Welcome Back in Time: Top Things to Do in England’s Lake District

The Lake District is a magical place, where time stopped about a hundred years ago. Hidden from the motorways by mountains and forests, the region has managed to maintain its unique charm, vibrant and festive, but tranquil at the same time. Life here is full of attractions and luxurious amusements, whether it is hiking the highest mountain in England, cycling alongside spectacular views, relaxing on a vintage boat tour, going to the theatre or having dinner at a Michelin starred, award-winning restaurant.

The Lake District, located in North West England, is a very popular holiday destination among Brits, and it’s becoming a new hotspot for other tourists. There are good reasons why this place has inspired many famous poets and writers.

Main pier in Lake District

We decided to explore this region with our friends from New York. They arrived on a new United Airlines route from Newark airport to Newcastle, which is just one and a half hours drive from the Lake District, one of England’s most iconic places.

In planning our trip, we discovered that Newcastle is an ideal starting point for many other interesting destinations, like the City of York, the magnificent coastal castle Bamburgh, voted one of Britain’s best castles, the town of Alnwick with Alnwick Castle, which featured in the Harry Potter movies, and lots more. But we'll leave them for the next trip, as now it is time to explore the spectacular Lakes.

Cruise in the Lake District

Lake District attractions

The A591 is a major road in the Lake District and you will definitely enjoy driving along it. The road between Kendal town and Keswick was chosen as Britain’s best driving road. The 48-kilometre stretch has the best combination of bends, places to accelerate, cruise and brake, spiced up with spectacular scenery.

You might wish to take pictures every minute while driving it, but be careful as most of the time, the road is so narrow that it is not possible to stop for photos.

Lake cruise in the Lake District

Windermere is the largest and deepest lake in the whole of England; and it is the most beautiful, in our opinion. We started our cruise from the town of Bowness, the “heart” of the Lake District, and a holiday town with plenty of shops, world-class restaurants and hotels.

what to do in the lake district

The first passenger steamer, “Lady of the Lake”, was launched here in 1845 and, since then, it has become an extremely popular attraction in Windermere. Nowadays, a picturesque 45-minute voyage to the Lakeside is an unmissable experience, with magnificent views of the mountains, wooded islands and Victorian mansions. The boat itself is also noteworthy. Build in 1936, 20 years later the boat carried Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh from Ambleside to Bowness.

We decided to combine our journey with other sights and disembarked at the Lakeside, but if one is in a hurry, it’s possible to take a round trip back to Bowness.

Lake District Motor museum

Lakeland Motor Museum is much more than just a museum. We were surprised to see such a large collection of motoring memorabilia: vintage and veteran cars, bicycles, petrol pumps, road signs, shop window displays with a historic female clothing collection and even toys, games and amusement machines, which are still in operation. There is the additional exhibition, “Bluebird”, which features the fastest cars and boats in the world, and won Great Britain 21 world land and water speed records.

Unique cars in Lake District Motor Museum

While my friends were discovering vintage cars, I found my favourite: an amazing Amphicar car from 1966. This miraculous piece of machinery can drive on roads and float on lakes. The amphibious automobile was produced in Germany and it was the first mass-produced vehicle of its kind, and sold for quite a high price tag for those times - between 2,500 and 3,000 dollars.  

Lake District steam train

Another way to travel back in time is to ride vintage trains. There are two different ways to enjoy a nostalgic journey. Either the standard gauge railway, which is how passengers have travelled since 1869, or the oldest and longest narrow gauge heritage steam railway in Lakeland. We chose the first option, as the train has a stop at Lakeside station, where our boat terminated.

Lake District steam train

Steam locomotives haul 1950s carriages along the 3.5 mile track. Originally they were invented to transport coal and ore, but now they help tourists discover the Lake District.

While we were waiting on the platform for our departure, we watched all the standard procedures which haven't changed over time: checking the lights, oiling, cleaning, and even shovelling real coal into the furnace. We also found out an interesting fact – everyone can become a goods train driver for a day! I am sure you won't find this opportunity anywhere else, so apply in advance if you want to take advantage of it.

Segway tour in the Lake District

We decided to try this technological wonder in the nearby village of Cartmel. I had never tried it before and, to tell the truth, I was a bit scared. After a small safety briefing, I forgot my fear as it was really easy and I was ready to explore the scenic countryside.

Segway in Bowness

Stunning views of Cartmel made this trip unforgettable; it’s a real adventure, a once in a lifetime experience everyone should try.
A small insider tip: don’t forget to book a Segway tour in advance; some are sold out a couple of days before.

Walking in the Lake District

Walking and biking tours are probably the most popular activities here. There are more than 300 trails with different levels of difficulty to choose from.

This time we decided to choose the easiest way to get closer to nature, and set off to the viewpoints with easy access to the city of Bowness: Post Knott and Biskey Howe viewpoint, which took us just 20 minutes of walking.    

Highest mountain in the Lake District

But if you prefer rock climbing to a relaxing stroll, we suggest the one peak every hiker wants to conquer - Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain at almost 1,000 metres. After a walk of 11 kilometres and about six hours in the mountains, you will be rewarded with an amazing vista across the valley of Wasdale.

Luxury hotel in the Lake District

After a full and tiring day, we got back to our hotel. The real pearl of Lake Windermere and the city of Bowness, The Laura Ashley Belsfield Hotel is set on a hill facing the main promenade, pier and the mysterious Belle Island.

This stylish and imposing Victorian building was created by an Italian architect in the middle of the 19th century for Baroness Von Sternberg as a private residence in the countryside.

Luxury hotel in Bowness

The house became a hotel in 1892 and since then tourists have been admiring the original stucco work, ornamental ceilings and wall décor from the last century. Recently the hotel was rebranded as a Laura Ashley hotel and refurbished by Laura Ashley designers. The new makeover, featuring curtains, cushions, sofas, lamps, and mirrors from the Laura Ashley catalogue, cost about 3.5 million pounds.

We arrived late in the evening with the last sunbeams and were overwhelmed by the astounding view of the calm lake seen through the stylish glass reception. If I were an artist, I would have got my pencil or oils out in a second.

Laura Ashley in the Lake District

We really loved the Belsfield hotel and the special aura there. It is a great blend of old-fashioned and modern, a lovely mixture of centuries, ages and ideas. You can find here, side by side, a fantastic glass reception and vintage lift with metallic folding doors which need to be closed manually, gorgeous ceilings from the last century and up-to-date interiors.

Hotel with central location in the lake District

Staying at this atmospheric, stylish, word-class 19th century English hotel was a perfect addition to our amazing trip to the Lake District.

Sponsored by Visit Britain. For more information on how you can explore England’s North, visit www.EnglandsNorth.com

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I still remember my first trip. It was to London. I fell in love with this city the moment I saw it. Just - "click", and my heartbeat quickened. I was chosen by it. Red and funny double-decker buses, serious black cabs, the gorgeous Buckingham palace... That's it! I am your admirer forever! From that moment I have visited many places and have been to many countries. Traveling became my passion. My long lasting love, which I hope will never end.

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