The Lake District: it’s synonymous with the beauty of Britain’s hills (well, fells!), pastures, woodlands and–of course–lakes. The undoubted jewel in North West England’s natural crown, it’s not only home to England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, but also its longest and deepest lakes, Windermere and Wastwater respectively. Of course, most people envisage coming here when the skies are clear and blue; when pastures are green, meadows filled with wild flowers, and lambs frolic with one another in the sunshine.
But I have seen it in its winter wonder, and there’s nothing like the lure of the Lakes in a frost. In fact, if there’s one thing I’d recommend doing on a fresh and somewhat chilly morning, it’d have to be taking a walk; fill your lungs up with that pure, fresh air, and get the blood pumping! The Lake District National Park has countless trails to wear your boots down, and Where2Walk have some great ideas: with everything from classic circuits to challenges away from the crowds, you’ll find a route to suit you and your family. For the advanced, the 17.5-mile trail from Kirkstone to Threlkeld won’t disappoint, taking in the entire Helvellyn range. You will also find a fantastic array of walks to try in the Yorkshire Dales.
I’d recommend tackling one of the easier fells if you haven’t done so before; that or simply taking a gentle stroll around Loweswater. You can rent a boat if your legs get tired, and start tasking your arms instead! The views are simply lovely, especially if there’s snowfall. For more information on walks and hikes in the Lakes, The Walking Englishman lists routes by difficulty, featuring a couple of scrambles too: with some sturdy shoes and a picnic (monkey-like dexterity thrown in) this is a great way to enjoy unique views of the area.
Still not thrilling enough? Then look no further than Mobile Adventure, the Lake District company that offers a range of exciting outdoor experiences: you could canoe, rock climb and kayak your way through the Lakes, or even get to grips with gorge walking. Yes, it’s not exactly going to warm your cockles in the winter, but diving, sliding, and climbing through a gorge isn’t going to be an adrenalin experience you soon forget!
If that all sounds like a bit too much hard work, or you have wee ones to consider too, never fear: there’s plenty more fun to be had when you’d rather a laid-back Lakes-based break. The Lake District National Park website offers countless ideas for fun days out, from admiring the gardens at Brockhole Lake District Visitor Centre, filled with winter jasmine, to letting the kids take to their Treetop Trek, where they can swing, fly and balance their way through ancient oak trees, some more than 250 years old. Afterwards, there’ll be nothing wrong with treating yourself to an early Christmas lunch at their café; indeed, it’ll be perfect if the kids are busy at the children’s Christmas party (22 December) complete with games and craft workshops.
Of course, if the idea of a Christmas lunch has whetted the appetite, you’ll want to get on over to ShowmeCumbria which lists a whole range of Cumbrian delicacies and where to find them whilst there. I’m guessing you’ll know of Kendal Mint Cake and Cumberland cheeses, but what about Grasmere Gingerbread, made at a tiny shop in the town? If that’s still working up an appetite, good: the website has plenty of suggestions for fun-filled family days out, from visiting ancient stone circles and castles to spending the day petting ostriches!
Want to know what else is happening at this time of year? The Lake District Tourist Guide is a great port of call: listing all the latest events, it has even more suggestions on things to do in the area (and it’s little wonder; there really is no end to the opportunities on offer here). And what with its special offers section boasting discounts on family experiences, there’s really no excuse not to let the lure of the Lakes take you over this winter.
Find places to stay in and around the Lake District with HomeAway.
Sophie Gackowski is a travel writer based in Scotland. While she loves nothing more than jetting off to exotic places, she knows all too well the beauty to be found in and around her home in Britain.