A comprehensive guide to visiting the Lake District in Cumbria
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A Guide To Visiting The Lake District In Cumbria!

Are you looking for a picturesque escape from everyday life? Then, the Lake District in Cumbria is the perfect place to visit! With its stunning views, wild and untamed valleys, and abundance of hikes and trails suitable for everyone, it’s easy to see why this national park has become such a beloved holiday spot.

Whether you’re an avid hiker or want to spend time with friends and family, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide filled with all the best tips on getting the most out of your trip. From accommodation recommendations to impressive landscape spots, this blog post will show you everything to know when visiting this breathtaking part of England. So join us as we explore what makes exploring the Lake District so special!

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How to get to the Lake District:

By air:

The nearest airports are Manchester to the south and Glasgow to the north. There is a railway station at Manchester airport with services that run to Oxenholme (next to Kendal) Kendal, Staveley and Windermere.

Carlisle Lake District Airport is now open, offering flights from Dublin, Belfast and London Southend.

For the best deals on flights, I recommend using Skyscanner.

By Car:

The Lake District is pretty easy to get to by car; most visitors arriving by car will travel along the M6 motorway, which runs east of the Lake District National Park. 

Take Junction 36 and then A590 for the southern end of the Lake District.

Take Junction 40 and the A66 or A592 for the northern end of the Lake District.

Average journey times:

  • London and the southeast to the Lake District is about five hours
  • Manchester to the Lake District: 1 and a half hours
  • York to the Lake District: 2 hours
  • Kendal to Keswick: 1 hour
  • Windermere to Keswick: 40 minutes
  • Kendal to Wasdale: 1 and a half hours

If travelling just for the day, then check out this map and the current charges of all the Lake District car parks.

By Train:

The West Coast mainline runs east of the Lake District, connecting Oxenholme, Penrith and Carlisle with London and Glasgow. A direct train runs from Manchester to Windermere. Local trains call at Kendal, Staveley and Windermere. There is also a route following the Cumbrian coastline.

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By Bus:

National Express runs coaches from all over the UK to the Lake District.

Where to stay In The Lake District:

Countless hotels, B&Bs, campsites and hostels are scattered throughout the Lake District. However, if needing to rely on public transport to get around, I recommend staying somewhere central, such as Lake Windermere or Keswick. Both locations have easy access to public transport that will take you to other parts of the Lake District.

For booking accommodation, I recommend using Booking.com. This website offers the best-priced accommodation catering for all budgets and styles. Just pop in your requirements, and it will give you a list of available accommodation options. Perfect for picking out the best hostels, B&B or even some luxury escapes. 

Windermere & Ambleside:

Lake Windermere is England’s largest and most popular lake; it’s 18 km long and almost 67 m deep. Around the lake, you will find many towns and villages, such as Ambleside, Bowness-on-Windermere, Lakeside and Waterhead. Most places have at least a few B&Bs. However, the most popular places to stay are Ambleside or Bowness-on-Windermere. Both towns have a multitude of accommodation options as well as anything else you would need in a holiday destination.

Ambleside is my favourite place to stay in Windermere. Situated a mile inland on its north shore, it’s a bustling little village full of outdoor equipment shops, bookshops, gift shops, cafes and restaurants, a cinema, and some cosy pubs. Its position, nestled between various fells, makes it a great starting point for some great Lakeland walks. Why not walk up to Stock Ghyll Force waterfall or check out the Ambleside Roman Fort? Just watch out for the grazing cows!

Bowness-on-Windermere is the most touristy place in the Lake District. The town is just a mile and a half downhill from Windermere Village and its railway station, making it one of the easiest places to visit on public transport. I find this village far too busy as it’s particularly popular with day trippers. However, If travelling with children, Bowness may be the best place to base yourself as it’s home to Beatrix Potter World and has a small children’s fairground opposite the main jetty. 

Grasmere & Rydal:eatrix Potter World and

Nestling at the foot of some spectacular fells and with its lake, this village has many shops, pubs and cafes. You can also visit Wordsworth’s grave in the churchyard and buy the legendary Grasmere GingerbreadGrasmere is a great place to stay, and it’s also very accessible via public transport from Windermere, Keswick or Kendal on bus route 555.

Grassmere is a lovely little village and doesn’t get too crowded. With no motorboats, this quieter lake is excellent for swimming, kayaking and rowing. In the summer you can also hire rowing boats on the lake. 

One of my favourite spots in Grasmere is visiting Alan Bank House, now owned by the National Trust. Once home to National Trust founder Canon Rawnsley and only partially decorated, this isn’t a typical National Trust experience. Here, you can sit peacefully enjoying a cuppa whilst keeping an eye out for the elusive red squirrels; you can make yourself at home and chill out all day. Hot drinks are available via donation, and you can also bring your picnic. You won’t find much better places to sit and enjoy some spectacular views of Grasmere Lake!

Just a short walk down the road, you will find Dove Cottage, the home of the famous poet William Wordsworth. Learn more about the poet’s life with a visit to this new museum, which contains an incredible collection of original letters, journals and poems as well as Wordsworth’s remarkable life story: his tragic childhood, his travels through the French Revolution, his radical ideas which remain so relevant today, and how he changed literature forever.

Further down the road, you will also find another of Wordsworth’s former homes, Rydal Mount. This beautiful home was where the famous poet lived from 1813 to his death in 1850 at the age of 80. A visit to this house is a must if you are in the area; you’ll find that it has been kept almost the same as it would have been during Wandsworth’s life. Outside, you will find that the gardens are also pretty much the same, including Dora’s Field, named after Wordsworth’s daughter.


Coniston Water is about five miles long and half a mile wide. Above its western shore, the mountain of the Old Man of Coniston towers above the lake and the village. The lake is easy to reach on public transport by bus 505 from Ambleside or the X112 (Blueworks Travel) from Ulverston and Barrow.

The lake was made famous as the place where Donald Campbell died whilst attempting to break the world water speed record. He aimed to better 300 miles per hour. He accomplished this on 4th January 1967, but the craft, ‘Bluebird K7’, shot up into the air and disappeared into the lake. Until early 2001, his body had never been found.

The small Ruskin Museum tells the story. It showcases various Donald Campbell memorabilia and is home to the actual tail fin of K7 and the air intake of the Bristol Orpheus engine recovered in 2001.

Like many of the lakes in the area, you can take a boat trip around Coniston. However, you can also trip on a rebuilt Victorian steam-powered yacht. Enjoy the charm of luxury travel once experienced by wealthy Victorians, riding in style in the Gondola’s opulent saloons or relaxing on her open-air decks as she glides across Coniston Water. The Gondola is now owned and operated by the National Trust; members can get a 10% discount on cruises.

The lake is also close to the picturesque traditional village of Hawkshead, with its winding, cobbled, car-free streets and a selection of shops, cafés and inns. You will also find great views from the church just outside the village. 

Keswick & Derwentwater:

Keswick is one of the most popular places in the Lake District National Park. It’s easy to see why, with its pretty market town situated between rugged mountains and a picturesque lake. Derwentwater is around 3 miles long, surrounded by mountains on all sides, and just a short stroll south from Keswick town centre. The town is also easily accessed by public transport with bus links from most nearby towns and villages.

There are a variety of ways you can enjoy the lake. You can take an 8-mile walk around the lake using the many well-maintained footpaths or enjoy a scenic boat trip from one of the Keswick launches operating around the lake.


Just a short walk uphill from Keswick town centre, you will also find one of the oldest stone circles in Britain, dating back to 3000 BC. Castlerigg Stone Circle is also one of the most atmospheric and dramatically sited circles with fabulous panoramic views surrounded by mountains. The circle is about 30 metres in diameter and comprises 38 stones, which vary in height from 1 metre to 2.3 metres! Just watch out for the grazing sheep!

Buttermere & Northern Lakes:

The lakes in the National Park’s northwest are probably the most peaceful. With no motorboats, they are an excellent choice for a swim, kayak, canoe, paddleboard, or just a gentle lakeshore walk. Take your pick from the beautiful Buttermere, Crummock Water, Loweswater and Bassenthwaite Lake, the only official lake in the Lake District!

Buttermere has got to be one of my favourite spots within the Lake District. With only a 4km low-level walk, Buttermere is one of the smallest and easiest lakes to walk around within the Lake District. Views in the Lake District rarely get better than here!

Buttermere also has a small village nestled on its shore, offering a few fabulous pubs to have a bite to eat and a well-earned beer! On the other side of the village, you will also find its twin lake, Crummock Water. These lakes were once joined together before fall erosion gradually split them apart.

Buttermere is easily accessible via public transport, with buses running every hour during the summer, offering plenty of time to explore the lake and the surrounding area. The bus ride is beautiful, taking you over the Honistor Pass. However, be prepared to stand, especially in peak times in the summer months, as the buses can get packed out, even refusing passengers at times. 

Along the famous Honister Pass, you will also find the Honister slate mine offering adrenaline-packed adventures such as the Via Ferrata Xtreme, infinity bridge and mine tours.


Penrith is a town situated just outside the Lake District National Park. However, it’s a great place to base yourself, especially if you want to explore Ullswater and the surrounding area. As Penrith is a major town in the area, it is also home to a main-line train station and has excellent transport links to the Lake District and beyond. Penrith has plenty to offer, with castles and stately homes to explore, and it is only a short trip on the train to Carlise and the nearby Hadrian’s Wall.

Just a 20-minute ride on the 508 bus from Penrith, you will find yourself in the quaint village of Pooley Bridge, situated on the Northern shore of beautiful Ullswater.

There are various walking trails and hiking trails on offer. Some of which offer panoramic views around the lake and surrounding area. Some more popular trails include the Ullswater Way, Lowther Castle Loop or the Dalemain Loop. For a more strenuous walk, why not head up one of the fells to catch some fabulous views?

You could also take one of the lake cruises to travel around the lake and hop off on some of the best spots to explore more on foot. The Aira Force jetty is one of the best stops for some spectacular scenery. Just across the road, you will find the National Trust Cafe and information centre and a variety of trails taking you uphill to one of the best waterfalls in the Lake District, Aira Force!

Best Things to do in the Lake District:


The Lake District is home to some of the finest walking trails in the UK. There are hundreds of options catering for all types of abilities; for more information on walking trails, check out Walk Lakes and for those looking for accessible routes, Miles Without Styles offers 48 routes that cater for those with limited mobility, including wheelchair users, families with pushchairs, and the visually impaired.

Remember to stay safe when walking, especially when out in the fells; check out the Lake District National Park Safer Walks website for the best information on staying safe.

Some of my favourite trails include the 5-mile circuit around Buttermere and the 3-mile scramble-up Catbells situated on the shores of Derwent Water. Catbells is the more strenuous option, but it’s well worth the effort for the fantastic views from the top.

For those looking for more testing experience, why not head for Helvellyn, the third-highest peak in England? Ascend via the Striding Edge, a sharp ridge whose steep sides plunge into the valleys below. 

If you fancy tackling the highest peak in England, why not walk up Scafell Pike? Although not as dangerous as Helvellyn, it’s still a tough climb up the 978-meter summit.


The Lake District is a popular place for all kinds of watersports; you name it, you can do it somewhere! However, it’s best to do your research first, as each lake has different options. Some allow motorised sports, and others don’t.

You can try canoeing, sailing, waterskiing, paddle boarding or even a spot of diving if that’s your thing! There are also plenty of team-building activities, such as raft-building or dragon boat racing.

Wild swimming is becoming more popular, and there are plenty of places around the Lake District to enjoy a wild water swimming experience. However, it’s essential to stay safe. You can swim in most lakes, tarns and rivers in the Lake District; however, some lakes are busier than others. Check out this helpful guide for more information on wild swimming in the Lake District.

Popular water sports and activity centres include:

Outdoor Adventure:

As well as being a popular place for watersports, the rolling landscape also provides the perfect place to enjoy outdoor adventure sports such as climbing, tree top adventures, abseiling, caving and even a via ferrata or skydiving if you fancy some adrenalin excitement!

So whether you want to enjoy a gentle bike ride or something more extreme, you will be spoilt for choice. Many activities are also suitable for beginners, so you don’t have to be an expert to join in. However, age or fitness restrictions may exist depending on the sport, so check before booking.

Popular outdoor adventure centres include:

  • River Deep Mountain High – Lake District activities, including gorge walking, canoeing, rock climbing, and kayaking. specialising in fun for families, group adventures and team away days.
  • Keswick Adventure Centre – Activities include ghyll scrambling, canyoning, rock climbing, abseiling, canoeing, raft building, paddle boarding and more…
  • Joint Adventures – Activities include gorge walking, archery, bushcraft, team building and family Adventure.
  • Lake District Gyroplanes – You will experience the sheer thrill of taking control of the aircraft – knowing that you will be flying with one of the Country’s most experienced Gyrocopter pilots. You can fly in control for as much as little of the flight as you like, the choice is yours!
  • Skydive Northwest – Experience the thrill of free fall from up to 15,000 ft, reaching a speed of about 120 mph!
  • Hoister Slate Mines – Home of the most thrilling, interesting and memorable Lake District Adventures.


Unsurprisingly, the Lake District is home to many great museums and art galleries with famous writers, poets, and artists who have strolled through the idyllic area. As a result, many of the exhibitions celebrate the lives and works of the Lake District’s most famous residents, such as Beatrix Potter & William Wordsworth. 

Some of my favourite museums include:

Historical houses & castles:

The romantic movement transformed the Lake District and helped inspire some of the best-known arts and crafts artists. Wordsworth, Ruskin, Beatrix Potter and many others have loved this place and made it their home, and you can visit the places that inspired them. One of my favourite houses to visit was Dalemain Mansion near Ullswater. This beautiful estate is home to a splendid house, gardens and its own deer park!

Other interesting Historical Houses include:

Rydal Mount and Gardens – Rydal Mount dates from the 16th century and was William Wordsworth’s best-loved family home from 1813 to his death in 1850 at the age of 80. The house continues to be owned by the Wordsworth family and retains the feel of a lived-in family home, along with a 5-acre garden still in keeping with how William Wordsworth designed it. 

Lowther Castle and Gardens – Built at the turn of the 19th century on the site of two previous houses, Lowther Castle had beautiful gardens and a large estate. But in 1957, the castle was demolished. It was left derelict for over 70 years before an innovative and intriguing renovation made it to what you see today!

Hill Top – The farmhouse made famous by the vegetable patch that tempted Peter Rabbit. The house lets you see how Beatrix Potter lived and her love of the Lake District.

Brantwood House and Gardens – Brantwood was the home of the Victorian intellectual John Ruskin. The house, gardens and estate host many of Ruskin’s treasures, along with contemporary exhibitions, concerts, courses and special events.

Muncaster Castle – the Pennington family has owned Muncaster since the land was given to their ancestor, Alan de Penitone, in 1208. It’s grown from a medieval fortified tower-house or ‘pele’ tower, with many additions up to the late nineteenth century. 

Allan Bank House – Once home to William Wordsworth and Hardwick Rawnsley, Allan Bank has a rich history but isn’t a traditional National Trust property. There’s no collection here, and the building is only partially decorated after a fire in 2011, but by leaving the building as an empty shell, it focuses the eye on the most significant feature of Allan Bank- its landscape.

Roman remains:

There are numerous Roman remains dotted around the Lake District. Throughout Roman rule, northwest England was a predominant military region with forts and other defences found across Cumbria towards the northern frontier, Hadrian’s Wall. 

Roman remains to check out in the Lake District include:

Hardknott Roman Fort – This far-flung outpost of the Roman Empire guarded the pass from Ravenglass to Ambleside. It was built in the second century during Hadrian’s reign and garrisoned by troops from the eastern Adriatic, who policed the area and defended the frontier. 

Ambleside Roman Fort – A century ago, there was little sign that a Roman fort once stood here, guarding the supply route from Ravenglass. Today, you can see the foundations of the headquarters building, commandant’s house, granaries, gates and defences, all exposed by excavations in 1914-20. 

Ravenglass Roman bath house – The 1,000-strong garrison at Ravenglass came here to scrub up. It’s one of Britain’s best preserved Roman military bathhouses, with walls standing nearly 4 metres (12 feet) high. 

Of course, there is so much more to see in the Lake District, such as industrial heritage sites, ancient stone circles, wildlife spotting, and plenty of things to do with children; the list is endless. So, for more ideas for things to do whilst in the area, check out the Lake District National Park website.

Getting around the Lake District:

Walking has got to be the best way to explore the Lake District. However, if wanting to travel further afield, it’s not the best option. Most people use the car or public transport to get around, however as the roads are becoming increasingly busy year on year, use of public transport is now encouraged. 

With this in mind, the region has introduced some excellent public transport links, making it very easy to leave the car at home and travel by bus. I have visited the Lake District many times as I only live in Cheshire. However, I have always travelled by train and used the excellent public transport links to get around. 

Public transport:

As I’ve previously stated, an excellent bus network across the Lake District connects most tourist places and attractions. You can either pay by journey or grab a day or weekly pass. For example, a day pass for Windermere and the surrounding area on the open-top bus costs £8.50 a day or £29 for a 7-day ticket. However, if travelling to some of the more remote regions, then a car will probably be the only option.

For more information and help planning your journey check out the stagecoach website. 

You can also download the Lakes by Bus guide here.


Road cyclists and mountain bikers are spoilt for choice in the Lake District National Park. There are a range of country lanes, permitted cycle ways and bridleways to suit all experience levels, and you can be sure of fantastic views along the way.

If you want to hire bicycles, check out Brockhole on Lake Windermere and Coniston Boating Centre.

By boat:

Taking a cruise is one of the best ways of exploring the Lake District National Park. Combining a one-way cruise with a bus, walk, or cycle can be a great way to travel around a lake in a day.

The following lakes have passenger boats with multiple stops:


Windermere Lake Cruises – stops at Lakeside, Ferry House, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere Jetty, Bark Barn Pier, Wray Castle, Brockhole on Windermere and Ambleside.

Windermere Lake guide showing piers, jetties and towns around the lake.


Ullswater Steamers – stops at Glenridding, Aira Force, Howtown and Pooley Bridge.

Ullswater Lake guide showing piers, jetties and boat routes.


Coniston Launch – stops at Coniston Boating Centre, Waterhead, Brantwood, Sunny Bank, and Lake Bank Jetty.

National Trust Gondoloa – stops at Coniston Boating Centre, Brantwood and Lake Bank Jetty.

Coniston Lake guide showing piers, jetties and boat routes.

Derwent Water:

Keswick Launch – stops at Keswick, Ashness Gate, Lodore, High Brandelhow, Low Brandelhow, Hawes End, Lingholm and Nichol End.

Derwent Water Lake guide showing piers, jetties and boat routes.

Useful tips when visiting the Lake District:

Heading out for a scramble in the fells, remember weather conditions can change in an instant, even in the summer months, so be prepared. Check out this Lake District Mountain Rescue leaflet for more walking safety advice.

Make sure you bring comfortable walking shoes; you’ll be surprised how much walking you will do in the Lake District.

Like everywhere in the UK, the weather can have a mind of its own. Even in summer, you will likely experience all four seasons in a single day! Don’t get caught out in the rain; always carry a rain jacket or umbrella! 

If driving around the Lake District, be warned that some roads can be very busy, especially in the summer. If driving off the beaten track, be warned that the roads can also be very uneven, with many being single-track with occasional passing places.

Final Thoughts:

Visiting the Lake District in Cumbria is a beautiful and unique experience. Its stunning scenery, peaceful atmosphere, and exciting activities make it ideal for people of all ages and backgrounds. With its breathtaking natural features, lush green grasses, and majestic waterfalls, exploring the Lake District feels like stepping into an enchanted wonderland.

Whether you explore on foot, rent a car or cruise the picturesque lakeside roads, there is no shortage of amazing experiences to enjoy. So go ahead and take the plunge and spend some time in this incredible part of the world; you won’t regret it! From its wild landscapes to its vibrant culture, you’ll find plenty here to make your trip special. Your only challenge will be remembering why it took you so long in the first place to come and visit!

Thanks so much for stopping by; I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read and make it to the end! I have lots of exciting new content in the next few weeks, so make sure you pop back to catch up! 

Remember to follow our social media accounts for more travel inspiration and updates. 

Happy travels!

A comprehensive guide to visiting the Lake District in Cumbria
A comprehensive guide to visiting the Lake District in Cumbria

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