Do you know where in England you can travel for some beautiful green scenery and a challenging hike? If you are unsure, look no further than the Lake District National Park.
The 885-square-mile Lake District is a stunningly beautiful part of northwest England. Back in 2018, it was voted the nation’s favourite national park. The region is induced with literary mountains, attracting walkers, sightseers, and adventurers searching for its charming heritage and plentiful activities for everyone to do. From the magnificent Windermere to Scafell Pike, with some of the best places to wine and dine, here is why visiting Lake District should be on your itinerary when travelling to England.
History of the Lake District
Until the mid-19th century, the area was hardly visited. Writer & Journalist, Daniel Defoe in 1724 described it as “The wildest, most barren and frightful of any that I have passed over in England.”
Okay, not the most generous words ever said about the park, but the introduction of the railway service to Windermere in 1847 made it all possible for mass tourism.
Lake District National Park
The landscape in the region is simply majestic. The shadowy ridges overlaid with golden light, glittering meadows ablaze with wildflowers, and stunning blue lakes that reflect the whole glorious scene.
I took a trip up to the Lakes with high expectations. Every friend that I had spoken to all said how wonderful it was. My friend Simon, who used to live in the Lakes, told me before I went, “You’re going to fall in love with it. You will be heading up there multiple times in your life after your first visit.”
There are plenty of places to stay, but the vast majority of tourists base themselves in Windermere, as I did. It’s easy to navigate yourself from there, and Windermere has plenty of attractions to keep you ticking.
One thing you must do when you visit is take a cruise. It is a classic Lakeland experience, albeit one you will share with plenty of fellow travellers. Along with that, visit The World of Beatrix Potter, a vibrant attraction that brings Beatrix Potter’s enchanting stories to life about the beautiful Lake District countryside.
Beatrix Potter is, of course, the world-renowned author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. She spent most of her adult life living in the Lakes and left almost all her property to the National Trust on her death. She is widely credited in the area, especially from those I spoke to, for preserving much of the land that now composes the Lake District National Park.
There is also a very old school movie theatre called Royalty that I couldn’t resist visiting. As I am a big movie fan, there was something nostalgic about this theatre. The interior had been well maintained, and I asked one of the staff members how this place is still holding on with so many chain cinemas around. He said, “People love the traditions here. It’s not fancy, and that’s what makes it appealing. We have people from all over the world coming to this cinema.”
It was like those movie theatres I grew up with, where they are not a complex, and it’s an old building that could be someone’s house. I highly recommend watching a movie there. You will find it on the main road, Lake Road, leading to all the pubs and restaurants.
Talking of pubs, one pub where everyone goes to whilst in Windermere is The Albert. One of the locals had told me it was “One of the oldest pubs in town.” You will have to go in and enjoy an evening with a drink. There is another pub that writer Charles Dickens frequently visited called Hole in t’ Wall, which has been standing since 1612. I had a nice spot of lunch in there and enjoyed sitting in the spot where Dickens sat to drink his beer.
In terms of restaurants, there are plenty of authentic places to choose from on the main road. It really depends on what your stomach fancies that night.
I want to point out there are other places where you can stay, such as Hawkshead, an area which also has a strong connection with Beatrix Potter and English Poet, William Wordsworth. Grasmere, where Wordsworth was schooled. And finally, Keswick and Kendal. I read some great reviews of those places, and my friend Simon who I mentioned earlier, lived in Kendal. But it really depends on what you are after, as they are all magnificent places.
Where to hike in Lake District
Lake District has by far some of the finest walking trails in the world. Deciding where to go can be a difficult choice due to the overwhelming amount of choice. As I only had the weekend there, I decided to go for the most significant hike of them all, Scafell Pike.
To say you’ve climbed the highest peak in the country is something I am proud of saying. The hike to the summit and back can take up to 5-7 hours, and it is doable for anyone with reasonable fitness. The time of the year I went, which was in March, was freezing! It would be best if you approached the hike with common sense. That means lots of layers and waterproofs with no flip flops and shorts.
From Windermere, it is about an hour and a half drive. If you get a decent days weather as I did, then you will catch Wastwater from the top. A small puddle on the landscape when viewed from the 978m summit.
There are other places to hike, which I didn’t get the chance to do, but from what the locals told me, I must go back and do. One gentleman said to me, “For the sheer excitement; you need to set aside a whole day and head for Helvellyn,” which is the third-highest peak in England.
An easier, satisfying, and rewarding route is the 5-mile circuit around Buttermere, which is surrounded by the mountains and offers stunning views. Lastly, there is a popular 3-mile scramble up the 450m peak of Catbells adjacent to Derwentwater. This is slightly more testing from what the locals told me again and provides from the pictures I saw one of the best panoramic views in the Lake District.
In terms of budget, the Lake District can be on the expensive side. However, I managed to book a last-minute bed and breakfast for two nights for $140. I did this by contacting the bed and breakfast place directly. I drove to the Lakes, and my overall fuel cost was $90 for a 1-litre engine. All of my lunch and dinner cost me on average $15 to $30 per sit down.
In total, you will be spending just over $300 for a weekend away.
Overall thoughts on Lake District National Park
It’s a superb place to visit, get your mind off things and enjoy the beautiful scenery. My friend Simon was right, I fell in love with the area, and I plan on going back regularly. Especially as I need to do all the other hikes I didn’t manage to do.
I spent two nights and three days there, which turned out not to be enough. I would suggest perhaps 3-5 days instead. That will add to the cost; however, the best time to go to save on prices would be around January to March as it will be a lot less busy. Plus, I would think about going during the weekday to save you a bit of cash.
So when you are in England, don’t forget to visit the Lakes, as you won’t regret it one bit.