Things to See and Do in The Lake District

The Lake District

The Lake District is one of the most visited, and most picturesque, areas of England. A designated National Park, most visit for the walking routes through stunning scenery and the boat tours along the lakes. But scratch beneath the surface and there’s a lot more do to when you’re not hiking or sailing! Here are some ideas to get you started.

Kendal

Nicknamed 'Auld Grey Town' due to its buildings made of local grey limestone, Kendal is one of the largest towns in the Lake District, and is a great base from which to explore the surrounding beauty of the National Park.

Here's a few things to look out for:

  • Kendal Castle - Remember Henry VIII and his six wives? Well the final wife (who survived!) was Katherine Parr, whose family was one of the baronial families that lived at Kendal Castle. The castle was constructed in the 12th century, and although it has essentially been a ruin since Tudor times, the walk up the hill gives fantastic views of the town, especially on a sunny day.

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  • Abbot Hall Art Gallery - originally designed in 1759, it is now one of England's most renowned small art galleries, with pieces in their collection by artists such as JMW Turner, Paul Cezanne and LS Lowry.

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  • 1657 Chocolate House - if you need a break and have a sweet tooth, there's nowhere better than this chocolate emporium. The building was built in the 1630s as a private home, but since 1984 it has made over 100 kinds of luxury chocolate. Learn about how they make their chocolate and then try one of their 16 speciality hot chocolates!

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Kendal Mint Cake - And if you've still got all of your teeth, you can't leave Kendal without trying some of its world famous Kendal Mint Cake. Not so much a cake, more a bar of peppermint sweet, it has been made in the Lake District since 1869, when it was discovered by mistake! Confectioner Joseph Wiper was making a batch of glacier mints when he left the boiled mixture overnight and it solidified, and mint cake was born. It has played an important part in history, accompanying both British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton on his trek across the Antarctic, and Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on their successful conquest of Mount Everest.

Bowness-on-Windermere

When most people think of a bustling Lake District town, it's Bowness they're picturing. Perched on the shores of Lake Windermere (the area's largest lake), here you can take boat trips, potter round the very English gift shops, learn about the creator of Peter Rabbit at the World of Beatrix Potter and, if the English weather's not playing ball, step into the time machine that is the beautiful Royalty Cinema, with two levels of seating, old-fashioned ticket stubs and a Wurlitzer organ!

Ambleside

Ambleside is used as a base by many walkers who come here to explore the stunning scenery, made obvious by the amount of outdoors shops in the town centre! You can also take a quick turn around the miniature golf course, grab a bite at the picturesque Giggling Goose Café next to the river, or pop into one of Zefirelli's three cinema locations, one of which is in a converted church.

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Grasmere

Grasmere is mainly famous for two things - for being the home of poet William Wordsworth, and for its gingerbread! The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop is the only place in the world where you can buy this delicious and unique.... biscuit? Cake? We'll let you decide! It may be hard to believe but famous faces such as Tom Cruise and Renee Zellwegger have crossed the threshold of the tiny shop.

Next to the shop is the graveyard where William Wordsworth and his wife Mary are buried, and not far away is Dove Cottage, William and his sister Dorothy's home that attracts poetry pilgrims from all over the world. And just five minutes up the road is Rydal Mount, the home of the Wordsworth family for many years with beautiful gardens up on the hill.

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Nestled on Derwentwater, Keswick is surrounded by the National Park's most stunning scenery. When you're not clambering over the hills, there are lots of things to do in the town and beyond:

  • For all you graphite fans out there, you can visit the Derwent Pencil Museum in the heart of Keswick. That's right - a pencil museum, home of the world's first pencil and a giant colouring crayon! It's more fun than it sounds, trust us!

  • Take a brewery tour of the Keswick Brewing Company and find out what makes their beers green!

  • For a bit of history, one and a half miles outside of town is the 4,000 year old Castlerigg Stone Circle, one of England's most impressive prehistoric monuments, with beautiful 360 views of the surrounding area.

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After all that, sit back and relax at the Alhambra Cinema, built in 1913 old and still going! It is one of the few cinemas in England that has been in continuous use as a cinema for over 100 years.

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You can visit The Lake District on our 7 Day North-West Explorer Tour or 4 Day North-West & The Lakes Tour!

Grab your seat on the backpacker bus today

Sarah Blythe