GUIDE TO THE LAKE DISTRICT

Welcome to the Harri Travels Destination Guide to the Lake District, including where to stay, eat, what to see and what to do.

The basics

  • TRAVEL: in just two and a half hours from London Euston by train you can be strolling out into the rolling hills of Oxenholme in the Lakes. Be sure to book your tickets a good month or so in advance for cheap fares.  On arrival you can either take a taxi from the station, or Co-wheels offer eco-friendly car hire starting from just £17.50 a day from the station.
  • WEATHER: The Lakes act as a bit of microcosm when it comes to weather. A sunny morning can turn into a blustery afternoon, followed by hailstorm, rain and then blazing sunshine again: safe to say you’ll need attire for every eventuality. If you need to gear-up, Ambleside and Keswick offer a plethora of outdoor shops, and Gaynors in Ambleside comes recommended by Dadda Constable.
  •  CASH: currency is of course the British Pound. ATMs can be found in Grasmere (in the Co-Op), Ambleside and Keswick.
  • EQUIPMENT: This is the land of amazing, gasp-worthy views. Charge your camera batteries and take extra with you – you’ll want to remind yourself of reaching that summit on a dreary day in the office! You’re also going to need walking guides for the spectacular hikes. Head to the outdoor shops in Ambleside, Keswick or Grasmere for lots of options.
  • DINING: Eating out can be expensive (£15 – £20 for a main course) but this tends to be because it is locally sourced produce and the food is of a very high standard. Definitely budget in a meal or two in a pub or restaurant if possible. 

Where to eat

 

  • If you’re self catering, Booths in Windermere is the best high-quality supermarket to head to. It’s just 15 minutes from Ambleside, right next to Windermere train station.
  • Tweedies bar in Grasmere is a lovely, largish pub behind the Dale Lodge Hotel with tasty food. Book early as it gets busy.
  • Also in Grasmere is the legendary Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread shop where the sweet smell of baking biscuits wafts across the village green as you approach. Pick up a bundle of gingerbread wrapped in paper served by a woman wearing a bonnet and sit on the wall outside scoffing it by Wordsworth’s daffodils. Only in the lakes…!
  • For great fish and chips and a view, The Brittania Inn in Elterwater has a lovely sunny terrace next to a pretty river to pootle along after your meal.
  • Oh yes, and at Faeryland in Grasmere you can sip on a hot mulled pink apple juice before feeding the ducks from your pastel coloured rowing boat. Tell me that’s not idyllic. Ambleside, Grasmere and Keswick are full of cute tearooms and coffee shops too.

Where to stay

 

  • Self catering is one of the nicest ways to experience the Lake District. The area is full of gorgeous little stone cottages and there are large houses and converted barns for big groups too. Check out Cumbrian Cottages for options.
  • My family have been staying at the Scafell Hotel in Borrowdale for over 30 years – it’s a classic walkers hotel with incredible food and is great value for money. Dinner, bed and breakfast comes in at £115 per night.
  • When it comes to location, I recommend staying nearby Keswick, Ambleside or Grasmere as it’s lovely to be able to wander into town, but stay out of the centre as it can get busy with tourists.

what to do

  • HIKE: The Fairfield Horseshoe starting from Ambleside is a lovely trek which offers spectacular views of Lake Windermere. It’s a decent 10k so take ample snacks to keep you sustained!
  • AMBLE: If you’re looking for something a little less strenuous, the Coffin Walk from Ambleside to Grasmere is very pretty; passing Rydal Hall and Wordsworth’s house (which is well worth popping in to). I also loved the walk up past Sweden Bridge near Ambleside, where you can stop by the waterfall for a picnic lunch.
  • SAIL: Other than hiking, Lake Windermere offers great water sport options and lovely boat trips across the lake. A nice day out is to start near Ambleside, take the boat over to Beatrix Potter’s house and boat back later.
  • CYCLE: Cycling is a brilliant way to see the Lake District and if you choose your routes carefully it doesn’t need to be too strenuous. You can hire bikes from Country Lanes near Windermere.
  • SHOP: Potter around the shops in Ambleside, Grasmere or Keswick. Ambleside particularly has lovely coffee shops, an ice cream cafe, a pretty park and lots of little trinkety shops to discover.
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