The Most Beautiful Lakes in Britain

Buttermere
Buttermere | © Tango22 / WikiCommons
Emma Lavelle

There are many stunning lakes and lochs in the UK – some easily accessible to towns and cities, others located in the middle of the lush countryside. From the dramatic Lake District to the wild beauty of the Scottish Highlands, here is our guide to the most beautiful lakes in the country.

1. Loch Ness

Natural Feature

Loch Ness
© Norman Price / Alamy Stock Photo
Loch Ness may be most famed for the monster lurking beneath the surface, but the loch is actually one of the prettiest bodies of water in the UK. It’s Britain’s largest lake by volume of water, surrounded by beautiful countryside, dramatic mountains and Scottish castles. There are plenty of paths winding around the shore, creating the perfect opportunity for a stroll around the lake while admiring the scenery and keeping your eyes peeled for Nessie.

2. Lake Vrynwy

Natural Feature

Lake Vyrnwy
© Llywelyn2000 / WikiCommons

Lake Vrynwy may not technically be a lake (it’s a man-made reservoir, created in the 1800s), but it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful bodies of water in Britain. The large lake lies on the edge of Snowdonia National Park, surrounded by breath-taking countryside and flanked by the Berwyn Mountains. Visit at sunrise or sunset to see the dramatic views highlighted by the sky changing colour.

3. Coniston Water

Natural Feature, Park

Coniston Water in Cumbria, English Lake District
© gollykim / Getty Images
The Lake District is rife with beautiful lakes, but Coniston Water is one of the most scenic ones. Arthur Ransome was so besotted with the lake that he used it as the setting for his classic book series Swallows and Amazons. It’s only the third largest lake in the Lake District, but the rolling hills and beautiful scenery that surround it secure its place on this list.

4. Loch Awe

Natural Feature

Loch Awe, Scottish Highlands
© Westend61/Getty Images
It might be a cliché, but Loch Awe certainly lives up to its name thanks to its dramatic surroundings. The hills and mountains that surround the loch definitely help to create a beautiful setting, but the many ruined castles that encircle its shores add the air of a fairy tale, creating a place that almost feels magical.

5. Lake Windermere, Lake District

Natural Feature

5. Lake Windermere, Lake District
© John Morrison / Alamy Stock Photo
The largest natural lake in England, Windermere is the main tourist destination in the Lake District, thanks to both its position at the edge of the National Park and its immense beauty. The lake is 10.5 miles (16.8 kilometres) long, one mile (1.6 kilometres) wide and 220 feet (67 metres) deep, surrounded by picturesque towns, winding paths, towering hills and lush woodland.

6. Loch Lomond

Forest

Loch Lomond isn’t just the largest lake in the whole of Scotland (at 24 miles [38.6 kilometres] long), but it’s also one of the most scenic, thanks to the towering mountains that surround it. Sir Walter Scott was so enamoured by the loch that he penned his most iconic poem, The Lady of the Lake, after visiting. Climb one of the surrounding mountains to admire the loch from above, or take to the water on one of the many cruises where you can pass by its many islands – including Inchconnachan, which is home to a colony of wallabies!

7. Derwent Water

Natural Feature

7. Derwent Water
© Ed Rhodes / Alamy Stock Photo

Another beautiful lake located in England’s Lake District, Derwent Water was beloved by celebrated children’s author Beatrix Potter. This striking lake is surrounded by the town of Keswick, Cat Bells fells and the Borrowdale valley, providing picturesque scenery in every direction.

8. Buttermere

Natural Feature

8. Buttermere
© Claire Willans / Alamy Stock Photo

Buttermere may be small, but it is one of the Lake District’s most popular lakes thanks to its location and surroundings. Nestled in the middle of the National Park, the lake is surrounded by towering peaks, including Haystacks and Red Pike, making it a walker’s paradise.

9. Lough Neagh

Natural Feature

Lough Neagh
© National Library of Ireland on The Commons / WikiCommons

Lough Neagh is the largest freshwater lake in the whole of the UK – so large that at parts it resembles a sea. It’s surrounded by unspoilt countryside and nature reserves, offering plenty of opportunities for exploring the water by boat or the shoreline on various paths. There are also numerous myths and legends about this enormous stretch of water, including tales of underwater cities and Celtic gods.

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