It may sound obvious, but make sure you wear appropriate clothing if you're going to do any hiking or climbing. The mountains in England may not be as high as some, but that doesn't make much difference when you fall because you didn't have decent shoes. I saw people climbing Helvellyn last week in sandals... Also make sure you have a map, water and some food. The weather in the Lakes, like the rest of the UK, can change dramatically very quickly. It could quite easily be sunny one minute and raining and misty the next. So just be prepared!
Lakeland's highest passes cross the Cumbrian mountains. The road over the passes is very scenic but beware it is also particularly severe.
Hard Knott and Wrynose passes have gradients up to 30% and should not be attempted unless both car and driver are fit.
Make sure you allow plenty of time for driving in the Lake District as many of the roads are long, narrow and winding and can be especially crowded at busy times. We had estimated 40 minutes to get from Glenridding to Eskdale as the distance didn’t look too bad on the map but it took far longer than that. Once we left the main road outside Ambleside we spent what seemed like an eternity crossing the Wrynose and Hardknott Passes. The scenery was excellent but we were losing time on our planned hike! Many of these roads are little more than a vehicle’s width in width so it can be difficult when you meet cars coming from the opposite direction.
There is a sign in the car-park at the New Dungeon Ghyll in Langdale which reads that parking costs 3 pounds and should be paid at the bar. We went to the bar and duly paid our 3 pounds, but when I asked for a ticket or something to display in the car, the bar man said there was no need. Given that the parking area is a huge field behind the hotel, I think you could safely leave your car here without paying.
The Lake District is one of Britain’s most popular areas and in summer or over bank holiday weekends it can be very crowded. If you prefer peace and quiet it’s better to visit midweek outside of summer. Even in crowded times, it’s not too difficult to escape the crowds by staying away from the main towns and lakes. Be prepared for delays, however, if you plan to see the popular sights such as Windermere and its surrounding towns and villages.
Anyone relying on signposts while hiking in the Lake District will be in for a surprise. They are almost non-existent. At the very minimum, make sure you have an OS map and a compass as it can be very easy to get lost. Even in what you might think are popular areas you can quickly escape the crowds and it’s easy to lose your way.
While I think the odd sign post might be helpful, I can understand people’s objections as it might make the hiking too commercialised and take away from the remoteness of the paths. Also, as every Lakeland walker knows there is always more than one path to take.
They are everywhere and they have no idea about the Highway Code.
As far as they're concerned they have every bit as much right to be on the road as we have - and who are we to argue!
Please drive slowly. You won't appreciate the scenery if you drive too fast and you may run into an animal or even another tourist.....take care.
If you're going to be driving up and down these mountain passes the most important thing I'd say is to make sure your brakes are in good working order and your gearbox is up to the job.
The twists, turns, hills and dips are very severe in places and you don't want to hop out of your car to take a photo on a slope and have to watch helplessly as your car plummets down the hill because your handbrake's not brilliant....
You'll spend a lot of time in first or second gear and remember to give way to folks going up the hill if you're coming down (thanks nickandchris for that tip).
I had my car serviced before we went and I was glad of it because we covered over 1000 miles in a week and I think Steve found EVERY steep incline in the entire Lake District!
The lake district is a wonderfull place for walking, but if you are not very experienced or fit be carefull with your choice of walks, what the local people class as easy peasy can be quite a struggle for the towny that hasnt moved from behind his or her desk for months. allow yourself plenty of time and make sure you are properly prepared and equiped before you set off. AND DONT FORGET THE WEATHER FACTOR, cold wet and tired is not a good mix.
I did not know where to put this tip really, so am putting it as a warning tip -
Rheged on the junction of the M6 with the A66 at Penrith has won awards for Best Attraction 2002 but I was disappointed with it. It is known as the Village in the Hill and there is a cinema with a huge screen showing 4 movies daily, the Helly Henson Mountaineering exhibition gift shops, an outdoor shop and eating places. We went there because I wanted to go to the Paper MIll shop there (and that was great for getting card and paper for my card making hobby) but I found the films and the gift shops expensive. With one film being 5 pounds fifty for an adult it would make it an expensive family day out.
Driving out of Wondermere towards the Kirkstone Pass you can get wonderful views back towards the lake but do get off the road if you stop as it is narrow and twisty - in fact this is the case throughout the Lake District - do check for passing places where you can stop safely.
do remember that many of the little roads and the passing places can be uneven with lots of little potholes.... bumpy for your car but also they cancause a nasty twisted ankle as you get out of the car in a rush to see the scenery. If you click on the photo you will see the holes
Do remember that if you stay at Hartsop Fold you do need to take towels and teatowels with you. My sister forgot and ending up drying her coffee cup with one of my brother-in-laws socks!! This is perhaps not a real danger or warning...... well perhaps it is if you have no clean socks and a "foot" problem!
Please be careful when out walking on the hills and mountains, the weather can change very quickly. You can suddenly find yourself in thick cloud or having to contend with a blizzard. Not too good if you are negotiating difficult terrain or have little navigational skills or experience.
It really can be grim up there if it turns, I have experienced it first hand, storm force winds, hail, rain, sleet and snow, not pleasant.
Having said that, it is quite often the case that the rain and foul weather will hold for your entire stay. I have had a whole week there with only a single day of rain. :-)
The website below doesn't give weather forecasts for the Lake District but is quite useful to read.
http://www.metcheck.com/mountain_regions.asp?region=Lake%20District may be of use.
When you are in the mountains and it hasn't been raining in a while (which - I have been told - is very rare in this area ;) don't start a fell fire by throwing a cigarette away, having a barbecue or whatever.
When we were in the Lakes there were quite a few fell fires and fire fighters had to work very hard to stop them.
They made sunsets rather beautiful though ;)