Lake District National Park Things to Do

  • View of Coniston from Brantwood, the Lake District
    View of Coniston from Brantwood, the...
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  • Daffodil field
    Daffodil field
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  • Hawkshead, Lake District
    Hawkshead, Lake District
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Best Rated Things to Do in Lake District National Park

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    Aira Force

    by nickandchris Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    In spate....
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    Well, we certainly chose the right weekend to visit the fall. My only regret was we did it on the Saturday and not the Sunday, after a night of torrential rain!!! Still, it was impressive enough, even if it did rain for most of the walk.

    The site belongs to the National Trust who bought over 750 acres of Gowbarrow Park, including the fall, when the land was in danger of being sold to be built on. It's a beautiful Victorian landscaped park, set in a fantastic woodland of pines, ash, birch, yew,oak, beech, hawthorn and I'm sure many more species of trees. The contrasts of the greens of the trees,the greys of the rocks and the inky black of the water were incredible.

    The non too strenuous circular walk up and around the river and fall is relatively easy but some parts, particularly the steps, are steep and can be slippery. Make sure you wear decent footwear and a good waterproof as although you are under trees most of the time, the drips are often worse than the rain!
    If I remember rightly, there are three bridges for viewing and changing sides. These were originally built from timber but were replaced with slate and are in keeping with the surroundings. The two upper bridges were built in memory of two brothers, from the Spring-Rice family from nearby Watermillock, one who died in the Boer war and the other in 1918. The lower, upper bridge is where you view the 69 foot waterfall and what a view you get.Be prepared to get a little wet if it's in full spate! I really wouldn't have liked to have fallen in the swirling brown torrent.... not a pleasant thought.

    Wordsworth was a frequent visitor here and wrote the poems, The Somnambulist and Airey Force.

    As it's a National Trust place, you pay to park. Not sure how much, as we had membership. There are toilets and a cafe.

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    Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway

    by Ben-UK Updated May 9, 2006

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    'River Irt' built in 1894 - Ravenglass station
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    Known to locals as ' La'al Ratty ' -- that's Cumbrian dialect for ' little narrow way ' - the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway is a 15-inch (38cm) narrow-guage line operated by old steam locomotives and sometimes by new diesel ones.

    The line dates back to 1873 when it was used to transport iron-ore from Boot village in Eskdale to Ravenglass on the coast. It was originally a larger guage (3 feet / 91cm) but the line closed in 1913 due to falling demand for the iron-ore mined there and to insufficient passenger traffic in the summer.

    However, in 1915 the model maker Wynne Bassett-Lowke and his associate R.P.Mitchell wanted a line where they could test their model steam locomotives -- they re-guaged the line down to 15-inches (38cm) and the line re-opened fully in 1917.

    Following the closure of the iron-ore quarries in 1953, the line again nearly closed in 1960 but enthusiasts and financial backers stepped-in to save the situation and thus the present Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway was born.

    The journey from Ravenglass to Dalegarth is 7 miles long and takes approximately 45 minutes. The line runs through woodland and marshland and with the Scafell range in the distance the journey is a delight. The terminus at Dalegarth is an ideal place for walkers to explore Eskdale and at the Ravenglass end there is a railway museum with lots of photos of the history of the line and the Roman occupation of the nearby port hamlet of Ravenglass is evidenced by the substantial remains of the Roman Bath House.

    The railway operates every day from April through to the end of October and on selected dates in other months (please see the website below for details).

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    Pencil museum

    by margaretvn Updated Aug 5, 2007

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    I really never thought so much about a pencil having a history but the pencil museum is very interesting and worth visiting. It traces the history of pencil making from the discovery of Borrowdale graphite in the 1950's . The industry started as a small cottage industry to become a fast modern day industry with high speed production methods. There are also visual presentations and exhibits showing pencil making.

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    Keswick

    by Ben-UK Written Apr 14, 2006

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    Keswick

    Keswick is the logical 'capital' of the North Lakes -- on the north shore of Derwent Water, backed by Skiddaw and with fells to the south, it's the ideal base for exploring that area. My photo is of the Moot Hall in the centre of Keswick -- it was built in 1813 and since then it has been a prison, a courthouse, a museum, the town hall, a market, and it now houses the tourist information office -- if you use its clock to see the time, be careful because it only has one hand. As you'd expect in this area, there are plenty of shops selling outdoor clothing and equipment -- and there are lots of pubs, cafes and restaurants to keep you watered and fed.

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    Brougham Castle

    by nickandchris Updated Oct 28, 2006

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    River Eamont in full spate by Brougham Castle
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    Having already visited this castle twice before (being former English heritage members) Oct. 2006 we just parked on the bridge and enjoyed a lunch in the motorhome whilst admiring the view.
    Brougham Castle is a 13thc. fortress built close to the site of a Roman fort, bulit to guard the crossing over the river Eamont. The castle proved it's worth time and again by thwarting invading Scots.
    The keep is the oldest standing part and there is access to the three floors. The great hall is found on the first floor, on the second is the Lord's chamber in which Lady Anne Clifford died in 1676 and on the third floor there is a passageway within the walls all the way round. There are also superb views over the surrounding countryside from up here. Not for those who suffer from vertigo!!

    The castle belongs to English Heritage and there is a shop and an exhibition of Roman tombstones from the Roman Fort. There is free parking either on the beautiful bridge spanning the Eamont or in a nearby layby. Good views are to be had of the castle from the bridge, particularly impressive when the river is in full spate like on our visit.

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    • Castles and Palaces
    • Historical Travel

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    Leven's Hall

    by JanPeter74 Written Jul 9, 2004

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    Leven's Hall

    Leven's Hall is a countryhouse just south of the Lake District (a few km. south of Kendall, close to the village of Leven)

    You can visit the gardens and the interior of the house as well. We only visited the gardens which are great. As people who visit English gardens know, they can be very big. This was just a medium sized garden, but what is so special is that it is a topiary garden, which means that they cut the shrubs in all kinds of forms .

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    Thirlmere

    by JanPeter74 Written Jul 9, 2004

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    Thirlmere seen from Helvellyn trail

    This lake is located alongside the road between Keswick and Windermere. You have a great view on the lake if you take the trail towards Helvellyn, the second highest peak of the Lake District.

    This trail starts from a parking lot by the roadside somewhere halfway the Thirlmere. From this parking lot, you can also opt for a walk through the forest, which must be very nice as well (trees, streams, flowers, etc.)

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    Acorn Bank

    by margaretvn Written Jan 28, 2007

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    This is a wonderful walled garden which has old varieties of flowers. There are also fruit trees and there is a lovely 17th century house that is made of red sandstone .In the herb garden there are loads of medicinal and culinary herbs - never seen so many. There are woodland walks ad a tea room where we had a god cup of tea after exploring.
    It looks over the Eden Valley and I thought it is a lovely quiet day out. It belongs to the National Trust.
    open 19 March - 30 October wednesday to sunday.

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    If You Go Down In The Woods Today....Grizedale

    by nickandchris Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Quite Comfortable...
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    Follow the main sculpture trail, in Riddings Wood, from the car park across the road from the visitor centre.£2 to park. You will come across some unusual and unexpected things. There are over twenty sculptures, some inter-active and others just "different."
    Grizedale Forest is home to the largest collection of sculpture in the landscape and was started in 1977.

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    • Cycling

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    Stockghyll Waterfalls

    by nickandchris Updated Aug 6, 2007

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    Waterfalls
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    This is a pleasant, relatively easy uphill walk from the centre of Ambleside. Walk a short distance up Stockghyll Lane and follow directions to the left, through a small gate.

    The walk follows the tumbling beck all the way, passing some beautiful riverside property on the opposite bank. It's only about a 15 min walk on a well marked path which divides and crosses the river by a lower bridge and again at the top. For the best views of the 18 metre falls, keep to the right hand side path where you'll come to a viewing area. Once above the falls, cross over the bridge to the opposite side for a slightly different view, thus making it a circular walk (I never like to return anywhere by the same route!!!)

    Best viewed after plenty of rain, although we visited after some heavy rainfall and I wouldn't say the falls were anywhere near to being in full spate. The river gorge is beautifully green, created from a variety of typically English trees.

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    Grasmere lake

    by Ben-UK Updated Jun 12, 2006

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    Grasmere lake
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    Wordsworth described this area as "'The most loveliest spot that man hath found' -- his favourite destination was the small island in the lake -- this is privately owned now so don't land there if you hire a boat.

    If you walk from Grasmere village around the west side of the lake (on the road to Rydal Water) there's a small cafe that offers great views of the lake -- my photo was taken from that cafe -- you can hire rowing boats from there if you're feeling energetic, or just sit and have a drink or snack as you admire tranquil Grasmere lake.

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    Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway

    by nickandchris Updated Nov 14, 2005

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    Haverthwaite Station
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    This is a stretch of re-instated railway, running a steeply graded 3.5 miles from Haverthwaite, near Newby bridge, along the Leven Valley to Lakeside, on the south west side of Windermere.The trains are re-fettled steam trains, lovingly restored by enthusiasts. It is run by a private company, Lakeside Railway Society Volunteers and has been open as a tourist facility since the early 1970's. The 3.5 miles is all that now exists of the original line between Barrow, Ulverston and Lakeside, which closed in the 1960's.
    You can just take the train ride to Lakeside where the Aquarium of the Lakes is situated, (a worthwhile tourist facility) or combine it with a trip on the Lakeside Steamers, journeying up the lake to Bowness or Ambleside. Bowness is a popular stopping off place, there being plenty to see and do, including the Beatrix Potter Museum.
    The station at Haverthwaite has an engine shed to look round, tea rooms and a souvenir shop. Lakeside also has a swish restaurant, looking over the lake.
    Frequent themed days and an ever popular Santa Train in the Christmas run-up.
    Parking, but you have to pay.

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    Wast Water

    by Ben-UK Updated Apr 26, 2006

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    Wast Water looking north-east towards Wasdale Head
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    On a clear, sunny day Wast Water can look truly beautiful -- but if the weather is a bit inclement, then Wast Water can look somewhat foreboding. It's England's deepest lake at 258 feet, it's 3 miles long and 1/2 mile wide -- but it's the 1,500 feet crumbling, vertical wall of scree on its south shore that gives Wast Water it's dramatic impact.

    There's a narrow road that runs the length of the north shore of the lake from Nether Wasdale in the west to Wasdale Head in the east -- magnificent views are afforded the whole way and as you look towards Wasdale Head you can see the fells and peaks that surround that end of the lake, Kirkfell, Great Gable and Lingmell-- if you're staying in this area there's great walking and climbing to be had all around.

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    Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway

    by Ben-UK Updated Apr 27, 2006

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    'Princess' built in 1942 at Haverthwaite station
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    Railway enthusiasts and families alike would enjoy a ride on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway -- it was formally a branch line of the Furness Railway which used to carry freight and passengers from Lakeside (at the southern tip of Lake Windermere) down to Ulverston and Barrow-in-Furness -- the original line was finally closed by British Rail in 1967, but after much work by railway preservation enthusiasts and tough negotiations with the British Rail Property Board, this 3.5 mile stretch of the line was re-opened for passenger service in May 1973.

    The journey from Haverthwaite to Lakeside takes just 15 minutes and the timings are linked to pleasure boat departures from Lakeside up to Bowness and Waterhead (Ambleside) -- if you want you can purchase a ticket to include a cruise on the lake.

    The Haverthwaite terminus is a busy place with lots of locomotives being serviced or renovated (see my photos) -- there's a mixture of steam and diesel plus some steamrollers and old army vehicles.

    The service from Haverthwaite to Lakeside operates from April through to the end of October.

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    Coniston Water

    by Ben-UK Written Apr 28, 2006

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    Coniston Water from the north
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    Coniston Water is linked to both John Ruskin (the Victorian writer, artist, art critic, poet, philosopher) who lived at Brantwood on the east shore for 28 years until his death in 1900 and more recently to Donald Campbell who died on Coniston Water on 4th January 1967 whilst attemting to increase his own water speed record in his boat 'Bluebird' - please see separate tips about Ruskin and Campbell.

    Coniston Water, at 5 miles long and 1/2 mile wide is the 3rd largest lake in the Lake District -- the village of Coniston is on the west bank, backed by the peak 'The Old Man of Coniston'. The village is quite a busy place with boat trips leaving from the jetty and walkers using the village as a base to explore the surrounding fells -- and of course there's the interest of Ruskin and Campbell for visitors.

    For some nice views of the lake, from Coniston village take the B5285 signposted Hawkshead and then shortly take the right turn towards Brantwood (Ruskin's House) - this will take you along the east shore with fine views across the lake to Coniston and the Old Man of Coniston.

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Lake District National Park Things to Do

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