Written by our web team
4 mins read | February 2, 2023
It takes something to be one of the most scenic parts of our beautiful country, but the Lake District manages to do it. It is a year round destination for people wishing to take in some fresh air, stunning views and maybe even a fine meal or two. Those wintry landscapes are haunting in their craggy, frozen solidity, and in the summer lakes (and yes, the meres, waters and reservoir) come alive with water sports and pleasure cruises. Picturesque villages, a world of mountain sports, hill walking and centuries of history finish the recipe to make the Lakes a magnet for Brits and overseas visitors to savour.
So with all this to enjoy, how on earth can you decide what to do if, say, you’ve got a weekend in the Lake District, or perhaps a few days more? We’ve collected a superb blend of activities that each take in a little of what the Lakes are about. So in no particular order, here are a few must-dos for your Cumbrian adventure and six Lake District things to do.
1. Buy some gingerbread
If you know the Lake District, you’ll know “gingerbread” can mean only one place: Grasmere. There’s a little gingerbread bakery right next to the church in this delightful village, and its produce is like nothing you’ve tasted before: fresh, soft, crumbly, and very gingery. The aroma hits you long before you reach the store, and frankly, if you can resist it, you must have superhuman powers. If you have a weekend in the lake district be sure to visit the bakery. While you’re there, visit the church, or at least the graveyard, where you can see William Wordsworth’s grave.
2. Walk up a fell
This is the one reason a good proportion of the Lake District’s visitors come here for: fell walking. A fell is just another word for a mountain that comes from the Norse settlers (and who named several of the peaks, such as Helvellyn, Skiddaw and Scafell Pike), so you’ll be walking or climbing up a hill or mountain. There are more than a hundred peaks in the Lakes, and most are climbable, depending on your ability, strength and stamina. Scafell Pike is the largest in England at 978m, but wherever you are, there will be a peak within walking distance that you can handle, from green gentle slopes to the dramatic sheer faces of the Langdales. So if you're looking for inspiration for Lake District things to do, walk up the fell is a must to do.
3. Indulge in some cuisine
After you’ve sapped all your energy fell walking, you’ll need to replenish it in style. The Lake District is home to seven Michelin-Starred restaurants, dotted around the region, so that’s your place to start if you have gourmet tastes. But for those on a more modest budget, you’re still in foodie paradise. Ambleside is home to plenty of restaurants serving cuisine from all over the world, and you’ll also find gastronomic gems in Grasmere, Bowness, Keswick, Kendall and wherever there’s a pub.
4. Go underground
While most people try to scale heights in the Lake District, others go the other way. Why not visit Honister mines for a tour, for example? It’s a green slate mine that’s open to the public, but there’s also an adventure experience on-site, where you can do climbing, cross the terrifying infinity bridge, or test yourself on Adrenaline Pass. It’s stimulating in every possible way.
5. Go to a village pub
We mentioned the excellent food at practically every pub in the Lake District, but you might just fancy a nice pint or whatever your favourite tipple is. Well, this is definitely your region, because every town and village has a pub packed with character, and often a warming open fire and sometimes live folk music. There are plenty of delightful pubs in the middle of nowhere that you might stumble upon, too. It’s a great way to end an active day, and you’ll be truly soaking up the Lake District atmosphere.
6. Have a boat trip
Other Lake District things to do are boat trips are available on Windermere, either on an organised cruise or in a little boat you can hire from Bowness or Waterhead. A more historic way to tour the water is on an Ullswater Steamer – a genuine vintage pleasure boat with the sounds and smells all steam enthusiasts love. And you get to see the mountains from a completely different angle.
The skies in the Lake District, especially in the valleys away from the towns and villages, are inky black at night from autumn to spring. It gives you the perfect opportunity to observe the majesty of space, the planets and the milky way. The nights can be so star-encrusted that it’s difficult to pick out the planets from the dazzling background light-years away. Check when the next meteor shower is, because if you want the best seat in the house, there aren’t many places in the UK to match the Lake District.
8. Spot some sculptures
Finally, why not go for a relaxing stroll around Grizedale Sculpture Park? It’s home to an ever-changing array of sculptures that you stumble upon as you wander around the 4,000 wooded hectares. Kids absolutely love finding them, and some are interactive, with moving parts and musical sounds to play with. But even without the sculptures, this would be a feast for the senses in the heart of the Lakes.
Travel there with a view
You don’t have to be staring at a motorway lane en route to the Lake District. If you go by train, you can admire the world whizzing past and see the foothills gradually turn into mountains as you get near. Here’s all you need to know about getting your train to the Lake District. Things to do when you get there are all mapped out, and so is your journey. Last one to the top of Helvellyn buys the drinks!