I’m not usually one to go to a particular place more than once. I’ve loved each holiday I’ve been on and wouldn’t fault any of them at all. But I’d always rather go somewhere new than revisit somewhere I’ve been before. With that said, I don’t think I will ever get sick of going to the Lake District. I used to think this country was a little boring, but it’s like a completely different world there. So if you’ve been thinking about going, here are my tips on where to stay, where to eat, and what to do to make the most of the beautiful Lakes!
Lake Windermere is the largest, and most popular lake of them all. There is so much to do and see there it’s no wonder why tourists flock there. But the downside is that it is pretty much always crowded. It can be hard to find somewhere to park but there are plenty of options so you’ll always find somewhere. One thing we do every time we go there is hire one of the boats on the lake. There’s also a small cruise boat that goes up and down the lake if you didn’t want to drive a boat yourself!
Also along the waterfront are a few shops selling cute souvenirs etc. There’s one really unique homeware place where I just want to buy literally everything. There is also a gelato bar called ‘Kimi’s” so naturally I need to go there every single time, right? You can also walk up the high street to do a bit of shopping, and there are a few restaurants and bars too. (There is a pub called ‘Hole In t’ Wall’ which is my favourite purely because of the name). Also the Lake District is a very popular dog walking destination. So, if you want to pet ALL THE DOGS then I’m sure you’ll love visiting the lakes.
Another town along Lake Windermere which we only recently properly delved into is Ambleside. There are quite a few shops (a lot of them mountain and hiking shops but still), and some really cute little restaurants and cafes. We were there during the middle of storm Doris so we didn’t see as much as we wanted to as we were trying to avoid the rain as much as possible. But it’s definitely a lovely little spot to check out.
Ullswater is probably my favourite of all the lakes. It was the first lake I ever saw there. And the first time we visited the Lakes was a really special holiday for us, as we stayed there and spent a lot of our time there. You usually see more rowers and kayakers here as it’s a lot quieter than Windermere, but just as beautiful. If you drive all the way down to Glenridding you can actually go on the cruise steamer there, and you can also hire your own private boat for an hour. Also, my favourite spot in the whole Lake District is on Ullswater Lake.
For the longest time I’ve had my eye on the Boathouse on Ullswater – I NEED to stay there one day!
Another popular place close to Ullswater is Aira Force, which is a lovely countryside forest walk and waterfall. It’s free to enter (not free parking though) and it’s something we love to do every time we visit the lakes.
The road from Ullswater down to Windermere is called Kirkstone Pass, and it’s the lake district’s highest pass open for traffic. It’s quite a scary drive at times but it gives such amazing views. And there’s a little pub at the top which is a great place to stop for a nice cold cider. (It’s actually the third highest pub in England).
If I could give you one piece of advice when staying in the Lake District, it would be just get in the car and drive. You’ll stumble upon some beautiful walks and scenery that you’d never know were there otherwise. Kendall and Penrith are also both lovely and you can find some lovely little shops there.
Where to stay
I’ve been to the Lake District four times so far and have loved every stay for a different reason. Each hotel we’ve stayed at has had something special about it in it’s own way. As it’s an area popular with tourists there are so many hotels in the area, so you’ll never be short of options on accommodation.
This little B&B is nestled near the shore of Ullswater Lake (clue is in the name really). And what I loved about this place is that every bedroom has a lake view. We stayed in the most affordable bedroom as it was a last minute break. Our room was modern and spotlessly clean so I can only imagine what the other rooms are like. Although, our bathroom did have a carpet – ick! Every room has an iPod dock, and one of the rooms has a jacuzzi bath with a view of the lake. The breakfast was delicious, and they have an honesty policy when it comes to drinks which I thought was a really nice touch. (In case you don’t know what that is, it’s where you help yourself to any drinks you’d like and write down what you’ve had). They are also dog friendly.
It’s in such a gorgeous location and if you drive along the road a few hundred yards you’ll find my favourite spot in the whole Lake District. It’s out of the way of all the tourists and so quiet, but still easily accessible to the bigger areas.
This hotel and spa is absolutely gorgeous, but the only downside is that it’s really out of the way of the more populated areas of the Lake District. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still in a lovely area, but it’s in the south lakes where there isn’t really a lot to do or see. If you’re happy to make the drive up to the north lakes, this is a great place to stay. It has all the spa facilities and treatments you need, a small gym with all the basic equipment, and beautiful bedrooms and grounds.
We had booked a superior room, and the first room we were put into didn’t really feel superior. So we asked at the front desk if they had any other rooms and they moved us into the most beautiful, spacious room with a four poster bed and a clawfoot bath – so it’s always worth asking! Also, the food is absolutely incredible. They offer a 5-course tasting menu for around £30 each in their beautiful restaurant. It was my first time having Venison and it was just delicious. I’d consider staying here again just for the food alone.
This is a tiny little B&B in the middle of a little village called Hawkshead. It has a total of three bedrooms so you get a really special, intimate experience. And after a long day of walking around the lakes it’s honestly like coming home at the end of the day. We stayed in the garden view room which was lovely. So cosy yet spacious, spotlessly clean and full of character (and the bed was huuuge!). On arrival you get a tour of the house and grounds, and then Sue will take you to the garden where she’ll serve you tea and homemade cake. The breakfast was delicious and we never went hungry. It is a bit of a pain to find as it’s not satnav friendly, but once you’ve found where they are it’s easy to find again.
It’s on the west side of Lake Windermere, so we used the ferry to get across to the Bowness side. This way which was so much quicker and more convenient than taking the long way round. I think it was around £100 per night for our room. If you want to book there make sure you book by phone as you get a cheaper rate than on their website.
I have to admit that my husband did good when he chose this hotel as a surprise mini break for us. It overlooks Lake Windermere and is so close to Bowness, but it still feels like you’re in the middle of the countryside with no one else around you. It’s small enough to have that intimate B&B feel, but big enough to feel like a hotel. We got an amazing last minute deal, I think it was something like £150 for two nights. And we were upgraded to a room with a huge jacuzzi bath – winner!
We ate there on one of the nights, and the food was very nice but not amazing. And given the chance I’d rather go out to eat in one of the other local restaurants. They are dog friendly, and I remember sitting in the lounge one evening petting all the dogs which made it an awesome stay.
There are a couple of other hotels I have my eye on – there are so many around the area so just have a look online and you’ll find hundreds!
Where to eat
There are so many restaurants around the Lake District I haven’t possibly been able to try them all…yet! The best one I have eaten at so far is Rastelli’s Pizzeria, which is located in Bowness-on-Windermere. Even though it’s named as a Pizzeria, they do plenty of other Italian meals to enjoy. I had the lasagne and it was as good as one I had in Venice. It has such a rustic Italian, family friendly vibe to it as well, such a great atmosphere. If you’re looking to splash out a bit more, we have eaten at the restaurant at Beech Hill Hotel over looking Lake Windermere which was so beautiful. It’s expensive but the food is so worth it. I inhaled some soup and nearly choked on it, it was so embarrassing! Honestly I would have been happy to just die there.
I hope this little travel guide has been helpful for anyone thinking about going! Are you tempted?