? Wild swimming is renowned for its health benefits, and will literally immerse you in the Lakes’ natural beauty. Hire a wetsuit and dive right in…Learn more about wild swimming in the Lake District
Even in the height of summer, Langdale Valley remains remarkably crowd-free. Its hiking trails lead to some of the region’s most spectacular peaks, with great pubs and restaurants nearby.Learn more about the Langdale Valley
Fire-breathers, fairgrounds and food stalls galore! Celebrate the changing seasons at Penrith’s Winter Droving festival (late October), which fills the streets with masked parades and live music.Learn more about the Winter Droving
When the weather darkens, the Lake District still glitters – with Windermere’s Christmas market, ‘Festive Fridays’ at National Trust Townend, and Ulverston’s fancy-dress Dickensian Festival.Learn more about Christmas in the Lake District
Places to stay in the Lake District
On the move
With a caravan or motorhome, you can explore even further – and enjoy the Lake District’s many beautiful campsites.
Take your pick from charming B&Bs and grand country houses alike. Some also have spas, swimming pools and direct lake access.
Many of the park’s best-loved restaurants and pubs offer accommodation too, so you can dine and stay in style.
Getting to the Lake District
The Lake District is located in Cumbria, in the north-west of England. Manchester Airport is 80 miles (128km) to the south (75 minutes by car), and offers routes to around 200 global destinations. Newcastle International Airport is 75 miles (120km) to the north-east (90 minutes by car), and serves more than 80 destinations. The train from London takes from two hours 35 minutes.
Many of the Lake District’s key locations are served by train, as the West Coast Mainline connects London and Glasgow with Oxenholme, Penrith and Carlisle, and there are local services to Kendal, Staveley and Windermere. The bus network is also extensive, calling at all major towns and villages.
Want to know more?
From its highest peaks to its winsome waters, the Lake District’s official website is full of local tips.