National Parks and the greater outdoors are a big part of our travels in most parts of the world. Whilst we enjoy exploring places rich in culture, history and architecture, and whilst food is always a big part of everywhere we go, the natural environment has always been our favourite setting during travels abroad and at home.
Recently I have been highlighting the wonderful National Parks in England and Wales that we have been lucky to experience. One can hardly leave out the largest national park in the UK, one of the most popular outdoors destination, known for its stunning beauty and abundance of wildlife – Lake District National Park.
Instead of just writing a reflective post on our many experiences here, I thought I would try to be more helpful by providing some useful tips and advice on how one can plan the perfect holiday here.
Where to go?
It can be difficult deciding where to go – there are several large lakes, fells(hills) mountains and forests to explore. While the southern lakes which form the gateway to Lake District tend to be more popular, the Northern Lakes are our personal favourite – less touristy, stunning scenery, plenty of wildlife to see and outdoor activities to enjoy.
The best place to base oneself at is in Keswick. Within easy reach of Keswick are the four highest mountains in England – Scafell Pike 978m, Scafell, 964m; Helvellyn 950m; and Skiddaw, 931m – and six major lakes – Derwentwater, Bassenthwaite Lake, Thirlmere, Buttermere, Crummock Water and Ullswater.
Bassenthwaite Lake is one of the largest and the most northerly of the lakes. There is very little development all around. We went on our first proper holiday here with two of our closest friends. One of the reasons we wanted to come here was to see the Ospreys at the Osprey Centre. We went on a lovely forest hike, cut too short by my very pregnant self carrying Shahaar 🙂
Ullswater is the second largest lake and in my opinion has some of the nicest views of magnificent mountain scenery. Even though it is popular with windsurfers and tourists, it still has not been overrun with too much commercialism and retains an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. This is personally one of my favourite lakes. See here for adventures one can do around Ullswater from swimming, cycling, climbing and more! Perfect for families and solo adventure seeker and backpackers, there is a wide of options for camping, self catering cottages and Eco friendly BnBs in the area.
More popular destinations are the Southern Lakes, mainly Lake Windemere. There are several water and land based activities one can do here. For visiting the south lakes, staying near Kendal is always a good option. There are also other smaller southern lakes of the Lake District that feature great canoeing and scenic routes. We have been to Coniston Lake a few times when we stayed in Dalehead as part of a large group of 30 outdoors sports and adventure enthusiasts. We stayed in an old barnhouse with very basic facilities – no running toilets and no heat. There are several great hiking trails around here, you see waterfalls, climb steep hills and kick a ball about on the beach, all within a few miles of each other.
When to go?
Off- season travelling in Lake District is the best advice I can provide! Since it is one of the most popular outdoors destination in England, you get thousands of tourists every summer. We had gone for the first time in April and even though weather wasn’t the greatest, the lack of people made up for our stay there. We have been back in May Bank holiday, July and September and the difference between price of everything, lack of traffic, lack of people really makes it worth going during the ‘summer’ months May, June and then in September and October.
Best Mode of Transport?
As much I would like to promote sustainability and using public transport, it is just not possible to do so here! England overall has great train and bus services, many going cross country. But the trains are really expensive and if you are talking about a family of 3-4, it’s way too much. Not to mention you can’t get to half the places within the villages and the lakes using trains. Best option is to drive your own car or rent a car.
What to pack?
The beauty of England weather – You have to be prepared for sun, rain, hail and sometimes even snow (it has happened to me few times now) in all seasons. Okay, maybe not snow in the summer between May and October, but it can easily go from 22 to 5 degrees Celcius within a day. Best to have clothing appropriate for all conditions and its always good to come prepared for both gloomy wet weather and pack the sunglasses and sunblock. Plenty of layers and good walking/hiking shoes recommended.
Where to Stay?
Completely depends on what kind of travel you do! We have camped here, stayed in a rustic barn, a comfortable well equipped and elegant self catering cottage and a luxery Hotel. Nowadays we use mostly Sky Cottages and Booking.com for finding accommodation.
Once we stayed at Windemere Manor Hotel situated in the heart of the Lake District and a 10-minute walk from Lake Windermere. The hotel is set in 3 acres of tree-lined gardens and has a charming, wooden-beamed restaurant. We took a lake cruise and hopped off at different spots, hiked a bit and then got back on the ferry cruise coming back.
The other place we recommend for more luxery/family travel is Graywaithe Self Catering Cottages. It was great for our large group of 13 people including 5 children. The nearest village Hawkshead, 4 miles from Graythwaite, is very picturesque with historic buildings, quaint courtyards, museums dedicated to William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. Pictures from our last and most recent trip to the Lake District.
For an amazing experience at the Lake District, I would highly recommend going through Live the Lakes run by a small team of dedicated outdoor enthusiasts. We have been with them before and it is always a memorable experience 🙂
Post as part of #weekendwanderlust hosted by JustinplusLauren, #weeklypostcards hosted by Travel Notes and Beyond #wkendtravelinspirations hosted By Reflections Enroute #MosaicMonday hosted by Lavender Cottage and #NaturesNotes hosted by Rambling Woods