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Looking for the best things to do in the Lake District? Look no further than our list of 14 carefully selected Lake District activities and attractions.

There’s so much to see and do in the Lake District, you’ll be utterly spoilt for choice. Beyond the 16 bodies of water that make up this spectacular region, you can expect to find scenic walks, dramatic and beautiful landscapes, excellent eateries, museums, fine architecture, fun-filled attractions and much more.

Discover 14 of the best things to do in the Lake District…


1. Loughrigg Fell
2. Helvellyn
3. Catbells Lakeland Walk
4. Lakes Distillery
5. Derwentwater
6. Holker hall
7. Aira Force
8. Scafell Pike
9. Levens Hall
10. World of Beatrix Potter
11. Skiddaw
12. Dove Cottage & Wordsworth Cottage
13. Rydal Mount
14. Orrest Head


1. Loughrigg Fell

Why?

Loughrigg Fell stands at the end of a long ridge over Silver How and out towards Ambleside. This hill stands dramatically, surrounded by water that flows through Grasmere and Rydal Water to the North, and to the South, two rivers merge at Clappersgate before eventually flowing into the great lake at Windermere.

A visit to this fell is included in our best things to do in the Lake District because you can enjoy a variety of scenery, best observed at its peak, High Raise, which stands at 2500 ft and is the highest point of the Lakeland central fells.

There are several walking trails you choose from, including the 6.5 mile walk from Ambleside, which takes in Loughrigg Terrac and Rydal Cave, a man-made 19th-century quarry. Or perhaps you want to start at White Moss, a 3-mile route that includes wandering through woodland, for a slight change of scenery.

Find out more about walks in the Lake District with our Lake District walks guide.


2. Helvellyn

Helvellyn

Why?

Another of the best things to do in the Lake District is to climb Helvellyn, the highest point of the Helvellyn mountain range, a line of mountains that lie between Thirlmere and Ullswater lakes. It’s the third highest point in the Lake District and in England, its highest peak reaching 3117 ft (950m).

The mountain was formed from volcanic rock in an eruption that took place roughly 450 million years ago, and during the last ice age, the rocks were carved by glaciers, producing the features that are visible today.

There are several possible routes you can take up the mountain, it’s advised to go with a guide as it can be quite an intense climb, but the rewards are well worth it. You can enjoy uninterrupted Lakeland views from the summit, which stretch as far as the hills of South West Scotland and the Pennine Hills.

Helvellyn was also named Britain’s best walk in 2018 on an ITV show of the same name. A must-do activity on your next visit to the Lake District.


3. Catbells Lakeland Walk

View north from Cat Bells

Why?

It’s clear to see from the image above that you can enjoy some incredible, panoramic views over the Lake District, including Keswick, Derwent Water and Borrowdale along the Cat Bells walking route.

This fairly short climb is pretty steep and involves a bit of scrambling, but nothing too technical. You’ll have forgotten about the hard work when you look out and see the incredible mountainous and lake views that surround you.  At 1480 feet (451m), it’s fairly modest in height, but remains one of the most popular fells in the Lake District.

It’s also just 3 miles from the tourism hot spot of Keswick, a great place to enjoy a bite to eat and refreshing drink to end an adventurous day of exploring. A wonderful activity in the Lake District, for the views alone. For more things to do in Keswick, view our Keswick Travel Guide.


4. Lakes Distillery

Lakes Distillery

Why?

If you enjoy gin, vodka or whisky, you’ll love a day at the Lakes Distillery. Situated by Bassenthwaite, in a lovely part of the Lake District, this distillery has been open since the end of 2014.

Head to the Visitor Centre to find out how each of the spirits are made, which includes watching a fascinating video following the water that’s used to make the spirits as it flows from the River Derwent into Bassenthwaite Lake and eventually to the Irish Sea.

You can enjoy a tour of the site, visiting the distillery’s warehouse and the still room, giving you a better understanding of how the vodka, whisky and gins are made. There is also a guided tasting session and you can buy 70cl bottles of spirits at a discounted rate after the tour. What’s not to love?

Find out more or book your own tour by visiting the Lakes Distillery website.


5. Derwentwater

Derwentwater

Why?

Derwentwater, one of the 16 bodies of water that make up the Lake District, encompasses Borrowdale, just South of Keswick. It’s home to Derwent Island House, a National Trust-owned, 18th century property open to the public just five days a year.

Surrounded by woodland and fells, including Cat Bells, you will be treated to wonderful scenic views on a day out to Derwenwater. A walk around the lake is about 8 miles and a lovely way to spend an afternoon, or you can take a lake cruise, which lasts for about an hour.

The town of Keswick is just a 10-minute walk away, for the best of both worlds, or why not take a picnic and enjoy lunch with a view by the lake? A trip to Derwentwater is up there amongst the best things to do in the Lake District, in our opinion.


6. Holker Hall

Holker Hall

Why?

This privately-owned country house is the home of Lucy Cavendish and her husband Tor McLaren and is open to the public to visit. Located just outside of Grange-over-Sands, this grand estate has magnificent gardens and parkland to explore, whilst offering picturesque views of the Lakeland Hills.

Holker Hall has history that dates back as far back at the 16th century. Presently, you can tour the home and adjoining gardens, as well as enjoying a bite to eat at the Courtyard Café and making a purchase at the gift shop.

There are many events held over the year, including an Easter food market, Spring evening barbecue and classic car show. For more information and to plan your visit, browse Holker Hall’s website.


7. Aira Force

Aira Force

Why?

Possibly the best-known waterfall in the Lake District, Aira Force is a great option for those looking for things to do in the Lake District. This mighty waterfall stands 70 feet high and carries water along the Aira Beck stream towards Gowbarrow Fell.

Aira Force rests on National Trust-owned land in the Matterdale region, just a few kilometers from Ullswater. Discover the surrounding woodlands, walk the tree trail or head further afield around Ullswater and take on the 20-mile Ullstwater Way. Pets are welcome at Aira Force too, so a great day out for the whole family, including your four-legged friends.

You can even re-energise after a busy afternoon of walking and exploring by enjoying a cup of tea and some treats at the Aira Force tea room. A great day out in the Lake District that every member of the family will enjoy.


8. Scafell Pike

Scafell Pike

Why?

Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain at 3209 feet (978m), makes up part of the Three Peaks challenge, and is a perfect activity in the Lake District for the more adventurous amongst you.

Given to the National Trust back in 1919 in memorial of those who were lost during the First World War, the land is free to explore and the mountain available to climb. There are many routes you can take, ranging in distance and difficulty, but it’s important to remember all climbs are challenging and should be approached safely and carefully.

Try the walk from Wasdale, which takes approximately 3-4 hours or for something with more endurance, there’s the Scafell Pike Corridor route, a 15km, 6-hour round-trip from Seathwaite via Greenhow Knott, which takes in plenty of awe-inspiring scenery along the way. A hiker’s dream day out in the Lake District.

We don’t want to burst any bubbles, but it’s known to rain in the Lake District from time to time! Be sure to wrap up warm and pack the waterproofs, just in case!


9. Levens Hall

Levens Hall

Why?

Situated on the southern edge of the Lake District National Park, 8 miles South of Kendal, is Levens Hall. Dating back to the 13th century, this now privately-owned, family home is open to the public to explore.

Wander around the impressive Elizabethan property, which began life as a Pele Tower, taking in the incredible architecture and ornate plasterwork, as well as stunning furniture and a grand paintings collection.

Levens Hall is part of a 9500-acre estate that includes the world’s oldest topiary gardens. Access the 17th-century gardens that are hidden behind an enchanting stone wall and enjoy a collection of more than 30,000 bedding plants, each grown in a greenhouse on-site. You can also enjoy home-grown produce with a bite to eat at Levens Kitchen. To plan your trip or purchase tickets, visit Levens Hall’s website.


10. World of Beatrix Potter

World of Beatrix Potter

Why?

Perhaps the best literary attraction you can visit in the Lake District, The World of Beatrix Potter is a family attraction that tells the story of the author’s life, writing and her significance to conservation in the region.

Enjoy an entertaining day out at the Bowness-on-Windermere attraction, which begins with an informative introductory film, followed by Jemima Puddle-duck’s woodland glade and Mr Tod’s underground home exhibitions, a stroll around Peter Rabbit’s garden, a virtual walk through Miss Potter ‘s work and much more.

There is a Beatrix Potter-themed tea room for a spot of tea and delicious home-made cakes, as well as a gift shop to purchase plenty of Beatrix Potter-themed goodies and you can even plan children’s parties there. There’s plenty to see and do to while away the hours at this wonderful attraction. For more information, visit their official website.


11. Skiddaw

Skiddaw

Why?

Skiddaw is the sixth highest mountain in the Lake District, with a summit of 3054 feet (931m). The dominant backdrop of the northern lake, you can find this magnificent mountain just North of the popular Lake District town of Keswick.

You can enjoy some fantastic walks here, not just hiking up the mountain, but also exploring the surrounding Skiddaw Forest. You can walk the Jenkin Hill Path to the summit of the mountain in a couple of hours and there is a short, direct route to the top from Millbeck, which is only 3.7km. So there is plenty of choice and variety, depending on your fitness level or how much time you want to dedicate to exploring the area.

The isolated position of this mountain makes it visual striking and the panoramic views across the Vale of Derwent means Skiddaw had to be included amongst our top things to do in the Lake District.


12. Dove Cottage & Wordsworth Museum

Dove Cottage

Why?

Dove Cottage is the former home of poet William Wordsworth, who fell in love with the Grasmere property at first sight back in 1799. Wordsworth was inspired to write some of his best-loved poems whilst living at Dove Cottage, so it’s understandable why the property remains a much-loved Lake District attraction today.

Enjoy a fascinating guided tour of the cottage to understand what daily life would have looked life for Wordsworth and his family, and discover the personal possessions of the Wordsworth’s that are on display. The Wordsworth Museum takes you on a journey through the poet’s life, from childhood, and is filled with journals, manuscripts and other remarkable artefacts.

The kids will love it too; there’s a dedicated space in the museum where they can dress up in traditional clothing and play with traditional toys. Plus the gardens at Dove Cottage, created by Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy, make for an inspiring afternoon stroll.

An informative and educational day out in the Lake District that the whole family will enjoy. Visit the official website for more information or to plan your trip.


13. Rydal Mount

Rydal Mount

Why?

Rydal mount was William Wordsworth’s family home from 1813 until his death in 1850. The house is still owned by the Wordsworth family and the property, along with its gardens, are open to the public to explore.

Rydal Mount dates back to the 16th century and is situated between Ambleside and Grasmere, offering views of Windermere, Rydal Water and the surrounding fells. The house was the focus of much of Wordsworth’s romantic literature and makes for a fascinating day out in the Lake District.

Enjoy strolling through 5 acres of gardens, consisting of rock pools and fell-side terraces, or learn as you go with an exclusive, guided tour. To end the proceedings, why not enjoy a bite to eat at The Tearoom during the Summer months? Home-made cakes, afternoon cream tea and a selection of beverages can all be found on the menu. For more information or to book your tickets, visit Rydal Mount’s website.


14. Orrest Head

Windermere seen from Orrest Head

Why?

Orrest Head is a hill in the Lake District, found on the eastern shores of Windermere. It features in Alfred Wainwright’s 1974 publication, The Outlying Fells of Lakeland, and is the first fell he ever climbed. He described the experience of walking Orrest Head as “… a moment of magic, a revelation so unexpected that I stood transfixed, unable to believe my eyes.”.

Walking routes usually begin in Windermere; start at Craig Manor and enjoy the short but picturesque ‘Butterfly Walk’, which takes around one-and-a-half hours to complete, and includes some tricky terrain, so can be fairly challenging. Enjoy various points of interest along the way, including the Heywood Memorial Stones, found at either side of the kissing gate and placed there in 1902 in remembrance of Arthur Henry Heywood, in response to which his family granted a lifetime of access to Orrest Head, which is why it’s an accessible Lake District attraction today.


Book your next holiday in the Lakes with one of our Lake District holiday cottages. Discover more fascinating things to do in the Lake District with handy guide, and for something a little different, browse through our Lake District hidden gems.


Image credits: AndrewCC BY 2.0; Silence-is-InfiniteCC BY-SA 4.0; Mick KnaptonCC BY-SA 3.0; LakesdistilleryCC BY-SA 4.0; Adie JacksonCC BY-SA 2.0; MarathonCC BY-SA 2.0; Graham RobsonCC BY-SA 2.0; Barbara CarrCC BY-SA 2.0; Ann LeeCC BY-SA 2.0; Steve Cadman CC BY-SA 2.0; ingawhCC BY-SA 3.0; Lynn RainardCC BY-SA 2.0; Andrew BowdenCC BY-SA 2.0

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