Lake District holidaysThe sample prices are per person based on two people travelling!
LAKE DISTRICT HOLIDAYS
English is the official language in the Lake District, which is part of England. While some of the population may have studied another language such as French or German in school, the primary language is English and the one in which locals are most likely to communicate.
The pound sterling is the official currency of England, including the Lake District. Money can be changed at banks or bureaux de change. Some hotels, shops or restaurants may accept euro or US dollars, but this is rare and the exchange rate is unlikely to be favourable. ATMs are readily available throughout the region, particularly at banks and supermarkets. Credit cards are commonly accepted at stores, hotels and restaurants.
As part of the UK, the Lake District can be visited by EU, EEA and Swiss nationals visa-free. Nationals of many other countries are also entitled to visit the UK without a visa for stays of up to six months. The Home Office UK Border Agency website has a full list of countries whose nationals need a visa to visit the UK. Travellers can get the appropriate forms and a full list of requirements from the British embassy in their home country. Passports must be valid for six months past the planned date of entry into Britain.
The Lake District has a cool, wet climate with four distinct seasons. The temperature does not vary greatly throughout the year. The coldest month, January, averages about 3°C and the hottest month, July, averages about 15°C. The Lake District receives a lot of rain as the wettest part of England. Winter is cold and runs from December to February, during which time frost and snow can be expected. Spring runs from March to May and is the driest time of year. Summer, running from June to August, is the warmest time, with the rains coming in mid-autumn, which runs from September to November. Fog and gales (wind storms) are common and can occur at any time of year.
The closest airport to the Lake District is Blackpool International Airport (BLK), about an hour’s drive away. Other nearby and more popular international airports include Manchester International Airport (MAN), Newcastle Airport (NCL) and Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LPL), which are all about two hours’ drive away from the Lake District.
Blackpool is serviced by Aer Lingus, Jet2 and Manx2, which fly regular routes between Blackpool and Dublin, Belfast, Alicante and the Isle of Man. Manchester and Liverpool airports sees significantly more traffic, with a huge variety of carriers bringing visitors to these locations from all over the world. British Airways schedules regular flights between all London airports and both Manchester and Liverpool, with the journey taking just over an hour in both cases. Visitors wishing to use Newcastle Airport to get to the Lake District can do so either by catching a Flybe flight from London-Gatwick or a British Airways flight from London-Heathrow, with either journey taking about 1 hour, 30 minutes.
Overseas travellers usually fly directly into Manchester or Liverpool, or stopover in London before heading to Newcastle, Liverpool or Manchester. Tourists already in Britain are just as likely to drive or take a bus or train. Significant discounts on rail and air tickets can be had when booking online in advance or when travelling at off-peak times.
It is possible to get to Lake District by bus, rail or car, all of which are popular options for visitors who are already on British soil. Hire cars are readily available, with big brands such as Avis, Hertz, Budget, Thrifty and Europcar well represented. Virgin runs a regular train service between London Euston Station and the towns of Penrith and Oxenholme. There is a local train that runs from Oxenholme to Windermere. The National Express Bus service runs regular trips between London Victoria and most of the main towns of the Lake District.
Most people get around the Lake District by bus or hire car. Travelling by bus is cheaper although not as efficient. Buses are promoted by local authorities as a greener travel option that helps reduce traffic congestion. Cycling is popular and bicycle hire places plentiful. The Lake District is a rural area so although the roads are usually well signed and reasonably maintained, some can be very narrow and drivers should be on the lookout for animals and people on the roads.
Stagecoach provides a local bus service connecting most of the villages in the Lake District. The 555 Lakes Connection goes from Lancaster to Keswick via Kendal, Windermere, Ambleside and Grasmere. Travellers can purchase tickets on the bus, the fares are relatively cheap and the buses are fairly new, well maintained and comfortable. There are also coach operators who offer scenic tours of the area.
The National Rail train that runs through the Lake District stops at Oxenholme and Penrith. There is also a train between Windermere and Oxenholme. At the southern end of Lake Windermere, a scenic railway runs from Haverthwaite to Lakeside via Newby Bridge Halt.
Hire car is an easy, although not necessarily cheap, option for getting around the Lake District. Major rental firms such as Avis, Hertz and Europcar have offices at Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle airports. Drivers need to be over 21. Additionally, there are several taxi firms operating in the Lake District, offering a convenient way to get across town or move between villages.
The moody atmosphere and lush vegetation of the Lake District attracts artists, poets, walkers, cyclists, photographers and romantics from all over the world. As the name suggests, the Lake District has many beautiful lakes, which are not only pleasant to look at but are good for water sports and boat cruises. The quaint villages that dot the countryside add to the area’s charm.
Penrith, in the northeast, is one of the largest settlements of the Lake District and a good base from which to see the many nearby historic houses, castles, villages and natural wonders. Not far from Penrith is Keswick village, established in the 12th century and now known for its beautiful scenery, old buildings and landmarks such as the ancient Castlerigg stone circle. Another Bronze Age stone circle, Long Meg and her Daughters, can be found not far from Penrith, at Little Salkeld.
Windermere, the village on the lake of the same name, is one of the most famous and most popular Lake District towns. Visitors come here to see England’s longest lake, ride its famous paddle steamer boats or the old steam train, explore the historic village and enjoy the countryside.
At the other end of Windermere Lake are the villages of Ambleside and Grasmere. Both are popular with tourists who come not only for the lake, but the recreation and to see the houses once owned by William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. Other nearby, picturesque hamlets include Rydal, Elterwater, Langdale and Skelwith.
Ullswater is the second largest and reputedly most beautiful lake in England. Famous Ullswater Steamers sail its waters, connecting the various villages on its shores. Glenridding, a former mining town, is now a tourist hub with a sailing centre and steamer port. On the other side of the lake is Pooley Bridge, a pretty village of stone and whitewashed buildings which is close to attractions such as the Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre and the 17th century Dalemain historic house. The quaint towns of Patterdale, Watermillock and Howtown also dot Ullswater’s shores.
Coniston is perhaps the most famous destination in the Lake District, boasting the third largest lake in the UK, Coniston Water, the famous Old Man Coniston mountain, old copper mines and historic buildings such as the 16th century Coniston Hall or the 400-year old Black Bull Inn.
The lakes after which the district was named form some of the area’s best known landmarks. Windermere is the largest lake and one of the most popular. Visitors come here to enjoy a lake cruise and stroll around the historic villages on its shores. Ullswater is the second largest and often regarded as England’s most beautiful lake. Coniston Water is the third largest and known for boating and water sports.
The Lake District boasts many mountains including Scafell Pike, which at 978 metres is not only the highest peak in the district, but in England. The Lake District is also home to the second and third highest peaks in England, Scafell and Helvellyn at 964 and 950 metres high respectively.
Like much of the UK, the Lake District is dotted with old forts and castles. Hardknott Fort near Eskdale is one of the best preserved Roman forts, while Muncaster Castle was built on Roman foundations and has been added to and altered right up to the present day. Located at the village of Ravenglass, the castle is one of the most visited in the region.
Besides castles, the Lake District has many historic hotels and houses. One of the oldest is Winder Hall at Lower Lorton. Established some time around the 12th century, the current building, now a hotel, has a 1550s Tudor hearth and a 1660s Jacobean hall. Hardcragg Hall at Grange-over-Sands was built in 1563 and is now a hotel. The Hydro at Windermere was established in the late 1900s as a healing spa.
The Lake District has been home to many artists and writers throughout the years. Dove Cottage at Grasmere, now a museum, was the home of one of Britain’s greatest poets, William Wordsworth, who lived here from 1799 to 1808. Hilltop House at Ambleside was owned by famous children’s author and illustrator Beatrix Potter from 1905 to 1943, when she willed it to the National Trust to become a museum.
While the Lake District is not known for nightlife and is certainly not famous for wild parties, there are lots of very pleasant options for entertainment. Dining out or visiting local pubs are the most common activities, with more lively entertainment possible during the various festivals that take place here throughout the year.
Eating and drinking in one of the many old pubs or nice restaurants would have to be the number one evening activity in the region, and there are many delightful venues to choose from. Every town and village has at least one pub, usually serving food as well as drinks and often with live music in the evenings, particularly on weekends. Even pubs in remote areas are often surprisingly lively.
Some of the best places to experience traditional English pubs are Little Langdale, Newlands Valley, Buttermere, Elterwater and Boot, among many other villages, while the main tourist centres of Windermere and Ambleside feature many restaurants as well as pubs. For something a little different, visitors can soak up summer theatre performances at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake.
The Lake District sees many festivals throughout the year, which see an influx of visitors and entertainment options. The 17-day Lake District Summer Music Festival takes place during August and features concerts in historic churches, halls and other venues across various villages. Other notable events include the Keswick Film Festival in February, the Coniston Water Festival in July and the family-friendly all-ages Solfest in August.
The Lake District has lots of farms, so the food tends to focus on fresh local ingredients cooked in traditional English style. Locally reared lamb is a regional speciality, as is locally caught trout. Cumberland sausages are another local tradition.
Traditional British cuisine tends to be built around the principles of meat and three vegetables, which, at its most basic form, is just that. But in more imaginative hands, it can become stews, pies or modern fusion dishes with fine cuts of meat or seafood and fancy sauces and sides.
Pubs are dotted all across the Lake District and are the traditional, common and obvious choice for lunch and dinner. Pub food, also known as ’pub grub’, can vary from basic bar snacks and meals such as a Sunday roast, fish and chips or pie and peas, to ’gastropub’ cuisine comprising any number of fine dining dishes across a range of international cuisines. Pub meals often offer the best value for money in the Lake District.
Fine dining in restaurants, often located in four- or five-star hotels, is a good option for a romantic meal but is not prevalent in the Lake District. Vegetarians are usually able to find something to eat across the spectrum.
For those who don’t fancy English food, there are a few restaurants offering alternatives in the large towns such as Penrith, Windermere, Ambleside and Coniston, with Chinese, Italian and Indian restaurants being the most common. There are also many quaint tea rooms in the villages where hikers and boaters enjoy afternoon tea and cakes.
The Lake District earned its name for very good reason, the many lakes that adorn the countryside and which have long drawn artists, poets, nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts from far and wide. Glenridding is one of the best villages for a Lake District holiday as it sits on what is widely considered England’s most beautiful lake, Ullswater, with its famous Ullswater steamer ferries.
The Lake District is a great honeymoon destination because not only is it beautiful, but there are any number of romantic hotels and quaint cottages for couples to hide away in. Grasmere might be one of the best options for couples because not only is it on one of the most beautiful lakes in the district, but the village was the former home of poet Wordsworth and has lots of old stone buildings, some of which offer accommodation. Windermere is another good option because of the historic hotels and opportunities for fine dining on offer here.
The entire Lake District is a good destination for an active family holiday. Windermere is one of the best towns to base a Lake District holiday with the family, for its choice of options for accommodation and eating, and easy access to activities such as walking, cycling and water sports. The Brockhole Lake District Visitor Centre has adventure activities designed especially for children.
The Lake District has a vast number of cliffs, crags and caves, and is often credited as the birthplace of modern rock-climbing. Coniston is a good village for climbers to use as a base as there are a number of well-regarded routes such as Dow Crag nearby and lots of adventure tour operators on hand, if required. Coniston is also within easy access of Old Man Coniston mountain, which is popular with hikers, and Coniston Water, the third largest lake in the district, which is a great place for water sports such as canoeing and kayaking.