Lake District holidays

Experience Lake District

Experience [destination]

Best Places to Visit

The serene 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 north-east, is one of the largest areas of the Lake District and a good base from which to see the many nearby historic houses, castles, villages and natural wonders. Half an hour from Penrith is Keswick village, established in the 12th century and 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 at Little Salkeld, not far from Penrith.

Windermere, 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 and the old steam train, explore the historic centre 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 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 whitewashed buildings that are 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 boasts the third largest lake in the Lake District, where visitors will find the famous Old Man Coniston mountain, old copper mines and historic buildings such as the 16th century Coniston Hall.

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, Sca fell and Helvellyn at 964 and 950 metres high respectively.

Top Landmarks

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.

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. 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. Hardcragg Hall at Grange-over-Sands was built in 1563 and is now a hotel, while 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. It is now a National Trust museum.

Entertainment

While the Lake District is not known for nightlife, there are plenty of other pleasant options for entertainment. Dining out or visiting local pubs are the most common activities for those planning holidays to the Lake District, with more lively entertainment takes place during the various festivals throughout the year.

Eating and drinking in one of the many old pubs or cosy 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 offer an eclectic mix of restaurants and pubs. For something a little different, visitors can soak up summer theatre performances at Theatre by the Lake in Keswick.

The Lake District sees many festivals throughout the year, which attracts a flurry of visitors. The 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 Solfest in August.

Dining Out

Food here tends to focus on fresh local ingredients cooked in a traditional English style. Locally reared lamb is a regional speciality, as is locally caught trout. Cumberland sausages are another local tradition.

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, Sunday roast and fish and chips, to 'gastropub' cuisine and fine dining dishes. 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, are perfect for romantic meals, but are 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 the most common. There are also many quaint tea rooms in the villages where hikers and boaters enjoy afternoon tea and cakes.

Parks

The Lake District earned its name from the many lakes that adorn its countryside, each of 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.

Romance

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 spectactular lakes in the district, but the village was the former home of romantic poet, Wordsworth. Windermere is another good option, due to the historic hotels and fine dining on offer here.

Family

The Lake District is a top destination for any active family holiday. Similarly, Windermere is one of the best towns to visit with family, as its accommodation and eateries make it one of the most endearing. Windermere also has easy access to activities such as walking, cycling and water sports - so you can keep the whole family entertained. The Brockhole Lake District Visitor Centre has adventure activities designed especially for children.

Adventure

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 visit, as it has a number of well-regarded routes nearby and lots of adventure tour operators on hand. Dow Crag is one of the most popular fells among climbers. Coniston is also within easy access of Old Man Coniston mountain, which is popular with hikers. Coniston Water, the third largest lake in the district, is a great place for water sports such as canoeing and kayaking.

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Need to know

Need to know [destination]

Language

As the Lake District is situated in England, English is the official language spoken. While some of the population may have studied another language at school, the primary language is English and the one in which locals are most likely to communicate.

Currency

Pound sterling is the official currency of England, including the Lake District. Money can be changed at banks or bureaux de change. It is unlikely that hotels, shops or restaurants will accept euro or US dollars, and if they do, 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.

Visas

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.

Climate

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. Rain is a predominant feature of the Lake District, with rainfall higher than in any other 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 throughout the year.

Main Airports

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.

Flight Options

Blackpool is serviced by budget airlines which fly regularly 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. Visitors wishing to use Newcastle Airport to get to the Lake District can do so by either catching a flight from London-Gatwick or London-Heathrow, with both journeys taking about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Travel Advice

Overseas travellers usually fly directly into Manchester or Liverpool, or stopover in London before heading north. 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.

Other Transport Options

The Lake District is one of the jewels in the UK’s crown and, therefore, a fabulous place to drive through. Driving to the Lake District is relatively easy: simply take to the nation’s motorways. However, if you don't know which route you're taking, we recommend using a Sat Nav.

Getting Around

Most people get around the Lake District by bus or hire car. Cycling is popular and bicycle hire shops are commonplace. The Lake District is a rural area so although the roads are usually well signed and reasonably maintained, some can be very narrow. Drivers should be on the lookout for animals and people on the roads.

Bus

Local bus services connect many of the villages in the Lake District. The main connections usually go from Lancaster to Keswick via Kendal, Windermere, Ambleside and Grasmere. Travellers can purchase tickets on the bus, and the seats are usually well maintained and comfortable. There are also coach operators who offer scenic tours of the area.

Car

Hire car is an easy, although not necessarily cheap, option for getting around the Lake District. Major rental firms have offices at Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle airports. Additionally, there are several taxi firms operating in the Lake District, offering a convenient way to get across town or move between villages.

Train

Some of the trains that runs through the Lake District stop 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.

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LAKE DISTRICT`S WEATHER TODAY

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FACTS

  1. The Lake District is the wettest region in the UK, with higher average rainfalls than anywhere else. An average of 130 inches of rain falls each year on Borrowdale, making the annual 50 inches that falls in Keswick seem quiet dry in comparison.
  2. The National Trust owns 25% of the region, and helps to preserve it for future generations. Nearly 16 million people visit the Lake District every year.

FACTS

  1. The Lake District is the wettest region in the UK, with higher average rainfalls than anywhere else. An average of 130 inches of rain falls each year on Borrowdale, making the annual 50 inches that falls in Keswick seem quiet dry in comparison.
  2. The National Trust owns 25% of the region, and helps to preserve it for future generations. Nearly 16 million people visit the Lake District every year.

Holiday Types