One of my favourite places in the UK has got to be the Lake District. Last month, we visited the lakes for a couple of days and it was so lovely to be surrounded by such beautiful scenery for four days. In order to make the most of our trip, we moved around a little bit so we could explore lots of different areas. I also used the Lake District Marco Polo guide to find out some of the best places to visit in the Lake District. At the front of the guide is their top 15 highlights and we managed to tick off a fair few of them!
The whole of our first day was actually spent at the Brimstone Hotel. I’ve actually already written about my stay at the hotel where we had an absolutely beautiful room and spent a lot of time in the spa. The Brimstone Hotel is on the Langdale Estate which isn’t too far from Grasmere which was our first calling point on our second day in the Lake District.
Grasmere is one of those idyllic and very typical Cumbrian villages with lots of gorgeous little shops and ice cream parlours. We decided to park on the outskirts and walk-in (to avoid pricey car parks – top tip). You literally cannot visit Grasmere without visiting the famous Sarah Nelson Grasmere Gingerbread shop. Potentially the most famous gingerbread in the world and also one of the tiniest stores. We obviously had to pick up a few pieces of Gingerbread, so we joined the evergrowing queue of patient tourists waiting for their delicious treat whilst the smell of gingerbread lurked around the block.
Another very popular sight in Grasmere which also appears in the Marco Polo Highlights is Dove Cottage which is William Wordsworth’s former home. Dove Cottage is just a short walk on the outskirts of the main village but as we got closer, we realised it actually was closed for refurbishment. We did make it into the gift shop there where we were told that work was being done on the cottage and I believe it’s closed for a few months. If you’re visiting anytime soon, definitely check ahead! We did, however, visit the William Wordsworth gardens which are right by the Gingerbread Shop. The gardens were lovely and paved with stones bought by people from around the world!
Our next stop of the day was Ambleside which we had passed through on our trip to the Lakes last year but sadly, never stopped off. The stone buildings around here are incredible. One of the buildings which really does stand out is the Bridge House which stands precautiously over a little stream. It’s a really tiny house from the 17th century, it’s amazing how amazing it still looks and is one of the most photographed buildings in The Lakes. We had a little wander around Ambleside, it really is a gorgeous little town.
All that exploring is hungry business so we headed over to Bowness-on-Windemere to a little pizza place which I had found on Instagram. No matter where I go, I’ll always use Instagram for the best foodie places and also I will always hunt down the best pizza. Base Pizza was located on Lake Road and served up delicious Neopolitan style pizzas, definitely up to my standard too! After devouring one of the famous chocolate-dipped ice creams at Waterhead it was time to go on a very scenic adventure.
Whilst in the Lake District we were kindly loaned a Vauxhall Grandland X which I’ll be talking about in another blog post coming soon but it was a real joy to be driving around in such a fantastic car. It was only right that we had to hunt down some of the most scenic drives in the Lakes. Kirkstone Pass is a pretty incredible route which offers incredible views over Lake Windermere but coming back down via The Struggle, well really is quite a struggle.
After the excitement of our drive down the very twisting and tiny Struggle, we headed over to our second hotel which was the Beech Hill Hotel located on Lake Windemere for some chill time in their on-site spa. The Beech Hill Hotel actually has its own spa which has a jacuzzi offering views right out to the lake. It really was something special.
Day Three started with breakfast at the hotel before driving around the lower half of Lake Windemere. You can actually get across the Lake by a ferry crossing but we decided to head towards Newby Bridge and see what was happening down there. To be honest, the South West side of Windemere is very quiet and quite residential. Our next stop was far from quiet and that was Hill Top House; the former home of Peter Rabbit author Beatrix Potter. I’ve actually been before a few times when I was younger so I vaguely remembered how lovely the house was and wanted desperately to go back.
I’m most likely going to do another blog post all about Hill Top, as I have so much to say about it. As well as plenty of photos. Hill Top’s Gardens are free to have a look around but if you want to visit the house, you’ll need to purchase a timed ticket slot. We had to wait about an hour for our slot but this gave us time to explore the area which was a huge inspiration for the illustrations in the books. The house is absolutely beautiful and the interior has been kept the same to how it was when Beatrix Potter lived there. For me, Hill Top was and always will be my top highlight of visiting the Lake District.
Another Lake District destination which hugely inspired the tales of Peter Rabbit is Hawkshead. It’s also actually a highlight in the Marco Polo Guide. Hawkshead isn’t too far away from Hill Top and also home to the Beatrix Potter Gallery which houses original drawings. This village is so worth visiting, it’s so unbelievably picturesque with the cobbled mews and cute souvenir shops. We stopped off for a bite to eat in a local cafe before heading to the Little Ice Cream Shop. This place was recommended in the Marco Polo guide but I also saw it all over Instagram. Every day there are new ice cream flavours available and it’s just such a picture-perfect place.
We then drove over to the Coniston Water which is home to the Steam Yacht Gondolas. Sadly we had missed the last sailing of the day but we decided to park over at Monk Coniston and explore the area. There was a little trail which we followed out on to a little dock, the whole lake around here is so peaceful and beautiful. It was just a lovely area to relax and take in the nature around us. It would’ve also been the perfect place for a picnic. We actually headed up another path towards what I think was Monk Coniston Hall, it was a nice little walk be we ended up getting lost in the grounds. Typical for us!
Our third and final hotel was in Pooley Bridge near to Ullswater which the sat nav took us over Kirkstone Pass again. This time, we came out the other side by Glennridding and the views were just incredible. It’s these amazing scenic drives which make the Lake District so special. Ullswater is in the North East of the lakes and it’s where we spent a lot of time last year which you can see our little picnic here. Our hotel for the evening was The Crown Inn which was a gorgeous little pub in Pooley Bridge, our room was lovely and I had one of the most amazing steaks. I’ll be writing all about it in another post coming soon.
The first stop on our final day in the Lakes was at Aira Force Falls. I had no idea this place existed but I’m so glad we stopped off here as it’s such a beautiful area to walk around and view the incredible waterfall. You could probably spend a good couple of hours at Aira Force Falls and even bring a picnic. The parking, I believe was £5 but other than that this National Trust site is free to explore and somewhere I would highly recommend paying a visit if you are in the area.
It was then time to drive over The Lakes Distillery where we had pre-booked a tour of the distillery. We had actually found coupons in a brochure so the tour was half price at £6 each. It’s £12 each at full-price which I still think is really reasonable for an hour’s tour. The Distillery also has a shop and a restaurant, as well as a few Alpacas in the back field. The Distillery Tour mainly focused on the Whiskey side of things but they do produce Gin and Vodka which was of more interest to me. I find it so facinating to see how it’s all made. We also found out that their Lakes Vodka was voted the best in the world, I had a little taster and I could see why. The thing that makes their spirits different is that they use water from the nearby Derwent water in their products.
Our final stop in The Lakes was visting the town of Keswick. It’s such a lovely little town with a bustling high street, after grabbing a bite to eat, we headed down to Hope Park for a game of crazy golf. There’s a few things going on here but it was extra busy so a quick game of crazy golf saw us rushing back to the car and not really seeing much more. Crazy Golf was super fun but I’d avoid if you can see long queues. It was then time for our long drive home after another successful staycation in the Lakes. I’m beggining to think this will become an annual trip, but why not? The Lakes really are something special and there is so much to see & do to keep on coming back!
Have you visited the Lake District? Which is your favourite area?
*This is a collaboration with Marco Polo Guides