Our favourite things to do in the Lake District
The Lake District is a place like no other. Established as a National Park in 1951, it covers a huge area within Cumbria and was gleefully designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.
The lakes are home to the highest mountain in England. Scafell Pike sits 978 metres above sea level and forms part of a dormant volcano. As the name suggests, it also plays host to the largest and deepest natural lakes in the country, namely Wast Water and Windermere. The entire area is an oasis of beauty that can perfectly navigated in whichever way suits you. Roads, walking and cycle paths each offer their own perspective on the spectacular surroundings. Here are some of our favourite things to do in the Lake District.
We could fire off every place to visit under the Lake District sun, but the way to get the most out of this unique place is by bringing or hiring a bike to ride. Faster than walking and more accessible than a car, the Lake District’s cycle routes allow you to experience the best of both worlds. You’re spoilt for choice on where to go, with Whinlatter and Grizedale Forests perfectly blending beginner trails with routes that require more of a mountain bike.
You can even hire an e-bike at the conveniently located point in Lowther. Travel light and plan your journey along a range of handy refreshment points. We promise, there is no greater way to see the Lake District in all its glory.
Holker Hall and Gardens, Holker
Holker Hall has the accolade of having never been sold throughout its over 400-year history. Home to Lady Cavendish and her husband, Tor McClaren, the country house welcomes visitors with open arms and is a great insight into the country estate culture that was made famous by its portrayal in the popular TV series, Downton Abbey.
The 16th-century building has undergone a facelift or two throughout its time, with the structure set within incredibly beautiful countryside. Its gardens merge into the Lake District parkland, and the Lakeland Hills are nestled in the distance. The lovely, landscaped grounds host an adventure playground and picnic area, and you can buy the finest local produce at the Holker Food Hall onsite.
Grizedale Forest, Grizedale
Grizedale Forest is one of the jewels in the crown of the Lake District. A great place for a walk or cycle, there are stunning views at every corner in this natural oasis. Hilly terrain combines with forested peaks to paint a picture that few other places in the UK can. Segway treks are a great way to get about, and kids love the Ziptrekking and tree top adventures here.
As you head through the forest, you’ll notice a range of intriguing sculptures dotted throughout. It uses natural materials in an award-winning artistic way, definitely one for the cameras. An area steeped in history, the visitor’s centre is hosted by the former Grizedale Hall, which was where prisoners of war were incarcerated during the Second World War.
Kendal is the third largest town in Cumbria, located the very edge of the Lake District. A quaint place that’s home to over 25,000 residents, it’s famous for its mint cake that was discovered accidentally by Joseph Wiper. Another Lake District place with an intriguing history, Kendal’s centre was built around fortified alleyways that allowed local people to shelter from the Anglo-Scottish raiders in the 13th-century.
The ruins of Kendal Castle are worth a visit, as are Quaker Tapestry Museum and the historic Miller Bridge that runs through the centre of the town. Perhaps the most intriguing sight of today comes in the form Alavana Roman Fort that’s located close to the River Kent just south of the town. Thought to have been occupied until 270, artefacts from the settlement can be found in Kendal Museum.
Lakeland Motor Museum, Backbarrow
Lakeland Motor Museum is home to a prestigious collection of cars in a fairly random location near the banks of Lake Windermere. Over 30,000 exhibits are housed here, representing road transport’s coming of age in the 20th-century. More than 100 years of motor history is portrayed, with car-themed memorabilia also displayed in what can only be described as the icing on the cake for any petrol head.
The local area’s history with motors is also covered, and a series of recreations show what business life was like in the Lake District in times gone by. A 1920s garage and 1950s cage are the highlights, putting into perspective an era that contained massive social change, on and off the road. One of the best museums in the UK, this place is a must-see thing to do in the Lake District.