As William Wordsworth says, I believe that the Lake District could be “the loveliest spot that man hath found”.
The Lake District is one of England‘s most famous National Parks – immortalised by Romantic poets, local livelihood, and tourist guidebooks. The largest English National Park, the Lake District has 912 square miles of fells, glacial lakes, and protected stone villages to explore.
You won’t be short of things to do in the Lake District with so much to take in. But, if you’re on a shorter itinerary, it might be wise to narrow your options down to just the best things to do in the Lake District. Here are my top ten.
Hire a boat on Lake Windermere
Channel your inner ‘Prelude’ and take to the water on your private boat. Lake Windermere is the area’s most famous lake, and exploring it by water is one of the best things to do in the Lake District.
Choose between a traditional rowing boat or a luxury motorboat (read: a lot less work). You can hire boats for one to two hours, so you have plenty of time either way. But, if you want to explore the lake rather than experience a traditional boat, I’d recommend the motorboat. It should be a little quicker!
Scared to hear the price list? Don’t be, as it is surprisingly reasonable. You will have to make a £40 deposit when you take the boat out, but you get this back instantly on your return. The price is based on the number of guests, not on a boat basis. The traditional rowing boat is also a little cheaper if you are travelling on a budget.
I’ve compiled the 2022 rates for one-hour rentals into the tables below.
|1 or 2 adults||3 adults||4 adults||5 adults||6 adults|
|1 or 2 adults||3 adults||4 adults||5 adults||6 adults|
Hardknott Roman Fort
Into your history? The Hardknott Roman Fort are some of England’s most scenically located ruins.
Against the backdrop of rocky fells, the fort’s remains are a dramatic sight. You can still spot the Bath House and Barracks, easily conjuring images of the old Roman inhabitants and their lifestyle. I’d recommend a visit with children as well, as the ruins are in relatively good condition and provide an immersive educational experience.
Hardknott Fort is very exposed to the elements, so make sure to coincide a visit with a sunny (or at least dry) day. While the site is only three acres, I suggest allowing at least an hour to appreciate the fort properly. It is also worth mentioning that the ruins are completely free to enter – perfect for those on a budget!
The World of Beatrix Potter
Beatrix Potter is the mastermind behind many children’s books, including The Tale of Peter Rabbit. While she was born in London, Beatrix adored the Lake District and dedicated much of her life to conservation campaigns, alongside writing Lake District-inspired works.
At The World of Beatrix Potter, you can embark on an engaging celebration of the author herself. After an introductory film, you wander through life-sized character sets to discover Beatrix’s stories in real-time. There is also a virtual experience of walking through the Lake District’s most beautiful spots – great for those who don’t have the time or ability to access more remote spots.
On a rainy day, The World of Beatrix Potter is one of the best things to do in the Lake District. The attraction is nostalgic for adults and exciting for children, perfect for drizzly weather entertainment. I’ve included a table of the 2022 rates below.
|Under 3s||Child (3-16)||Adult||Senior||Freedom Pass (Annual family pass for a whole year)|
Have a picnic at Friars Crag
If you want a more sedate outdoor activity, a picnic at Friars Crag is a beautiful thing to do in the Lake District.
Friars Crag is predominantly a viewpoint, providing stunning (if not the best) views over pristine Lake District scenery. You can admire Derwentwater Lake and the surrounding fells from one of the many benches. While anyone and everyone will appreciate the views, keep it in mind as a romantic picnic location if you are travelling in a couple.
Friars Crag is only a fifteen-minute walk from Keswick, although you can also walk on the footpaths around the lake for some gentle hiking. Of course, Friars Crag is free to visit, so it is a budget-friendly way to spend a few hours.
Derwent Pencil Museum
Sound a bit wacky? It is. But doesn’t that entice you?
The Derwent Pencil Museum is located in Keswick, so easily combined with a picnic at Friars Crag. Considering the museum’s location makes the attraction a little less wacky, as Keswick has a pretty impressive claim to fame – it was home to the first pencil!
You can discover a replica graphite mine and learn about the transformation of the pencil-making industry. The pencil has definitely been adapted throughout recent history, with maps even hidden in WW2 pencils. Plus, there is a giant eight-metre coloured pencil to snap pictures next to; because why not.
The Derwent Pencil Museum is a great place to have an informative laugh. In rainy weather, it also makes for a dry activity. I’ve included a table of the 2022 entry rates below.
|Child||Adult||Senior||Family (varies on number of children)||Annual membership (2 adults and up to 3 children)|
Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre
Bird lover or not, there is no denying that an eagle looks pretty impressive close up.
And, at the Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre, you’ll see plenty more than just eagles. Expect hawks, falcons, vultures, and owls of all shapes and sizes. The bird displays take place in the Walled Garden section before a two-hour flying display of different birds of prey. The best part is that guests can get involved – aided by staff to take a turn at flying a bird.
You can grab a scone and tea from the Tearoom to warm up. Or, learn more about the centre’s conservation work with a helpful staff member.
While the Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre closed temporarily in 2021, the official website states it is reopening in 2022. Definitely keep an eye out, as it is one of the best things to do in the Lake District! I’ve included a table of the most up-to-date rates below.
|Under 5s||Children (5 to 16)||Adults||Family ticket|
Honister Slate Mine
If holding a bird of prey barely surpasses your adrenaline needs, the Honister Slate Mine is the best attraction for you.
You can don a hard hart and explore the mine on a £17.50 guided tour. Or, embark on the Adrenaline Pass – a three to five-hour route of adrenaline-pumping challenges. There is the wire Infinity Bridge (1000ft in the air), a thirty-metre freefall jump, ziplines through caverns, and even a Tarzan swing. Really, the Adrenaline Pass is a convenient mix-up of most people’s bucket list challenges.
The experience isn’t exactly cheap at £100 per person, but it’s good value considering it’s a half-day activity and includes so many challenges.
Fancy extending your anxiety? Book a night of cliff camping as well. You have to abseil to reach your tent, which is suspended on wires mid-air at over 500ft above the ground. You get a midnight feast hamper, breakfast, and a first-class seat to ‘one of the most impressive sunrises in the world’. For two people, you pay £500 for the overnight experience. Expensive, but something to consider for adrenaline lovers with a more comfortable budget.
Alpacaly Ever After
Alpaca trekking has rocketed in popularity this past decade! So why not get involved with the hype amid the Lake District National Park. If you are going to see an alpaca, there aren’t many more beautiful places to do so.
Alpacaly Ever After is a branch that rehomes alpacas and llamas from across the UK – hoping to match luxurious homes with encouraging places for visitors to engage with nature and the outdoors. You can book a Meet & Greet session, take an alpaca for a gentle walk, or embark on a full-day hike.
Keep in mind that the company has a few branches scattered across the Lake District, so different activities are run from different sites. For example, to embark on a full-day hike, you’ll have to head to the Little Town Farm (CA12 5TU). While, for an alpaca walk, you’ll have to head to Lingholm Estate or Whinlatter Forest.
On a dry or sunny day, Alpacaly Ever After is one of the best outdoor activities in the Lake District. Just make sure to check the weather forecast when booking!
Lowther Castle and Gardens
Lowther Castle is one of the grandest castles I’ve ever seen. Unlike older castles in Edinburgh and London, Lowther Castle was built on the cusp of the 19th century – so its architecture has a younger, more ornate feel.
Unfortunately, the castle interior was demolished in 1951. But you can still see the façade and outer walls. Plus, inside, you can now find manicured gardens with historical relics, exhibitions, and a huge adventure playground.
On an overcast day, the mixture of indoor and outdoor activities is valuable. But Lowther Castle and Gardens is easily one of the best historical things to do in the Lake District regardless of the weather. The grounds are very impressive, and you’ll be able to snap some great photos.
I’ve compiled a table of 2022 rates below.
|Under 3s||Children (3 to 15)||Adult||Family||Carer|
Okay, I promise I’ve been trying as hard as possible not to be biased towards literature-related activities this whole time. But visiting Wordsworth Grasmere is one of the most impressive things to do in the Lake District, so let’s finish where we started.
Wordsworth is one of the most famous advocates of the Lake District’s beauty. In fact, he lived in the Lakes from 1799 to 1808, staying in Dove Cottage, which has been converted into the Wordsworth Grasmere attraction.
Now, visitors can explore preserved areas of the house – set up to replicate how Wordsworth would have lived. There is the chance to read rare collections of his journals, letters, published works, and drafted manuscripts. And, for a hands-on immersion into Wordsworth’s life, you can also try your hand on the working printing press and writing with a quill and ink!
The realistic aspect of the experience sets it apart from standard literary attractions, and I’d recommend a visit. I’ve included a table below with 2022 rates for Dove Cottage, Museum, Garden-Orchard, and The Woodland admission.
|Under 5s||Children (6 to 16)||Concession||Adult||1 Adult Family||2 Adult Family|
What are the best Lake District attractions?
The best Lake District attractions are Wordsworth Grasmere, Lowther Castle, Hardknott Roman Fort, and The World of Beatrix Potter.
What are the best Lake District activities?
The best Lake District activities are boat rentals on Windermere, the Adrenaline Pass at Honister Slate Mine, and having a picnic at Friars Crag.
What are the best indoor activities in the Lake District?
The best indoor activities in the Lake District are The World of Beatrix Potter, Wordsworth Grasmere, and Derwent Pencil Museum. You can also take a covered boat trip on Lake Windermere.
What are the best Lake Windermere activities?
The best Lake Windermere activities are boat rentals, covered boat tours, wake surfing, sailing, paddleboarding, and kayaking.
The Lake District is one of the most beautiful places to visit in England. With its literary history, rural British culture, and historical ruins, there is plenty to keep you occupied – and that’s before getting involved in outdoor activities like hiking and cycling!
Allow yourselves at least a long weekend to visit, as you don’t want to miss out or overcram your itinerary. Got any more suggestions? Feel free to drop them in the comments below.
If you’d like to combine your trip with a trip to nearby Leeds, Blackpool, Manchester, or even Carlisle, check out the links for more inspiration.