We recently visited the Lake District for the very first time and completely fell in love with this part of the UK. There is just so much to see, do and experience but we only had 8 days so we had to squeeze in as much as we could with 2 kids and a dog. Here are 12 places to visit in the Lake District that we loved.
Famed for its views, my husband set us off on a big hike up Wansfell Pike for our very first day in the Lake District. Now, I have to warn you that this is a big hill to tackle so if you have young children, suffer from any mobility issues, have an older dog with you and so on, this may be a tricky walk. The path terrain is rocky with uneven steps and it has quite an incline in some areas. Having said this, it is so pretty, it is a great way o get your blood pumping and there are plenty of places where you can take a rest, get your breath back, look across the fields, take photos or have a snack. It is most definitely worth the full climb up for the experience and for the views (hubby was right!) On a clear day, you can see for miles and look over Lake Windermere, it is truly breathtaking. The top makes a lovely spot for a picnic and I loved the friendliness of everyone who was up there too, it was very much like we were all in it together.
Being a hill surrounded by fields there are no toilets, bins, dog poo bins and so on so be prepared and take everything you will need for the hike plus use a toilet before you start.
Of course, what goes up must come down and I did find the decline tough on my knees and legs so do bear this in mind. But as it is the Lake District, there is always another destination very close by and at the very bottom, we visited…
Stock Ghyll Force Waterfalls
The falls are really pretty and make for another nice walk. This is a great photo opportunity spot and a good place to sit and just watch the water. Again this has quite uneven ground and was very muddy in some areas on the day we went.
The falls are located near to the town where you can find toilets, shops, cafes etc. Please be aware that you do have to pay for most toilets around The Lake District (they do accept contactless).
Lake Windermere is a popular destination. With the town nearby you have the opportunity to shop, eat, get ice creams, hire boats, go on an organised boat trip, paddle board, go on walks… There is just so much due to the sheer size of this area.
We pre-booked a 2 hour boat trip with Windermere Electric Boat Hire which allowed us to take a boat out by ourselves (dogs are allowed) and to really take in the views from the lake. We were very lucky that we had a clear and calm morning to go out and I would say 2 hours was just enough time to see all we wanted to. Afterwards, we had lunch on a green overlooking the lake.
On another trip to Lake Windermere, we parked at Fell Foot. This is ideal if you want to try your hand at watersports, play games on the grass, grab lunch and a cuppa or go for a walk. Of course, there are many more stunning areas to visit and you can find out about those over on The Lake District’s website here.
Coniston Water was my favourite body of water that we visited during our trip (we were at Brown Howe). It may have had something to do with how quiet it was – far less commercialised than Windermere -, how calm the water was, the friendly people, the fact I could paddle board and that it had a bit of a beach feel to it. We spent a wonderful day sitting by Coniston Water, playing in the water and paddle boarding, I would have loved to have been able to squeeze another visit to it during our time away.
There are toilets located in the car park here at Brown Howe but no other amenities are provided.
We also ventured to Tarn Hows during our stay, which is an easier walk around the water. The paths here are wide and flat, ideal for a more chilled day out on the legs and ok for wheelchairs or pushchairs. However, there is another more rocky walk which takes you down to look at waterfalls so we decided to tackle that part first…
This is really going off the beaten track, it is very uneven but it is worth it if you can manage it. The waterfalls and river are just lovely as are the woods surrounding it.
We were extremely lucky with the weather and enjoyed a gorgeous walk back up by Tarn Hows followed by a nice ice cream and drinks from the vendor in the car park. There are toilets located here too.
Rydal Cave and Water
Our next stop was to Rydal Cave which has a lovely walk up, lots of fantastic views to look across at and some fun rocks to climb!
Once at the top you find the large cave but do bear in mind that there are rocks to step on for access inside and water surrounding the entrance so you need to take it steady going in. This is all great fun for kids of course!
We took the path straight down from the cave to make our way to the lake here. The walk around Rydal Water is a nice easy path with lovely scenery.
There are toilets and bins located next to the car park here.
This is another wonderful body of water to walk around, to sit by, to gaze at and do watersports on. At the entrance there are toilets, a theatre and cafe (note the toilets in the car park are not free but inside the cafe they are). We had a lovely hot lunch in here, I can highly recommend the food. Plus dogs are welcomed which makes life so much easier.
We didn’t walk too far here but enjoyed some time by the water, on the boardwalk then back again.
We then drove to Buttermere to take in the views at the end of the day. There are places to walk here but as we had already done quite a lot of walking we just took a wander up a slight hill to enjoy the scenery. I would say this would be another tough walk with uneven terrain in places if you did decide to tackle the hills in this area, however, the Buttermere walk which takes you around the lake is described at flat and family friendly.
Roanhead Beach and Sandscale Haws National Nature Reserve
The Lake District doesn’t always have to be about the lakes and the hills, they even have some fantastic beaches too. We wandered across some of the Sandscale Haws Nature Reserve, the kids played on the sand dunes loving life, and then we took a walk along the beach.
We were very lucky with the weather but were a little caught out as we ran out of drinking water so do be prepared because we found the weather could change quite fast without warning. Also, check tide times as the water here comes all the way up at high tide. With the tide out you can enjoy these gorgeous golden sands. I also didn’t see any toilets at this location.
Ullswater and Aira Force
Ullswater is a lovely body of water for having a picnic by and doing water sports on but it was a very windy day when we visited so we ate our lunch, took in the scenery and then headed just up the road to Aira Force to look at the waterfalls. This was all uphill, rocky and quite tiring in places (it was so much warmer being sheltered by the trees) but there are lots of areas where you can sit and rest plus, on a warm day like the one we had, you can dip your feet in the river.
Aira Force does have toilets in the car park.
Having heard how stunning Wastwater was we hopped in the car to take a look. It really didn’t disappoint, the scenery, the mountains and water was just breathtaking, just such shame that the weather wasn’t on our side when we visited. Even though it was dry, it was very windy. We managed to stay a short while, have a picnic by some bushes for shelter and play with the kids but we eventually had to admit defeat and leave. I have seen some amazing photos of this water on calm days and it makes for the perfect place to do some water sports, I will have to get out there during our next stay.
On leaving Wastwater, we decided to move onto Drigg Beach as it wasn’t too far away. The weather changed quickly again and we found ourselves sitting and playing in the sun with a beach almost to ourselves! The sea was so calm that I did manage to get my paddle board out afterall. A beach afternoon was a lovely way to finish our very busy stay in The Lake District.
You may well be thinking about visiting with your canine just like we did and I can confirm that taking a dog to the Lake District is really easy, they are welcomed everywhere you go even inside shops and cafes, it was the most pet-friendly place I have ever been.
So, there we have it, but these are just 12 places to visit in the Lake District, there are many, many more and I am hoping that over the years we can add to this list and discover more of this wonderful area.
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