Activities in the Lake District

As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to the Lake District, Jackie King picks out a selection of walking, cycling and family adventures in this glorious National Park in the northwest of England.


There's a fantastic range activities in England's biggest National Park, whether you're a novice cyclist or an experienced walker looking for a new challenge.

From the giddy heights of Scafell Pike to the tranquil waters of Lake Windermere, the Lake District is one of Britain's best natural playgrounds and you'll never run out of new places to explore, be it on foot, by bike or by boat. As well as listing some of the top walking and cycling routes, we've also selected a handful of activities tailored towards families.

You'll also find a collection of activities for the eco-conscious, from helping manage woodland in Derwentwater to helping enhance the wildlife potential of the Rydal Hall estate in Windermere.


Jennings Adventure Ale Trails

How do you fancy combining wonderful scenery and cosy accommodation with good food and real ale? With Jennings Adventure Ales trails you can do just that - there are four 1 day walks and an extra six routes of 2, 3 and 4 days around the likes of Cockermouth, Borrowdale and Grasmere. Check each individual route on the Go Lakes website and find out how to plan out your walk to encompass some of the region's best restaurants and real ale providers. With a range of short and longer walks available, you can decide just how much exercise you want to do before sitting down to a nice cold drink. visitlakedistrict.com

Miles Without Stiles

The National Park boasts 41 routes suitable for those with limited ability and those with young children. As the name suggests, these routes are free from stiles and have wide gates allowing for easy access for those with wheelchairs and pushchairs. Many of the routes are also within easy access of refreshments and toilets, while others offer a slightly more remote trail for those looking for a little escape. You'll be able to choose between 'routes for all', 'routes for many' and 'routes for some', categories that gradually increase in gradient and difficulty. lakedistrict.gov.uk/visiting/things-to-do/walking/mileswithoutstiles

Grizedale Visitor Centre

Grizedale Forest Park can be found right at the heart of the Lake District between the lakes of Windermere and Coniston, and activities on offer range from sedate walking (there are eight marked trails in total) to GoApe adventures in the treetops. The visitor centre hidden within offers a wealth of information on what to do here, as well as a welcome place to stop and recharge your batteries. Cyclists are able to rent bikes from the visitor centre, and there's an exhilarating North Face single track mountain bike trail as well as many other forest roads to explore. forestryengland.uk/grizedale

Coniston Launch

This company offers a selection of lake cruises and group charters on the scenic Coniston Water. Coniston Launch offer the chance to either hop aboard one of the regular services covering two different circular routes, or take part in one of the special cruises. The regular trips allow you to stay on and relax the entire time, or combine a trip with a short walk and catch a later boat back. Alternatively, you could always take part in one of the 'Swallows and Amazons' or 'Campbells on Coniston' special cruises and combine the pleasure of the trip with a little local history. You could even take a boat to Brantwood and visit the former home of John Ruskin. conistonlaunch.co.uk/index.htm

Ullswater Steamers

An award-winning and environmentally accredited attraction that has been operating lake cruises on the beautiful Ullswater for over 150 years. Regardless of whether you're looking to use the boats as a form of transport or simply to relax and take in the wonderful scenery, there is something to appeal to every member of the family. There's also plenty fo scope to combine a trip on one of the boats with some of the Lake District's most famous walks, and you can even take trips to areas teeming with wildlife. Having been certified Gold by the Green Tourism Business Scheme, the team are doing a great deal to make sure their business doesn't impact on the environment. https://www.ullswater-steamers.co.uk/

Steam Yacht Gondola

Originally launched in 1859, the gondola has been completely rebuilt by the National Trust and offers the chance for visitors to travel around in style, taking in Coniston's beautiful scenery from the comfort of a luxuriously upholstered saloon. Cruises depart from Coniston pier and call at both Brantwood and Monk Coniston. Half lake cruises take place once a day and full lake themed cruises are available on Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays. Some top options include walking through Monk Coniston towards Tarn Hows, or stopping at Brantwood and visiting the home of John Ruskin. nationaltrust.org.uk/steam-yacht-gondola

Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway

Starting at Haverthwaite railway station, the railway runs for around three and a half miles, alongside the banks of the scenic River Leven and calls at Nweby Bridge Halt and Lakeside Station. The train stops here so you can continue your journey by steamer service to the likes of Ambleside and Bowness. While you're waiting at Haverthwaite station you can always have a bite to eat in the restaurant while the kis enjoy the Woodland Play Area. If you and your friends fancy becoming a steam train driver for the day, you can take part in an 'Experience Day' that can involve driving, firing, guard and signalman duties. lakesiderailway.co.uk


For information on characterful places to stay, local food and drink, and nearby visitor attractions, see our Green Traveller's Guide to the Lake District


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