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Unlock the wonders of the Lake District lakes. Dive into our ultimate guide, featuring our top lakes, answers to your burning questions, and an interactive map.
Whether you’re seeking the attractions and sailing opportunities of Windermere or the serene and unspoiled beauty of Buttermere, each lake in this national park has its own unique charm. Join us as we explore these remarkable lakes and discover the array of activities they offer.
Fall in love with these Lake District lakes…
At the forefront of our Lake District lakes guide is the small body of water, Rydal Water. Whilst its amongst the shallowest and smallest bodies of water in the park, it is certainly one of the prettiest.
You’ll find lots to do when visiting this body of water, starting with the Rydal Water Walk. This 2.8-mile hike not only provides views of Rydal Water but it has direct access to “Wordsworth Seat”, which is known as William Wordsworth’s favourite viewpoint.
A short stroll from Rydal Water will lead you to Rydal Cave, an enchanting cavern that is a must-see attraction. This famous beauty spot has even made its mark in showbiz as a filming location in The Witcher series. Don’t forget to bring a torch for your exploration of the cave!
After wandering around this stunning water, why not treat yourself to a tour of Rydal Mount? This historic gem comprises a 16th-century house and garden, once belonging to Wordsworth. You can also savour views of Rydal Water here.
GPS coordinates: 54.4469435, -2.996389
Parking: Rydal Water Car Park, LA22 9SE
Parking charge: £2 per hour
Among the smaller lakes in the Lake District, Grasmere measures approximately one mile in length and half a mile in width. Whilst Grasmere is renowned for its associations with Wordsworth, its natural beauty should not be underestimated.
One of Grasmere’s distinctive features is its central island. The island is believed to be Wordsworth’s favourite spot when staying at the nearby Dove Cottage. However, please note that this island is not accessible to the general public.
Although you cannot visit Grasmere’s island, you can still immerse yourself in the lake’s charm by exploring it via canoe or boat. If you’re visiting with your partner, you can even treat them to a romantic rowing experience by hiring a boat from Faeryland.
GPS coordinates: 54.448913, -3.0217158
Parking: Red Bank Road Car Park, LA22 9SW
Parking charge: Please check price upon arrival and ensure you have downloaded the PayByPhone app
Next up on our guide to lakes in the Lake District is the breath-taking Ullswater. Stretching over 7.5 miles, this magnificent body of water is surrounded by the stunning scenery of the park’s fells, including Place Fell and Helvellyn.
Located in the northern part of the park, Ullswater is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. A range of wild swimming instructors, including Suzanna Swims, host guided swimming sessions here, why not give it a go? Alternatively, hire a boat from the Glenridding Sailing Centre.
If you’d prefer to unwind and soak up Ullswater’s awe-inspiring views, we recommend boarding the Ullswater Steamers. The lake cruises take you around the water, starting at Pooley Bridge and ending at the pier of Aira Force, a must-visit Lake District waterfall.
When it comes to staying near this stunning body of water, there is a whole host of Ullswater accommodation to choose from.
GPS coordinates: 54.5738473, -2.9003108
Parking: Aira Force Car Park, CA11 0JS
Parking charge: £6 for 2 hours; £7.70 for 4 hours; £9 for all day; free for National Trust members
Our guide wouldn’t be complete without Windermere! As the largest body of water in the Lake District, it stretches over 10.5 miles in length and 1 mile in width.
Upon arriving at the water’s edge, you’ll be greeted by a plethora of stunning sights that adorn the sparkling waters, including Claife Heights and Wray Castle.
A must-try activity when coming to Windermere has to be boarding the Windermere Lake Cruises. When I visited, I had the pleasure of sailing with this company; not only were the views fantastic but the captain gave fantastic insights into the islands peppered throughout the waters.
After exploring the lake, be sure to head to Bowness-on-Windermere‘s marina where a range of eateries and amusements await. Alternatively, venture into Bowness-on-Windermere town centre to enjoy a spot of retail therapy.
GPS coordinates: 54.3443922, -2.9420626
Parking: Windermere Lake Viewpoint Car Park, LA23 1EX
Parking charge: Please check upon arrival
The sight of Buttermere often comes to mind when people think of the Lake District! This beautiful water is flanked by several piercing fells, including Red Pike and Robinson.
A glorious spot for wild swimming in the Lake District, Buttermere enjoys both shallow and deep areas for you to explore. If you prefer swimming in a group, you can join guided open swimming sessions organised by Suzanna Swims.
If you’d prefer to stay on the banks of this Lake District lake, why not explore the Buttermere walk? This 4.5-mile trail is perfect for families, offering a gentle stroll and breath-taking views. Scale Force and Sourmilk Gill are among the highlights of this hike.
For enthusiasts of wild swimming and breath-taking hikes, Buttermere is an unrivalled gem! Immerse yourself in the beauty of this destination by choosing one of these remarkable Buttermere properties, perfectly situated to keep you close by.
GPS coordinates: 54.5312055, -3.2647653
Parking: Buttermere Valley Car Park, CA13 9UZ
Parking charge: There is a charge, please check upon arrival
Another must-see spot in the national park, Derwentwater was guaranteed to be in our Lake District lakes guide. It’s a mesmerising sight, stretching for miles and backed by various fells, such as Grasmoor and Grisedale Pike.
If you’re wondering which is the best way to explore this water, we recommend exploring the Derwentwater Circular. This path is wheelchair accessible, making it perfect for a multi-generational outing, and offers stunning views of the surrounding woodland and Friar’s Crag.
Not feeling up to walking? Sail instead with Keswick Launch Co! Operating throughout the year and taking less than an hour to complete, this excursion is a definite must-add to your itinerary. Hire a boat and enjoy the picturesque views as you pass by several jetties, including Lingholm, which was Beatrix Potter’s holiday home.
Afterwards, venture towards Keswick, where ample attractions await, including the Theatre by the Lake, a performing arts venue boasting views of Derwentwater.
GPS coordinates: 54.5917764, -3.1472273
Parking: Lakeside Car Park, CA12 5DG
Parking charge: £3.50 for 2 hours; £5.90 for 3 hours; £8.20 for 6 hours; £10.40 for 12 hours
Extending for five miles in length, Coniston Water is another notable addition to our guide on the lakes of the Lake District. Resting moments away from Coniston, it’s well worth adding to your holiday itinerary.
Not only is this body of water beautiful but it is of historic importance. Coniston played a pioneering role in the use of hydro-electricity, as the village’s homes were powered by Coniston Water between 1932 and the mid-1950s.
A must-try activity at this lake in the Lake District is watersports! Hire a kayak or motorboat from the Coniston Boating Centre and set about navigating the stunning waters.
If you’d prefer an on-land adventure, you can hire a bike from the centre and cycle along the shoreline. Afterwards, why not explore the Coniston Copper Mines or, if you have the energy, climb up the Old Man of Coniston?
GPS coordinates: 54.3381171, -3.0747975
Parking: Coniston Central Car Park, LA21 8HL
Parking charge: £6 for the whole day
Another lake in the Lake District, Bassenthwaite Lake is surrounded by a plethora of attractions, offering a memorable day out.
This large yet shallow lake offers a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. You can indulge in activities like walking, swimming, and boating in its pristine waters. For boating, we recommend joining the Bassenthwaite Sailing Club, which offers sailing programs and equipment access.
Alternatively, you can embark on a picturesque circular hike around the lake, where you’ll be treated to breath-taking views of Skiddaw and Ullock Pike.
After exploring the four-mile-long water by foot or boat, tuck into a tasty treat at Bassenthwaite Lake Station. This quirky eatery is set within a replica steam engine, so you can jump aboard the flavour express and choose from three fabulous menus.
The Lake District Wildlife Park is also within easy reach of Bassethwaite Lake, set within 25 acres and full of charming animals for you to meet.
GPS coordinates: 54.6562266, -3.2277671
Parking: Free parking at Woodend Brow Car Park, CA12 5SJ
If you’re a keen angler, then this Lake District lake is a great option for you. It is renowned as a “premium venue for trout, pike, and coarse fishing,” offering a top-notch fishing experience.
However, if angling is not on your agenda, there are still plenty of activities to enjoy at Esthwaite Water. Why not embark on an Osprey safari? This comprises a guided or self-driven boat tour around the water, where you can watch the birds soar into the water and grab their dinner!
Alternatively, put on your walking boots and explore one of the trails that surround this 1.5-mile-long lake. As you enjoy the scenic views that inspired Wordsworth’s “Lines Left Upon A Seat in Yew-Tree,” take a break at the Boathouse Café and savour a delicious sandwich.
GPS coordinates: 54.359044, -2.9846719
Parking: B5285 Parking, LA22 0NT
Parking charge: Please check upon arrival
Bordering the Helvellyn Ridge, Thirlmere is another amazing addition to our Lake District lakes list. With its views of Lake District mountains, it’s not to be missed!
This reservoir is big to say the least, with a walk around the water being 10 miles long. This is also known as being a very challenging route, so it’s best suited to expert hikers and adults.
Did you know that the reservoir used to be two smaller lakes? It was built by the Manchester City Corporation Waterworks between 1890 and 1925. The area was dammed, giving rise to the expansive reservoir that greets visitors today.
GPS coordinates: 54.5291574, -3.1005114
Parking: Swirls Car Park, CA12 4TN
Parking charge: Free for up to 1 hour; £2.20 for 2 hours; £4 for 4 hours; £5.50 for all day
The deepest body of water in England, Wast Water is another natural wonder for our Lake District lakes guide. Ideal for those after a remote excursion, Wast Water is tucked away in a glacial valley.
Two popular activities to enjoy at Wast Water include biking and paddleboarding. You can hire equipment for either activity from Marra Bikes & Boards.
Alternatively, you can take a leisurely stroll along the 2.5-mile circular trail that surrounds the lake. This hike is suitable for dogs and children, making Wast Water a fantastic outing for the whole family. Low Wood is also located nearby, providing several picnic spots where you can enjoy an alfresco lunch.
GPS coordinates: 54.4416208, -3.2951188
Parking: Wasdale Car Park, CA20 1EX
Parking charge: £5 up to 2 hours; £7 up to 4 hours; £9 all day
Last but certainly not least in our selection of Lake District lakes is Crummock Water. This picturesque body of water offers breath-taking mountain vistas, with the magnificent Grassmoor and Mellbreak fells in view.
Crummock Water is fed by the nearby Scale Force waterfall and the River Cocker, both of which provide fantastic sights to explore after your time at the lake. If you’re inclined to get out on the water, rowing boats are available for hire.
The 2.5-mile water is also ideal for fly fishing, with fat yellow trout being a top catch here. Pike, char and perch also swim about here; so, cast your net, anglers!
There is ample Crummock Water accommodation to choose from if you plan on spending lots of time here during a Lake District break!
GPS coordinates: 54.5568302, -3.3044768
Parking: Crummock Water Car Park, CA13 9UY
Parking charge: Please check upon arrival
If you’re hooked on the tranquillity and beauty of these lakes, why not enjoy them first-hand from a Lake District cottage? You can book your Lakes getaway easily by using our app. Then, use our Lake District Travel Guide to plan the rest of your break.
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