Staycations don’t get more beautiful than the picturesque Lake District, fondly known as The Lakes. With its huge bodies of water, raw unspoilt fells and glorious jaw-on-the-floor views, you can see why Beatrix Potter left her London life behind in favour of a farmhouse retreat nestled in the rolling hills of Ambleside.
From rowing to hiking and – our personal favourite pastime – eating, there’s plenty to see and do in this wonderfully unique part of England, so grab your walking boots and get ready to live out your Folklore dreams, here’s a handful of top tier must dos in Cumbria and the Lake District.
It wouldn’t be a trip to the Lake District without a visit to Lake Windermere – the largest natural lake in England and the perfect place to cry (no, you’re obsessed with Taylor Swift). If we’re talking open-air tourism, Windermere has in spades. Lake cruises, pretty cafes, views of fells, you name it. Take to the water and discover what life on the lakes all about.
Visit Beatrix Potter’s former home
Here’s your chance to visit one of the most famous wisteria-clad cottages on Instagram. The charming 17th century home of children’s author Beatrix Potter inspired many of her much-loved tales – you can spot the rhubarb patch where Jemima Puddle-Duck hid her eggs, roam the garden where Tom Kitten played with his sisters and discover the doll’s house that featured in The Tale of Two Bad Mice.
Beatrix Potter bought the house in 1905 with the royalties from Peter Rabbit and when she died, left the National Trust strict instructions to open her home to the public. To this day, the house has retained its nostalgic cottagecore charm, so much so it’s almost as if the woman herself has just popped out for a walk.
If you fancy exploring Beatrix’s stomping ground a little while longer, you can actually stay here too. Book us in asap.
Rest your head at The Boathouse at Knotts End
Escape the hoi polloi in this romantic boathouse getaway, perched above the western shores of Ullswater. With no Wifi or signal, it’s the perfect spot to unplug, do a spot of bird-watching from the balcony, go wild swimming, play board games and explore the lake on your very own rowing boat. Whether you want a cosy hideaway in the winter, or a dreamy summer waterside stay, this romantic retreat will be a welcome place to rest your head all year round. Mentally, our out of office is already on.
Pig out at The Drunken Duck Inn
An absolute must if you’re in The Lakes. From crab crumpets to venison suet pudding and pork belly risotto, this old Lakeland inn knows a thing or two about how to refuel after a day on the fells. Wash down your gastropub grub with a beer brewed right on the premises.
Explore Rydal Mount & Gardens
Located in the picturesque village of Rydal between Ambleside and Grasmere, the historic 16th century cottage was home to one of the world’s most celebrated poets, William Wordsworth and his family from 1813 until his death in 1850.
Although his Cockermouth residence is pegged as the place to see, he wrote many of his famous poems in his writing hut in the gardens at Rydal Mount, including the Prelude and The Daffodils so it’s worth a visit. When you see the beautiful, terraced gardens and views of Lake Windermere, it’s easy to understand why this bucolic setting inspired much of his work. A host of golden daffs, indeed!
For literature lovers, Dove Cottage (another of Wordsworth’s humble abodes) near the village of Grasmere is also well worth a visit.
Eat the world’s best gingerbread at Grasmere Gingerbread Shop
This tiny Lakeland shop in an old 1630s school sells award-winning rum butter, fudge, mint cake and of course, their world-famous gingerbread. In 1854, a Victorian cook named Sarah Nelson invented a unique sweet and spicy recipe, wrapped it in parchment paper and sold it to villagers from a tree stump outside her front door. Over a hundred and sixty years later and her sweet treat is still baked fresh every day to her original, hand-written (and closely guarded) recipe inside her former home, now The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop.
Travel back in time at the Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railway
Is there anything more charming than a steam train chugging and puffing along? Step back in time and catch a glimpse of life from a bygone age with a scenic journey aboard one of Cumbria’s heritage railways.
The Ravenglass & Eskdale railway is one of the oldest and longest narrow gauge railways in England, known amongst locals as La’al Ratty, meaning “little railway” in old Cumbrian dialect. The line is seven miles long, with a journey time of 40 minutes each way offering stunning views over the estuaries.
Take a hike, obviously
You can’t visit the Lake District and not climb a fell. For beginners, weary legs or little legs, Buttermere is one of the Lake District’s most celebrated lakes, framed by gorgeous mountainous landscape and the turquoise waters of the valley. Enjoy a four mile walk around the circumference, soaking up the rugged peaks and the raw beauty of the fells.
For a bucket list hike, try Scafell Pike (978m), England’s highest mountain. It’s not for the fainthearted but you’ll be richly rewarded by views from the ‘roof of England’.
For something between the two, try the iconic Catbells fell for the perfect family-friendly trek with panoramic views of the national park’s mirror-like lakes and lush valleys.
Grab a flat white & next-level waffles from Homeground
On the hunt for a decent cup of Joe and the breakfast of champs? Enter Homeground Coffee & Kitchen. Serving up their famous southern fried buttermilk turkey house waffles complete with streaky bacon, chipotle maple syrup and candied sprouts, you’ll be hard pressed to finder a better spot for brunch.
Tuck into a meal at L’Enclume
Dubbed one of the best restaurants in the world and the only 2 Michelin star in the northwest of England, dining out at Simon Rogan’s iconic eaterie is a real treat for any food lover… if you can get a table. Boasting superlative produce straight from the restaurant’s 12-acre farm, this is farm to fork dining at its best.