The tiny village of Braithwaite, just outside Keswick, is the perfect place to stay to explore one of the most popular areas of the Lake District. Situated between Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite, you’ll find plenty of water-based activities to enjoy. Whether its canoeing, fishing, swimming, or sailing your own boat, there’s something for all ages and abilities. If you prefer to keep your feet on dry ground, why not head to Whinlatter Forest Park? Home to numerous hiking and cycling routes with unrivalled views of the lakes below, the forest also boasts the UK’s highest Go-Ape location. If this tree-top adventure isn’t for you, they also offer a forest Segway experience, the perfect way to discover the woodlands. For an unbeatable panoramic view of the park, take a trek to the summit of Grisedale Pike. At 791m above sea level, you can even see as far as Scotland and the Isle of Man.
The lakeside town of Ambleside is a tourist favourite for visiting Lake Windermere. It’s no surprise that there’s a huge variety of watersports on offer here at England’s largest natural lake. If you fancy trying paddle-boarding, raft-building, or water-skiing, then you’ll be spolit for choice by the many lakeside activity bases. For something a little less lively and a lot more sophisticated, you can hop on board a Sail ‘n’ Dine cruise for a lunch time or evening dining experience. From Ambleside it’s also just a short drive to Grizedale Forest where you can spend an afternoon walking or cycling along the forest sculpture trails. Not far away from Windermere you’ll find Grange-over-Sands, a charming seaside village along Morecambe Bay. This could be the perfect place for you to stay if you’re looking for a quieter base from which to explore Windermere.
Penrith, on the eastern side of the Lake District and former capital of Cumbria, is a bustling town just a short drive from Ullswater. You can take a cruise on the famous Ullswater Steamer, an award-winning way to access some of the Lake District’s best walking routes. From Penrith, it’s just a short drive to the Honister Pass, home to the original Via Ferrata. Follow the footsteps of the Green Slate miners scaling Fleetwith Pike for breathtaking views of the Lake District. Perhaps surprisingly, this exhilarating climb is suitable for all abilities thanks to the cable and ladder networks. For the more daring, take on the infinity bridge and walk across the gorge from 2000m above the valley. For something less extreme, the area around Penrith offers football, golf, paintballing and Ghyll scrambling.
Aira Force is arguably the most famous waterfall in the Lake District and is surrounded by stunning walking routes through Ullswater Valley. From here, you can follow the trails to Gowbarrow Summit for incredible views of the valley and lake below. Alternatively, you could begin your route in the small lakeside village of Glenridding and stroll around the lake to Howtown, stopping off at Aira Force for a picnic.
For an easy but equally beautiful walk that can be easily enjoyed by the whole family in 2-3 hours, try Buttermere Valley, home to three of the region’s lakes. This circular route along a lakeside path guides you through the Burtness woodland and into Buttermere village. It’s the perfect, laid-back stroll if you’re looking for a relaxed afternoon outdoors.
For those with a sweet tooth, there are plenty of puddings and confectionary to be found among the villages of the Lake District. Grasmere village is famous for its gingerbread. Originally invented in 1854 by Sarah Nelson, the delicacy is now sold in the dedicated Grasmere Gingerbread Shop. The recipe for the sweet and spicy biscuit has remained a secret throughout the centuries and continues to be a favourite of tourists and celebrity chefs alike! This historic store also sells chocolates, toffees, and fudge, all with a unique ginger theme.
The quiet market town of Kendal, home of the Kendal Mint Cake, owes its legacy to Joseph Wiper’s accidental creation. The first Kendal mint cake was produced in 1869 but became world famous in 1953 when it helped to fuel the first successful climb to the summit of Everest. Today, the cake continues to be produced by the family-run Romney’s Kendal Mint Cake Company which still operates in the very same town where it all started!
Situated on the waterfront of Ullswater is the Sharrow Bay Hotel, renowned for being the birthplace of the sticky toffee pudding. Created by Francis Coulson in 1970, the recipe is so secret that hotel staff sign agreements to not reveal the ingredients. Pre-booking is a must if you want to try this legendary dessert.
For the perfect drink to accompany any treat, head to the Lakes Distillery where you can participate in tours or tasting sessions. Why not try the Lakes damson gin? Made from the fruit grown locally in the Lyth Valley since the 1700s, this award-winning gin is the perfect way to finish a day sampling the best the Lake District has to offer.