Lake District Guide
Welcome to our Lake District Guide
If you are planning a short break to England’s biggest National Park then our Lake District guide is the ideal starting place. Full of useful information including must see sights, great places to eat and upcoming events it offers an glimpse into all that makes the Lake District so unique. Whether taking a walking holiday in the stunning mountain ranges, planning a shopping trip to historic Carlisle, visiting the home of 19th century poet Wordsworth or taking a boat out on one of the serene lakes there is always something new to discover in this richly beautiful and diverse landscape.
From picturesque villages, thriving towns and over 350 fells and around 80 lakes you are sure to find inspiration for your break in our Lake District guide. The Lake District is an ideal holiday destination for all the family, with plenty of spectacular countryside, family attractions, fascinating towns and England’s highest mountain Skafell Pike. Enjoy a day out at one of the areas many country fairs, sample some local food, and explore the history of Carlisle Castle. Why not pack a picnic and head out through the countryside to view the amazing natural landscape. If you are visiting with children head to the World Of Beatrix Potter, the Lakes aquarium on the edge of Windermere or scale the heights at Go Ape. With a host of award winning restaurants, cosy pubs and welcoming tea rooms there are plenty of places to stop and refuel.
No matter where you visit be it Kendal, Keswick, Grasmere or Carlisle browse through our Lake District Guide and enjoy a peek at all the region has to offer.
Take a boat on Lake Windermere, the largest lake
Explore the Fells & Mountains of the Lake District
Climb Scafell Pike - at 978m it's England's highest mountain
Enjoy live entertainment at a range of great theatres
Sample some of the areas superb cuisine
Enjoy a pint of local ale from the areas breweries
Travelling to the Lake District
Lake District Overview
Well connected by road, rail and even air it’s easy to get to the heart of the Lake District and start enjoying your break.
Windermere is home to the main train station in the Lake District and offers direct services to Kendal and Oxenholme. From Oxenholme station you can travel direct to Manchester, Lancaster and Carlisle.
Nestled in the North West of England the Lake District offers excellent transport connections via the M6, A66, A69, & A65 making it easily accessible throughout the North and South of the UK.
There are several airports close by to the Lake District including Manchester, Leeds/Bradford, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Blackpool, which is only a 40 minute drive from Cumbria.
Getting Around in the Lake District
Lake District Overview
With fantastic walking paths, regular boat services and buses from surrounding villages there are plenty of ways to take in the amazing sights of the Lake District.
For a convenient way to see the Lake District and surrounding areas the local buses are a perfect choice. With open top buses or back lane rambler busses you have the opportunity to see more of the amazing scenery.
Spend a day seeing the beautiful Lake District with the fantastic hop-on hop-off steam boats or Coniston Steam Yacht Gondola. Whether you are taking a tour along the lakes or stopping to discover the many walking trails the steam boats are a quick and convenient way to get around.
With plenty of mountains, woodland paths and lake side walks to discover, a stay in the Lake District is the perfect excuse for seeing the great outdoors. With lots of shops in the area specialising in walking and biking equipment and hire it’s easy to head out to one of the designated paths.
Travelling to the Lake District
Set in the North West of England the Lake District is the largest of the country’s National Parks and covers over 800 square miles the majority of which lies within the county of Cumbria. Spreading from Ulverston in the South to Cockermouth in the North the Lake District National Park is a fantastic place to visit on your short break and is easily accessible from all directions. Whether travelling via car, train or plane there are plenty of routes which will take you into the heart of the Lake District.
There are several excellent rail links into the Lake District. Whether arriving at Windermere, Kendal or Carlisle a number of train operators provide access to and from the Lakes.
Virgin Trains: Virgin trains have services to Oxenholme, Penrith for the North Lakes and Carlisle. These services are available across the UK including trains from London’s Euston Station (some services may need to make a change).
Transpennine Express: Travelling via Transpennine there are connecting services along its North West Route. Changing at Manchester Transpennine Express offers services to Oxenholme, Windermere, Kendal, Grange-over-Sands and Barrow-in-Furness.
Northern Rail: The Northern Rail service runs along the popular Settle to Carlisle route, the 72 mile route was completed in 1876 and is hugely popular with train enthusiasts and those wishing to explore the area. The service calls at ten stations including Appleby, Kirby Stephen, Langwathby, Armathwaite and Carlisle making it the perfect way to view the stunning countryside as you travel into the Lakes.
The Lake District is set on the West Coast of England and with the M6 motorway running alongside the Lake District it is easy to drive to this spectacular destination.
From the North: If you are travelling from the North the M6 is easily accessible from the A7 and the A74 (M).
From the East: Travelling from Newcastle the A69 connects to the M6 and smaller B roads into the Lakes. Further down the country the A66 heads into Keswick in the heart of the Lakes.
From the South: Driving to the Lakes from the south of England the M6 is easily reached from the M1 and the M5.
The Lake District is within easy reach of the smaller Carlisle and Blackpool Airports and has excellent links to Manchester and Newcastle Airports. If arriving into the South of England there are several rail links available to take you to the Lakes.
Blackpool Airport: Set just a short drive from the Lakes Blackpool Airport connects with the national rail network via Preston and there are regular direct services to Carlisle, Penrith and Oxenholme. A single adult train ticket from Blackpool to Oxenholme costs approx £20.
Manchester Airport: The UK’s third largest Airport has easy access to the Lakes via the M6 and also offers direct rail services to Windermere and Barrow-in-Furness. A single adult train ticket to Windermere from Manchester Airport costs approx £22.
Newcastle Airport: Has direct links to Newcastle Central Station from where there are regular connections to Carlisle. From Carlisle there are several rail services across the Lake District. Trains from Newcastle to Carlisle cost approx £15 for an adult.
London Airports: From London airports travel into Central London from where there are regular train connections running from Euston Station into the Lake District. It is about a five hour drive from the South to the Lakes.
Getting Around the Lake District
With so much to see and do across the Lake District you’ll be eager to get out and explore the area. Whether planning a walk in the stunning countryside a visit to one of the intriguing villages or shopping in the towns there are plenty of ways to get out and about in the Lakes. From cycling up the array of mountains to taking a boat across the water, hopping on a train or enjoying a scenic bus ride getting from A to B couldn’t be easier.
Whether getting on a bus to take in the beautiful surroundings or just need a way to get around easily the Lakes has a range of bus routes on offer to take you on your journey:
Scenic Bus Routes:
Hadrians Wall Route – running from Newcastle to Bowness-on-Solway this guided bus route follows the wall and calls at the main Roman sites and museums.
Circular route (73/73a) from Keswick to Caldbeck calling at a selection of picturesque villages and historic sites.
Take a drive through the heart of the lakes on route 516 and enjoy the spectacular scenes of the enchanting Langdale Valley.
Stagecoach offer a number of services throughout the Lake District & Cumbria. A Stagecoach Explorer ticket offer unlimited travel on Stagecoach buses throughout Cumbria. These can be bought for 1 day, 3 day or more.
A 1 day adult ticket costs £10. Dayrider tickets for specific towns can also be purchased at a lesser cost.
The Lake District is renowned for its beautiful Lakes, so what better way to explore the area then by taking out a boat or enjoying a cruise on the serene waters.
Windermere Lake Cruises offer a variety of cruises across the Lake. From a relaxing cruise on the lake to combinations including entry to the Lakeside Aquarium, Motor Museum or a steam railway journey. Tickets start from approx £10 per adult.
Ullswater Steamers are an award winning company that have been running for over 150 years. The The Round the Lake Pass gives you the freedom to hop on and off all day and costs just £12.95 per adult.
There are several companies that will hire boats out for you to go on the a number of the Lake Districts lakes. No matter if you are sailing on Derwentwater, Windermere or Ullswater there is plenty to choose from.
Keswick Launch - cruises, rowing boats and self drive motor boat hire
Derwent Water Marina - Kayaks, Canoes, Rowing Boats, Sailing Dinghies and Windsurfers.
Lakeland Boating Hire, Pooley Bridge - Motor boats, canoes and rowing boats
Low Wood Watersports Centre - Hire and tuition for motor boats, rowing boats, kayaks, canoes, waterskiing and more.
With stunning surroundings the Lake District is a great place to get out on your bike and explore. Whether bringing your own bike or hiring one on arrival there are plenty of fantastic routes to cycle through and take in the sights along the way. Why not join a cycle tour and let someone with experience guide you on your way.
Country Lanes Lake District Cycle Hire – Based at Windermere railway station country lanes offers cycle tours, bike hire, route map ranging from 7 to 30 miles and more.
Grizedale Mountain Bikes – Set in Grizedale Forest this is perfect for those who want a challenge. Why not try the 10 mile North Face Mountain Bike Trail, a standard bike can be hired for the day from £26pp
Shopping in the Lake District
With a selection of towns and villages to visit the Lake District has a great range of shopping available. From the high street shops available in the Lanes in Carlisle to the K Village outlet centre at Kendal, second hand book shops and a host of craft and gift shops there are plenty of shops to while away the hours in.
Whether you are in need of some new walking boots, looking to buy some of the renowned Kendal mint cake, seeking a unique gift to take home or simply want to browse the array of quirky shops or well known brands there is plenty to discover when shopping in the Lakes.
As well as a great selection of shops the Lake District is also home to a range of local markets, from fresh food stalls to weekly markets, fairs and small galleries you are sure to find what you need.
Top 5 Must Visit Shops....
The Necessary Angel, Packhorse Court, Keswick,Cumbria
Contemporary jewellery shop and gallery in the heart of Keswick. Independently run it only stocks items produced in the UK by individual designer-makers.
Westwood Books, Leisure House, Long Lane, Sedbergh, Cumbria, LA10 5AH
With a range of antiquarian, second hand, and new books Westwood books is he largest book shop in the North West. With over 70,000 titles on the shelves and book themed gifts, jigsaws, and cards its ideal for those who love to browse
The Larch Tree, Devonshire Square, Cartmel, Cumbria, LA11 6QD
Set in a stunning 14th century building the Larch Tree offers three floors of gifts. From traditional children's toys to clothing, jewellery, home ware and more.
The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop. Church Cottage, Grasmere, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 9SW
Indulge in delicious gingerbread treats at the Gingerbread shop, selling an array of Gingerbread and Rum Butter. Dating back to 1630 the traditional shop was originally the village school.
Hawkshead Relish Company, 2 The Square, Hawkshead, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0NZ
Don’t miss popping into the shop of the award winning makers of relishes, pickles and preserves. There are over 100 samples to taste in the shop and they can make hampers up on request.
Eating Out in the Lake Dsitrict
With an array of welcoming country pubs, Michelin starred restaurants, cosy tearooms and family favourites there are plenty of fabulous places to stop and eat in the Lake District. Whether you are in need of a quick bite, after a hearty home cooked meal or want to indulge in the tastes of Cumbria there are plenty of fantastic restaurants to choose from during your short break.
From traditional tearooms and cafes with freshly baked cakes to a romantic candle lit meal in the heart of Kendal, a pub meal on the edge of Lake Windermere or dining out at one of the brand favourites in Carlisle there is a restaurant to suit all occasions, and with plenty of destinations to choose from you are spoilt for choice when eating out in the Lake District.
Many of the regions restaurants offer spectacular views out over the beautiful Lakes, panoramic countryside and peaceful hills, providing the perfect setting for your dining experience. Plus with a range of hotels offering dinner deal stays you need not travel far to enjoy a sumptuous meal.
Top Five Restaurants in Cumbria
George and Dragon, Clifton, Near Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 2ER
Winner of the taste of Cumbria awards in 2011 the George and Dragon is a superb 18th century coaching inn that serves delicious meals made with fresh local ingredients straight from the Lowther Estate.
Holbeck Ghyll, Holbeck Lane, Windermere, LA23 1LU
Former hunting lodge of Lord Lonsdale and a Michelin starred restaurant which offers stunning views overlooking Windermere and the Langdale Fells.
Hooked, Ellerthwaite Square, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1DP
Friendly seafood restaurant in the heart of Windermere. Serving a spectacular array of fresh fish dishes, mouth watering desserts and all with superb service.
Zeffirellis, Compston Road, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 9AD
Award winning Pizzeria serving delcious pasta and pizza dishes until 10pm daily. Why not try the sister restaurant Fellini’s serving vegetarian dishes with a Mediterranean twist.
L'Enclume, Cavendish Street, Cartmel, Nr Grange over Sands, Cumbria, LA11 6PZ
Fabulous French restaurant, ideal for a romantic night out or a special occasion. The L'Enclume is a Michelin starred restaurant serving a delectable menu amidst the beautiful medieval village of Cartmel.
The Lake District Nightlife
As well as a host of pubs and bars throughout the various towns and villages the Lake District is home to a number of theatres, cinemas and concert venues that will keep you entertained on the long evenings. From the picturesque setting of the Theatre on the Lake in Keswick to live music at the Brickyard in Carlisle, Tenpin Bowling at Workington or seeing the latest cinema release before enjoying Contemporary Jazz and world music performances at Zeffirellis there is plenty of things going on in the Lake District to keep you entertained.
Whether after a night of comedy, a bit of culture with some ballet and dance or want to see the latest dramatic offerings there is plenty on offer. With a great selection of arts venues and theatres there is always something going on for you to enjoy on your break in the Lake District.
Best Nightlife Venues
Theatre by the Lake, Lakeside, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 5DJ
Nestled on the shores of Derwentwater the theatre by the Lake offers a fantastic range of plays, shows and events running throughout the year.
Sands Centre, Carlisle, CA1 1JQ
Premier concert and event venue which is host to a diverse line up of acts from first class comedy to award winning plays. Plus with a sports hall and LifeStyle centre open until late there is plenty to keep you occupied.
Brewery Arts Centre, 122a Highgate, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 4HE
With three cinemas, a 260 capacity theatre, art space, music venue, the famous Vats Bar, a superb restaurant and more the Brewery Arts Centre is your one stop shop for evening entertainment in Kendal.
Roxy Cinema, Brogden Street, Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 7AH
Dating back to 1937 the Roxy is a stunning example of an Art Deco cinema. The cinema shows a variety of new release films and old favourites.
Rosehill Theatre, Moresby, Whitehaven, Cumbria, CA28 6SE
Set on the outskirts of Whitehaven the Rosehill Theatre has offered a range of entertainment for over 50 years. From theatre to stand up, informative talks and the latest films there is something to suit all tastes.
Lake District Bars
From 16th Century coaching Inns to modern bars and nightclubs the Lake District offers a fantastic choice of drinking establishments. For a lively nightlife head to Carlisle city centre where you can find a range of popular pubs including Yates, Walkabout and Wetherspoons alongside a selection of independent pubs, or for late night dancing head to the city’s Club Concrete.
If you enjoy a quieter drink then there are plenty of pubs and bars to choose from, from the Lakeview pub on the edge of Lake Winderemere, ideal for families, to the relaxing Globe Inn in the heart of Kendal. For a sample of the local ales head to one of the Lake Districts older pubs, serving a selection of drinks brewed in Haswkhead and Coniston. If you are out and about enjoying the stunning scenery there are any number of country pubs for you to rest for a drink and replenish before heading back out into the world. Here is our selection of the best pubs with a little bit of extra character to enjoy.
Bars with Character
Hawkshead Brewery, Mill Yard, Staveley, Cumbria, LA8 9LR
No trip to the Lakes would be complete without trying a sample of the local tipple. Hawskshead Brewery offers six different beers and ales for you to choose from, while the Beer Hall serves a selection of drinks and beer inspired tapas dishes.
Drunken Duck, Barngates Ambleside Cumbria LA22 0NG
A charming and charismatic inn which serves a selection of award winning real ales from Barngates Brewery. The bar provides a traditional setting which offers a warm welcome to those who seek it out.
Black Cock Inn, Princess Street, Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria, LA20 6HQ
A stunning 16th Century Inn with low beamed ceiling, roaring fires and a courtyard garden for the warmer months. Serves a great choice of ales and a mouth watering menu too.
Red Lion Inn, Hawkshead, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0NS
Set in the hart of Wordsworth home town the Red Lion Inn is a Traditional 15th century inn and the oldest pub in Hawkshead.
The Black Bull Inn and Hotel, Coppermines Road, Coniston, LA21 8HL
The Black Bull is home to the Coniston Brewing Company and serves an array of ales and stouts to sooth your thirst.
Lake District Attractions
The Lake District is home to some of the country’s most spectacular landscapes and is a fantastic base for a break in the great outdoors. From mountain walking to rock climbing, kayaking and mountain biking there is plenty to do, however the Lakes also offer a great selection of attractions to keep you entertained.
From stately homes and historic castles to wild life parks, museums and art galleries the Lake District offer plenty for the whole family to enjoy. Whether it’s discovering the history of Carlisle Castle, exploring the nearby Hadrian’s Wall or spending an afternoon wandering through an art gallery the Lake District has it all. With a great choice of award winning attractions including the World of Beatrix Potter and Holker Hall plus a great range of museums from the Pencil Museum to the Rum Story and the Florence Mine Heritage Centre it’s all waiting to be discovered during your break in the Lake District.
Must See Attractions
Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass, Cumbria, CA18 1RQ
Award winning Castle set in 70 acres of beautiful grounds with Owl Centre and MeadowVole Maze. Reputed to be haunted and featuring a range of special events throughout the year it is a great day out for the whole family.
World of Beatrix Potter, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 3BX
Award winning attraction bringing the characters of Beatrix Potter to life. From Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck to the Tailor of Gloucester Tea Room, it offers a fantastic insight into the work of the popular children’s author.
The Puzzling Place: Museum Square, Kewswick CA12 5DZ
Museum exploring optical illusions. Enter the World of Illusion and be amazed at the sights within, from the anti gravity room to the hologram room and Eyelusions Exhibition it is a fascinating way to spend the day. Don’t forget to visit the shop and take some puzzling optical illusions home with you too.
Dove Cottage and The Wordsworth Museum, Grasmere, LA22 9SH
Home of William Wordsworth from December 1799 to May 1808 – features an award-winning museum and one of the greatest collections of manuscripts, books and paintings relating to British Romanticism.
Windermere Lake Cruises
Enjoy a boat ride on England’s largest lake. A selection of guided tours, steamer boats and row boats are available for you to explore the magnificent lake.