England’s Splendid Lake District

The Lake District, in northern England, is probably my favourite part of rural England. Green hills lead down to quaint old villages that line the pristine lakes.

The main towns of the Lake District are well served by public transport, which is great news for those travelling on a budget or without a car. Buses link all the towns and villages, as well as ferries that shuttle passengers up Windemere Lake. Lake District (5)

Most travellers arrive at Windermere train station. Windermere is the main town and from here there are buses (an open-top bus in summertime!) that wind along the lakes to the town of Keswick and the delightful villages of Ambleside and Grasmere. Other bus services dart off to smaller villages dotted around the mountain valleys.

It’s handy to stock up on supplies in Windermere, as it has several supermarkets and smaller stores around the Lake District tend to close early. It also has the best selection of bars and restaurants – the Queens pub is a good place to stop before catching the train home.

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Captivating views can be found throughout the Lake District

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Thick, century old chestnut trees are dotted across green fields full of chirping sheep – this is the real British experience!

Yes, many of you think – “Ohhhh it’s just like Hobbiton” And you’re right, there are ridiculously picturesque stone built bridges and homes dotted around the area. The Lake District is located in Cumbria, in the north-west of England, and has been attracting visitors since the 18th century. Nonetheless you will still find peace and tranquillity, along with some of the best picnic spots in the world!

 

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Make sure to bring a variety of clothing, for rain, hail or shine. The weather here can change very quickly…. resulting in amazing views across an ever changing landscape.

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Low clouds hovering over Thirlmere Lake, north of Windermere

The best time to visit the lakes (in my opinion) is in late August / September, when the crowds dwindle and the magnificent isolated views simply take your breathe away. Be sure to pack a rain-jacket though, as you can see above, the weather changes incredibly quickly!

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Cute flowers poking out of stone walls in the village of Grasmere

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Quaint Ambleside is one of the most picturesque villages in the Lake District.

Ambleside is a small rustic village located on the northern shores of Lake Windermere. It’s narrow streets are filled with craft shops, traditional Cumbrian pubs and outdoor stores (every second shop sells hiking gear). It’s hectic during the day but come the evening it is quieter, and it still retains a unique charm. The nearby village of Grasmere is even smaller, and it also hosts a number of quality cafes and restaurants.

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Catching the breeze on the open top bus

The open top bus (number 555) is a real novelty in the summer. It run between Windermere, Bowness, Ambleside and Grasmere and offers fantastic panoramic views across the lake and countryside. It’s especially magical in the evening as the sun sets over the lake.

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The church spire of Ambleside pokes out above the trees and greenery of the Lake District.

lakeDistrict3There are plenty of marked walking routes in the Lake District, suitable for all abilities. Some walks are tough, but they result in superb views across valleys and lakes. For more see the official Lake District website.

Unfortunately camping is frowned upon, and unlike Scotland, wild camping is not allowed. However, on the higher peaks, it is possible to set up camp for one night – as long as you are not interfering with farmers or other human beings! I did this a few months ago, see here for my post.

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Meeting some of the local ducks on Windermere lake – and a carved wooden squirrel near Ambleside

Get there

Windermere is connected to Oxenholme train station on the main West Coast line. There are onward trains to the London, Manchester, Scotland and other cities throughout the UK. See National Rail for schedules.

Get around

Stagecoach offers very regular services throughout the Lake District during the summer months. The core 555 route runs every 20 minutes in summer. See their map guide here. Bicycles can be hired from a number of places in Windemere and Ambleside. There are also affordable lake cruises from Bowness and Ambleside.

Stay

The Thorney How Hostel in Grasmere is a great retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Prices start at £22 for a dormitory bed. Prices for a double room in an Ambleside B&B begin at roughly £70 in summertime.

Eat

Cafe Treff offers up the best coffee and cake in all of Ambleside – it’s an ideal place to relax when the rain starts to pour down. Lunch is also offered by the friendly staff.

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27 Comments

  1. 31/08/2015 / 7:01 PM

    Argh … we planned on visiting the Lake District this year but when we wanted to book the ferry to Newcastle, it turned out to be almost full, so instead we went somewhere else. It’s been very high up on our bucketlist ever since we were in Scotland so I’m sure we’ll visit sometime the future. Thanks for sharing your pics!!

    • 01/09/2015 / 1:45 PM

      No way!! You came so close 🙂 Of course always next time, it’s not going anywhere in a hurry!

  2. 01/09/2015 / 9:26 AM

    Thanks for sharing those info. Would be a huge help for those who are planning to see England’s Lake District.

  3. 01/09/2015 / 2:57 PM

    I’ve always wanted to see England for its rich culture. Now you guys just gave me another reason to visit this stunning place! 🙂

    • continentaldrifters
      02/09/2015 / 9:29 AM

      It’s great Mary, and so varied! And when you get bored of England, you can just run up to Scotland 😀

  4. 01/09/2015 / 5:20 PM

    Beautiful countryside! It makes me want to go back to England and explore more.

    • continentaldrifters
      02/09/2015 / 9:28 AM

      Thanks Vicki, always plenty of time to come back and see more the countryside – it’s so nice!

  5. 02/09/2015 / 3:53 AM

    Oh wow, I would have thought New Zealand but I am surprised to see this is actually in England.It looks beautiful!

    • continentaldrifters
      02/09/2015 / 9:28 AM

      I know, it’s not the kind of scenery when you think of England! Where are all the factories and chimney sweeps?! 😛

  6. 02/09/2015 / 8:04 AM

    This looks like a really nice trip but your camping experience. .. I am kinda looking forward to that. Seems like you’re going to have a lot of interesting things to share.

    • continentaldrifters
      02/09/2015 / 9:27 AM

      Thanks Karla, hope to have a post about the camping ready to go this evening 🙂

  7. Claudia
    03/09/2015 / 9:21 PM

    I lived in Lancaster when I did my Erasmus so often explored the Lake District. Simply splendid and you captured it beautifully!

  8. 04/09/2015 / 1:07 AM

    I know the lake district well, and I have to admit it is a little strange reading someone elses experiences of it for the first time. In a good way though. It made me realise I had probably taken a lot for granted. 🙂

  9. 04/09/2015 / 3:59 PM

    Very beautiful and peaceful place and I’m waiting for the camping post ^_^

  10. 05/09/2015 / 3:25 PM

    We love going to the Lake District and go up as many times as we can. So much to do up there too, we have rented out a Kayak, gone ghyll scrambling, canyoning, rock climbing and conquered a few mountains up there this year!

    • 06/09/2015 / 7:18 PM

      Yep so much more to do there, it’s on the list for next summer! Actually I’d like to go in winter when it’s snowy white. Find a pub with a roaring fire and I’m happy 🙂

    • 06/09/2015 / 7:17 PM

      Thanks Anne!! It’s really a super part of the UK – you’ll have to visit some day 🙂

  11. Melody Pittman
    07/09/2015 / 2:04 PM

    Wow! it is so green and gorgeous! I especially love that stone wall with the plants and ferns grown out of it. We are building houses in Boquete,Panama, and have stuck things like that in our retaining walls for a little pick me up. 😉

    • 08/09/2015 / 9:31 AM

      Yes! I loved it too, brightens up the place so much, especially in a rainy little village like Ambleside. Looking forward to hearing more about Boquete! 🙂

  12. Revati Victor (Different Doors)
    08/09/2015 / 4:54 PM

    Oh it’s just so postcard pretty! I’d love to spend a weekend here!

  13. 08/09/2015 / 5:13 PM

    Looks like a cute place to visit and get away from the city 🙂

  14. 10/09/2015 / 1:54 AM

    Untouched parts of the world are my favorite places to visit. So picturesque. Amazing photos! I must visit England some day.
    Keep up the great work!

  15. 05/10/2016 / 5:02 PM

    Shame on us! We lived in London and never explored the island. And obviously, there is so much to be seen! This is becoming one of my favorite blogs and I think we’ll soon be planning a road trip based on your posts.

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