Complete guide to the Lake District
Picture courtesy of Marilyn Peddle, via Flickr Creative Commons.
Home to some of the United Kingdom’s most beautiful scenery, wonderful countryside and truly epic views, the Lake District is most definitely one of this nation’s greatest holiday destinations. Anyone who loves the outdoors will have to visit England’s largest National Park at least once, with its patchwork of picturesque lakes, deep valleys and wonderful woodlands.
The scenery changes almost as often as the weather does in the Lake District, and it is not uncommon for you to be trudging around in hammering rain before being bathed in sunlight soon after. It is the everchanging landscapes combined with the region’s unpredictable weather patterns that give it real character and make it a fantastic place to visit in your caravan or motorhome.
The Lake District is the UK’s largest National Park and covers just over 885 square miles, which means there is plenty of exploring to be done. If you're thinking about heading to the Lake District on your next trip, then be sure to read our complete guide. Here, we will tell you all about our favourite walks, villages, places to eat and more. Enjoy!
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The Lake District is famous for - among other things - its lakes. The clue really is in the name. There is only one body of water in the district, however, that is known as a ‘lake’ with the others being referred to as meres or waters. But enough pedantry, it is these large bodies of water that make this region what it is. They offer a serene setting for a holiday allowing you to escape from the humdrum of your day-to-day life and be at one with nature.
The region is home to 12 of England’s largest lakes which offer you a variety of activities from places where you can relax and walk in peace and quiet to places where you can swim, dive, canoe, kayak and sail. So, here are just a few of the lakes that we think you should visit if you head to the district.
Windermere is 10.5 miles long, one mile wide and in some places 220 feet deep, making it England’s largest lake. This beautiful body of water was once a very important waterway for the movement of heavy materials, and it is also the location where the Romans built their fort of Gavala. Gavala was constructed out of wood in AD79 to house 200 men who were stationed there to protect the vital trade routes through Cumbria. The fort was then demolished and rebuilt on an artificial stone platform much later on, and you can still see this artificial platform if you do choose to visit the area.
Picture courtesy of Janet Ramsden via Flickr Creative Commons.
Windermere is a true mecca for watersports and is the perfect place to enjoy sailing, wind-surfing, rowing, swimming, canoeing and more. It was, until relatively recently, the only lake without a speed limit, however, a 10mph limit is now in place. There is a ferry that you can take from Lakeside which takes you all around Windermere, and is the perfect way to see the whole lake in all of its glory.
Another nice way to spend your time is to stroll around and appreciate not only the natural beauty of the area, but also the huge mansions that were built by wealthy business men in the late 19th century. These mansions overlook the lake and many have now been turned into hotels. Some of them, such as Wray Castle, Holehird and Langdale Chase, are absolutely stunning.
So, from the largest lake to the deepest. Wast Water, at 260 feet deep, is one of the most scenic and awe-inspiring of all the lakes in the United Kingdom. It is surrounded on all sides by the mountains of Kirk Fell, Red Pike, Great Gable and England’s highest mountain Scafell Pike. These mountains rise up around the water, combined with the Screes - millions of fragments of broken rock that rise from the floor of the lake to a height of almost 2000 feet - and give this lake a very ominous and imposing feel to it. In fact Wordsworth - the famous poet from the 17 and 1800s - described Wast Water as “long, stern and desolate”.
In 2007, Wast Water was chosen as Britain’s favourite view in an ITV television programme where the public voted on four landscapes.You are able to swim in Wast Water and use small boats such as canoes and kayaks, however, sailing is prohibited. If you are canoeing, then you must be aware that only 10 boats are allowed on the water at any one time.
Picture courtesy of Duncan Hull via Flickr Creative Commons.
Underwater gnomes were reported to have been placed below the water in the Gnome Garden which was complete with a picket fence. This was as a point of interest for divers who would search for it in order to explore. However, it was removed after three divers died in the late 1990s. It is thought that they spent too much time too deep searching for the ornaments. Police divers have reported a rumour that the garden has been replaced at a depth beyond which they were allowed to dive. This tale only adds to the eerie nature of the lake.
One of the earliest tourist destinations in the Lake District, Buttermere was popular with holidaymakers way back in the 18th century. And for good reason. This lake is only one-and-a-half miles long and three quarters of a mile wide, but it is spectacular to look at and offers some of the best walking country in the region. There is a lovely footpath that runs around the perimeter of the lake and you can also embark on the wonderful walks to the top of Red Pike and Haystacks.
Picture courtesy of Les Haines via Flickr Creative Commons.
As you drive down into the valley you can see the famous Herdwick sheep, with their smiley faces, as they graze on the fellside. The village of Buttermere is charming and there are two hotels/pubs where you can pop in for a drink as well as a tea room that’s open in the summer.
The walks in the surrounding area are tranquil and very calming. It is the perfect retreat where you can relax and soak in the fresh air whilst enjoying being surrounded by natural beauty.
Ten minutes walk from the centre of the nearby town of Keswick, is Derwentwater, which is a truly stunning place to be. With a variety of sights, from the waves crashing against Friar’s Crag when the wind is blowing, to the mirror calm water of the early morning, this lake has something to offer at all times.
Picture courtesy of Paul Downey via Flickr Creative Commons.
If you want to really enjoy this lake in all of its glory then you should board one of the motor launches which are in operation around the lake. These launches stop at Ashness Gate, Lodore, High Brandlehow, Low Brandlehow, Hawes End and Nichol End. You can, however, also enjoy the lake by walking the many paths around its shores.
Derwentwater also has a number of lakeside marinas where you can hire a lovely wooden rowing boat with which you can explore the lake at your own pace, going where you please. In fact, we can think of few things that we would rather do on a hot summer day than casually row around the lake whilst appreciating its natural peace and quiet.
Easily one of the Lake District’s prettiest lakes, Brothers Water is also one of the smallest in the region at only one mile long and less than a quarter-of-a-mile wide. Located at the foot of the Kirkstone Pass, this lake used to be known as Broad Water. However, it is reported to have had its name changed in the Victorian times after two brothers drowned in the lake.
The lake sustains a trout population and is one of the only bodies of water in the district that is home to the Schelly, which is a rare species of fish. This lake is shallow and lily pads cover the surface at some points, which create a green carpet on the blue water. To the north east of the lake is the village of Hartsop, which has several 17th century stone farm buildings and cottages. It is a nice place to visit and some of the buildings still contain spinning rooms where villagers would have made their own clothing, selling any surplus in the local market towns.
It is hard to visit somewhere as astoundingly beautiful as the Lake District, without feeling the urge to go for a big walk and really take in all that it has to offer. You can breathe in the fresh air and stop off en route with a packed lunch and thermos flask, before continuing on your way with nothing but your friends and the natural landscapes for company. Once you get back to the caravan after a day’s walking in the Lake District, you will feel pretty content.
There really are so many spectacular walks in this area, so we found it very difficult to narrow our list down, but we gave it a go anyway. So, here are five fantastic walks that you can enjoy in the Lake District.
Borger Dalr Geology Walk, Borrowdale - 4 miles
This four mile, moderately difficult walk takes around three hours, begins and ends in Borrowdale and is a delightful walk offering you some of the most amazing views that you will ever see. In fact, Alfred Wainwright, the famous fell walker and writer, described Borger Dalr as “the finest square mile in Lakeland”.
This walk takes you past a number of great spectacles, one of which is Daly Quarry. This old disused quarry has amazing colours in the rock, which are a sight to behold. There is also a new wetland habitat at the quarry, which has been developed since it closed. You can also take a moment to reflect once you get to Peace How, which is a small summit that was bought in 1917 as a place where soldiers who were returning from the carnage of the front line could visit to regain a sense of peace. Once you're there you'll see why.
You will also get to walk to Castle Crag, which was the site of a hill fort some 2,000 years ago. You can appreciate stunning views from up here as you look out over the surrounding valleys. Why not take a detour towards the end of your walk and visit Millican Dalton’s cave? Millican was a self-titled Professor of Adventure and between the two World Wars he spent the summer living in these caves. You will be able to see some of his wise words carved onto the walls of the topmost cave. If you do wish to take a detour to visit these caves, be sure to have a map at hand.
Gondola and Parkamoor Trail, Coniston - 4.6 miles
This cracking walk begins and ends with a trip on Coniston’s famous steam-powered Gondola. This boat trip will offer you unblemished views of the surrounding scenery from the water.
Once you disembark the gondola you will continue on foot through some varied woodland and wonderful mountainous landscapes. You'll also pass Low Parkamoor Farm, which is a remote 16th century Grade II listed farmhouse that was recently restored by the National Trust. It is spectacularly located 200m above Coniston Water.
The walk takes you through some delightful landscapes and you will get to see some lovely local fauna as well as some cracking views across the Coniston Fells. The area is grazed so any dogs must be kept on a lead at all times. Make sure to wear good shoes and take a map.
Tom Gill to Tarn Hows walk, Coniston - 1.6 miles
Sticking in Coniston for the moment, we had to mention this short, but difficult walk that takes you up to Tarn Hows. Even though the walk is only just over a-mile-and-a-half, it is tricky, but experienced fell walkers should not be put off as it is a very rewarding hike. The steep path takes you through some lovely woodland and past waterfalls and other nice scenery. It then takes you to the iconic beauty spot of Tarn Hows.
Tarn Hows is part of a designed Victorian landscape. It was created by damming the outflow of Tarn Moss, which created one large tarn, which is a mountain lake or pool. The water was then used to create power for sawmill machinery. Once you arrive at Tarn Hows, you cannot look in any direction without being greeted by stunning views of the surrounding terrain.
The walk can be difficult as there are uneven paths alongside steep drops with two rock scrambles that can be quite hazardous, especially in poor weather. We would not recommend this walk for anyone except experienced mountain walkers.
Seathwaite to Sty Head and Grains Gill Walk, Keswick - 5.5 miles
Here is another tricky walk that we suggest only be attempted by those of you who own good walking boots, waterproofs and a love of hiking. Whilst historically this walk has been difficult, sections have recently been levelled with stone and rock steps added. This ancient packhorse route is invigorating to say the least and, as with almost all the walks in the Lake District, it takes you past some wonderful sights.
Peaks loom large as you continue along the trail, which starts and ends in Seathwaite. You will get an unrivalled view of Great Gable, which is a Lakeland mountain that is particularly popular with walkers, photographers and painters alike.
You'll also come across Sprinkling Tam, which is a lovely mountain pool that's home to Britain’s rarest freshwater fish, the vendace. These fish are small with a bluish green back and silvery flanks and they are a relic from the last glacial period, only surviving in the watercourses that flow into Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite Lake.
Ambleside to Troutbeck and back - 5.8 miles
This is a relatively easy walk that takes you along a scenic track through woodlands and fields and country lanes. Once you have walked through Skelghyll Woods, you will pass Jenkins Crag where you can stop and admire the view. The National Trust have cleared trees here to open up this fantastic viewpoint for your enjoyment.
This walk is great for the whole family, however, at over five miles it's not to be attempted unless you feel everyone is capable of walking that distance. Some of the walk is on uneven ground and it can be a bit muddy, but this is not enough to put you off what is a great day out. It can take up to five hours though, so be prepared and take plenty of refreshments.
Obviously the Lake District is perfect for walking. There are endless routes similar to those listed above that just cannot be overlooked. However, if you have the whole family with you, or you are looking for a more varied caravan holiday, then there are a number of other activities to try out.
Get on the water
With more than 16 lakes in the Lake District there is plenty of fun to be had out on the water. Coniston, Windermere, Derwentwater and Ullswater near Penrith all have watersport centres that are well worth visiting. At all of these places you can hire boats and get out on the water. You can rent rowing boats, electric boats, canoes and kayaks.
As well as all of the hands on watersports that you can take part in, there are also a number of tour boats and steamers that you can jump onboard. These trips offer you the chance to see the beauty of the lakes from a brand new and unique perspective. In fact, it would be a tragedy to head to the Lake District and not get out on the water at least once. Launches and steamers are available on Coniston, Derwentwater, Ullswater and Windermere.
The Lake District has plenty to offer cyclists. Road cyclists and mountain bikers alike are all spoilt for choice when it comes to routes on which to ride, so if you are thinking of strapping your bike to your caravan and heading somewhere nice, then the Lake District is the place for you.
From country lanes to permitted cycle paths and bridleways, the riding options are endless and they almost all offer spectacular views of the surrounding landscapes. Mountain bikers should head to Whinlatter Forest and Grizedale Forest which are both criss-crossed with routes that range in difficulty.
If you don’t have your own bike then there are a number of places around the Lake District where you can hire one. Bike hire at Coniston Boating Centre is a good place for bikes, electric bikes, tagalongs and bike trailers.
If you are up for a more adventurous and physical excursion then why not give climbing a go? The Lake District is home to England’s largest mountain among other spectacular peaks that are waiting to be tackled. From the heights of these peaks and ledges you really can experience the region in a unique and peaceful way. The vastness of the Lake District becomes more clear from high up as green valleys, blue lakes and rocky craggs stretching out as far as the eye can see.
There are a number of companies out there that offer a cracking service. You could head to Total Adventure in Bowness-on-Windermere. These guys are an outdoor activity provider with facilities on the shores of Windermere. Or perhaps you want to head on down to Honister Slate Mine, which is the last working slate mine in England. Once here you can have fully guided tours of the mine and its Via Ferrata.
Another good provider would be Mobile Adventure in Keswick. These guys and girls offer you the chance to explore the finest mountains, lakes and crags in the region, which just happen to also be some of the best in the United Kingdom. They have local instructors who know the area very well and they can cater for all ability levels.
Why not explore the Lake District on horseback? The region is proud to be home to the UK’s only specialised heavy horse riding establishment - Cumbrian Heavy Horses. They are a small, professional, family run Equestrian Centre that is unique in its use of magnificent Clydesdale, Shire and Ardennes heavy horses. They cater for riders of all abilities and have steadier mounts for those less confident and more nervous riders.
There are other horse riding options in the region so keep your eyes peeled. But one thing we do know, is that there is something perfectly tranquil and absolutely delightful about being on horseback strolling through the wonder of the Lake District. If you have never ridden a horse before, then perhaps now is the time to give it a go.
Now here is something that you weren’t expecting to see on this list. If you want to see the Lake District from way up high then why not head on over to Roger Savage Gyroplanes, based at the Berrier Airfield near Penrith. You can jump into a gyrocopter and take part in a trial flight, which is a unique flying lesson. You’ll be able to take control of the plane, which is a real thrill, or if you want you can just sit there and enjoy the views.
This is an unforgettable experience and one that you will no doubt love. Within five minutes of take off you will be flying above the incredibly beautiful valleys and mountains of the Lake District. It's a unique view that you can take in whilst sitting above the world.
You will also be amazed at how safe you’ll feel once you are up in the air as these machines are very stable and offer a smooth flying experience. The dual controls of these gyrocopters mean that you will get the chance to take control yourself! If you are heading to the Lake District with your caravan then why not pop along and give this a go? It might just end up being the highlight of your trip.
The Lake District is not only home to some of the UK’s most outstanding areas of natural beauty. It also has, within its borders, some of the nation’s nicest and most picturesque towns and villages.
So, we thought we would tell you about five of our favourite towns and villages that the Lake District has to offer.
Ambleside is a largely Victorian town that is situated in the heart of Windermere and is near Galava, a Roman fort that was built on the edge of the lake to protect trade routes. Ambleside is at the foot of the popular scenic route of Kirkstone Pass and is also located near Wansfell, Windermere lake and Langdales. With all of the idyllic scenery that is right on its doorstep it really is one of the best places to set up camp if you are looking to explore the Lake District.
Picture courtesy of Ali Harrison via Flickr Creative Commons.
There are a number of well known characters that have been connected with this town over the years. These include William Wordsworth, who had an office on Church Street; Hardwicke Rawnsley, John Ruskin and the marvelous Beatrix Potter. If you want to find out more about these people and the history of Ambleside then pop into the Armitt Museum.
Hawkshead is quite possibly the prettiest of all the towns and villages in the Lake District. It is an ancient township that has flourished since Norse times. It is situated in the delightful vale of Esthwaite, which is in the heart of the district. This truly historic village is made up of clusters of whitewashed houses which are all connected by arches and alleyways. There are also a number of beautiful courtyards and squares in the village making it an idyllic setting to get away from the humdrum of your day-to-day life.
Picture courtesy of Lynn Rainard via Flickr Creative Commons.
This prosperous medieval wool town has flourished ever since its market opened. Its village centre is car-free and a stroll around the cobbled streets will allow you to experience the real Lake District. This beautiful village is steeped in history and heritage and it is also surrounded by some of the most incredible scenery in the region. Hawkwood is located near the Grizedale Forest, Windermere Lake and Lake Coniston as well as plenty of fine moorland.
The Beatrix Potter Gallery in town is worth visiting. It's a 17th Century building that was once the office of local solicitor William Heelis, who ended up marrying Beatrix Potter in 1913. The building has remained largely unaltered since that day and it's now a gallery. The gallery is owned by the National Trust and has annually changing exhibitions that include a selection of Beatrix Potter’s original drawings and illustrations.
Keswick is one of the major centres for tourism in the northern Lake District. This delightful market town is located between the giant Skiddaw Mountains and the calm and tranquil Derwentwater. There is plenty to see and do in Keswick from the lovely little shops and restaurants to museums and boating trips around the lake. One of the main centres of outdoor activity in the UK, Keswick has a range of companies close by offering guides and instructors for all abilities.
Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0
Keswick was granted its market charter in 1276 by Edward I, and the Saturday market is still up and running to this day. Whilst in its early days this area was important for mining, since the 18th century it has been known as a good holiday destination. And for 150 years tourism has been Keswick’s main industry. The town is home to the Moot Hall, the Theatre by the Lake, the Alhambra Cinema - one of the oldest in the country, and the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery.
If you're a lover of quaint market towns, pretty little cafes, local pubs, good quality restaurants and easy accessible walks, then Keswick is most certainly worth considering. They also have a pretty good Jazz Festival in May, which claims to be ‘the UK’s most popular celebration of traditional and mainstream jazz’.
Based below the Coniston fells and on the edge of Coniston Water, this town was originally built to support the local slate quarrying and copper mining communities. The local area has since become a hotspot for tourism thanks to its idyllic scenery, stunning landscapes and its access to some tremendous walks.
Picture courtesy of Sam Saunders via Flick Creative Commons.
If you're on the hunt for some outdoor activities then you’re in luck. Coniston has fantastic water sports, mountaineering and sightseeing opportunities. The walk around Tarn Hows is nice and gentle, or why not head up and appreciate the view from Coniston Old Man? The Coniston Old Man is an integral part of the town and is well worth the climb. There's a nice tourist path which offers you a simple route to the top passing old quarries and the dramatically positioned tarn of Low Water. This is a pretty long walk, however, and you do end up covering around seven miles of terrain.
Kendal is an old market town situated on the south eastern tip of the Lake District that also has great access to the Yorkshire Dales National Park and is only a few miles from the sea. If you love walking and sightseeing then you should give this town a go. Kendal has a historical background and was, for many years, one of the most important wool towns in the country. It was also a stopping point for cattle drives from Scotland and had a very important market, which continues today.
Picture courtesy of Dr Savage via Flickr Creative Commons.
The town has diverse shopping opportunities, from your high street names to a range of specialist shops, quality independent traders and providers of magnificent locally sourced food. When it comes to attractions of historical importance, Kendal is home to two castles, and a host of other important buildings and bridges. And whilst they may not be as significant as the castles, there are also a wide range of tremendous local pubs.
Kendal is often seen as the southern gateway to the Lake District and is only 9 miles from Windermere. So if you are travelling with your caravan or motorhome from the south, why not stop off in Kendal for a day or two?
As well as some of the best lakes that Great Britain has to offer, there are a number of other things to see and do in the Lake District. Here are some other attractions that you may which to take in on your trip.
Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway
Take a ride in a traditional steam engine starting at the seaside taking you into the heart of the Lake District National Park. Starting at Ravenglass, the only coastal village that the Lake District has to offer, you pass the estuary, a range of hills, and end up seven miles along in Dalegarth. This journey, which was one of Wainright’s favourites, takes you past some spectacular scenery, as you end up at the foot of England’s highest mountains, the Scafell Range.
Picture courtesy of Ray Forster via Flickr Creative Commons.
There are seven request stops along the way and there is, on occasion, a gradient of 1:40. This route originally opened in 1875 and closed down in 1960 before being saved and preserved by the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway Preservation Society. The trip is enjoyable and is the perfect way to sit back, relax and see some delightful countryside.
The railway is also near to some lovely walks, so if you do fancy getting out and stretching your legs the option is there. Just make sure you speak to a helpful ticket warden to know when you can get back on board! To top it off there are also some delightful little cafes situated at each end of the journey. The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway offers a great afternoon adventure.
William Wordsworth was one of England’s most important literary figures. The romantic poet also lived in the Lake District in a whitewashed cottage near Grasmere. The house is now owned by the Wordsworth Trust and you can pop along and see inside. There is plenty of memorabilia, including his passport, a pair of his reading glasses and even a portrait of one of his favourite dogs, Pepper, that was given to him as a present by Sir Walter Scott.
Picture courtesy of Sourav Niyogi via Wiki Creative Commons.
Famous for launching the Romantic Age in English literature, along with Samuel Taylor Colderidge, Wordsworth was also Britain’s Poet Laureate from the year 1843 until his death in 1850. He also had his own little ‘domestic slip of mountain’ in the back garden which you can visit. This wild spot of land is where Wordsworth liked to sit and compose poems.
If you are a fan of Wordsworth, or British literature in general, then the opportunity to visit the home of one of this nation’s greatest poets is one that should not be passed up.
Visit Beatrix Potter’s house
It seems that the Lake District has a lot of literary connections. If you are going to visit Wordsworth’s house, as mentioned above, then why not also pop along to Beatrix Potter’s old home Hill Top? It’s not even that far from Wordsworth’s, you could do them both in one day! Her old 17th century home is full to the brim with her favourite things and when inside it feels like Beatrix has literally just stepped out for a walk.
Picture courtesy of Adam Russell via Flickr Creative Commons.
Every room in the home contains a homage to one of her tales and the garden is beautiful and full of flowers, herbs, fruit and vegetables. You can stroll up the path to the front door and see just why Beatrix fell in love with this place. She bought the house in 1905 with the proceeds from the Tale of Peter Rabbit - her first book - and she went on to use Hill Top and the surrounding area as inspiration for many of her following stories.
This is most definitely worth visiting, however, it's important to note that it can get very busy and you may have to wait before you can enter the house. A timed-ticket system is in operation in order to prevent overcrowding.
Wasdale Head Inn
If you are off to the Lake District in your caravan or motorhome then you will want to find some nice campsites in which to stay - more on those later. However, if you fancy a night out of your caravan then we would love to recommend the historic Wasdale Inn. This splendid inn sits at the end of Wasdale’s only road and is at least a half-an-hour drive from Gosforth - the nearest village.
When you stay at the Wasdale Head Inn you really do have most of the valley to yourself. Apart from a few old farmhouses and a tiny parish church, you will get the feeling of almost complete serenity and isolation. Overlooked by some of the district’s largest mountains, including Scafell Pike and Great Gable, there are plenty of sights to behold.
Picture courtesy of Peter Trimming via Flickr Creative commons.
Wasdale Head is as cosy and quaint as a Lake District inn should be, with snug little lounges, log burning fires and a nice bar where you can relax with a local ale. The hallways are adorned with climbing kit and old mountaineering photos to offer a real authentic feel.
Muncaster Castle is a beautiful and gigantic structure that is still lived in today. The Pennington family have resided in Muncaster Castle for over 800 years, moving in in 1208. History buffs should ensure that a trip to visit the castle is on the agenda.
Picture courtesy of ashleywatkins via Flickr Creative Commons.
You can take a look inside this magnificent building and see the beauty that lies within. There's a an audio commentary tour that can be taken, where Patrick Gordon-Duff-Pennington, the current owner, describes what can be seen in the Great Hall, the Library, the Dining Room, the Drawing Room and the Bedrooms.
Muncaster dominates the River Esk and has been a location of strategic importance since the Romans were in town. The main tower stands on Roman foundations and was extended and added to throughout the ages. The surrounding area is beautiful, especially in spring and early summer when the 77 acres of woodland come to life with colour. Rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas offer a bright and exuberant accompaniment to a lovely woodland stroll.
After a long hike up a mountain or a gentle stroll around a lake, there are few things better than settling into a lovely country pub and sampling the local ales or sipping on a nice glass of wine. And if you are a lover of the Great British pub, then the Lake District is the place for you. There are plenty of traditional pubs up and down the region that we would recommend, and here are some that we feel you might just love.
Drunken Duck Inn, Ambleside
Now if real ales are your idea of a good time, then the Drunken Duck Inn should be on your list. This pub sets the bar high with its own on-site brewery which makes it a haven for beer and ale lovers. The bar itself is beautiful and traditional with wide oak floorboards and large oak beams. It has a wonderful atmosphere which is most definitely the result of the traditional ales combined with the crackling log fire, chalkboards, sketches, prints, fox masks and enamel signs. Even the bar itself is rustic and is made from stunning Brathay Black Slate that has been sourced from less than a mile away at the local quarry.
As well as having real Lake District charm and a wonderful atmosphere, the Drunken Duck Inn also offers some very good food. There is a less formal lunchtime menu and a more sophisticated dinner menu and the dining room is a nice setting with plain oak tables. The lunch menu is affordable and the dinner menu is more expensive, but is still not at the levels where it would break the bank. At the time of writing the dinner menu contains some great options including pork shoulder and cheek, celeriac, truffle braised celery; and spiced cauliflower heart, lentil dahl, onion pakora, which cost £20 and £15 respectively.
Old Dungeon Ghyll, Great Langdale
Talk to anyone who has done a serious amount of hiking in the Lake District and they will have heard of the Old Dungeon Ghyll - or the ODG for short. Located in true isolation amongst the green fields of Great Langdale - which is one of the most spectacular valleys in the UK - the ODG is a true heritage inn that has been a hangout for ramblers and locals alike for over 100 years. This inn is possibly the best located in the whole district.
There has been an inn on this location, in some form or another, for the last 300 years. However, the ODG dates back from the 19th century and has a real Victorian feel to it. The Hiker’s bar within has a great atmosphere and on weekends it is almost always packed - which can cause service to become a little slow, but do not let that put you off. They have a good selection of real ales, which is just what you want after a long day’s hiking. They also have a large selection of Scottish whiskies and a big wine cellar too. There is also regular entertainment including local open mic nights where everyone is encouraged to get up and play. A good pub, in a supreme location, with good quality ale. There’s not much more to ask for is there?
General Burgoyne, Great Urswick
The southern part of the Lake District is less of a tourist hotbed and boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery. It's also home to one of the best pubs in the region. The General Burgoyne is located in Great Urswick, which is a very quaint and quiet village full of pretty whitewashed cottages. This pub is a smashing place to enjoy some lovely ales and sumptuous food, with an interior that is delightful yet rustic with roaring open fires.
A surprisingly good food menu containing seasonal and locally sourced food adds to the whole experience and the staff are extremely friendly and helpful. The atmosphere and cosy interior make for an excellent night at the pub.
The Wheatsheaf, Low Lorton
The Wheatsheaf is a cracking country pub that comes equipped with brilliant ales, traditional pub grub and best of all, a camping and caravan park. Now we’re talking! Hook up and drive to Low Lorton in the northwestern part of the Lake District and pitch up outside one of the region’s best pubs.
If you are a lover of the great outdoors and want to make the most of the surrounding area, then this pub is perfectly located. The Wheatsheaf offers you a great place to have a pint after a day’s walking or mountain biking in Whinlatter Forest. The Wheatsheaf also keeps an excellent selection of locally brewed Jennings Real Ales and a selection of guest beers. So there you go, great walking, lovely ales and a place to pitch your caravan.
Masons Arms, Cartmel Fell
This pub is tucked away on a steep hillside located on the east side of Windermere. It overlooks the Winster Valley and has some amazing views. If the sun is shining then the terrace is the place to be. It offers some great views of the fell towards Whitbarrow Scar and is a great place to sit and enjoy a beverage or two.
The Masons Arms is very quaint inside and the decor - which is very old fashioned - means it has plenty of character. There are loads of trinkets throughout with lots of brass on display. Drinks and food are also very good, with some great ales and some lovely dishes that are all affordable. And, to top it off the staff are friendly and helpful. Head on down to the Masons Arms if you want great grub and a smashing view. You won’t be disappointed.
Cooking up some delightful grub in your caravan or motorhome is most certainly a rewarding way to spend the evening. However, if you are going away for a few nights you won’t want to be strapped to the stove every day. If you're going to pop out for something to eat then perhaps try one of these suggested places.
L’Enclume is a brilliant restaurant that has won many accolades since it first opened its doors. With a menu driven by seasonal and local produce, the food is of the highest quality and fans of high dining should most definitely consider this Michelin star restaurant. Run by chef Simon Rogan, L’Enclume is consistently being voted one of the best restaurants in the country and we can see why.
The experimental food on offer is comparable to Heston Blumenthal as L’Enclume takes an imaginative look at British cuisine. The menu is constantly changing depending on what ingredients are available and if you are looking for somewhere extremely special in which to sit down and enjoy a delightful meal, then this place is worth considering.
Their website reads: ‘L’Enclume has now reached that point. The violent frequency of raw materials that are available to us dictates our offerings. These are the finest ingredients that will not wait, minute by minute imposing themselves to our stock. What this creates is a series of dishes for each individual table that will not necessarily be the same but will share the same ethos. Because we are not restrained by a Set Menu, we are free to express and to use whatever is available to us at that very moment in time. So, come and visit, have your personal table, your personal experience, forget the menu and relish the experience.’
Baba Ganoush, Kendal
This food shop and canteen offers up brilliant food that is very affordable. The industrious cooks are constantly working away in the clean open kitchen and the food that they produce ranges from vegetarian mezze boards to lovely succulent meat dishes. Certainly not a restaurant, this deli is the perfect stop off for some nice lunch before or after a big walk.
The specials menu is always full of great options ranging from spicy stews to some amazing looking salads - warm Roquefort and pear salad jumps out at us.
This is similar to L’Enclume above, in that they both produce high quality food! Baba Ganoush offers hearty and exciting dishes that won’t break the bank, and if you are ever in Kendal, we would recommend you pop in and give them a try.
Wild Boar Inn, Crook
The Wild Boar Inn is set in the beautiful and ancient Gilpin Valley. There are rooms available, however, if you are on a caravan trip and are in the area then it is most probably the restaurant that interests you most. The hotel is named after Sir Richard de Gilpin, who is something of a local legend. He bravely fought and killed a very ferocious wild boar in the area, and the Wild Boar Inn was born some years later.
Head chef Marc Sanders uses locally sourced seasonal ingredients in the Grill and Smokehouse. If you are a lover of good quality meat dishes, then this is the place for you. The open kitchen adds a level of theatre to your dining experience and you can sit and watch the chefs at work. There are also some great real ales on offer and the Wild Boar also has an extensive wine cellar, so you can enjoy some smashing drinks alongside some fantastic food.
The Samling, Windermere
The Samling recently reclaimed its Michelin Star, which is a clear mark of quality, but it was also voted the best dining hotel in the world at the Boutique Hotel Awards. That’s right, the best dining hotel in the world. If you really want to treat yourselves then make sure you give it real consideration.
The Samling has a creative menu that includes some very out there, yet imaginative, dishes. For example, why not try the ‘Snail Trail’ which contains veal sweetbreads, served in a bone marrow with red wine braised snails, watercress, garlic purée and horseradish snow. Or you could opt for the ‘Sri Lankan Crevette, which contains roasted prawn tail served in a prawn bisque served with truffle and mushroom purée, prawn crackers and tarragon oil. The Samling is in a lovely setting and if you do decide to head there for dinner, you will be telling your friends all about it when you get back home come the end of your trip.
Angel Lane Chippie, Penrith
There are few things us Brits like more than a Friday night fish and chip supper! And if you fancy popping out to a chippie on your Lake District caravan holiday, then we couldn’t recommend anywhere better than the Angel Lane Chippie in Penrith. The quality is very high throughout, with flaky and delicious fish that covered in a magnificent batter that is crisp and seasoned to perfection combined with some beautiful chips.
However, if you fancy trying their real speciality, then you should opt for the steak and ale pie, which is sublime and consists of tender melt-in-the-mouth beef; crisp filo pastry; and the Angel Lane Chippie’s very own gravy. If you want to take it away and eat it in the beautiful outdoors, or your caravan then go ahead. But if you want to eat in, then there is a nice cafe area upstairs.
If you are looking for somewhere to stay on your trip to the Lake District then here are a few campsites that you could try. As mentioned above, the Wheatsheaf in Low Lorton has its own caravan site, so if you fancy some good beer and a pitch, then you could give them a go. If not, then why not try one of these?
Baysbrown Farm, Chapel Stile
Baysbrown Farm is located seven miles from Ambleside and is in the village of Chapel Stile in the Great Langdale valley. This is a stunning location for a campsite, which has the steep fell on one side and on the other the land drops down into the bottom of the valley. The site is positioned beneath the giant rocks of Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes and it really does offer some of the most spectacular views, which are worth your entrance money alone. And, on top of this, the location also lends itself nicely to walks through woodland, the valley and some picturesque villages.
The campsite itself operates on a first come first served basis, so make sure you are aware of this when you pop along. They also have a no groups of over four policy, however, this excludes families. The facilities are relatively basic with showers, toilets and a washing up room on offer. There is also a supply of drinking water available. Whilst caravans and campervans are accepted, it is worth bearing in mind that if you have a larger model, you may want to look elsewhere. There is a narrow entrance with a hump bridge, so take this into consideration. There is also no hard standing and no electric hook ups. Whilst this campsite is simplistic in its layout, the views and general feel of the location make it well worth considering.
Gillside Caravan and Camping Site, Penrith
This idyllic location is the perfect spot for a campsite and accepts caravans and motorhomes, with a special designated area that has electrical hookups and individual pitch lighting. The site is based on a Lakeland farm that has been worked by the Lightfoot family for over 60 years. So you can take a look and see this traditional farm at work. You can also see Ullswater down below when you look along into the valley. Wildlife roams freely here, so you could even come across some friendly rabbits or sheep.
The site has access to the farmhouse where you can purchase fresh milk or eggs, or you could pop down to the breakfast van, which is open on Saturday and Sunday morning and offers up some nice cooked breakfast options. The facilities include lovely hot showers, a toilet block and some deep sinks which you can use for the washing up. There is also a laundry cleaning area with a washer drier.
Park Cliffe, Windermere
Now this is very different to the simplicity of Baysbrown Farm, as Park Cliffe comes with its own shop, bar/restaurant, children’s play facilities and more. This site, set in 25 acres of beautiful Lakeland, is perfect for families looking to get some peace, comfort and fresh air. The amenities are modern and the location is great, leaving you just a short distance from Bowness-on-Windermere and offering up brilliant views over the fell and lake. You are also surrounded by some tremendous woodland wildlife including squirrels, roe and red deer. The site was even awarded with a prestigious Gold Conservation Award, by TV botanist David Bellamy, for its work in protecting the natural environment.
Park Cliffe is affordable and there are some electric hookups on offer, however, hard ground awning/tent pegs will be required. During peak weeks in the midst of the holidays, you will be required to book ahead and one night bookings are generally not accepted.
Discover more campsites in The Lake District.