Pre-COVID, I was often sceptical about going on holiday in my home country of the United Kingdom. This was mainly due to the weather. I am a bit of a sun worshipper and there’s not much sun to be found in Britain! However, the Lake District (England’s largest National Park and prime destination for walking holidays) is a wonderful experience come rain or shine. Some even believe that a trip to this part of England is incomplete without the odd rain shower. I’ve assembled the following itinerary – suitable for most weather conditions – with Lake District activities that are appropriate for first time visitors with a good level of walking ability.
In my itinerary, I’ve included one uphill walk, one flat walk and a day to explore the District’s key villages. If you’re a keen mountaineer, you may consider extending your stay to embark upon some more challenging Lake District activities – such as climbing to the top of Scafell Pike, England’s highest peak at 978 metres above sea level.
In terms of accommodation for your stay in the Lake District, I’d highly recommend staying in a self-catering lodge at Fallbarow Holiday Park. Fallbarrow lies next to Lake Windermere, England’s largest natural lake at over 18km in length, and the park is a 10-minute walk from the town of Bowness-on-Windermere. The self-catered lodges offer flexibility regarding dining options: you can eat out, or enjoy some quick, home-cooked food at your lodge. Additionally, after being on our feet all day, our lodge’s hot tub was also the perfect place to unwind.
It should go without saying that all Lake District activities mentioned below should be undertaken whilst wearing sensible, sturdy walking shoes! It is also worth noting that, for the best Lake District tours, you should have access to a car.
After a good breakfast, drive to the village of Coniston. On arrival, head to the Tourist Information Centre. The Centre’s volunteers will provide great advice regarding climbing to the summit of the Old Man of Coniston. By this, there are a number of different routes by which hikers can take in ascending this particular peak, which lies at 803m above sea level. The routes vary in difficulty, from levels moderate to hard, and so it is worth speaking to one of the volunteers in establishing the best route for you.
Unsurprisingly, the most direct route is the most popular option. From Coniston town centre, this route takes approximately four and a half hours to complete a return journey. The views from the top of the Old Man of Coniston are simply wonderful. This area of the Lake District has been used for extensive slate quarrying over the years and so this uphill climb provides an additional layer of interest, with a fascinating insight into Coniston’s mining history.
Once back in the town of Coniston, have a snack and a drink at The Sun. Head back to your accommodation for a self-catered evening meal. Take a dip in the hot tub if you’re staying at Fallbarrow Holiday Park!
Spend your second day exploring some of the District’s beautiful towns and villages at a leisurely pace. Following breakfast, start your day by driving to the historic market town of Keswick, which lies next to the mountains of Skiddaw and the 3-mile long Lake of Derwentwater*. Admire the town and its beautiful lake and be sure to pick up a filling pasty for lunch from The Cornish Pasty.
After exploring Keswick, drive to Ambleside, a small town which lies to north of Lake Windermere. Enjoy a drink and an early dinner at the Wateredge Inn, with wonderful views across the lake.
*Those who are keen to embark upon another walk may enjoy walking in a loop around Lake Derwentwater from Keswick. This walk is considered to be relatively easy and takes around four hours to complete when walked at pace. If you have an early start to your day, you should be able to incorporate the Derwentwater walk into your day, along with visiting both Keswick and Ambleside.
After breakfast, drive to the village of Glenridding at the southern end of Lake Ullswater, which is the second largest lake in England after Windermere. At Glenridding, board the Ullswater ‘Steamer’ for a 35-minute sailing to Howtown. The Ullswater Steamers have been in operation for 160 years and the cruise along Ullswater is nothing short of wonderful. At Howtown, stop for sandwiches, scones and a pint at the Howtown Hotel Tearoom and Walkers Bar.
With a full stomach, embark upon the walk from Howtown back to Glenridding. This is a largely ‘flat’ (as opposed to ‘hilly’) walk, which is considered to be of an easy level in terms of difficulty. The route follows the course of Lake Ullswater for the majority of the journey, thus making the use of a map generally unnecessary. It is an incredibly picturesque walk which takes roughly four hours to complete. However, it is worth making a minor diversion towards the end of the walk for a swift drink in the village of Patterdale, at the Patterdale Hotel.
Return to your accommodation and finish your day with dinner in Bowness-on-Windermere. Opt for a takeaway fish and chip supper whilst sat next to the town’s fishing harbour.