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A much-lauded corner of northwest England, made famous by the Romantic poets, the Lake District is a region of green fields, mountainsides rendered purple and russet from heather and bracken, and steely lakes. Most of the area is now protected as a national park and the views that so inspired William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and John Ruskin have changed little over the years.

England's highest mountain and deepest lake are found here, along with many tiny villages seemingly left untouched by the passing of time. It’s a great place to hike, its fells (the local word for peak) entwined by a network of stone walls, and dotted with hardy sheep and ancient stone circles.

The Lake District is natural England at its most pristine. I love its mirror-like lakes that reflect the surrounding landscapes. Every turn you take in the mountains or the woods has the potential to surprise you with a new vista.

UK & Ireland specialist Jasmine

Things to see and do in the Lake District

Lake Windermere

Lake WindermereA long, shimmering expanse of water, Lake Windermere is the largest natural lake in England. It's an impressive sight, 16.9 km (10.5 miles) long and surrounded by steep hills and fertile valleys.

It was the inspiration for the fictional lake in Arthur Ransome's adventure Swallows and Amazons, and has been a strategic waterway ever since the Romans built a fort at its northern end to control regional trade.

Today, Windermere is one of Lake District's best spots for fishing, canoeing, sailing and kayaking. It’s just a short hop from many of the region's most popular attractions, such as Beatrix Potter's beloved farm, Hill Top.

Ambleside

Just north of Lake Windermere is Ambleside, a Victorian-era town with a lively atmosphere. It’s a popular starting point for many of the region’s gentler walks and bicycle rides, and its streets are lined with cafes, restaurants and outdoor clothing shops.

The Stock Ghyll stream rushes through the town, turning into Stock Ghyll Force (‘force’ being an old northern English term for waterfall). It flows under the photogenic Bridge House, a tiny 17th-century storage room that has been painted by many artists, including Turner. Just a mile south of the town is Waterhead, where the Windermere steam ferries dock.

Grasmere

One of the prettiest Lake District villages, Grasmere is a meandering cluster of stone cottages that sits on the banks of the River Rothay. It has strong connections to the Romantic poets, in particular to William Wordsworth who lived in nearby Dove Cottage. Along with his wife Mary and sister Dorothy, he is buried in the graveyard at the village church.

The place hums with visitors during the summer months. Yet explore in the quiet evenings, and you'll appreciate more readily Grasmere’s poetic setting, its knot of streets surrounded by a valley and fells.

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who's been there

Audley Travel specialist Andea

Start planning your tailor-made trip to the Lake District by contacting one of our England specialists

Suggested itineraries featuring the Lake District

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in the Lake District, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of the Lake District

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near the Lake District

    Accommodation choices for the Lake District

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit the Lake District. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    • Gilpin Hotel & Lake House, Bowness-on-Windermere

      Gilpin Hotel & Lake House

      First Class

      The sophisticated Gilpin Hotel & Lake House offers characterful guest rooms, luxurious spa services and fine dining in the heart of the scenic Lake District.

    • The Wild Boar, Bowness-on-Windermere

      The Wild Boar

      Medium

      The Wild Boar offers exceptional cuisine and service in a welcoming, characterful setting. Guests will feel right at home at this traditional inn, which boasts unique features such as its own on-site smokehouse and microbrewery.

    • Waterhead Hotel, Ambleside

      The Waterhead

      First Class

      The Waterhead is a boutique hotel on the edge of Lake Windermere. Its beautiful design is complemented by the staff’s attentive service and delicious meals served either in the stylish bar or on the hotel’s stunning lakeside garden terrace.

    • Macdonald Old England, Bowness-on-Windermere

      Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa

      First Class

      Overlooking the Lake Windermere of William Wordsworth’s poetry, Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa is a quiet retreat surrounded by nature, located in the Lake District town of Bowness-on-Windermere.

    • Macdonald Swan Hotel, Grasmere

      Macdonald Swan Hotel

      Medium

      The Macdonald Swan Hotel is a characterful pub-style property, providing comfort and warmth in in the heart of the Lake District. Its long history includes a connection with the poet William Wordsworth.

    • Forest Side, Grasmere

      Forest Side Hotel

      First Class

      Tucked away among the trees in the Lake District town of Grasmere, the Forest Side Hotel is full of Victorian charm.

    Ideas for experiencing the Lake District

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting the Lake District, and which use the best local guides.

    • Hawkshead

      Tea at Beatrix Potter's cottage

      The Lake District

      Discover the land that Beatrix Potter loved and helped to preserve on this tour of her Lake District home. Cross Lake Windermere before having a tour and tea with a Potter expert at the author’s marital house, Castle Cottage.

    • Buttermere

      North Lakes explorer

      The Lake District

      Your driver-guide will create a tour of the North Lakes area based around your interests. You can take your time exploring the unspoiled lakes, sheep-dotted mountains, and tiny towns at an unhurried pace, with pauses for walks in the countryside or taking photographs.

    • Hardknott Roman Fort

      Hardknott Roman Fort, Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway and Muncaster Castle

      The Lake District

      Your driver-guide can navigate Cumbria’s steep and winding roads while you admire the looming mountains and sweeping sea views. The tour also stops at Muncaster Castle, the Roman-era Hardknott Fort and the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway, a Victorian steam train line.

    • Lake District farm experience , The Lake District

      Lake District farm experience

      The Lake District

      Experience life on a traditional Lake District fell farm where you'll get a chance to meet the hardy Herdwick sheep, learn about farm practices and local lifestyles and get to try your hand at dry stone walling.

    • Rydal dining room

      Wordsworth's Lake District

      The Lake District

      Explore the landscape that inspired one of Britain’s most renowned poets. Your guide will bring you to two of Wordworth’s homes, Rydal Mount and Dove Cottage, to learn about his life and family. You can also explore nearby Grasmere village.