The Most Beautiful Spots in the Lake District

The spectacular spots of the Lake District are perfect for outdoor activities
The spectacular spots of the Lake District are perfect for outdoor activities | © Jonathan Miles / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Courtney Stanley
1 April 2021

The majestic hills and lakes of England‘s Lake District have inspired countless artists, poets and writers who have visited the region or called it home. Not only are the Lakes a beautiful and romantic setting, but they’re also a terrific place for outdoor activities. Walk the fells, visit country pubs and view the area’s historic sights from these 10 spectacular locations.

Grasmere

Natural Feature
Map View
Grasmere Lake District Cumbria UK
© Ed Gorochowski / Alamy Stock Photo

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 along the Coffin Route or to Easedale Tarn. Head to Faeryland for afternoon tea and extraordinary views of the lake. The enchanting café has an outdoor tea room with a view of Grasmere Lake and colourful wooden rowboats just waiting to be hired out for the day.

Kendal Castle

Historical Landmark
Map View
© Terry Dean / Alamy Stock Photo

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 in ruins since 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.

Ambleside

Natural Feature
Map View
© Roger Coulam / Alamy Stock Photo

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 quaint Bridge House, a tiny National Trust property that straddles the Stock Beck River and once housed a family with six children.

Kirkstone Pass

Natural Feature
Map View
© Jan Smith Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

This incredible, picturesque 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 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

Archaeological site
Map View
Castlerigg Stone Circle Keswick looking towards High Rigg and Helvellyn
© Graham Moore / Alamy Stock Photo

The 38 stones in the Castlerigg Stone Circle were erected around 3,000 BCE by the 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. 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 lie under the surface?

Shap Abbey

Church
Map View
© Andrew Findlay / Alamy Stock Photo

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 around the side of a hill. Not only are the ruins a magnificent sight, but the drive to the abbey is also a picturesque tour of the rambling countryside.

Tarn Hows

Hiking Trail
Map View
© Stephen Sykes / Alamy Stock Photo

Located near Coniston Water, 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 thanks to its majestic views of the natural landscape. The flat, circular walk around Tarn Hows – just over 1.5mi (2.4km) 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.

Scafell Pike

Natural Feature
Map View
View from Scafell Pike in the Lake District National Park, Cumbria, England.
© Sebastian Wasek / Alamy Stock Photo
As the highest peak in England, climbing Scafell Pike is only for experienced hikers. The peak stands at 978m (3,209ft) high and offers glorious unobstructed 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 two to three hours. Watch the weather before heading out, double-check your equipment and be sure to bring a map or two.

Wasdale Head from Wastwater

Natural Feature
Map View
View to Wasdale Head over Wast Water in the English Lake District
© Peter Greenhalgh (UKpix.com) / Alamy Stock Photo

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 610m (2,000ft) upwards – 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

Natural Feature
Map View
© Paul Melling / Alamy Stock Photo

Take a ride on the Ullswater Steamer for magnificent, panoramic lake views and perfect photo opportunities. The red-funnelled, converted Victorian steamers are elegant 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 excursions such as bird- or wildlife-watching trips and a specialist photography cruise. Head to the pier at Glenridding for ticket information.

These recommendations were updated on April 1, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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