Lake District Itinerary
Day 1 of 6 days in the Lake District
We were commuting from Bishop Stortford in East Hertfordshire so had a 5+ hour journey ahead of us. We stopped off on the way in Knaresborough, a small town just outside Harrogate with a gorgeous viaduct, cobbly streets and a castle. After having a spot of lunch there we continued our journey up to the Lakes which took around two hours.
Our first stop off was at Aira Force Waterfall in Ullswater which is a National Trust venue. Entrance is free but car parking is £5 for the car park (there are four near the area). We arrived around 4 pm and there was plenty of space in the main car park.
There are several walks varying in length from around 0.5 miles to 2.5 miles at Aira Force with a one-way system in place around the waterfall trails. We recommend sturdy footwear as there are a quite a few steps and steep terrain. We chose the one hour round trip starting from the entrance just by the side of the welcome building. There are various viewpoints to the waterfall (around 70 feet) as you walk around the old Victorian park, as well as a dedicated viewing platform. There are actually plans to build a bridge in the next year for an even better viewing spot.
After our visit to Aira Force, we visited Glencoyne Bay for a short walk by the water and gorgeous views of the lake.
Day 2 of 6 days in the Lake District
Our second day was spent hiking up Walla Crag which is a couple of miles outside of Keswick. The distance is approximately 4.5 miles / 7 km round-trip and can take around four hours with the highest point being 379m. Make sure you wear study footwear!
Walla Crag walk
The walk starts at Great Wood car park (£5 to park) and directions for the walk can be found on the National Trust website here. Just a word of warning before you set off, the directions are not completely straightforward! We took the path that passed a picnic table by the car park and continued for around half a mile through mainly covered woods. After crossing a couple of small streams, the woods give way to fields and views over Keswick to Bassenthwaite Lake, which were gorgeous.
Over a footbridge, the climb gets steeper and more open but you are rewarded by the amazing views of Derwentwater.
We carried on straight for a while and then headed down towards Ashness Bridge and on to the main road. You then follow the path back within the words for around 45 minutes to the car park. Walla Crag is a moderately tough (I am not a hiker) but rewarding walk in Keswick. Another walk of a similar distance is Catbells, details of which can be found here. The Keswick Launch Co. also offer various lake cruises around Derwentwater but sadly the weather was not on our side!
Lunch and Dinner in Keswick
After the walk we were pretty ravenous so headed into Keswick to the Kings Arms pub for tasty toasted sandwiches and a bit of shopping.
Later that evening we headed back out to the a couple of pubs in Keswick – The Dog & Gun and The Lake Road Inn – before heading for tapas at Bar Es, where the padron peppers and tacos were particular tasty.
Day 3 of 6 days in the Lake District
Our third day in the Lake District was spent travelling to Buttemere, a 30 minute drive from Keswick via the Newlands Pass stretch of road. It was one of the most beautiful drives I have experienced in the UK with gorgeous scenery from mountains, fields, fells, animals and waterfalls.
The village of Buttermere is small, comprising of just a couple of pubs, café and farms and its name means ‘lake by the dairy pastures’. We parked in the National Trust car park which was £5 for three hours. The attraction to Buttermere is the gentle and flat circular lakeside walking route of 2-2.5 hours with stunning views. For such a gorgeous place it wasn’t too busy on the walking route which was great! The lake is accessible near The Buttermere Court hotel (formally ‘The Fish’ hotel as many directions online mention this) through a gate and a field (around 5 minutes).
The scenery is just gorgeous, particualrly the first half of the walk (we went anti clockwise) where you can see the lake, fells, waterfalls, forests and, of course, sheep! On the second part of the lake walk you have to walk through a tunnel which apparently was built because the farmer didn’t want walkers going over his land! If you have the whole day, you can also explore Crummock Water which lies just north of Buttermere.
The Lakes Distillery
We travelled back towards Keswick via The Lakes Distillery where you can experience gin and whiskey tours. We dined at the bistro for lunch and had a delicious Parmesan Chicken Schnitzel tomato and basil sandwich and the special Pan Roasted Cod.
There is plenty of space outside the bistro for drinks – we loved The Lakes pink grapefruit gin and the Negroni also hit the spot. Obviously we went to the onsite gift shop to buy some gin and there are also alpacas on site that you can visit!
Hopefully this has given you some ideas of things to do near Keswick – one activity we didn’t have time for was visiting Whinlatter forest which has several walking and biking trails as well as treetop adventures. Our next few days were spent in and around Kendal staying at Littlemere Lodges.
Day 4 of 6 days in The Lake District
We drove 50 minutes north of Kendal to the beautiful village of Grasmere to spend the morning. It had a charming English village feel to it and would definitely be an area I’d like to stay next visit. For a small village, there were luckily plenty of cafes and pubs for drinking and dining. We popped into Heidi’s cafe (which is also a B&B) for a bite to eat and the Grasmere Tea Garden is another good option with a small terraced outside area.
Grasmere is famous for its gingerbread so you must visit the local shop established since 1854 – you’ll be able to smell it! The Gingerbread Shop used to be the village school for over 220 years and William Wordsworth even taught there! Don’t expect gingerbread men but instead fragrant, mouth-watering slabs of fresh gingerbread and a selection of chutneys, cordials, fudges and chocolates.
Rydal Water and Rydal Cave
Just a short drive from Grasmere is Rydal Water and Rydal Cave. We parked at Pelter Bridge car park which is around a 30-40 minute walk to the caves (you can’t access by car). The walk up to the caves via Rydal Water is pretty and, once there, there are various other paths you can take for a much longer walk. The terrain is hilly so wear some study shoes.
Rydal Cave is situated on Loughrigg Fell and is a man-made cavern where, over 200 years ago, it was a busy working quarry. There is plenty of open space in the cave so you don’t get claustrophobic and you can use stepping stones to walk through into it. It was really impressive with its jagged edges and open mouth looking over the scenery.
Just moments from the parking at Rydal is the Badger Bar, a quaint old pub with indoor and outdoor space, serving hearty pub classics.
Our final stop was to the National Trust site, Wray Castle which is free but chargeable parking (£5). The interior of the castle was pretty underwhelming but the surrounding area includes forest walks and a lake. Worth a visit if you are in the area.
Dinner and drinks in Kendal
Our day finished with drinks at 19 The Wine Bar in Kendal that serve a selection of white, red and rose wine by the bottle and glass accompanied by cheese and charcuterie. There is a small terrace area for those warmer days too.
Dinner was at Bangkok 7 Thai restaurant offering an extensive Thai menu with good service in lovely surroundings.
Day 5 of 6 days in the Lake District
Day 5 was my wedding anniversary so we had a really chilled day in Cartmel visiting Simon Rogan’s Michelin star restaurant, Rogan and Co. It’s very popular so definitely book well in advance. L’enclume, (another one of Simon Rogan’s ventures) is also in Cartmel and offers fine dining.
Everything from start to finish at Rogan and Co was excellent – the food, service and atmosphere. We had a casual and enjoyable three hour lunch sampling some amazing food. The mains were particularly outstanding – the roasted shoulder of lamb, creamed potato & black garlic and the aged short rib of beef with glazed mushrooms and whey onions.
Cartmel itself is a small quaint village with a handful of shops plus a small racecourse with meetings over the year. It is also famous for its sticky toffee pudding! If you are fan, go to the village shop and stock up for taking home – it’s great!
Just a short drive from Cartmel is Grange Over Sands which has a promenade running alongside the water.
Day 6 of 6 days in the Lake District
Our final day in the Lake District was spent at the popular and beautiful Bowness-on-Windermere. We booked a combined Lake Cruise and steam train ticket through Windermere Lake Cruises for £18 pp. You can choose which time to depart, which pier and how long you want in between at either Lakeside or Haverthwaite train stations.
It was a great way to explore Windermere and I am a sucker for a steam train. We stopped off at Haverthwaite – there is only a small walking trail, a cafe and a gift shop nearby so no need to stay long.
We didn’t realise that you could also hire your own self drive boat on Windermere which looked great fun! 1 hour for 1-2 adults is £38 and two hours is £70 – definitely going to do this next time!
Dinner and drinks in Kendal
Our final night was spent at Ye Old Fleece Inn, a gastropub in Kendal serving British classics including this burger and scampi & chips:
We also loved The Blind Bus Driver speakeasy bar with its hidden entrance and extensive cocktail menu.
East London Girl: 6 days in the Lake District