The Lake District has been on our UK bucket-list for ages, but despite living here for nearly 4 years we didn’t get around to doing it until very recently. From forests to fields, mountains to lakes, you can find a host of gorgeous nature in The Lake District, which is why it’s a huge vacation destination come summer!
You don’t need to take a lot of time off to enjoy Lakeland. Although more time is always better, 4 days can be enough to get a taste of the area and enjoy the many highlights it has to offer. So read on for tips, dos and don’ts, and lots of other great info for planning your trip to the beautiful Lake District!
Getting To & From The Lake District
One of the things we love about the UK is the ease with which you can explore via train. However, there aren’t any trains to the Lake District National Park, which is where you’ll want to spend your time, so you will definitely need to consider renting a car for this trip.
It’s roughly 270 miles from London to Lakeland’s center, and this can take between 5-6 hours depending on traffic. Know that you’ll need to set aside half a day to go and return. Also, as mentioned in other posts, look for great car rental deals through Kayak and avoid cheap companies like EasiRent and Greenmotion. Always opt for rental agencies with a track record for providing good customer support and experiences!
Where To Stay
The benefits of a car means that you will have a plethora of options for where to stay. We suggest narrowing down your search to the area around or near Windemere Lake. We found a cottage on Airbnb that was a mere 15 minute drive from the cute little town of Ambleside. This town has plenty of food options and places to shop for supplies should you decide to do a picnic while on one of your walks.
If you’re really at a loss, aim to stay around the same area (near Ambleside or Ulverston) but avoid the town of Windermere. It’s crowded with spas and tourists and definitely isn’t the sort of tranquil experience you might have in mind when visiting Lakeland.
Where To Eat
Make sure you drive to Ulverston and pay a visit to Born and Bread for either breakfast or lunch. This adorable little bakery serves up some of the most amazing food and they have plenty of vegetarian options to keep those of us with diet restrictions happy. Their serving sizes are huge, so they’ll fill you up for the day! All the ingredients used in the food is locally sourced and tastes like it was baked in your grandma’s kitchen. Just take note that breakfast runs until 11am (after which they switch to a lunch menu) and the restaurant closes at 3:30 every day, so this is definitely a breakfast and lunch spot only.
Tip: Pick up a loaf of freshly baked bread to take on a picnic!
I (Katie) am a huge coffee lover and there’s nothing I enjoy more than trying out different types of brew. Gillam’s Tearoom in Ulverston definitely caters to the whims of true coffee and tea lovers and their menu features pages and pages of coffees and teas from around the world. I ended up drinking four cups of coffee because I wanted to try as many as I could! This restaurant also only serves vegetarian and vegan food and it’s incredibly tasty. It’s the perfect place to wile away a morning over coffee while enjoying healthy, delicious local fare.
Tip: Try getting a seat in the restaurant’s back garden. This is a sweet spot for a romantic brunch or lunch.
Walks Around The Lake District
Because we only had 2 full days in the Lake District, we did two big activities, one for each day.
Wray Castle – Claife Viewing Station: 4 miles
The walk from Wray Castle to Claife Viewing Station is an easy one as it’s mostly flat terrains with very few gentle rises. One way takes between 1&1/2 to 2 hours to complete. There is some remarkable forest scenery along the way, though we weren’t too impressed with most of the trail as we can find prettier, ‘wilder’ walks close to London. Suffice to say, this trek wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for us.
The Claife Viewing Station offers an amazing view of Windermere Lake and can be an idyllic spot to stop and take a breather. You can also catch the ferry at the foot of the viewing station if you want to pop across to Bowness for a quick pint or some lunch. The ferry costs £1/person and is something fun to experience as well. Just be aware that after 6pm you may be hard-pressed to find ferries going up the lake back toward Wray Castle. If you choose to park around that area you will need to take this into account and either be willing to make the hike back or plan the walk around the times the ferries are all functioning.
Would we recommend it?
We want to be honest with you guys so you have an idea of what to avoid when making the trip, and we can’t say we highly recommend this walk. It’s pretty and there’s a nice view at the end, but it won’t go down as one of our favorite treks, either. As mentioned above, we felt that we can get the same views (or sometimes better) on our walks near London.
If we felt like our Day 1 walk didn’t live up to our expectations, boy did our Day 2 visit to Wastwater Lake blow them completely out of the water! Wastwater is Lakeland’s deepest lake and is often rated the most beautiful and awe-inspiring too. Narrow winding roads take you alongside the lake and you’ll see the mountains (or fells) reflected on its pristine surface.
There are plenty of shoulders on the way where you can park and get out to enjoy the view or hike along the lake. Our recommendation is to pack a picnic and find a nice lakeside spot to savor good food, wine, and a spectacular panorama! If you’re brave enough, you can even take a refreshing dip in the lake like I did. It was cold, but the brilliant summer weather made it a lot of fun.
Don’t be afraid to venture as far as you want along the lake. The further you go, the fewer the people, and you can enjoy a lazy afternoon in peaceful silence. Be aware that roads are very narrow and often admit only one car at a time, so it can be slow going. There’s also lots of sheep around and they tend to wander onto the sides of the roads, so you need to be careful for that, too.
Would we recommend it?
1000% yes! If you get in nothing else but a visit to Wastwater Lake it will still make the trip to the Lake District completely worth it. In fact, we would have been happy going back there day after day if we were staying longer. This is one spot you definitely need to pencil into your itinerary.
Are you planning a trip to the Lake District? Comment below and tell us what’s on your itinerary!