You’ve got 12 days in the Lake District and we’ve got 12 suggestions on how to ensure that your trip is action-packed, fun-filled and truly one to remember: introducing our winter version of one of the best Lake District itineraries you can find. And you can even sing it with your true love…
On the twelfth day of winter, the Lake District gave to me:
Twelve hours of rain,
Eleven gnomes gone fishin',
Ten climbers climbing,
Nine castles crumbling,
Eight miners mining,
Seven sailors sailing,
Six perfect walks,
Five famous lakes,
Four Michelin stars,
Three roaring fires,
Two great writers
…and a lovely cup of tea
On the first day of winter, the Lake District gave to me … a lovely cup of tea
What better way to while away a winter’s day following a brisk walk or long hike than with a delicious cup of tea and some homemade cakes. From quintessential English afternoon tea with dainty finger sandwiches to great doorstep slabs of cake and mugs of steaming hot chocolate, find the time to indulge. Wilf’s café in Staveley has amazing views over the countryside and is a must-stop place after a challenging walk – they also do amazing breakfasts to set you up for the day. Try the Blackwell Tea Room in Bowness if you’re feeling like a more sedate, cultural experience is the order of the day, or for a sophisticated and luxury approach spoil yourself with a trip to the Fizzy Tarte, Bowness-on-Windermere, where you can even get a glass of bubbles.
On the second day of winter, the Lake District gave to me … two great writers
No holiday to the Lake District would be complete without discovering everything you possibly can about two of British history’s most iconic writers: Beatrix Potter, creator of Peter Rabbit and friends, and Romantic poet William Wordsworth, perhaps best known for ‘wandering lonely as a cloud.’
The Lake District was home to Beatrix Potter and as such you can follow in her footsteps and experience some of the places that inspired her stories first-hand. Visit her cherished home Hill Top, immerse yourself in the pages of her book in the Beatrix Potter gallery and get a photograph at the iconic Yew Tree Farm which was featured in the film Miss Potter.
Wordsworth was a great lover of the outdoors and often inspired by the Lake District landscapes. Take a beautiful 3-mile lakeside stroll around Rydal Water, said to be one of Wordsworth’s favourite places and take time to reflect. Or why not visit Wordsworth’s house and garden at Cockermouth? Here you could immerse yourself in life in the 18th century at Wordsworth’s childhood home.
On the third day of winter, the Lake District gave to me … three roaring fires
It’s freezing outside and you’ve walked for miles, so it’s time to reward yourself with some delicious food, but more importantly, reward your toes with a roaring open fire. With a wealth of great pubs to choose from it's a difficult decision, but here are three of the best.
With a great reputation, warming log fires, delicious food and heated outdoor terraces overlooking the stunning views of the Winster Valley, you can’t go wrong with a trip to this eatery.
Close to the National Trust home of Beatrix Potter, this pub accommodates noisy dogs and children as well as well-behaved adults. Kick off your wellies and warm your toes.
With not one, but three open fires, walkers’ maps and a traditional English pub feel, it’ll be difficult to leave the warm and cosy atmosphere of this great pub.
On the fourth day of winter, the Lake District gave to me … four Michelin stars
Once you’ve spent a day gorging on homemade cakes (see day one) or warming toes on an open fire (day three), why not test out one of the four Michelin starred restaurants that the region has to offer? Firstly, Simon Rogan, an award-winning chef is the proud owner of not one, but two Michelin-starred restaurants: Rogan & Co. in Cartmel which received its accolade in October 2018 and L’Enclume which has retained its two-star status. Rogan has his own farm which is dedicated to growing the finest ingredients and his restaurants celebrate the Lake District in their menus as well as being surrounded by the beautiful countryside.
You can also experience wonderful dishes at two further restaurants in the area: Forest Side at Grasmere, a Victorian Mansion set in the heart of Cumbria, and the Gilpin Hotel in Windermere with the Hrishi restaurant offering a range of amazing menus.
On the fifth day of winter, the Lake District gave to me … five f-a-m-o-u-s l-a-k-e-s
Okay, we know there are really sixteen, but that doesn’t fit the structure of our piece, and strictly speaking only one of these – Bassenthwaite - is officially a lake so here are the biggest five which you should certainly consider visiting.
Arguably the most famous, Windermere is the largest natural lake in England at 10 and a half miles long. Surrounded by captivating views and lots of opportunities to go messing about on the water, you’d be mad to miss it.
Experience dramatic views from both sides of this pretty lake accessible both on foot and by vehicle. In the summer you can hire bicycles to skirt the edge of the lake and drink in the scenery or you can cross the lake itself on a variety of water-worthy craft. (See day seven for details!)
Take a beautiful 10-mile scenic walk around the lake where you can enjoy the viewpoint of Friar’s Crag on the eastern side, pass through woodlands and pick from a multitude of picnic spots or eateries along the way.
The most northerly of all of the lakes and home to a rare and endangered fish species, the vendace. Whilst you cannot walk the perimeter of this lake, it is worth a visit if you love sailing as it is often brimming with boats from Bassenthwaite Sailing Club.
This ribbon lake sits in a valley and on its north-west edge rises the magnificent Old Man of Coniston – an 803-metre high fell which has a number of paths to the summit. The village of Coniston is 0.5 miles away - here you can hire bikes and boats.
On the sixth day of winter, the Lake District gave to me … six perfect walks
Often, one of the biggest reasons for visiting the Lakes is to enjoy a fabulous walking holiday and there are countless routes to choose from. Whether it’s a gentle stroll, brisk walk or challenging hike, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Here are just a few suggestions.
Coniston Old Man
Towering over Coniston Water are the slopes of The Old Man and climbing to the top in winter may afford you magical frost-dusted views of the Lake District vista below. Old mining and quarry works however mean you may need to keep your dog under close control.
Ennerdale and Haystacks
One of the more challenging routes in the National Park’s most remote valley. But make it to the top and you'll feel rewarded with the spectacular views and tranquillity. Discover Innominate Tarn – the final resting place of Wainwright.
Whilst comparatively small, reaching the top of this ‘proper little mountain’ will afford you the most magnificent views. And it’s not to be underestimated with a little scrambling necessary in places.
Rydal and Grasmere
Take a 6-mile walk in Wordsworth country and enjoy the splendour whatever the season – a moderate walk suitable for most as well as your four-legged friends.
Castlerigg Stone Circle
Cumbria’s very own version of Stonehenge – a fascinating collection of Neolithic boulders which you can roam around. Wrap up warm and take the half-hour route from Keswick to this tranquil spot.
This walk can be energetic, with 20 miles of waymarked paths and the opportunity to see Mother Nature’s power in the spectacle that is Aira Force waterfall (one of the most instagrammable spots in the Lake District). But you can break it up by jumping on a bus or steamer at certain points around the route.
On the seventh day of winter, the Lake District gave to me … seven sailors sailing
A visit to the Lake District isn’t complete without venturing out onto the water, no matter how chilly, whether it’s under your own steam on a kayak or canoe in the warmer months or by steamer or launch at any time of the year. Most accept your canine companion too, but make sure you check timetables before setting off. So wrap up warm and climb aboard.
First built in 1859 but renovated by the National Trust - cruise in style on peaceful Coniston Water on the oldest steam yacht in the North of England.
Climb aboard the Coniston launches Ruskin or Ransome and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the waters with solar panels providing much of the power needed on sunnier days. Choose from two routes and a variety of landing stages.
Why not enjoy a lake cruise at Derwentwater on one of four Keswick launches so you can sit back and take in the exhilarating views surrounding you? The trip takes around 50 minutes, but you get the opportunity to disembark at a range of jetties to explore along the way. You can even arrange a private charter cruise for that special event.
Take a cruise on beautiful waters 363 days a year for a really memorable experience with excellent on-board facilities. The cruises will also connect you to some iconic walking routes where you will get the chance to meander the countryside and catch glimpses of nature at its finest.
On the eighth day of winter, the Lake District gave to me … eight miners mining
If your idea of a cracking day out isn’t disappearing underground into a dark and dusty old mine shaft then think again. Take a trip to Honister Slate Mine and experience some of the most thrilling Lake District adventures to be had.
Go deep underground to discover cathedral-esque caverns and learn about what it was like to be a miner at the age of eight. For the more adventurous, test your head for heights on the infinity bridge and traverse a stunning gorge…from 2,000 feet up! If you’re feeling particularly invincible, you can even try your hand at the Via Ferrata – a magnificent outdoor mountain climb. Completing this will provide a real sense of achievement.
On the ninth day of winter, the Lake District gave to me … nine castles crumbling
Nine days into your Lake District itinerary and it’s time to explore some of the most fascinating castles and abbeys that the Lakes have to offer. Whilst it’s true that some of them are mere shells of their former selves, there are many which have been lovingly maintained. There are fairy-tale castles to ignite children’s imaginations such as Lowther Castle or Wray Castle, the second of which contains a beautiful twist: the rooms are full of games and crafts for children to enjoy – what better way to spend a day?
Or if you’re more of a history buff, explore the labyrinth of ruins at Brougham Castle, the battle scars of Carlisle Castle or even see if you can spot a ghost at Muncaster Castle which also gives visitors the opportunity to get close to a range of birds of prey.
Read about all nine castles that the Lakes have to offer here and immerse yourselves in a day of history, architecture and imagination.
On the tenth day of winter, the Lake District gave to me ... ten climbers climbing
Renowned for its peaks and home to Scafell Pike, the Lake District is a haven for intrepid climbers. If it’s a perfect clear day and you are a fit and confident walker than a 9-mile ascent from Seathwaite to the summit of Scafell Pike is absolutely unmissable. The journey may be arduous, but the rewards you reap in terms of achievement and stunning views are nothing short of spectacular – just be mindful of time on shorter winter days as this hike is tough.
Other climbs on the must-achieve list include crags such as Dow Crag or Esk Buttress or if you’re not quite ready, experiment with doing a bit of scrambling to add a bit of excitement to your Lake District adventure. There are also a number of companies in the area which run courses and activities too. For example, Climb365 caters for novices as well as experts and starts with guests from as a young as six.
On the eleventh day of winter, the Lake District gave to me … eleven gnomes gone fishin’
Obviously, everybody knows that the Lake District is synonymous with garden gnomes … or maybe not. But if you are an avid diver, you may fancy a bit of a gnome hunt whilst exploring deep underwater. At 260 feet, you may be aware that Wastwater is England’s deepest lake, but what you may not know is that it is home to a variety of garden gnomes, providing an added attraction for experienced divers; some might say it's the best place for them - the gnomes that is, not the divers! Some divers even dabble in a bit of gnome-napping in order that these friendly little souls can feature in their own holiday photos. So if you go down to the lake today, you might get a big surprise - oops that's a different song.
On the twelfth day of winter, the Lake District gave to me … twelve hours of rain
When the weather is against you and you simply need some time inside, take a look at just a few of our suggestions for rainy-day remedies.
Make your own pottery at Gosforth Pottery; admire over 30,000 exhibits at the Lakeland Motor Museum; take on some indoor climbing at the Kendal Wall; indulge your curiosity at The Puzzling Place; visit the Lakes Aquarium; take a tour of the Lakes Distillery which produces excellent gin, whisky and vodka or take your pick of National Trust properties dotted around the region. For those of you who don’t mind the rain, take a scramble through waterfalls and streams at Stickle Ghyll and enjoy the great outdoors.
Love the Lakes?
If this Lake District itinerary has given you wanderlust, why not take the time to browse our excellent collection of holiday cottages in the Lake District and take a well-deserved break in one of England’s most captivating regions.