Top 10 Lake District Activities

Located in Cumbria (in the North West of England) The Lake District National Park is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the UK, and one of my personal favourite destinations. Unspoilt scenery stretches for over 2000km² and encompasses rugged mountains, historic woodlands, and of course plenty of pristine lakes and rivers.

The region is therefore a paradise for adventure lovers, or those just wanting to enjoy its natural landscapes. In other words,  there’s something for everyone to enjoy when visiting, so I’ve compiled my top 10 Lake District activities to help you decide where to begin… 

Top Lake District Activities

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1) Lake District Activities: Go Hiking –

Walking/hiking in the Lake District is a bucket list activity that shouldn’t be missed! The national park is home to 150 high peaks and at least 200 fells – including Scafell Pike (the highest mountain in England). In this way, there’s a summit that can be reached by all levels of fitness!

On one trip alone, my family and I tackled Middle Fell (which reaches 582m) and then the majority of Great Gable (899m) in the Western Lakes. Each was incredibly rewarding when we reached the top, not only due to the sense of accomplishment but also thanks to the breathtaking views.

Things to do in the lake district scafell pike
Scafell Pike!

This said you don’t need to tackle high fells to enjoy the stunning scenery of the lakes. There’s plenty of low-level circular walks that can also be enjoyed. These tend to be highly accessible, dog friendly, and well signposted. So, there’s no need to worry about getting lost nor packing a compass. One prime example is Orrest Head, which gradually wides uphill to provide an amazing outlook over lake Windemere.  


2) Take To The Water –

A lot of the best activities in the Lake District (unsurprisingly) involve its many lakes and rivers. At 10.5 miles long, one mile wide and 220 feet deep, Windemere is the largest natural lake in England! Because of this, taking a traditional steamboat tour around Lake Windermere is repeatedly voted as Cumbria’s most popular attraction. I’d have to agree, as every trip to the lake is magical, with the sights you see constantly changing,  depending on the time of day, the season… and of course the weather.

Best activities in the Lake District
Lake Windermere in Autumn

However, adventure seekers may also want to try their hand at sailing at one of the many Yacht Clubs along the edge of Ullswater (which is seen as the most beautiful of all England’s lakes), or pick up a kayak and explore the depths of Wastwater, which sits underneath the shadow of Scafell Pike, and most of the regions highest mountains.


3) Discover Waterfalls – 

One of the less known facts about the Lakes is that it’s littered with magnificent waterfalls, and discovering where they’re hidden in the national park is no doubt one of my favourite things to do in the Lake District. 

Tucked away in the woods, as if it belongs in a fairytale, one of the most beautiful waterfalls is the  Stanley Ghyll Force, which can be found just a short walk from Eskdale.

Waterfalls Lake District Activities
Stanley Ghyll Force

Slightly larger, Aira Force in Glenridding (just off the banks of Ullswater) is another must-see, as it cascades underneath a traditional stone bridge, creating a picture-perfect view. Likewise, one of the tallest and most impressive waterfalls in the Lake District is Scale Force, situated close to Buttermere village.


4)  Visit Historic Market Towns –

Whilst most Lake District things to do revolve around nature, the area is also full of charming towns and villages. One of the most picturesque places in the Lake District is the small town of Ambleside. Located at the head of Lake Windermere, the small town is the perfect medley of narrow backstreets, contemporary cafes and quirky Lake District attractions – such as ‘Bridge House’ (the most photographed building in the Lakes).

In addition, there’s more walking shops and camping stores than you could dream of, so it’s the perfect place to pick up any last-minute hiking gear! In this way, Ambleside is definitely my favourite town in the region. However, more of the best places to visit in the Lake District include Keswick, Grasmere, Cartmel and Ravenglass,  which are just as delightful.


5) Go Rock Climbing and Caving – 

Another of the top activities to do in the Lake District for adrenaline seekers is natural rock climbing. Guided tours are available across the National Park and offer world-class climbs and views.  Meanwhile, there’s also an opportunity to discover something underground by going caving or potholing. Arguably the most impressive sight to explore is the Cathedral Quarry, a small network of interlinked caves, with a stunning main chamber, located above Little Langdale.

Lake district things to do climbing


6) Discover Historic buildings – 

From the most haunted castle in the UK (Muncaster Castle) to the peaceful farmhouse where Beatrix Potter created her best-known stories, some of the best places to visit in the Lake District are no doubt its historic buildings and properties, many of which are entrusted to the National Trust, and make for the perfect day out. 


7) Drive Along Hardknott Pass –

The most nerve-racking, and slightly frightening, of Lake District activities is a drive along Hardknott Pass, the steepest road in the country, with a gradient of 33%. 

Lake district attractions Hardknott pass
Hardknott pass

Filled with sharp corners and blind summits, the road isn’t for faint-hearted, but the drive is one of the most fun things to do in the Lake District if you’re looking for an adrenaline surge. Plus (as with everything in the Lake District) the views along the narrow road are amazing!

Things to do in the lake district Hardknott pass


8) Drink in a Classic English Pub –

My dad wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t recommend a trip to a classic English pub in my list of  ‘Lake District activities’. Even the smallest Hamlets in the area have a pub (or two) that provide refuge and hydration for walkers.

Perhaps the most Idyllic pub I’ve visited is the Wasdale Head Inn, situated at the foot of Scafell Pike, it’s definitely amongst the best places to go in the Lake District for a drink. A visit is especially rewarding after a long day of hiking in the area!

Places in the Lake District wasdale head pub

Top Tip: looking for somewhere to stay in the Lake District? My favourite area is the Western Lakes, which is often more peaceful, and remote when compared to some of the more well-known locations. Thus, in my opinion, Wasdale campsites are some of the best places to stay.


9) Tour Cumbria on a Miniature Steam Train –

Something a little gimmicky, but certainly one of the best activities in the Lake District, is a trip along the Ravenglass and Eskdale Miniature steam railway. Starting in the coastal town of Ravenglass, the train travels steadily across the estuary, and through beautiful valleys, to its final stop: Boot Station in Eskdale (near the end of Hardknott Pass).

lake district activities railway line

This unique train provides the opportunity to do some sightseeing from the comfort of your seat. Plus, it’s a fun day out if you’re visiting the Lake District with kids. Moreover, when staying in the Eskdale Valley previously, we’ve used the railway as a starting point for several beautiful walks.

There are many options to choose from (you can pick up a map from any of the stations). However, my favourite route is walking back from Ravenglass towards Eskdale. This takes you past an ancient Roman Bath-house, and over the majestic Muncaster Fell.  

10) Take a Day Trip to Hadrian’s wall – 

While technically found outside of the Lake District National Park, Hadrian’s Wall is Cumbria’s most popular attraction, and easily reached during a trip to the Lakes. Built around 122 AD by the Romans to separate the empire from Scotland, the wall once stretched 73 miles, coast to coast and held many castles and small forts along its length.

Places in the Lake District

Today, only about 10% of the original structure remains, but I find it quite remarkable that anything that old can still be discovered and enjoyed. Thus, a visit to Hadrian’s wall has to claim the last spot on my list of top Lake District activities. 

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I’ve only mentioned 10 Lake District activities in this post, but there are plenty more things to do in the Lake District! This fact and its beautiful scenery mean that the area is somewhere many people visit time and time again. There’s simply always something new and exciting to discover. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the region is one of the very best holiday destinations in the UK.

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39 Comments

  1. April 14, 2018 / 4:49 pm

    I agree the Lake District is one of the most beautiful places in England and I loved Ambleside too. Next time I am there I want to visit some of the other towns and ride the steam train.

    • earthsmagicalplaces
      Author
      April 15, 2018 / 5:03 pm

      Glad you loved Ambleside too, it’s such a cute little town!

  2. Susan
    April 14, 2018 / 6:36 pm

    Your post has me feeling so nostalgic about my time living in nearby Chester! I loved exploring the Lake District. Will have to go back and drive Hardknott Pass though 🙂

    • earthsmagicalplaces
      Author
      April 15, 2018 / 5:02 pm

      I’d love to have it right on my doorstep, you were very lucky! Hardknott Pass is a must do for sure, it’s easy to reach from Ambleside 🙂

  3. April 15, 2018 / 8:03 am

    Dying to visit the Lake District – it looks so picturesque! I just moved to London so I’m planning a roadtrip up there next year. Thanks for the helpful post!

    • earthsmagicalplaces
      Author
      April 15, 2018 / 5:00 pm

      Hope you have an amazing time! It’s the perfect place for a roadtrip 🙂

  4. April 15, 2018 / 5:44 pm

    I hope to visit the Lake District one day, and when I do I’ll come back to this post!

    • earthsmagicalplaces
      Author
      April 18, 2018 / 4:34 pm

      I’m glad to hear!

  5. April 18, 2018 / 7:06 pm

    Oh my goodness that town is adorable and my boys would have LOVED to see the train! Too fun!!

  6. April 18, 2018 / 9:56 pm

    It looks gorgeous, how’s the weather there? I never thought to visit here but now I’ve added it to my list!

    • earthsmagicalplaces
      Author
      April 19, 2018 / 6:19 pm

      The weathers the same as the rest of the UK, so it can be pretty unpredictable – although this makes the sunny days even more magical 🙂

  7. April 19, 2018 / 1:36 am

    Oh, this sounds like an excellent weekend destination! I love the combination of charming towns and beautiful nature. I like to spend the day hiking or stopping at interesting places and then spent the late afternoon and night in a town offering several options to eat. Seems like the Lake District has a bit of all that.

    • earthsmagicalplaces
      Author
      April 19, 2018 / 6:20 pm

      Yeah, it definitely does! I love exploring quieter places too, they just offer a little bit of everything

  8. April 19, 2018 / 6:13 am

    Lake District is so pretty! I love how serene it is and the stunning views are just incridible. This is actually my kind of place, where I can explore the place peacefully without many tourist.

    • earthsmagicalplaces
      Author
      April 19, 2018 / 6:21 pm

      Same here! It’s certainly an underrated spot in the UK, but that’s kind of what makes it so special

  9. April 19, 2018 / 7:12 am

    I can´t believe I never heard of this National Park. It looks so amazing and it goes straight to my bucket list. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Eniko Krix
    April 19, 2018 / 9:10 am

    We visited the Lake District in the summer very briefly on our way up to Scotland. We were blown away with its beauty, the cycling paths, hiking, sailing and kayaking possibilities. A true paradise for outdoor lovers. And now I see there are steam trains and awesome pubs as well. We need to go back during a long weekend and explore it more!

    • earthsmagicalplaces
      Author
      April 19, 2018 / 7:28 pm

      It’s such a great destination for weekend trips!

  11. April 19, 2018 / 5:06 pm

    I have never been to England before but I would want to do a hike for the picturesque views and the train because I have never been on a train like this only the metro train.

    • earthsmagicalplaces
      Author
      April 19, 2018 / 7:28 pm

      Hope you get to visit the UK – the train is certainly unique 🙂

  12. April 19, 2018 / 7:08 pm

    Magical indeed. Landscape is stunning, and your photos are amazing. I can totally imagine myself there. 🙂

  13. April 20, 2018 / 5:02 am

    My dad loves this area too and has been many a time but I have yet to visit. Our house has lots of photos of the Lake District. The scenery is indeed stunning and reminds me a little of my home in Ireland. Definitely need to visit soon.

    • earthsmagicalplaces
      Author
      April 20, 2018 / 5:32 pm

      You should tag along with him next time for sure, it’s even better going with someone who knows the area. 🙂 I totally see what you mean about the scenery being a little like Ireland too!

  14. April 20, 2018 / 5:17 am

    I always wanted to do the Lake District. Definitely a place worth visiting. Your photos are amazing!

  15. May 3, 2018 / 11:23 am

    Hi! Sorry but why haven’t I heard of this place before? Like, for real! I love it and I am contemplating of adding it on my bucket list! So dreamy!

    • earthsmagicalplaces
      Author
      May 4, 2018 / 12:39 pm

      I think most people just think of the UK’s cities rather than the countryside – but its definitely bucket-list worthy 🙂

  16. May 3, 2018 / 12:35 pm

    You have some great photos! I can’t wait to plan my trip, this looks like a unique destination.

  17. May 3, 2018 / 2:37 pm

    Your pictures are so beautiful! They definitely make me want to check out the Lake district some day, it looks stunning 🙂

    • earthsmagicalplaces
      Author
      May 4, 2018 / 12:39 pm

      Thankyou, you should visit for sure!

  18. Michelle
    May 3, 2018 / 3:05 pm

    What a beautiful region. I would love to roam the streets of Ambleside as well. It looks like a charming old town! Thanks for the great share!

    • earthsmagicalplaces
      Author
      May 4, 2018 / 12:40 pm

      You’re right! Ambleside is sooo charming!

  19. May 3, 2018 / 5:07 pm

    What a great region for a non-rushed road trip. Even with the rainy weather, seems a great place to enjoy some fresh air and disconnect.

    • earthsmagicalplaces
      Author
      May 4, 2018 / 12:41 pm

      It really is a great place for a road trip, you easily reach Scotland for an extended road trip as well 🙂

  20. May 4, 2018 / 9:49 am

    I always love reading post about new place 😉 Your photos have perfectly captured the beauty of the Lake District ! I’m a truly nature lover and your photos of beautiful mountains, valleys, villages, towns, coastline and of course lakes are stunning. When we get closer to nature—be it untouched wilderness or a backyard tree—we do our overstressed brains a favor. I love this feeling 🙂

    • earthsmagicalplaces
      Author
      May 4, 2018 / 12:42 pm

      Thank-you for the lovely comment! I totally agree, we should all take more time to destress in outside in nature 🙂

  21. Kanika gupta
    May 4, 2018 / 5:13 pm

    Oh my! This place is straight out of dreams. I just love how incredibly quaint it is. Those hikes and mountains can take you away from the city’s hustle n bustle to truly enjoy the nature. What a great post ❤️

  22. November 20, 2018 / 7:07 pm

    Lake District National Park is an incredible and amazing place to be the nature lives and shine in this place just so amazing and damn better to enjoy with family as well to nature’s lover of in London try to plan for this place.

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