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Wonderful Things to Do in the Lake District

Setting out on an adventure to the Lakes? Take a look at some of our favourite things to do

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Green grass and trees next to a clear body of water on a sunny day in the Lake District, England, UK

It’s easy to see why the Lake District is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. England’s largest national park, the area offers unforgettable glacial lakes, rugged mountains, charming market towns, and plenty of unique attractions. There's an array of ways to explore this picturesque part of the country, and a whole range of activities to try out, so bring the family and watch the good times flow. Whether you’re wanting to get active in nature or relax by the water, there’s truly something for everyone here - yes, even the four-legged companions you may be looking to bring. Here at Plum Guide, we’re the experts on travel whether near or far, so we’ve put together this guide so you don't have to worry about missing out on any of the key attractions. Allow us to present to you the very best on things to do in the Lake District, and heed our advice for the trip of a lifetime.

Take a trip to Derwentwater

Of course, one of the most obvious things to do in the Lake District is to visit a lake (there are 16 to choose from). If we had to be picky, Derwentwater is arguably the best choice for a full day out. Our favourite way to enjoy the beauty of this particular lake is by walking the 13 kilometres along the paths around the shoreline, passing through lush green forest, marshland, and dramatic, rolling hills. Make sure to stop at one of the many beaches for a swim too, but be prepared for glacially cold water, even in the heat of summer (this is the UK after all). If the walking starts to take its toll, you could join a boat cruise to enjoy the views of the shores and surrounding mountains in a more relaxed manner. Once your energy is restored though, get back on your feet, because Derwentwater is great for watersports. With Derwent Water Marina offering kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, rowing boats and pedalos for hire, you can explore the many islands and inlets at your own pace.

The Greylag Goose, Plum Guide home in the Lake District, UK

The Greylag Goose, Plum Guide home in the Lake District, UK

Fill your boots in Keswick

People walking up Cat bells, a tall green fell in Keswick, the Lake District, England, UK

People walking up Cat bells, a tall green fell in Keswick, the Lake District, England, UK

Not too far from Derwentwater, you'll find the bustling market town of Keswick. It’s an ideal base to explore - surrounded by large fells including the popular Skiddaw and Blencathra, as well as the iconic valleys of Borrowdale and Buttermere. Once a year, the town hosts the Keswick Mountain Festival, now one of the UK’s largest mountain festivals where you can fill your hiking boots with just about anything related to the great outdoors. Alongside live music and a varied program of talks, the festival hosts spectator sports like running, cycling, swimming, triathlon, aquathon and hiking, as well as taster activities to get involved in. So find that old pair of goggles and dive in.

It’s worth noting that Keswick is home to a variety of independent shops and a twice-weekly market where you can pick up traditional Cumbrian produce, such as cheeses and preserves. Pop into the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery to see the 700 year old mummified cat (the stuff of nightmares), or visit the Derwent Pencil Museum if you’re deeply invested in pencils. We don't judge here - immerse yourself in whatever floats your boat (or sharpens your pencil).

Verdant Escape, Plum Guide home in Cumbria, England

Verdant Escape, Plum Guide home in Cumbria, England

Embrace the adventure at Honister Slate Mine

If you’re looking for something unique and memorable to do, pay a visit to Honister Slate Mine. Dating back over 350 years, this is the last working slate mine in England, so this is not something you see every day. Venture deep underground on a fully guided tour and explore the tunnels and caverns, all while learning about the fascinating history of the mine. For the extra adventurous among you, the mine offers a range of activities to get your heart pumping. Tiptoe your way across a high-wire bridge, or try your hand at cliff camping. Alternatively, you can climb the original miners’ route up the side of the mountain (via a fixed cable, thankfully). You can even experience the mine a different way via vertical climbs, rope-bridge crossings, steel ladder ascents, run-away zip lines, and Tarzan swings. This one isn't for the light-hearted.

Stanley Ghyll Cottage, Plum Guide home in Cumbria, UK

Stanley Ghyll Cottage, Plum Guide home in Cumbria, UK

Enjoy stargazing in the best locations

The silhouette of a person stargazing at night in the Lake District, England, UK

The silhouette of a person stargazing at night in the Lake District, England, UK

With secluded valleys and remote fell tops, stargazing is one of the more romantic things to do in the Lake District. you'll find some of the darkest skies in England here, so there are numerous spots to go stargazing - one of the best locations being Ennerdale Water. This is the most remote lake in the whole national park, and is surrounded by the least populated valley (which means very little light pollution). For those of you who are new to stargazing, Grizedale Forest is a great option. There are regular stargazing events here which include guided talks and help with telescopes, which you will probably need. Another great spot is Dockray, located just above Ullswater. Said to be one of the most beautiful lakes, Ullswater and its night skies have been inspiring artists and poets for centuries. So bring your notebook - you never know when inspiration might strike.

The Grassholme, Plum Guide home in Cumbria, UK

The Grassholme, Plum Guide home in Cumbria, UK

Climb Scafell Pike for unforgettable views

A view of mountains from the top of Scafell Pike on a sunny day, Lake District, England, UK

A view of mountains from the top of Scafell Pike on a sunny day, Lake District, England, UK

Towering 978 metres above the national park, Scafell Pike is not only the tallest mountain in the area, but also the country. Safe to say, this is not a walk in the park. There are several different routes up Scafell Pike, each of which offer varying degrees of difficulty, so there's always an option for you. For those in search of a more relaxed route, we suggest you start at Borrowdale (we'll join you there). It’s one of the prettier routes, with the ever-changing scenery including lush waterfalls and dramatic rock faces. But if you’re looking for more of a challenge, start the climb at Wasdale. Although it’s the quickest way to the top, it’s also the steepest (and most painful). At the summit, you’ll be treated to some mesmerising 360 degree views of the whole Lake District (on a clear day). Sometimes, a disappointingly cold, white wall of cloud might be there to greet you (the weather is 50/50 up there), but reaching the top will still make it all worthwhile.

Ride on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway

Sometimes, you just want to enjoy the scenery without having to break a sweat, and what better way to do this than on a steam train? The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway starts at the coastal village of (you guessed it) Ravenglass. There’s a railway museum here with a fascinating collection of relics, photographs, and models, as well as an audio-visual exhibition, so arrive a little ahead of schedule to enjoy everything on offer. The vintage railway then chugs for seven miles along the estuary, offering spectacular views of the countryside and some of England’s tallest mountains (remember the one you climbed earlier?), before coming to an end at Dalegarth Station in the picturesque valley of Eskdale. There are covered, half opened, and open top carriages available on the train, so you can take a ride regardless of the weather (definitely a wise idea in England). If you feel like exploring, simply hop off at one of the several intermediate stops and fill your boots.

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