Grasmere is a picturesque village in the Lake District that is filled with tea shops and stone cottages. William Wordsworth’s former home, Dove Cottage, is located in the village along with the Wordsworth Museum and Art Gallery and the family’s burial place at St. Oswald’s Church. The area is encircled by the Central Fells, so spend some time soaking up the natural beauty on walks like the Coffin Trail or to Easedale Tarn. Head to Faeryland Café for afternoon tea and extraordinary views of the lake. The enchanting café has an outdoor tea room with a view of Grasmere Lake and colorful wooden rowboats just waiting to be hired out for the day.
The ruins of Kendal Castle are prestigiously located at the top of a steep hill, offering visitors great views of the city and the rolling hills below. The castle was likely built in the late 12th century, and it has been ruined since the Tudor times. The Kendal Museum shows an exhibition on the castle, which includes reconstructions of what it looked like when it was fully standing. Take a picnic to enjoy in the grassy areas, which have been used for ‘public enjoyment’ since 1897.
Beautiful stone houses, quaint shops, and fantastic restaurants fill Ambleside’s winding streets. Its central location and the number of nearby amenities make it a perfect home-base for a holiday in the Lakes, but the village is not lacking in walks with picture-perfect views. The walk to Stock Ghyll Force is a short but steep jaunt beginning in Ambleside and heading up to a roaring waterfall that makes a great picnic spot, and the walk to Jenkins Crag provides an excellent view of the iridescent lake Windermere. Don’t miss the cute, quaint Bridge House, a tiny National Trust property that straddles Stock Beck and once housed a family with six children.
This incredible, scenic excursion is for experienced drivers only. The Lake District villages are linked by tiny, winding roads lined with tall stone walls. Even those who have driven on roads like these before might find their heart racing as they climb the steep gradients and drive the blind curves of the Kirkstone Pass. Although the drive between Ambleside and Patterdale is daunting, it is the most direct, and more importantly, the most beautiful route. Take advantage of the few and far-between pullover areas for photo-ops, or make a quick stop at the Kirkstone Pass Inn for a look at the grand views.
Castlerigg Stone Circle
The 38 stones in the Castlerigg Stone Circle were erected around 3000 BC by Neolithic inhabitants of the region, and they stand stoically today on a high point off of the snaking roads of Keswick. The circle is set against a dramatic, brilliant backdrop of Helvellyn and High Seat brushed with snow. Although the precise use of this monument has been lost over time, the significance can still be felt today. Castlerigg is one of the oldest stone circles in the country, and the area has not been extensively excavated, so who knows what might lay under the surface.
Set on the banks of the River Lowther, Shap Abbey was founded in the late 12th century as one of a small group of religious houses in Britain belonging to a Catholic religious order called the Premonstratensians. A melancholic, beautiful 15th-century tower still stands among the scattered remains of the older buildings. There is one way into the abbey: a very steep and narrow road that winds down the side of a hill. Not only are the ruins a beautiful sight, but the drive to the abbey is also a scenic tour of the rambling countryside.
Located in Coniston Waters, Tarn Hows was left to the National Trust by Beatrix Potter, the author best known for her children’s book The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The man-made expanse of water is one of the most famous spots in the Lakes for gorgeous views of the natural landscape. The flat, circular walk around Tarn Hows (1¾ miles long) is accessible by wheelchair and perfect for families looking for a gentle walk. The calm surroundings are a great place for a picnic or a relaxing rest.
As the highest peak in England, climbing Scafell Pike is only for experienced hikers. The peak stands at 978 m, or 3,209 ft, high and offers glorious panoramic views of the Lake District. On a clear day, hikers can enjoy views of Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and the Isle of Man. The hike is a rewarding challenge and an all day event, even the quickest route up to the summit (from Wasdale Head) takes around 2 to 3 hours. Watch the weather before heading out, double-check your equipment, and be sure to bring a map or two.
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Wasdale Head from Wastwater
Wastwater, the deepest of the Lake District’s lakes, sits along the road to Wasdale Head, a small hamlet at the head of the Wasdale valley, and an area that has historically been the starting point of many walks. The majestic lake is surrounded by mountains, including the towering Scafell Pike. The Screes, broken rock fragments that cover the lake’s southeastern side and extend almost 2000 feet upward are a foreboding sight. Wordsworth described the lake as, ‘long, narrow, stern, and desolate.’ In 2007, this was voted Britain’s favourite view.
Ullswater from the Steamer
Take a ride on the Ullswater Steamer for gorgeous, panoramic lake views and perfect photo opportunities. The red-funnelled, converted Victorian steamers are elegent in themselves, and they glide over the idyllic Ullswater Lake carrying passengers up and down from Glenridding to Pooley Bridge. The ferry company offers special trips like a bird or wildlife watching trip and a specialist photography cruise. Head to the pier at Glenridding for ticket information.