10 Best Things to Do and See in the Lake District

I wander’d lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch’d in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed – and gazed – but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’ poem encapsulates the beauty and splendour of England’s Lake District better than any other piece of literature. One of the greatest poets of all time, whose work is read by all students of the English language across the world, William Wordsworth was Born in Cockermouth, just north of the Lake District National Park. Wordsworth attended school in Hawkshead. He went on to attend Cambridge University and lived in Dorset for a while. Later on, Wordsworth moved to the Lake District’s Dove Cottage in Grasmere in 1799 and then Rydal Mount in 1813.

William Wordsworth’s contributions to increasing tourism in the Lake District are immense. In 1820, his ‘Guide through the District of the Lakes’ was published and that sparked the beginning of mass tourism in the gorgeous region.

William Wordsworth has a lot of famous quotes associated with the Lake District. Here are a few famous ones:

Wordsworth on the Lake District region: “A sort of national property in which every man has a right and interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy”.

Wordsworth on the mountains of the Lake District: “In the combinations which they make, towering above each other, or lifting themselves in ridges like the waves of a tumultuous sea, and in the beauty and variety of their surfaces and colours, they are surpassed by none”.

Wordsworth was against the extension of the railway into the Lake District and he believed that it would bring a flood of people into the region they would end up destroying the beauty they had come to see. He said: “Let then the beauty be undisfigured and the retirement unviolated”.

Wordsworth on the building of the Georgian roundhouse on Belle Isle, Windermere: “A pepper-pot”

William Wordsworth is a member of a group of Romantic era English poets who were smitten by the natural beauty and splendour of the Lake District. They were inspired by the heavenly surroundings and their inspirations flowed through their words. These poets were known as the Lake Poets. During the first half of the nineteenth century, this group of English poets lived in the Lake District of England, United Kingdom. These poets didn’t follow any particular  “school” of thought or literary practice popular at that time. They were named, and almost immediately disparaged, by the Edinburgh Review. The Lake Poets and their contributions are considered to be a part of the Romantic Movement.

William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Robert Southey are the three main figureheads of what went on to be known as the Lakes School. The trio was associated with a lot of  other poets and writers as well, including legends such as Dorothy Wordsworth, Charles Lamb, Mary Lamb, Charles Lloyd, Hartley Coleridge, John Wilson, and Thomas De Quincey.

The gorgeous Lake District is located in Cumbria and is named after the 16 gorgeous glacial lakes that lie in long ribbons among the region’s fells, moors, and green valleys. Within this small but splendid region which only measures 48 by 64 kilometres, there are 180 fells of more than 609 meters in altitude, one of which is the 978-metre high Scafell Pike, the highest mountain of England. Most of the Lake District’s tourist activity is focused in the southern half of the region. The south contains most of the historic literary attractions and is a dream for English literature and poetry buffs. The quieter north’s natural beauty and trails are incredible for hikers and nature lovers. The Lake District has provided inspiration for a plethora of English poets and writers, including William Wordsworth, John Ruskin, and Beatrix Potter. The homes of these literary legends are popular places to visit, as well as artists Gainsborough, Turner, and Constable. A major part of the region falls within the boundaries of the Lakes District National Park. Tourists can reach the Lake District by train and road. Tourists can find comfortable hotel accommodation throughout the region as well as economical bed & breakfast options in numerous country cottages.

Here are the

10 best things to do and see in the gorgeous Lake District of England:

1. Lake District National Park

The splendid and sprawling 1,343-square-kilometer Lake District National Park features some of England’s largest and loveliest lakes , its tallest peak, and some of its most spectacular scenery. The scenery and natural splendour of the Lake District has inspired writers, poets, and artists for hundreds of years. Some of those also made their homes in the Lake District. Many of the district’s lakes have historic boats which tourists can ride. On top of that, the entire region is laced with a network of walking and hiking trails to entice nature lovers. The Lake District can be explored by car, bus, bike, or on foot, and there is train access to Windermere from the park’s headquarters at Kendal.

A park visitor centre for helping all tourists out is located at Brockhole and a boating centre is situated at Coniston. Aside from the lovely lakes, some of the scenic highlights of the Lake District are the beautiful Newlands Valley, Sphinx Rock and its magnificent views, and the stunning dramatic drive through the Kirkstone Pass (especially while driving north). The park is filled with numerous cute lakeside villages with activities and places to visit, as well as mile after mile of scenic roads and trails for some spectacular hiking and sightseeing.

2. Derwentwater

Less than five kilometres long, Derwentwater is an idyllic lake in the northern part of the national park, and a 10-minute walk from the centre of Keswick. On its west is the ridge of Catbells, and extending into the lake on the east is Friar’s Crag, a favourite viewpoint. Beautiful Borrowdale Valley opens at its southern end.

Keswick Launch Co. conducts a one-hour long circuit of the lake on small boats. The circuit consists of seven points, where tourists can hop off to explore. Tourists don’t need to board the boats back from the spot they disembarked and can follow lakeside trails and catch the next boat at another stop. A 12-kilometre walk runs around the entire perimeter of the lake. While in Keswick, don’t forget to stop at the quirky Pencil Museum. Here you can learn how pencils are made and how the discovery of graphite launched an entire industry in the area.

3. Ullswater

14 kilometres long and a little less than two kilometres wide, the Ullswater is the second largest lake of the lovely Lake District. The gorgeous lake lies under the glorious Helvellyn Mountain. Tourists can explore the lovely lake via two boats: the 1887 Lady of the Lake or the 1889 Raven. Both of the boats leave from the cute little 16th century village of Pooley Bridge. Ullswater is a particular favourite for hikers and walkers, who can follow the 32-kilometer Ullswater Way around the lake or combine the trail with boat rides for a 12-kilometer hike.

A highlight on the walk around the lake, between Aira Force and Glenridding, are the magnificent Falls of Aira, where a stone-arch bridge spans a 19-meter waterfall. In the route between Pooley Bridge and Aira Force, the Ullswater Way leads to the former hillfort of the Maiden Castle. The castle contains spectacular views of the Ullswater Valley.

4. Hill Top

The 17th century farmhouse at Hill Top was bought by famous British children’s book author Beatrix Potter in 1905. She funded the purchase with the sales from her first book, the Tale of Peter Rabbit. The beautiful farmhouse has served as an inspiration for many of her books. Upon leaving the house and farm to the National Trust, she stipulated that the farmhouse should be shown in the same condition as when she was living there. As a result, each room contains objects that relate to her stories. Aside from the doll house setting for The Tale of Two Bad Mice, tourists can also see the desk where she wrote some of her most incredible stories. The Hill Top’s garden is a charming and seemingly random mix of flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruits. Tourists can be forgiven to expect to see one of Beatrix Potter’s characters scampering away in the garden. This is a very popular tourist attraction of the Lake District, and there is often a very long waiting period to enter the house. Unfortunately, the timed tickets cannot be booked in advance. So, prospective visitors should be ready to wait for a long period of time.

5. Rydal Mount and Gardens

Perhaps the most famous English poet of all time, William Wordsworth lived at Rydal Mount between 1813 and his death in 1850. He was 80 at his time of passing. While Wordsworth lived in this home overlooking Lake Windermere, Rydal Water, and the fells, he wrote some of his best-loved works. Over here, Wordsworth also revised a lot of his earlier work for publication, including his most well-renowned poem Daffodils. While larger rooms were added to the original Tudor cottage in the year 1750, the dining room stayed with the original stone floors and wooden beams from the old cottage. Tourists can also see the house’s bedrooms and Wordsworth’s attic study. The beautiful house is filled with portraits, mementoes, and first editions of a lot of Wordsworth’s works.

Compared to the garden that Wordsworth created at the Dove Cottage, the one at Rydal Mount is a lot larger at four acres. It contains terraces, rock pools, rare species, and brilliant displays of blooms throughout various seasons of the year. It has been maintained in the manner that Wordsworth originally designed. Between March and October, the tea room spills out onto a gorgeous garden terrace.

6. Lake Windermere

This is the most well renowned and busiest lake of the Lake District. Lake Windermere extends to almost 16 kilometres and it can be explored via Windermere Lake Cruises. The cruises also serve as ferries between points. Near the southern end of the lake, tourists are carried into the Leven Valley by the Haverthwaite Steam Railway. Tourists can easily combine that trip with a lake cruise. The southern end of the Lake also features the Lakes Aquarium, which has the UK’s largest collection of freshwater fish. Near to the Newby Bridge is the restored Victorian Fell Foot Park. This is a lovely picnic spot and tourists can hire rowboats at the beautifully restored old boathouses for exploring the waters of the lake and the River Leven. The park also features a fun playground for kids.

7. Coniston Water

The stunning Coniston Water lies beneath the eastern slope of the Old Man of Coniston mountain. The majestic mountain also overlooks the Coniston village. The eight kilometre long and one kilometre wide lake can be explored on board the 1859 steam yacht Gondola, as well as the ultra-modern solar powered Coniston Launch. For those who like exploring things by themselves, bikes and boats are available for rent as well.

The beautiful boat rides across the Coniston Water include a stop at Brantwood. It was the home of one of the most influential minds of the Victorian era, John Ruskin. The house offers insights into his work, as well as fine art and objects collected by Ruskin during his extensive travels. The Victorian era house is set in gardens that have spectacular views of the lake and fells. The Coniston village also has the Ruskin Museum, which tells the story of Coniston right from its inhabitants from the early Stone Age.

8. Castlerigg Stone Circle

One of the more than 300 stone circles in England (like the Stonehenge), Castlerigg is one the oldest and the most atmospheric. It is very dramatic in its setup. The Castlerigg Stone Circle features 38 stones aligned with the tallest of the surrounding fells. Unlike most tourist-y places, the scenery around this stone circle is uncluttered by admissions offices or souvenir stands. If you drive till there, yours might be the only cars for miles. The Castlerigg Stone Circle is older than most of England’s stone circles. Most of those are burial sites erected during the Bronze Age between 2000 to 800 BC. However, the Castlerigg Stone Circle was built during the Neolithic period around 3000 BC. The stone circle is more than 30 metres in diameter. It originally consisted of 42 stones, some of which were more than two meters high. The place is best enjoyed at sunset.

9. Catbells High Ridge Hike

The distinctively beautiful peak of Catbells attracts walkers of all ages and capabilities. It’s a short half-day climb to the final fell on a long ridge that acts as the separation between Derwentwater and the Newlands Valley. The peak stands 451 meters above sea level, and tourists can hike up and back from Keswick to enjoy the magical view. Even though at 14 kilometres, the climb isn’t very long, it’s very steep at certain points and contains some really dramatic scenery along the open ridge line.

Once they reach the top, strong walkers will find it hard to resist following the ridge along the fells of Maiden Moor, High Spy, Dale Head, Hindscarth, and Robinson before descending down upon the Newlands Valley.

10. Dove Cottage

This was the first family home of the great British poet William Wordsworth. The delightful Dove Cottage is a traditional Lakeland cottage. It features dark wood-panelled walls and stone floors. The cottage is heated using coal fires. The cottage still has furniture which belonged to the Wordsworth family. As a result of its retro setup, it looks almost exactly like how it looked when Wordsworth lived and wrote there.

Right next door lies a separate museum. Tourists and literature buffs can see wonderful memorabilia about the legendary poet, his family, his travels, and his work. The years that Wordsworth spent at the Dove Cottage were among the most productive of his life. Wordsworth was inspired by the Lakeland scenery and the garden planted outside the cottage by him and his sister. He wrote some of his most beautiful poetry amidst the flowers, birds and butterflies of the Dove Cottage’s garden.

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