Lake District

The Top Places to Visit in the Lake District

The Top Places to Visit in the Lake District

A place of unrivalled natural beauty, the Lake District National Park in Cumbria is one of the most stunningly perfect destinations in Europe. Easily rivalling the wilds of New Zealand, Norway and Iceland for its snow-topped peaks, glacial lakes, ancient forests and silvery stretch of coastline, it offers the full package when it comes to jaw-dropping scenery. Scattered with historical relics and picturesque towns and villages, it’s the kind of place where you can easily let your mind roam as far as your feet and still be met by nature’s unparalleled artistry. 

Needless to say, if you are planning a holiday to this gorgeous national park, you will be very excited by all the possibilities for adventure and play that lay ahead. To give you the best head start, we’ve put together a guide to all the best places to visit in the Lake District. Read on for more.

The Fells

The Lakes

The Towns

The Beauty Spots

The Best Places to Visit in the Lake District

The Fells

The wind-scoured mountains (or “fells”) of the Lake District are some of the most spectacular in the UK and offer the perfect playground for experienced and novice walkers and climbers alike. From easy routes up gentle hills to knife-edge hikes along sheer-sided ridges, it offers the full spectrum. Here are our top five.

Scafell Pike

A view of Scafell Pike from Wastwater - England's largest mountain and deepest lake

England’s tallest mountain, Scafell Pike has to be number one on the list of the Lake District’s top fells to conquer. Reaching 3,209ft high, its towering frame in the heart of the Lake District is a natural magnet for walkers from all over the world. There’s a well-worn path up to the summit, but all those undertaking the hike should have a good understanding of the route (which disappears amongst rocky rubble at the top), weather and map reading.


The knife-edge ridge of Striding Edge on Helvellyn in the Lake District National Park, a popular walk for experienced walkers

Helvellyn is England’s third largest mountain and regularly ranks as one of the most popular walks in Britain. Depending on your experience, a number of routes weave their way up Helvellyn’s bulk – though the most famous one is Striding Edge. The most well-known and the most challenging, Striding Edge involves a steep ridge climb and should only be attempted by those with sturdy feet and a strong head for heights.

Loughrigg Fell

Views from Loughrigg Fell in the Lake District with a patchwork of mountains, valleys and lakes

With an elevation of just over 1,000ft, the humble Loughrigg Fell is more hill than mountain yet provides some great walking conditions and superb views that make it a popular option. Elongating the walk to the top, there’s also a well-known 6-mile circular route that starts in Ambleside. Ideal if you’re looking to stretch your legs without committing to anything too challenging, this little fell will quickly become a favourite. 


Overlooking Skiddaw, a striking mountain in the Lake District National Park that is very popular with hikers

Standing in isolated glory, Skiddaw’s weather-beaten summit is one that has been drawing ascensionists since the Victorian times. A rugged blend of grassy flanks, loose scree, shaded gills and bracken-covered slopes, it paints the perfect mountain picture. What’s more, as it stands apart from other mountains, its summit (best reached via the Jenkin Hill Path) provides uninterrupted panoramic views that rank as some of the best in the Lake District. 

Helm Crag

The famous Lion and Lamb rock formation atop Helm Crag in the Lake District National Park

If you are looking for a humbly proportioned fell to conquer during your holiday in the Lake District, then Helm Crag will be of interest. From nearby Helmside, there is a walk of just over 2 miles up and down the fell that affords beautiful views over Grasmere and the surrounding lakes and fells. At the top, you’ll also come across one of the Lake District’s most distinctive rock formations called the Lion and the Lamb.

The Lakes

With the clue being in the name, this National Park in Cumbria is one of the wateriest inland areas in the UK. Home to 16 lakes and many more smaller tarns, meres and pools, its fells and valleys feature a huge number of mirror-topped basins that reflect ever-changing skies. While they are all beautiful in their own right, we’ve picked out five must-sees.

Lake Windermere 

Views over Windermere, the largest lake in England and one of the top places to visit in the Lake District National Park

No list of the top lakes in the Lake District would be complete without mentioning the mighty Windermere – the largest lake in England. More than 10 miles long, this lake is surrounded by picturesque towns and villages and flanked by towering fells. While there are a huge range of things to see and do on Windermere, top activities include a walk up Orrest Head to see the lake in all its glory, as well as a lake cruise from Bowness-on-Windermere.


At 7.5 miles long and nearly a mile wide, Ullswater is the second largest lake in England and as such is a real favourite amongst watersports enthusiasts, walkers and beauty seekers alike. Whether you’re a fast-paced rambler or a leisurely plodder, one of the best ways to explore the lake is along the 20-mile Ullswater Way which loops around the lake. This route can also be combined with a steam cruise on the water for ultimate enjoyment. 

Coniston Water

The glassy water of Coniston Water, with woodland and mountains in the background, in the Lake District National Park

The inspiration behind Arthur Ransome’s children’s book Swallows and Amazons, Coniston Water is a real Lakeland beauty. One of the park’s biggest lakes in the park at 5 miles long and half a mile wide, it sits below the iconic Old Man of Coniston mountain and calls to generations of Lake District-lovers. During a visit to the lake, you can easily while away the hours boating, walking, picnicking and popping in and out of the various pubs that overlook the lake shores.


Trees and mountains reflected in the mirror-like waters of Derwentwater, a popular lake in the Lake District National Park

The northern shores of Derwentwater are only half mile from the market town of Keswick in the Lake District. Around the lake, the Derwentwater Walk is a 10-mile waymarked path that allows you to drink in the beauty of this inky “Queen of the Lakes”, passing through ancient woodlands and running along the lake shores. Give yourself plenty of time to complete the walk in a day and head back to Keswick for a hearty meal in one of the great local pubs.


A view of Buttermere with a large fell in the background, one of the most beautiful lakes in the Lake District National Park and the UK

One of the most beautiful lakes in the Lake District, Buttermere is somewhere that easily steals the heart and the imagination. It also happens to be home to one of the best circular lake walks in the region, with a mostly level and easy-to-navigate 4.5-mile path around its banks. Affording stunning views and lots of perfect photo opportunities, this walk can be completed in 3 hours, but you’ll no doubt want to linger a little longer to soak up the incredible scenery.

The Towns

From quiet fellside farming communities to thriving lakeside resorts, the Lake District is home to a huge array of towns and villages. Whether you’d like to disappear into a peaceful retreat or get into the heart of the action during your stay, there is somewhere for you amongst this world-class national park. 


The 17th Century bridge house in Ambleside, one of the many historic buildings that can be found in this characterful Lake District town

Sitting at the northernmost tip of Lake Windermere is the town of Ambleside. A settlement since the Roman times, today Ambleside is a mix of Victorian buildings that cling to the borders of the lake. A popular tourist destination with a large range of shops, restaurants, attractions and activities, it is one of the best bases in the Lake District. If you have time, you can also enjoy a short walk from the town to Stock Ghyll Force, a spectacular 70ft waterfall.


Views of Windermere from Bowness-on-Windermere,with a pontoon and boats in the foreground and houses and woodland in the background

Sitting just over a mile from its nameslake, the town of Windermere is one of the largest towns in the area and provides everything you could need and more from a Lakeland retreat. Within the town are a wide variety of pubs, cafés and foodie delis, as well as attractions including Beatrix Potter World, Windermere Jetty Museum and Windermere Outdoor Adventure Centre. You can also hire boats from nearby Bowness Bay Marina and glide around the lake.


Overlooking the picturesque market town of Hawkshead which sits at the top of Esthwaite Water

Hawkshead at the head of Esthwaite Water is an ancient township that has existed since Norse times. Under the ownership of the monks of Furness Abbey until the 12th Century, Hawkshead grew as a market town over the following centuries. Today, it is a brilliant place to explore, sandwiched between Coniston Water and Windermere and only a few miles from Grizedale Forest. Must-visits are Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top House and the Hawkshead Grammar School Museum.


Riverside houses overlooking the river and trees in the beautiful Lake District town of Grasmere, one of the National Park's most sought-after destinations

In the heart of the Lake District National Park, Grasmere is one of the most beautiful and the most sought-after destinations for a holiday. Topping the list of things to do in Grasmere are a trip to Wordsworth Grasmere, the former home of poet William Wordsworth, and a hike up Helm Crag. A picnic beside Lake Grasmere is also a must, accompanied by large slabs of the famous Grasmere Gingerbread that’s been made in the village since the 1850s.


The gorgeous public gardens of Keswick market town, one of the Lake District's most popular towns that also hosts the largest mountain festival in the UK

Nestled between the hulking frame of Skiddaw and the shimmering body of Derwentwater, Keswick is one of the prettiest hotspots in the north. From Keswick’s weekly markets that have been running since the 13th Century to its ghyll scrambling activities to its theatre by the lake productions, it offers something for everyone. The town also hosts the Keswick Mountain Festival in May or June each year, one of the largest mountain festivals in the UK.

The Beauty Spots

From the very smallest of its hidden valleys to the largest of its fells, the Lake District National Park is home to countless natural beauty spots. All carved into the landscape by the hand of Mother Nature, they come in all variety yet all have the ability to captivate and spellbind. While it’s all but impossible to choose just a handful, we’ve pulled out five of our favourites.

Aira Force

The 70ft Aira Force waterfall, one of the most famous attractions in the Lake District National Park

Next to Ullswater is an enchanting landscaped Victorian park, featuring the Lake District’s most famous waterfall, a vast arboretum filled with trees from all over the world and a winding network of paths and trails. Highlights include the main 70ft Aira Force waterfall and 118ft high Sitka Spruce which was planted in the mid-1800s by the Howards family who originally owned the estate. Good walking boots will be needed for this one, as the paths can get very slippy.

Tarn Hows 

Tarn Hows, which is home to an unbelievably pretty lake surrounded by trees and mountains and circumnavigated by a pleasant circular walking trail

One of the most famous beauty spots in the whole Lake District National Park is Tarn Hows, situated between Coniston and Hawkshead. Irresistibly photogenic, this small lake is shouldered by evergreens and flanked by fells in the near-distance – all reflected in the glassy top of the tarn. To make the most of this idyll, there is a 2-mile circular walk that laps the lake and is perfect for walks with both two and four-legged family members.

Ravenglass Beach 

Sunset at Ravenglass beach, with the last rays of sunshine shedding light over the sea and one singular boat resting on the shoreline

Ravenglass Beach is set within the only stretch of coastline in the Lake District National Park and as such is a must-visit during a stay. Along the foreshore, wind-blasted fisherman’s cottages look keenly out to sea, while the silhouettes of mountains set a dramatic backdrop to the scene. Made all the more special at sundown, this west-facing beach is a brilliant one to visit in the evening when the final rays of sunshine splinter and streak the horizon with copper and gold.

Low Gillerthwaite Dark Sky Discovery Site

A view of the Milky Way. The Milky Way can be seen from Low Gillerthwaite Dark Sky Discovery Site in the Lake District National Park

No matter where you are in the Lake District, there is beautiful scenery at every turn. That said, it’s not just during the day that you can experience the magic of the park. Sharing the wonders of the night sky, Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre in Ennderdale is a recognised Dark Sky Discovery Site. Here, you can see the star-studded night sky in all its glory thanks to the brilliant lack of light pollution. The Milky Way puts on a particularly special show.

Whinlatter Forest Park

Whinlatter Forest Park, England's only true mountain forest, displaying a range of different colour trees

England's only true mountain forest, Whinlatter is one of the UK’s most jaw-dropping destinations. As beautiful in spring when wildflowers cloak the forest floor as in winter when snow caps its towering trees, it has year-round appeal that’ll keep you returning with every season. Enjoy its wildlife watching opportunities, cycle its purpose-built mountain biking trails and savour its stunning views of Bassenthwaite Lake, Derwentwater and Keswick.

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in the Lake District and Cumbria.

A view of Striding Edge, Helvellyn, in the Lake District National Park


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