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About the Lake District
The Lake District is a 912 square mile area of mountains, waterfalls, lakes and valleys contained entirely within the northwestern county of Cumbria. It was one of the UK’s first designated National Parks in 1951 and since 2017 the entire area has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the area highest above sea level in England.
It was first popularised as a holiday destination by the work of a collection of notable writers and artists during the 18th Century, beginning with Thomas Grey’s Journal of his Tour in The Lake District (1769). The most famous writer to find their muse in the Lakes, however, remains the poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850). Wordsworth worked, lived and later died in the area, and his legacy is still commemorated all around.
Subsequent notable artists to be associated with the area include Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats, Alfred, the Lord Tennyson, Walter Scott and Beatrix Potter.
What Sort of Landscape and Natural Featured are There in The Lake District?
There’s as much landscape and scenery as anyone can possibly want. As the name suggests, The Lake District contains 21 separate large bodies of water. These are surrounded by rolling hills, ancient geological features, waterfalls and even 10 miles of coastline in the area between Drigg and Silecroft. It is also home to the four highest peaks in England including Scafell Pike, highest of them all at 3,209 feet (978 metres) above sea level.
One particularly notable natural feature of The Lake District is the area’s average rainfall: it is comfortably the wettest part of England and as such it is always important when visiting to remember your waterproof clothes!
What are the Notable Parks, Beaches or Wild Areas are There in The Lake District?
With the entire Lake District protected by National Park and World Heritage Site status, generations of people have enjoyed a landscape whose subtle changes owe very little to human hands. The obvious first stop will be to explore the 19 Lakes themselves, with the largest – Windermere – a favourite place for visitors. There are also four fells (hills) whose peak exceeds 3,000 feet above sea level and seven additional fell groups which conveniently break the area up into geographical sectors.
To the southwest corner of The Lake District you will also find a beach on the Irish Sea coast. Dotted throughout are a series of picture postcard villages to visit and explore. It’s an ideal location for a scenic walking holiday for people and dogs alike, with paths and trails suitable for all energy levels and athletic abilities.
Eight Things for You and Your Dog to do in The Lake District
Visit Levens Hall
Levens Hall itself is a privately owned home from the Elizabethan age that is opened up to the public every year. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed inside. But no matter, because they are permitted to explore the grounds and that’s where Levens Hall plays its real trump card, with the world’s oldest topiary garden set within a 9,500 acre agricultural estate.
Visit Sizergh Castle
A stately home and garden 4 miles to the south of Kendal, Sizergh Castle combines the modern day listed building residents of the home’s current owners as well as a Tudor castle and grounds cared for by the National Trust. The 1,600 acre estate is noted for its biodiversity, with its fair share of rare birds and butterflies often being spotted.
There’s no better way to get up close and personal with the biggest lake in the area than by boat. Windermere Lake Cruises offer a variety of ferry-based boat tours, ranging from 45 minutes to 3 hours. They will also rent you the necessary equipment to go off boating on the lake for yourself. It proudly proclaims itself to be Cumbria’s number one tourist attraction and offers tours starting from a variety of locations around the Lake’s edge including Ambleside, Bowness-on-Windermere or Windermere itself.
Go on a Guided Tour
The Lake District has an almost infinite series of possibilities for great walks, but the steep and occasionally rocky terrain – not to mention the frequent spells of wet weather – can make some of these unexpectedly challenging. Why not take one of many guided walks instead? Your trained guide will know exactly what to expect around every corner and allow you to experience the natural beauty of the area in both safety and comfort.
Visit Lowther Castle
Sitting in the northeastern corner of The Lake District near to Penrith is the ruins of Lowther Castle, built in the 18th Century but demolished and abandoned in 1957. It has now been restored to a stunning tourist resort with a particularly impressive collection of walled gardens. Dogs are welcome throughout.
See Castlerigg Stone Circle
Also known locally as Keswick Carles, the stone circle at Castlerigg is thought to date back between 4,000 and 5,000 years to the late Neolithic Era or early Bronze Age. All the more appealing is the fact that the Carle stands on a plateau from where visitors can see many of the peaks and lakes of the area – an ideal spot for keen photographers.
Take in the views at Claife Viewing Station
An 18th Century viewing platform that is set in the woodland on the edge of Windermere, Claife offers an unrivalled view across the largest lake in the National Park.
Learn about Pencils
The Derwent Pencil Museum at Keswick never sounds like the most riveting way to spend a day, but visitors frequently come away raving about how much fun they’ve had. The pencil is one of the Lake District’s proudest inventions, created by local shepherds in antiquity who would use pieces of naturally occurring local graphite to mark their flock. While your furry friend isn’t allowed in the on-site cafe, they are welcome to visit the rest of the museum as long as they are on their lead.
Six Walks for You and Your Dog to Enjoy in the Lake District
Needless to say, with the abundance of natural beauty in The Lake District, finding a good walk is not particularly hard. However, most local shops – particularly tourist gift shops, pubs and cafes – will be able to provide pamphlets and guides to some of the best ones for you, your dog and your overall fitness and ability. It’s well worth checking these out before you commit to one because some routes can be a little specialised.
A stunning natural waterfall set within a heavily wooded glen near Ullswater, a large lake in the northeast of the region close to Penrith. The 750 acre site is maintained by the National Trust and has several carefully signposted walks for all the family. Unforgettable, other-worldly scenery.
Catbells Lakeland Walk
An occasionally steep and challenging but rewarding 3.5 mile hike and scramble around the hills around Keswick. What makes this walk so special are the views from the top, overlooking Derwent Water, Keswick and Borrowdale.
The third-highest peak in England, Helvellyn offers a range of walking routes for people who are confident in their fitness and ability. The shortest of these, from Thirlmere, is considered the easiest but the most popular is the walk from Striding Edge. With the peak standing at an altitude of 3,117 feet (950 metres), it has magnificent views of the area around Ambleside and Windermere. Helvellyn has frequently been voted the top walking spot in the British Isles.
Starting from Ambleside, this hill crest walk will take you and your furry friend through the remnants of the man-made Rydal Cave slate quarry and then back into town via the Loughrigg road. It offers unrivalled views of Windermere beneath.
If you think about visiting the Lake District, you’re probably not imagining spending much time on the beach. However, there are over 10 miles of coastline to explore, and the beach at Silecroft is a great place to start. A shingle beach, Silecroft reveals a wide, sandy expanse suitable for horse riding and many other activities at low tide. On clear days, you should be able to see the Isle of Man from the shoreline.
You could very easily replace “Bassenthwaite” with any of the other 19 lakes in the area and find a beautiful, picturesque stroll for you and your four-legged friend. Why have we singled this particular one out? Simple: Bassenthwaite is the only one of the lakes in The Lake District to actually be officially titled as such. Avoid making the mistake of calling Windermere “Lake Windermere” to gain instant kudos points from the locals.
Where to Stay in The Lake District
Exactly where you want to base yourself for your stay is obviously dependent on exactly what activities you and your dog plan to get up to. However, here are some suggestions.
A good choice for the townies amongst you, Keswick is the largest settlement in The Lake District and offers the widest variety of shops and amenities for days when the sheer geographical and geological splendour has worn you out. Keswick is near Derwent Water and is also home to one of the UK’s great sleeper attractions, the Derwent Pencil Museum.
At the northern tip of Windermere, Ambleside is a great base for the start of many of the area’s most popular walks and also boat cruises on the lake itself.
While not itself inside The Lake District – Penrith sits a few miles to the northeasterly corner – it remains a very popular market town and holiday destination. Beautiful and historic, with enough shops to provide visitors with what they need without any loss of local character.
Visiting the Lake District but staying at the beach is a bold move, but one well worth exploring. Try the village of Silecroft, a charming and historic place surrounded by beautiful coastline, neolithic era standing stones and excellent birdwatching, all overlooked by the hills and fells beyond.
A village on the Cumbria/North Yorkshire border and near the services on the M6 motorway, Tebay’s chief attraction for a holiday in the Lakes is that it stands in between two National Parks, The Lake District to its west and the Yorkshire Dales to its east. Not only does this essentially double your holiday options, but it also affords you the opportunity to visit the aforementioned Tebay Services, featuring a family-owned restaurant and farm shop that are frequently cited as the best in the country.
For the people who prefer a city break but are still keen to explore the Lake District, the obvious solution is Carlisle. It stands about 10 miles to the north of the National Park and a similar distance south of Gretna Green and the Scottish border. A car will prove invaluable, especially if you’re also planning to elope.