Whether you’re a newbie to the national park or a seasoned visitor, it’s likely you’ll be scouring the internet for the best things to do in the Lake District. Come rain or shine, you’ll never be short of places to visit and exciting adventures to get the adrenalin flowing. So, to whittle down an exhaustive list to just a small selection was quite a task. However, I’ve taken some of the best things to do in the Lake District and compiled a Top 10 that people of all ages can enjoy.
1. Outdoor Activities
Covering 2,362 km², it’s no surprise that outdoor activities in the Lake District are rife. Adventure seekers will be in their element with a wide choice of things to do. While the lakes are perfect for water sports such as kayaking, wild swimming and paddle boarding, the craggy peaks lend themselves to rock climbing and ghyll scrambling. For anyone wanting something a little less adventurous but that will still get the heart pumping, there are endless tracks for cycling in the Lake District.
AD – Why not book a Self Guided Cycle Tour for Two and explore the rugged landscapes.
2. Woodland Walks
Woodland walks in the national park are right up there at the top of the list of things to do with kids in the Lake District. Any season is great for exploring the forests, but autumn walks are particularly beautiful and keen favourites for photographers and families with children. Some of the best places for forest walks in the Lake District include Whinlatter Forest, Grizedale Forest, Ennerdale forest and Dodd Wood.
AD – You’ll also find Go Ape at Whinlatter and Grizedale forests where you and the kids can test your mettle on the treetop challenge or Segway.
3. Fell Walking
It would be rude not to include fell walking in the best things to do in the Lake District as the area is famous for its dramatic and imposing peaks. Alfred Wainwright lists a staggering 214 fells in his “Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells”, each one with its own distinctive beauty. Scafell Pike, the most famous of all the fells is the highest mountain in England and provides a challenging yet rewarding walk for experienced fell walkers. If you prefer something less taxing, some of the lower level fell walks such as Catbells or Loughrigg are ideal for beginners and smaller children, and the views are equally as impressive.
AD – If you’re new to the fells and don’t have the confidence to go it alone, book yourself onto a Scafell Pike Guided Expedition and climb to the summit of England’s highest peak with a professional mountain guide.
4. Scenic Drives in the Lake District
Boasting spectacular backdrops, you’ll find many of the country’s most scenic drives in the Lake District. From mountain passes and lakeside roads, you won’t be disappointed by the picturesque routes that showcase the national park’s beauty. Some of the passes are extremely steep and winding and aren’t for the faint-hearted so make sure you only tackle the ones you feel comfortable with especially during the winter months. Hardknott Pass and Wrynose Pass can be particularly daunting even to the more confident drivers.
5. Lake District Festivals
Where better to host a festival than among the stunning backdrops of the Lake District? From food and music festivals to cultural film festivals and agricultural shows, there’s no shortage of fun events throughout the year. Some of the main events that are worth booking include Keswick Mountain Festival, Solfest, Keswick Film Festival, Kendal Calling, and Penrith Agricultural Show.
6. Museums and Galleries
Being one of the country’s most prolific national parks, the Lake District is home to many museums and galleries. Historic houses and gardens are usually open year round and places such as Lowther Castle, Wray Castle, Muncaster Castle, and Sizergh Castle are well worth a visit. Some of the most popular museums and galleries include:
- The Pencil Museum
- The Armitt Museum and Library
- Lakeland Motor Museum
- Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum
- Honister Slate Mine
- The Keswick Museum and Art Gallery
- Beatrix Potter Gallery
7. Lakeside Walks
Laying claim to 16 lakes (although only one is officially a lake), the Lake District is the best place to visit for lakeside walks. Not only will you find England’s largest lake, Windermere, you’ll also find the deepest which is Wastwater in Wasdale. Surrounded by immense fells and quiet woodlands, the Lake District provides the perfect backdrop for waterside walks. More of the best lakeside walks include:
8. Steam Trains and Railways
One of the most fun ways to explore the area is by rail, and with several heritage railways to its name, a ride on a steam train is one of the most exciting things to do in the Lake District. Step back in time as you uncover the history and natural beauty of the national park on one of the following railways:
- Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway
- Threkheld Quarry & Mining Museum Railway
- Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway
- South Tynedale Railway
AD – Discover the Eskdale Valley on the Ravenglass Railway with a Cream Tea and Steam Experience for Two – Book online
9. Food and Drink
Foodies are totally spoilt for choice with the incredible places for dining in the Lake District. From award-winning restaurants to rustic pubs, eating out is as much a part of the experience as exploring the scenery. And what’s more rewarding than a plate of hearty homecooked food after a day spent walking in the fells?!
10 of the best places to eat in the Lake District
- Cottage in the Wood – Whinlatter Forest
- L’Enclume – Cartmel
- The Drunken Duck – Ambleside
- Gilpin Spice – Crook
- 1683 Restaurant – Pooley Bridge
- The Swan at Grasmere
- The Angel Inn – Bowness-on-Windermere
- The Masons Arms – Cartmel Fell
- The Punch Bowl Inn – Lyth Valley
- The Coniston Inn – Coniston
10. Lake Cruises and Boat Trips
Getting out on the water is one of the most invigorating things to do in the Lake District. Whichever water you choose to sail on, you’ll be greeted with fabulous scenery, and it’s a wonderful adventure for kids. Take the Windermere Ferry to Far Sawrey, drive a motorboat across Coniston or immerse yourself in the stunning scenery of Ullswater on a cruise from Glenridding.
AD – Why not book a Glenridding Cruise for two on the Ullswater Steamer with a bottle of Prosecco – Book online