The Lake District is recognised worldwide as one of the most appealing tourist destinations in the UK. Second only to London in the tourist popularity stakes, few other parts of Britain can compete with the Lake District in capturing the imagination of the independent traveller in search of the perfect all-year-round British break or longer stay.
Lake District Tourist Information – At a Glance
Located in England”s north-western corner, the Lake District, Cumbria, is just 64 kilometres (40 miles) across and approximately 160 km (100 miles) in circumference, yet it encompasses an extraordinary variety of landscapes: the high summits of Scafell Pike and Helvellyn contrast starkly with lush-green hillsides, fells, dales and picturesque lakeside scenery.
Although easily accessible from both the M6 Motorway and West Coast mainline railway, a car is recommended for exploring the more remote parts of the Lake District.
Where to stay:
The Lake District offers a wide range of quality accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets: luxury hotels, family-run hotels, B&Bs, self-catering, caravan and camping sites, working farms and Windermere hotels. Popular bases for exploring the region include Keswick, Ambleside and Windermere (particularly geared to the family market), Ullswater, Grasmere and Coniston. Wherever you go in the Lake District, you can be sure of a warm welcome.
The Lake District has more than its fair share of small galleries, arts and craft and specialist shops – perfect for picking up superior souvenirs! The entire Lake District is geared towards low-key tourism, both in the the main tourist centres and the many welcoming market towns and smaller villages.
A walker”s paradise (over 1,800 miles of well-signed footpaths), hiking, climbing, cycling, off-roading, fishing, boating (steamer cruises, e.g. at Windermere, Ullswater, Derwent Water and Coniston); waterskiing, etc.
Lake District National Park – The Low-down
England”s largest National Park occupies 855 square miles and contains 6 national nature reserves, 16 lakes, 150 mountains, over 50 dales, around 100 sites of special scientific interest and more than 40 towns and villages. The Lake District National Park is wonderful walking and cycling territory.
Hill Top, Near Sawrey, Hawkshead, Ambleside, Cumbria: 17th-century farmhouse and home to Beatrix Potter (1866 – 1943); Rydal Mount and Gardens, Rydal, Ambleside, family home of William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850), where he lived for 37 years; Brantwood, Coniston, Cumbria: home to artist and social critic John Ruskin (1819 – 1900).
Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, Fitz Park, Station Road, Keswick:
Explores the history of Keswick from its industrial mining days to becoming a favourite Lake District tourist destination.
Laurel & Hardy Museum, 4C Upper Brook Street, Ulverston:
Dedicated to the lives of Laurel & Hardy, this fascinating museum contains a vast collection of personal memorabilia – a must for Laurel & Hardy fans!
Did you know that …
- The Lake District boasts England”s highest peak – Scafell Pike at 3,120 feet (978 metres);
- Steepest road – Hardknott Pass with a 1:3 gradient;
- Longest lake – Windermere at 10 miles (17 kilometres) long;
- Deepest lake – Wastwater at 258 feet (79 metres) deep?
According to the latest Health of the Nation study (CACI and TNS), Eden, in Cumbria was identified as the second healthiest place in the country.
Windermere Tourist Information Centre
Victoria Street, Windermere;
Tel: +44 (0)15394 46499;
Keswick Information Centre
Moot Hall, Market Square, Keswick, CA12 5JR,
Tel: 017687 72645;
Ullswater Information Centre
Beckside Car Park, Glenridding, Penrith, CA11 0PD
Tel: 017684 82414
Open 9.30am – 5.30 pm every day
Lake District National Park Authority Headquarters,
Murley Moss, Oxenholme Road, Kendal, Cumbria
Tel: +44 (0) 01539 724555
members of the Ramblers’ Association, Britain’s largest walking charity.
Members of the Association concluded unequivocally that Lake District walks were by far their favourite in Britain. Endorsing this accolade, Sheona Southern, Marketing Director of Cumbria Tourist Board stated: this recognition demonstrates the nation’s increasing passion for walking in an inspirational and varied landscape like Cumbria.
Ideas for Lake District Walks
At 2,292 square kilometres (885 square miles), the Lake District boasts some of the best walking territory in Britain: varied landscapes, rugged mountains, rocky crags, high fells, undulating hills, tranquil valleys and lakes, with routes to suit all skill and fitness levels, from beginner to expert. All that’s required is a passion for walking and a love of the great outdoors.
Of course, it is always important to plan carefully and take advice, beforehand. Be aware, too, that that when walking in the Lake District weather conditions can deteriorate dramatically, within seconds and without warning, even at lower elevations; check the weather forecast, first!
Before walking in the Lake District, contact your nearest tourist information centre for more detailed information about specific routes:
Grasmere & Rydal Water: 5.5-kilometre (3.5-mile) easy walk through Wordsworth countryside; start: Dove Cottage, Grasmere.
Highlights include the Wordsworth Museum, Rydal Water, Rydal Mount, Rydal Hall and views over Windermere.
Friar’s Crag & Castlerigg Stone Circle:
11-kilometre (7-mile) walk along the northeast shores of Derwent Water; spectacular views of the lake and surrounding peaks; visit the Lake District’s prehistoric stone circle; start: lakeside road beside the Derwent Water landing stages.
Cistercian Way (recommended by the Ramblers’ Association as ‘easy’):
53-kilometre (33-mile) route; start: Grange-over-Sands; follows the low hills and sands of the Furness and Cartmel peninsulas, ending at Roa Island.
Cumbria Way (Ramblers’ Association route-Allerdale Ramble’):
112-kilometre (70-mile); start: Ulverston, end Carlisle; magnificent Lake District National Park scenery with, according to the Association, ‘plenty of scope for high-level detours’.
Inn Way to the English Lake District’ (another Ramblers’ Association recommended route):
144-kilometre (90-mile) circular walk designed with bon viveurs in mind; start: Ambleside; follows unwaymarked paths linking stunning lakeside scenery with some very fine countryside pubs.
Lake District National Park Highlights:
129-kilometre (80-mile) circuit taking in Grasmere, Langdale Valley, the dramatic high passes of Wrynose and Hardnott; start: South of Keswick, on the A591 (signposted Ambleside) past Thirlmere Reservoir. Highlights include Grasmere, Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage, Rydal Mount, Ambleside, Langdale Pikes, Hardknott Roman Fort, foothills of Scafell Pike (England’s highest mountain), Gosforth, Crummock Water and Honister Pass.
Other Popular Lake District Walks
Hill walking in the region of Scafell Pike (978 metres / 3,210 feet);
Helvellyn, with a choice of ‘easy’ or ‘challenging’ paths;
Derwent Water, undemanding paths along the lower fells and around the lake.
Walkers’ Top Tips
Fancy a bit of fell walking? Buses known locally as ‘Mountain Goats’ provide transport to most of the main passes.
To make the most of your walk, visit your nearest Tourist Information Centre before setting out. Tourist offices throughout the Lake District stock walking guides with useful information such as routes that become overcrowded during peak season, walks suitable for families, etc.
Walking in the Lake District: Resources
For an excellent range of walkers’ maps, check out the Ordnance Survey Pathfinder series at www.ordsvy.gov.uk
Lake District Ordnance Survey maps (Scale: 4cm = 1 km / 1: 25000):
Lake District-English Lakes North West (EX004)
Lake District-English Lakes North East (EX005)
Lake District-English Lakes South West (EX006)
Lake District-English Lakes South East (EX007)
Useful Landranger Ordnance Survey maps (Scale: 2cm = 1km / 1: 50000):
West Cumbria, Cockermouth & Wast Water (LR089)
Penrith & Keswick, Ambleside (LR090)
Kendal / Morecambe (LR097)