Many people relate the Lake District in the North East of England with Beatrix Potter and the famous English ‘Lake Poets’ William Wordsworth, Robert Southey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge who expressed the beauty of this region in their poetry. This region used to be within Lancashire, Westmorland and Cumberland, but today, it is situated entirely within the county of Cumbria. In 1951 the area was demarcated as the Lake District National Park and today the area is a popular tourist spot with both domestic and international travellers. In fact some 15.8 million people visit annually the second largest national parkland in England and Wales.
Visitors are drawn to the stunning vistas, both to paint and photograph them and to explore on foot, cycle and boat. There are plenty of family-friendly activities and adventures for all ages, whatever the weather, although this being the UK it is likely to be ‘changeable’. These are just a few things to do when in The Lakes;
Lake Windermere Activities
The Lake District is blessed with Windermere, which is the largest natural lake in England. Thousands of swimmers have regularly taken part in the open water swim competition held at Windermere since 2008. The Windermere Steamboat Museum, boat clubs and Windermere water bus service are the salient features of this great lake. Take a trip on the Windermere Lake Cruises, which offers a fun experience for the family. You can try canoeing, waterskiing, fishing, kayaking, dinghy and keelboat sailing in Windermere. There are facilities for wakeboarding, powerboating and row boating, with hire shops dotted around the lake area. Together with Wastwater Lake (the deepest lake in England) there are plenty of watery activities to keep everyone happy.
Cycling the Lake District
The Lakes are a great place to hire a bicycle and explore the lush green surrounding forests and woodlands. There are historic homes, romantic gardens and quaint village pubs all along the well maintained and well-marked cycling routes that invite you to explore. Both road cyclists and diehard mountain bikers are well catered for across designated cycleways, country lanes and bridleways. Mountain bikers can tackle the both the Whinlatter Forest and Grizedale Forest trails. There are plenty of maps and suggested routes at the Lake District visitor center. You can also rent bikes and accessories if you’ve not brought your own.
There’s plenty at the Lake District to keep the whole family happy with a weather-proof blend of indoor and outdoor activities such as the Brockhole Visitor Centre, ACT Youth Theatre and the Honister Slate Mine. Visitors can also explore The Howtown Outdoor Centre, Sockbridge Pony Trekking Centre, Rookin House Equestrian & Activity Centre and The World of Beatrix Potter Centre.
Grizedale and the Greystoke Castle Estate are also ideal for family trips. Grizedale has walking and cycle routes with the Ridding Wood trail, the strenuous Silurian Way as well as the popular outdoor pursuits adventure course at Go Ape and also The North Face Trail. Greystoke offers activities such as archery, clay pigeon shooting, fishing and biking on quads. At Eden Ostrich World, which is in Langwathby, children are offered vast play and picnic areas, amazing animals and many other exciting things to do.
Carlisle is home to the World in Miniature Museum, where kids are always fascinated by seeing the world’s smallest teddy beat. There is a magical wizard’s tower as well which is intriguing to both kids and parents alike.
Challenge yourself with Adrenaline Sports
The Lake District has plenty of adrenaline sports and activities on offer with mountain biking, mountain boarding, go karting and zorbing on offer at Surf The Turf. Experienced instructors are always present to help and guide the beginners. Zorbing has remained popular with dare devils queuing up to get inside the huge hamster ball and roll all the way down. There are also hot air balloons, high wire adventures, water walking, paragliding, scrambling and windsurfing opportunities around the Lakes. Keen hikers and mountain climbers can tackle the highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike which stands at 978 metres (3,209 ft).
Explore the homes of poet William Wordsworth
Williams Wordsworth was born at Wordsworth House in Cockermouth, Cumbria and after becoming homesick living in Germany he relocated to Dove Cottage in the village of Grasmere in the Lake District. In 1810 Wordsworth released his Guide to the Lakes and it is said that his favourite spot was the Duddon Valley.
Today visitors can explore Wordsworth House and Gardens in Cockermouth (pictured above), the birthplace of William Wordsworth in 1770. The Georgian townhouse was built in the mid-18th century and is today owned by the National Trust.
Visitors can also step back in time at Dove Cottage (pictured below), the home he shared with his sister and poet Dorothy Wordsworth. The traditional cottage features a museum, special exhibitions, guided tours, gift shop and tearooms on site.
- Dress in layers as the British weather can change abruptly and carry some spare clothes if participating in watersports
- Umbrellas and raincoats are mandatory all year round as the weather is unpredictable
- Carry a local map and use the specialist walking and cycling route maps from the tourist center
- The Lake District is a year-round destination so make like the Brits and embrace the rain!
- Both summer and spring are peak tourist seasons, so book your hotel or guesthouse in advance