Exploring The Incredible Scenery of The Lake District, Cumbria!
I had never really explored the Lake District properly, before this trip I had only been to the Lake District, Cumbria in the northwest of England twice, both times with the sole intention of climbing the highest peak in England, Scafell Pike, and on one of these occasions, during the three peaks challenge, we started in the middle of the night…and got lost…not the most fun I’ve had climbing a mountain! I knew I needed to explore the Lake District more.
When I had the idea of putting together a series of trips around the UK and Ireland during the winter months with the goal of showing great travel closer to home does not have to stop outside of summer, The Lake District was pretty much the first place I thought of. What I had seen of the scenery had been breathtaking, with such a huge area of natural beauty to explore, so accessible from major cities in England (less than two hours motorway drive from Liverpool and Manchester), it was a must for me to include in the series…and we had an awesome time!
Cumbria tourism supported us with this trip, they were so much help and their website is full of amazing activities and great places to stay and eat. They also hooked us up with a Love Cumbria card which costs just £10 and is valid for two people for two weeks and gives you access to loads of great deals. Money off restaurants (25% off at The Lamplighter Dining Rooms where we stayed for two nights and the food was amazing!), 2 for 1 offers on loads of great activities including 1 child free with each paying adult at Honister Slate Mine where you can do some really cool climbing activities (check back soon for my post on our trip here taking on the Via Ferrata Extreme!). This is so easily worth £10! They are only available till the end of March though so be quick if you fancy taking advantage of these offers.
Something included with the Love Cumbria Card (10% off) is Windermere Lake Cruises. They run a range of cruises on England’s biggest lake although some are seasonal. We went on the red cruise which runs between Bowness-on-Windermere and Waterside Ambleside, you can either get off the boat at the stops and explore these lovely little places returning on a later boat, or stay on for a round trip which lasts around 70-75 minutes.
During the cruise we saw some really beautiful scenery and they gave a commentary pointing out places of interest along the way which was nice. We decided to get off and explore Ambleside, somewhere we seemed to gravitate back to regularly during our time in the area, it’s lovely with some great cafes and loads of brilliant outdoor clothing/equipment shops, the credit card took a bit of a hit here!
We missed the boat back we intended to catch…as we were too busy eating cake and drinking coffee in a lovely little cafe we had found! But…it made the boat ride back to Bowness all the more beautiful. It was pretty much the last boat back which we caught, and by then the sun was setting and it made for some remarkable views across the lake, a sunset cruise on Lake Windermere is a must, this was beautiful!
This was something totally unplanned and we experienced pretty much by mistake…we were very very lucky, but I would definitely try and coincide a cruise around sunset if possible if heading back. You can also take a cruise on Ullswater, another really picturesque lake on their steam boats there which you can also get a discount with using the Love Cumbria Card.
Ambleside located at the northern tip of Lake Windermere is a great little place to explore and like I said we seemed to pass through regularly and stopped off there a number of times with lovely cafe’s (Daisy’s, the one with cake so nice we missed our boat!) and shops. Its a quaint little place with loads of quirky little attention grabbing things.
There is a perfectly located pub right on the shore of Lake Windermere just outside of Ambleside called the Wateredge Inn. The garden of the pub goes straight down to the lake, this is a place I have been to in the summertime as well and sitting outside here with a beer…well there can’t be that many pubs with a beer garden with a view this great! They also have rooms available here but it is a very popular spot so booking in advance is recommended. The link above will take you to their TripAdvisor page where you can also book rooms.
The most exciting thing we did during our visit and the most fun, without doubt was the Via Ferrata Extreme at Honister Slate Mine. So with Via Ferrata there are metal pegs inserted into a cliff face for you to climb on and there is a cable running along side for you to clip yourself onto. It was great fun, huge drops, overhangs, a wire bridge, cargo net, caves…and then when you reach the top, 600 metres up…the views are breathtaking! We were so lucky the day we did this, it was so clear we could see for miles, we could see Scotland, the views were spectacular! Look out for my post on this with some awesome GoPro footage. Sometimes I forget that there is this kind of mountainous scenery right here so close to home, the landscape in the hills of the Lake District is something else. Find out more and book your tickets at http://www.honister.com.
The drive to Honister Slate Mine had been fantastic, we were up early and caught glimpses of a spectacular sunrise over the hills and mist hanging over the lakes, beautiful. On the way back to our accommodation at Lumley Fee Bunkhouse near to Kendal, we decided to swing by Keswick and then onto Ullswater, the second largest lake in the Lake District. Keswick was a pretty little market town, we enjoyed a hog roast roll from the market, we had worked up an appetite after all the activity of the Via Ferrata. We also discovered this magical little café called Mrs F’s Fine Food Emporium! We had a scones with clotted cream and jam and a couple of pick me up coffees, it is the most unique café I think I have ever been to! A hidden gem in the centre of Keswick, definitely check this place out, it will leave you with a story to tell! You can find them on Facebook here.
When we got to Ullswater, the light was fading, nobody else was there at all, the scene was literally jaw dropping.
The water was so still it was like glass! The reflections on the lake were amazing, no boats, not even birds in the water, perfectly still. The area around Ullswater is really impressive, the hill walking here is some of the best in the Lake District, the landscape makes for some great views, a fun place to explore.
It was one of those moments where I could have stayed for hours taking in the views, so calm and serene. These moments can be few and far between, especially during busy peak travel months. After a morning of excitement on the Via Ferrata we definitely went from one extreme to the other in the Lake District on this day.
On our last day in the Lake District we explored Kendal (and had a beer watching the Arsenal match!). Kendal is bigger than Ambleside and Keswick but is still full of charm and quirky little places.
It was a really nice place to spend an afternoon, we got speaking to some of the locals who had a real passion for the area giving us little insights of times gone by, real experts about the history of Cumbria. A very friendly place to spend our last day.
The Lake District is an area of outstanding natural beauty, not just in comparison with other areas in the UK, but it is up there with some of the most beautiful places I have visited in Europe. Ok so it may not have the summits of the Alps, it may not have the sheer adrenaline inducing drops and views of the fjords, but it is totally unspoilt natural beauty. Any development and activities which take place here are in keeping with the area and only add to the enjoyment to be had here. The activities you can take part in here are here because of the natural scenery and they are so awesome due to it as well. The Lake District is fast becoming the adventure capital of the UK, with activities such as the ones we experienced at Honister, along with water sports, hill walking, climbing, mountain biking, off road driving, and many many more adventure activities it is not surprising. There are so many pull factors for The Lake District that it is a great place to visit for people of any age. It is not only for the adventurous either, you can be as active or inactive as you please! Along with all of these adventure activities there is a vibrant restaurant scene with an ever increasing number of michelin stars being awarded, several first class spa hotels, the accommodation on offer covers all ranges. So whether you are looking for a relaxing break in the country to totally unwind, or you are looking for the adrenaline filled action packed break…you can find it in The Lake District.
During our stay in The Lake District we had two very different accommodation experiences…but both were very pleasing in their own way. For the first two nights we stayed at The Lamplighter Dining Rooms in Windermere. Accommodation which felt like a home from home with a dining experience which really sets it apart, the very best of British, you can read the story of our stay here.
For the last two nights we stayed at Lumley Fee Bunkhouse in Helsington just outside Kendal with it’s sister pub The Wheatsheaf.
This was such a cool little adventure, in the middle of nowhere, with incredible views, an old school house has been converted into a bunkhouse. But this is not your normal run of the mill bunkhouse, this is very much a luxury bunkhouse. When you discover the communal lounge and dining area, it really is magical, almost like stepping into a home from a Harry Potter movie! A very cool experience! Look out for my post about our experience here coming soon!
Both places can also be booked through TripAdvisor where you can also check out the reviews and see price comparisons. So you don’t have to just take my word for it…you can see how everyone else loved them both as well!
As always thanks for taking the time to check out My Travel Mission travel blog, thanks for reading…and happy travels!