A WEEK IN THE LAKE DISTRICT
Updated: Mar 8, 2022
"Nature never did betray the heart that loved her."
We set out to the Lake District during Easter Break while the UK still had pretty strict Covid restrictions. Rules allowed us to stay in an AirBnB but all of our activities were outside, including dining. I'm sure there are lovely things to do inside, but this itinerary will focus on all outdoor.
Due to the nature of everything being closed inside, we set our sights on hiking as many Wainwrights as we could. What is a "Wainwright" you ask? Wainwrights are the 214 English peaks (known locally as fells) described in Alfred Wainwright's book "Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells". They all lie within the boundary of the Lake District National Park in Cumbria, and all but one are over 1,000 feet in height. Some people make it a lifetime goal to hike all the Wainwrights, but for us- we just wanted to hike as many as we could during the week that we had.
This summit has to be one of the most popular choices for walkers visiting the Lakes. There are so many different routes to the top of Loughrigg and all of them entirely delightful. A good place to start is at Rydal Water, simply because you have the added option of exploring the quarried caverns on the way up, with Rydal Cave being a well-loved tourist attraction.
Take a little bridge over the River Rothay and follow the path along the southern side of Rydal Water, walking along Loughrigg Terrace. From the terrace path, a steeper and narrower path leads in a south-easterly direction all the way to the top, which is clearly marked by a summit cairn. This is a fun walk, with narrow grass pathways that meander between multiple high points, through bracken and rocky outcrops. It’s probably best to return via the same route, unless you are particularly adept at navigation, as this sprawling summit has multiple pathways... and we did get semi-lost on one of them. Thankfully we had Google maps downloaded and were able to navigate our way back down the mountain with all the sheep!
Travel Tip- There were a lot of moments when we didn't have service. Make sure to download Google Maps in advance so you can always have directions!
We had great weather this day! Some of us even took our coats off. An April miracle in England.
This was the definitely the most popular hike we did. There were loads of people from start to finish. Most start at its northern foot, where you will find parking spots along the verges, though it’s prudent to get there early before all spaces are taken. The signed path heads straight up the ridgeline to the top and is steep in parts. Two distinctive rocky sections on the way up involve some straightforward scrambling, which certainly adds to the sense of adventure for children and is fun for adults too. The steep and rocky final section makes the summit even more rewarding, and the panoramic views of will not disappoint. Absolutely breathtaking!
Travel Tip- Get to the car park before 10am or
you may not be able to find a spot.
This hike was our favorite. Not many people and we were the only ones at the top... at the top of an incredible view. We loved the secluded nature of the hike after the busy, crowded hike of Catbells. We took our time and played with sticks and threw rocks along the way.
Walla Crag is a fabulous viewpoint on the eastern side of Derwent Water, much of the panorama is hidden until having climbed through the trees the ascent of Cat Gill is left behind, and the crag is finally gained. The summit cairn once stood much closer to the edge than it does now having been moved back to the official Ordinance Survey spot height.
We had this crazy idea that if we were to only travel in the UK for the foreseeable future due to Covid, that we would do some bucket list items! This included trying to hike the three highest peaks in the UK- one in England, one in Wales and one in Scotland. The highest peak in England lies in the Lake District, so we started here!
We did the Wasdale Head route because it was touted as child-friendly. Just so you're aware, all paths up Scafell Pike are hard and are very steep. There isn't really a "child-friendly" path, but this one had the least steep edges and the least amount of scree. It still felt like we were on a stair master the whole way! We brought candy to bribe the little one along the way. She was by far the youngest one on the path.
The feeling at the top is unlike any other. If you want to feel good about yourself, hike the highest peak in England! It was a high when we finally got to the top and got to rest our legs and enjoy the view. It took us about 3.5 hours to get up and 2.5 hours to get down- making it 6 hours round trip in total.
Travel Tip- Dress in layers! Weather can change in an
instant and when you're climbing thousands of feet
it is a drastic difference from temperature at the top and bottom.
OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST
HILLTOP- BEATRIX POTTER'S HOME
Beatrix Potter has a long time history with the Lake District and we loved visiting her home! It is a National Trust site and has a car park and cafe on site. We weren't able to go inside her home, due to Covid restrictions, but we were able to walk around her home and her town where she got a lot of inspiration for her stories.
There were cute little signs all over her garden of illustrations from her stories that matched up to specific places at her home. We had fun trying to recreate some of the images! We loved learning more about Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit on this trip.
We definitely bribed our child to hike all the Wainwrights with a trip to this fun place! It really helped to have something to look forward to after all of our walking. This place has zip lines, ropes courses, playgrounds, climbing wall, cafe and more. We decided on the treetop nets for the only reason that it looked like the most fun. She loved every second of it!
We based ourselves in Kendal on this trip, which was a perfect place for us. A quaint town with plenty of food options and our Airbnb was walking distance to the beautiful ruins of Kendal Castle, which lie on top of a hill with great views.
The Castle was built in the early 1200’s as the home of the barons of Kendal. They had a big influence on the development of Kendal. The Parr family is the best known of the baronial families, the most famous member being Katherine Parr, the sixth and last Queen of Henry VIII. During the Tudor period, the Castle became a ruin, and has remained so ever since. Most of the Castle walls survive along with one of the towers. The manor hall was the most important building in the Castle and parts of it remain.
A funny castle that comparatively isn't that old compared to others in the area. This one was built during the Victorian era when taking a holiday to the Lake District began to become wildly popular- thanks to William Wordsworth. They thought that being able to picnic at the side of a castle overlooking a lake was a romantic way to view the countryside... and they weren't wrong!
We picnicked among the spring daffodils and enjoyed the views out over the Lake District.
The car park was quite busy around lunch time as it is a very popular spot for picnics and as a launching spot for bike trips. There were many cyclists taking their bikes out and getting ready to ride.
There is also a lovely woodland playground that we stayed for some time at! We love all the playgrounds at the various National Trust sites and this one did not disappoint.
I know the little one is also equally grateful for an opportunity to run around and stretch her legs!
This place was absolutely stunning with its tulips and daffodils blooming all around the grounds. We loved playing hide-and-go-seek amongst all the triangular hedges.
But the best part was their nature trail. Our daughter still talks about it! It was one of the best ones we went on. Lots of clues to lead the way and obstacles to complete in each spot. It was so much fun!
CASTLERIGG STONE CIRCLE
You can't miss this place. Older than Stonehenge, but no entrance fee and out in the open. You can even let the children run around and climb on the stones. It was very magical to be able to sit so close and picnic among a man-made structure that is unfathomably ancient.
The precise function of these early circles is not known, but their importance possibly centred on their large internal areas with their formalised entrances. Sites such as Castlerigg were undoubtedly important meeting places for the scattered Neolithic communities, but whether as trading places or as religious centres, or even both, is not known... but it sure is fun to speculate!
AIRA FORCE WATERFALL
This is a great place for a short hike, picnic and break. The hike to the waterfall is perfect for those small legs. It is short but well worth it. The surrounding area is beautiful and we had a stop at the stream and through rocks in.
There are a lot of picnic benches to stop and eat your lunch, and even a playground for the little ones. This is a very popular National Trust site so I would recommend getting there before lunch time. If you find the car park to be quite busy, there are two more smaller car parks up the road that start at the top of the waterfall hike instead of the bottom. We parked up there and had no problem with crowds or parking.
CANOE ON A LAKE
It really doesn't matter which lake you decide to rent a kayak or canoe, as long as you DO it. It is the Lake District after all!
This was one of our favorite memories. The sun was shining and it was so peaceful to take in the view from the water's perspective. We rented our canoe at Ullswater, but I know there are rentals at nearly every major lake in the area. The sun was shining, the birds were out and we thought the whole vibe and experience was happy and serene.
What a beautiful country we live in!
Travel Tip- Perhaps put the little ones in waterproof trousers as the oars and boats do get a small amount of water in them while paddling.
Although we went amidst Covid restrictions- we thought spending our time outside whilst in the Lake District was the best way to see it!
**Check out our video for some epic drone footage!**