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What To Do In The Lakes | Travel Guide

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A long weekend in the Lake District would have barely made it onto my wish list, lets be honest. The idea of jumping on a plane, being half way around the world, in the same amount of time as it would take to drive to the lakes has always seemed much more appealing to me. With flying not really a possibility last summer the lakes jumped straight to the top of that now, very desperate, travel list!

The lakes are known to all and everyone as a hiking destination, somewhere to fulfil desires of reaching the tops of peaks and crags. However, if you’re not a keen hiker, then you could be asking what else is there to do? A lot, the list is endless, trust me. What to do in the lake district if you’re not a hiker…

Fuel up

There are eclectic selection of cafes and foodie places to check out whilst in the lakes. Fuelling up before a day exploring is essential so check out these places, tried and tested.


  • Homeground – not to be missed, great for breakfast or lunch, don’t miss their enticing hash browns. Plus their selection of cakes.
  • The Pig – great atmosphere! Funky little bar and restaurant, manager very accommodating when we arrived starving and just before the kitchens closed – thank you!
  • The Little Ice Cream Shop – if you haven’t already seen their posts on instagram then go look! Delicious, extravagant and totally worth it ice cream. 


  • The Square Orange – this place, small and compact but oh my god delicious, nothing fancy but just what you need. A tapas style restaurant with a side of camembert. 
  • Swinside Inn – a great place to stop for a drink and a beaut of a view out to the valley and surrounding landscape. Sit outside and take it alllll in.

Hire a boat

What better way to enjoy the lakes than on them! Experience life on the water and you’ve got quite a choice. Perhaps you have your own paddle board or kayak, park up and launch straight into the waters. Take a ferry across the lakes or if you fancy driving your own boat then you can. No, you don’t need a licence it’s only electric and can only go as fast as a slow scooter but well worth the ride.

Launch in the Windermere, the main southern lake with this company.

Visit picturesque towns

Grasmere – a quaint town known mostly for it’s gingerbread but also is the starting point to some extravagant walks.

Borrowdale – the southern town on Derwentwater, an ideal look out point. The small single track lanes take you up into the mountains and forests, check out Ashness Bridge on your way through. There are multiple National Trust car parks so you can stop at any opportunity to explore.

Buttermere and Crummock – very popular lakes for wild swimming. Visit Scale Force, the tallest single drop waterfall in the Lake District. The waterfall is set back in a gorge part way up Scale Fell, and there are several paths that lead up to the waterfall. Or for a more relaxed day take a long 7km walk around the shores of Buttermere lake.

Keswick – one of the larger towns in the northern lakes but one not to be missed. From Keswick you are in a great position to go off, everywhere and in any direction to explore. However, don’t forget you don’t always have to stray far from your starting point. Keswick is home to a pretty stunning lake itself, Derwentwater. Wander to Friar’s Crag (also a fantastic location for stargazing) and on a sunny day with pine trees overhanging the shores and mountains on the horizon for as far as you can see you could be in the Italian lakes. England isn’t so bad after all huh, seriously, don’t forget to stop and look a little.

Wild Swimming?

Visit the lakes, take a swim it will be fun, they say. If you don’t mind cold water and want to do something a little wild, pun intended, then yeah sure take a swim in one of the stunning lakes. Swimming in cold, wild waters can have its dangers so don’t be naive. Jumping in small pools or waterfalls is different to immersing yourself in a large deep lake. We choose lake Ullswater to take a dip in…

  • Wear wet shoes for comfort when walking into the water, wear appropriate swimwear for the water temperature.
  • Swim with someone else, don’t swim out of your depths the lakes are deep.

Yes it’s pretty, it’s beautiful and idyllic but just take a spilt second to remember mother nature will always win.

Take a drive

Long single track roads, winding themselves through valleys and mountains, sounds idyllic right? There are some incredible roads up in the lakes and how better to experience them than to just take a drive. The passes will have you wondering if you are still in the UK. Well at least these were my thoughts, coming from the flatlands of coastal Kent. Meander through the passes with mountains towering over you, drive through clouds and spot hidden waterfalls. 

Honister Pass – between Buttermere valley with the eastern end of Borrowdale valley.

Newlands Pass – between West Keswick and Derwent Water, with the village of Buttermere. Moss Force waterfall is a must see along this pass!

Kirkstone Pass – between Ambleside and Patterdale in Ullswater Valley.

Do at least one hike

Okay, okay so I said this blog was meant to share with you what you can do if you’re not a hiker but the lakes are made to be walked and the views gazed over so one walk should make it onto your to do list. Picking one might be the most challenging part of this idea though, there are a multitude of walks, hikes and treks spread amongst the lakes. We choose one that was short, sweet and sweaty, the latter unknown to us until we started. Photos of a quaint wooden boardwalk overlooking Thirlmere was what swayed us.

Raven Crag – 1.9km linear route. Elevation gain of 226m. Very steep from beginning to end but so worth the views.

Extra tip – I should mention a visit to Rydal Caves is well worth it too…look it up!


Pip x