Bunny’s 10 Things Not to Miss in the Lake District
Bunny recently found herself with some unexpected free time in England. When she realised that she needed an ex tempore travel plan for five days, her eyes immediately turned towards the Lake District. It seemed like an obvious choice for a nice long spring weekend break.
Read below for Bunny’s recommendations for Lake District things to do.
What Can You Do in Lake District?
1. Enjoy a Lakeside Stroll
Let’s start with the obvious. If you’re visiting the Lake District, you should go for a lakeside walk. Lake District is known for its lakes, after all. Duh.
Bunny herself strolled around a few bodies of water, including Grasmere, Easedale Tarn and Wast Water, during her stay. All were beautiful in their unique ways. Even the weather, which ranged from gloomy rain to glorious sunshine, didn’t dampen Bunny’s spirits when she hopped around these lakes.
2. Soak Up the Atmosphere
Lake District villages are one of the main attractions in the area. Besides the gorgeous natural environment of lakes, waterfalls and mountains, the Lake District is bursting with cute, quaint villages that just beg to be explored.
Although many of the villages have become quite touristic over the years, they still hold their old-fashioned charm. Enchanting old houses, picturesque gardens, old cemeteries and stone churches abound. And then there are the myriad hotels and guesthouses, offering delicious afternoon tea experiences around every corner…
3. Stumble Up a Fell
Bunny thinks Lake District also calls for a proper hike, something that gets your lungs going. You can, of course, climb the highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike (978m), which is located in the Western Lakes, but Bunny didn’t feel quite up to that.
She decided to take on something a bit more digestible instead and conquered Helm Crag, also known as The Lion and the Lamb, which is one of the most recognised hills in the Lake District. The hiking path is well marked and reasonably easy, and the views from the top are very impressive, particularly on a sunny day.
4. Have a Picnic with a View
Speaking of views, Lake District is made for picnics! Bunny had hers on the shores of Easedale Tarn in the middle of her hike. The sun was shining, the lake was glistening blue and the birds were singing. In a word, it was perfect. Things may have been different had it been raining, but Bunny enjoyed some weather luck that day.
There are a number of designated picnic areas in the Lake District but Bunny prefers to have hers in the wild, preferably by a lake and definitely finishing up with some chocolate or, better yet, locally made gingerbread (see #6 below).
5. Take a Road Trip
Lake District is not geared towards road trips. Bunny was outraged by the lack of viewpoints along the way, the difficult and expensive parking arrangements and the narrow, winding roads. Not to even mention the fact that people, for some reason, seem to be driving on the wrong side of the road.
All that said, you should still do a little road trip. Bunny recommends the stretch from Borrowdale to Loweswater in the Western Lakes. The route goes via the dramatic Honister Pass and some less-populated, scenic areas with varied scenery and, naturally, gorgeous lake views.
6. Try the Famous Gingerbread
Grasmere Gingerbread is the most famous gingerbread in England. It is still sold in the same small cottage next to the St Oswald’s Churchyard where Sarah Nelson developed the recipe more than 160 years ago.
The Grasmere gingerbread is a cross between a biscuit and cake but the exact ingredients are a closely guarded, delicious secret. They call it “quite simply the best gingerbread in the world”. Although Bunny found it very tasty indeed, she will have to say that it was still Grandma Bunny who baked the best gingerbread in the world. Sorry.
7. Embrace the Rain
England is known for its miserable, rainy weather pretty much year-round. And guess what? Lake District is actually one of the wettest parts of the country. So, whenever you’re planning to go, it is very likely to rain during some or maybe even all of your visit.
Embrace the rain, Bunny says. You cannot fight it, so you might as well enjoy it. Bunny had fun hiking around Grasmere despite the grey clouds and occasional heavy rain. And the lake was absolutely beautiful to photograph in the light rain, with clear reflections on the surface of the water of the dramatic skies above.
So rest assured that Lake District in the rain is definitely not a disaster. Just pack a good shell and you’ll be prepared.
8. Stay Somewhere with a Fireplace
After braving the rain, there’s nothing quite like sitting by a lit fireplace with a hot chocolate in hand. That’s why you should absolutely stay somewhere with a fireplace, Bunny says.
The old Victorian houses in Lake District are likely to be on the chilly side anyway, so extra warmth from the fireplace will be a welcome luxury. If you cannot find a place with a fireplace, go for somewhere with a bathtub. Drawing a hot bath at the end of the day is the next best thing, Bunny says.
9. Visit an English Pub
No visit to the Lake District, or England, for that matter, is complete without a visit to the pub. And Cumbria just happens to have more microbreweries than any other county in Britain.
These days, the Lake District’s numerous pubs and inns also have a growing focus on food so you are likely to get some decent grub as well. After all, refueling after strenuous hiking is particularly important, Bunny says.
So go ahead and kick back in a comfy pub that’s full of character, with friendly staff, cheerful patrons, a crackling fire and delicious, cold beer on tap.
10. Take a Dip in the Lake
If you’re in the Lake District, Bunny thinks you just have to go and take a dip in one of the lakes. Sure, the water will be cold but it won’t kill you. Although it might just twist your testicles and cut off blood to them, so Mr. Bunny has heard (he’ll use any excuse as he’s a wimp).
Swimming is actually very accessible in the Lake District, although you don’t see many people splashing about. All but reservoirs and privately-owned lakes are open for swimming and, if you avoid the busiest places, swimming conditions are ideal if you can tolerate the chilly waters.
Lake District is located in Cumbria, in Northwest England. The closest airport is Manchester, just under a two hours’ drive away. Driving from London to Lake District takes about five hours.
Lake District National Park is the largest National Park in England, receiving a whopping 15 million visitors a year. So you won’t be alone while marveling at this lovely region.
The crowds can be intense in the summer, so the best time to visit is early spring or late autumn - unless you’re into crawling over pensioners at every turn. Although visiting is possible year-round, Bunny would think twice about going in winter.
Where to Stay
Bunny divided her Lake District visit between two different locations: Grasmere and Wasdale. This way, she managed to experience two distinct areas of the Lake District and also to check out some areas in between. For her, this was the ideal solution.
Grasmere is a perfect little village to base yourself in, especially if you want to explore the more popular part of the Lake District. Many of the Lake District attractions are nearby, and accessible with public transportation if you need it.
Wasdale, on the other hand, is located on the quiet Western side of the Lake District. The beauty here is more rugged and wild, and you will need your own wheels to properly experience it.
Lake District Accommodation
The Lake District is full of small hotels and delightful cottages as well as great Airbnb options.
Bunny chose Teal Nook, a lovely little Airbnb cottage in the heart of Grasmere, and 1692 Wasdale, a superbly stylish barn conversion in Wasdale. Both received full five stars from Bunny-the-hotel-critic.
Over the years, Bunny has been more than once to the Lake District and would be happy to return again.
For her, the Lake District epitomizes the English countryside and it’s hard not to develop a soft spot for the region, its sights and the way of life.