Best Things To Do in the Lake District National Park
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Things To Do in the Lake District

Travel information | Where to stay | Things to do

Sun rising over Buttermere Lake, Lake District. England

In the ever-popular county of Cumbria, the Lake District is bursting with activities and things to do. Spanning 2,362 square kilometres, the Lake District National Park has everything from adrenaline-pumping outdoor pursuits to quaint, family-friendly museums. One day, you’ll find yourself traversing the breathtaking countryside, taking in sights like the Cat Bells and the next, you might be examining some of Beatrix Potter’s possessions at her house, Hill Top. The diversity and breadth of the Lakes has had people returning time and time again, and you might just end up being one of them.

Below, we’ve broken down our favourite recommendations of things to do as well as helpful information you might need while camping in the Lake District.

Quick fire facts about the Lake District National Park:

Size: 2,362 square kilometres

Population: 40,478

Highest mountain: Scafell Pike (978 meters or 3,210 feet)

Number of lakes: 16

Tourism numbers: Over 18 million in 2022

Lake District travel information

Lake District on the map

Public transport is highly encouraged and readily available in the Lake District. There are a number of ways to reach the national park and plenty of affordable ways to get around once there.

Getting to the Lake District

Driving: For those with lots of camping gear, heavy luggage, or the necessity to have a car during your trip, you may find the below approximate drive times useful.

London to the Lake District: 5 hours
York to the Lake District: 2 hours
• Manchester to the Lake District: 1.5 hours
• Glasgow to the Lake District: 2 hours

Train: You can catch the train from London and Glasgow to Oxenholme, where you can change trains to get to Kendal in under five minutes. Those visiting from Manchester can catch a direct train to Windermere. Plan your journey on Trainline.

Coach: The National Express runs services which stop at both Penrith Station and Carlisle Bus Station.

Travelling around the Lake District

Driving around the Lake District once there is an option but to give an idea of drive times, it’ll take you a solid 40 minutes to get from Windermere to Keswick. Parking can also be tricky in the summer months.

Public transport is a fantastic way to see things as you travel, and there’s a variety of options, starting with park and explore by Stagecoach. For £18 per day for up to 5 people travelling together, you can get unlimited bus travel to a great range of attractions. Another option for travelling by bus within the Lake District is to get a Stagecoach Central Lakes Day Rider, which covers areas including Windermere, Grasmere, and Coniston. You can upgrade your DayRider to include a boat ride to appreciate the views from the road and the water.

Lake District information centres

There are four information centres in the Lake District:

• Bowness on Windermere Information Centre
• Keswick Information Centre
• Ullswater Information Centre
• Brockhole on Windermere: the Lake District Visitor Centre

These are worth making a note of for when you’re there just in case you find yourself needing more information on walking and cycling routes, advice on travel or maps and attraction inspiration.

Where to stay in the Lake District

Keswick campsite in the Lake District

With so many visitors each year, there's a huge range of accommodation in the Lake District. Our most popular campsites in the Lake District include:

Braithwaite Village, where you’ll also find Self Catering Lodges 
Keswick, where you have the option of booking camping pods
Ravenglass, where you have the option of booking camping pods
Windermere, where you could stay in our pods 

View all information about our Lake District campsites, including member-exclusive sites.

Discover the lakes

Lake Windermere

The Lake District's biggest attractions are hard to miss while exploring the area. All surrounded by unique scenery, the 16 lakes in the Lake District are:

1. Bassenthwaite Lake
2. Buttermere
3. Coniston Water
4. Crummock Water
5. Derwentwater
6. Elterwater
7. Ennerdale Water
8. Esthwaite Water
9. Grasmere
10. Haweswater
11. Loweswater
12. Rydal Water
13. Thirlmere
14. Ullswater
15. Wastwater
16. Windermere

Walking in the Lake District

Couple walking in the Lake District

Donning your walking boots and heading out on the endless routes passing the lakes, scaling the fells, and snapping memories to last a lifetime is one of the best ways to experience the Lake District. View some of our favourite walks in the Lake District and find useful information below.

There are routes for everyone in the Lake District, including those with pushchairs, wheelchairs, and mobility scooters. View the Lake District National Park Authority’s Miles without Stiles for more information.

A guide to walking boots
A guide to walking gear and clothing
A guide to waterproof jackets 

Scale England’s highest mountains in the Lake District

Scafell Pike

The fells (hills and mountains) in the Lake District are one of the big attractions for walkers. The 10 highest mountains in the lake district (and England) are:

1. Scafell Pike – 978m ascent
2. Scafell – 964m ascent
3. Helvellyn – 950m ascent
4. Skiddaw – 931m ascent
5. Great End - 910m ascent
6. Bowfell – 902m ascent
7. Great Gable – 899m ascent
8. Pillar – 892m ascent
9. Nethermost Pike – 891m ascent
10. Catstycam- 890m ascent

Wild swimming in the Lake District

Wild swimming in Wastwater

Discover the rush of the cold water by trying out wild swimming in the Lake District. If seeing the lakes on a boat cruise while walking and from afar isn’t quite close enough, there are plenty of popular places to go wild swimming in the Lake District, and it’s one of the most popular destinations in the UK to do so! Some of the most popular locations include:

• Rydal Water
• Buttermere
• Grasmere
• Wastwater

In the busier lakes like Windermere, Derwentwater and Coniston Water, you’ll need to stay clear of boats and make sure you’re wearing bright colours. You might prefer the quieter lakes and tarns, especially if you’re after a peaceful swim.

Eating and drinking in the Lake District

Couple in a pub in the Lake District

With so much tourism, you’ll find a huge variety of restaurants, cafes, and pubs to choose from in the Lake District. If you’re staying on one of our campsites, we’ve created a handy guide to the nearest pubs in the Lake District to our sites.

Popular attractions in the Lake District

From family-friendly attractions to Neolithic stone circles, the Lake District has tourist attractions and historic sites to keep everyone entertained.

1. Hill Top

Hill Top

Explore Beatrix Potter’s farmhouse retreat and a collection of her possessions as she wanted people to see them at Hill Top.

2. The World of Beatrix Potter

This is a fantastic attraction for families, where the author’s much-loved stories have been brought to life. See Benjamin Bunny, Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck, and all of your favourite characters.

3. Dove Cottage

Dove Cottage Lake District

Explore Dove Cottage, which was once the home of William Wordsworth in Grasmere. The poet lived here with his family from 1799 to 1808, and a visit to the cottage gives you the chance to immerse yourself in his world.

4. The Lake District Wildlife Park

Meet over 100 species at the beautiful park, including zebra, gibbons, and meerkats, to name a few. See falconry displays, get close to reptiles, and more during your visit.

5. Castlerigg Stone Circle

 Castlerigg Stone Circle

With the mountains of Helvellyn and High Seat in the background, the views at this Neolithic stone circle are some of the best around. It's around a 30-minute walk to the stones from the centre of Keswick.

6. The Lakes Aquarium

You’ll find this aquarium on the southern tip of Windermere. With one of the largest collections of freshwater fish in the UK and species local to the area’s waters, it’s a great place for kids to explore. British sharks, Asian short-clawed otters, seahorses and much more await!

7. The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop

Grasmere Gingerbread

No visit to the Lake District is complete without trying the world-famous Grasmere Gingerbread. Sarah Nelson’s story is fascinating, not just her invention of the sweet treat but her life in Church Cottage (now The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop), too.

8. Wray Castle

On the west shore of Windermere, Wray Castle is an attraction for the whole family. You’ll find plenty to do here, from outdoor family walks, viewing the collection of 19th century local photography and exploring the ground floor of the castle.

9. Muncaster Castle

Muncaster Castle

The reportedly haunted Muncaster Castle and its gardens stretch over 70 acres of parkland, so there is plenty inside and outside to explore here.

10. Rydal Mount

As his family expanded, William Wordsworth moved to Rydal Mount in Ambleside from Dove Cottage. Visit his family home and beautiful gardens to learn more about his life in the Lake District.

11. Honister Slate Mine

Honister Slate Mines

Learn about the history of the mine on a guided tour as you venture into underground tunnels and caverns.

12. Go Ape Grizedale Forest

Explore the forest from high up with the whole family at this adrenaline-pumping outdoor activity centre.

13. Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway

Enjoy a 7-mile steam train ride, taking in some of the best scenery in the Lake District from the tracks.

14. Alpacaly Ever After

If you’ve ever fancied taking an alpaca for a walk, this is the place to do it. This is a fun and unique experience for the whole family.

Lake District What's On