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Lake District

Travel Guide Europe United Kingdom England North West England Cumbria Lake District

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Introduction

The trees of Lake Buttermere

The trees of Lake Buttermere

© All Rights Reserved Mikey B

Once home to writers and poets such as Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth and AW Wainwright, the Lake District - now a national park - is arguably the most visually scenic area of England. From wooded lake shore to rugged mountain top the region is largely unspoiled mainly thanks to that national park status but also in no small part to Beatrix Potter, author of the Peter Rabbit stories, who left her considerable estate to the National Trust with the proviso that it shall never be built on. As a result much of the farmland immediately west of Windermere has remained out of bounds to the developers for a hundred years.

Situated entirely within the county of Cumbria, the Lake District is a center for outdoor activities such as hiking and mountain biking as well as watersports such as canoeing. More sedate water borne activity occurs around Windermere which has a large marina at Bowness.

The region's main towns are Windermere, Bowness Ambleside, Keswick and Coniston with Kendal and Penrith just outside the national park. Langdale is probably the most popular area for hiking and is normally accessed from Ambleside or Coniston. Some of the valleys on the periphery especially Eskdale, Wasdale and Ennerdale to the West are less frequented than the main centres and contain some of the most unspoilt scenery. Equally quiet but rewarding are Kentmere and Mardale to the East.

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Geography

The lake districts unique landscape was created by the formation and demise of large glaciers. The most recent of which disappeared over 10,000 years ago. The area (approximately 55 kilometres across) is made up of large U-shaped valleys, most of which feature a lake. The high areas feature rocky terrain and lower down the open moorland is quite boggy due to high rain fall. Scafell Pike, England's largest mountain can be found here.

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Towns

  • Windermere
  • Bowness
  • Ambleside
  • Keswick
  • Coniston
  • Kendal
  • Penrith

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Villages

  • Grasmere
  • Coniston
  • Kentmere
  • Boot
  • Eskdale
  • Longthwaite

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Sights and Activities

  • The Lakes for which the region is known are as follows: Windermere - at 11 miles (18 kilometres) the longest lake in the region - and Coniston Water are in the south and popular with watersports enthusiasts. Next to Keswick in the north lies Derwentwater with its multitude of wooded islands while a little further north on the edge of the region lies Bassenthwaite Lake - the only body of water named "lake" - the rest being "water" or "mere". The eastern lakes are home to Ullswater which many say is the most scenic of the lakes. Almost as large as windermere but without any major towns around it, Ullwater's wooded shorelines stretch from pastoral Pooley Bridge to the base of the rugged mountains above Patterdale. The east is also home to Thirlmere and Haweswater - both man made reservoirs but no less attractive for it.
  • To the west of the national park lies Wastwater, England's deepest lake set in spectacular scenery at the foot of the famous screes and England's highest mountain, Scafell Pike though it is another peak, that of Great Gable which dominates the much celebrated view up the lake. Just north of here is tranquil Ennerdale Water in its wooded valley and just north again, Crummock Water and Buttermere framed by mountain slopes to rival those of Wastwater. These are the main lakes though there are many more smaller ones such as Loweswater, Elterwater and Grasmere each worthy of a visit. In addition the Fells, as the local mountains are known, have countless small glacier formed lakes known as tarns.
  • A recommended trip by rail is to take the train to Ravenglass on the West Cumbria Coast and then the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, known locally as "L'aal Ratty" into the Eskdale valley from which there are a multitude of walking opportunities.
  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Watersports

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Weather

Being on the western side of the country and mountainous in nature it is inevitable that the Lake District has a wetter than average climate. Indeed the wettest place in England, Sprinkling Tarn is located just north of the highest summit, Scafell Pike. Besides, the lakes, waterfalls and green hillsides are part of the natural beauty of the region and having all four seasons in a day just adds to the overall experience.

In general more rain falls in the western valleys and mountains than on the eastern side and it is common for it to be a wet day at Wasdale Head and have sunny spells at Ullswater. Winter snow usually only occurs on the hills and then doesn't usually last for long except perhaps on the higher summits especially the east side of Helvellyn. Equally summer hot spells are usually tempered by cloud cover over the hills.

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Getting There

By Train

Nearest train stations are in Windermere and Penrith. For the Western fells there is the train line along the coast from Barrow-in-Furness to Carlisle.

By Car

Access for most visitors by car is via the M6 motorway junctions 35 or 36 for the South Lakes and junction 40 for the North. Kendal and Windermere can be reached by train as can the coast west of the region.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Ambleside BackpackersOld Lake Road Cumbria, AmblesideHostel-
Denton HouseDenton House Penrith Road, KeswickHostel-
Lake District BackpackersHigh Street Windermere, CumbriaHostel82
New Ing LodgeShap, (Lake District) CumbriaHostel-
YHA AmblesideWaterhead Cumbria, LA22 0EUHostel83
YHA HawksheadHawkshead AmblesideHostel83
YHA WindermereBridge Lane TroutbeckHostel87
YHA Ilam HallIlam Ashbourne, DerbyshireHOSTEL-
Thorney How GrasmereGrasmere AmblesideHOSTEL88
YHA Grasmere Butharlyp HoweEasedale Road GrasmereHOSTEL87
Kendal Hostel118-120 Highgate Kendal CumbriaHOSTEL83
Derwentwater HostelBarrow House, Borrowdale KeswickHOSTEL89

Contributors

as well as Frodo42 (6%), davidx (4%), Hien (4%), Sam I Am (2%), melwurmus (2%), Peter (2%)

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Lake District Travel Helpers

  • PeteB

    I have been a frequent visitor to the Lake District for many years and am in the process of finishing off the Wainwrights List. I certainly don't pretend to know everything about the region but I have written numerous online guides - including part of this one - and can give ideas on the best places to go - especially for outdoor activities which are what the area is best known for.

    Ask PeteB a question about Lake District
  • magykal1

    I grew up on the edge of the Lake District National Park. My family still live there and I have visited regularly since moving away.

    Ask magykal1 a question about Lake District
  • stevieh

    After a visit when I was 15, I walked in the Lake District on Duke of Edinburgh expeditions and on trips with mates. Years later, after travelling for a year, I settled here with my partner and kids. That was eight years ago and we now both run businesses in the county.
    We'll never be true locals, but we've definitely got under the skin of the place :)

    Ask stevieh a question about Lake District

This is version 36. Last edited at 5:37 on Sep 11, 12 by sleepBot. 12 articles link to this page.

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