Back in July of this year, The Lake District was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – an impressive international acclaim enjoyed by just 1000 others worldwide including the Taj Mahal in India, the Grand Canyon in America and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
It was three fundamental themes that won the Cumbrian region this status – recognising the Lake District National Park as a cultural landscape of international significance. These include world ranking examples of identity – the dramatic farmed landscape; inspiration – art, literature and love of the place.
There’s no denying the epic beauty of this National Park. And it’s no surprise that poets, artists and writers such as William Wordsworth, LS Lowry and Beatrix Potter were so inspired by the natural wonder of this dramatic landscape.
After spending a week exploring the Lake District I felt a little downbeat. Don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful time, but like Veruca Salt who’s rotten to the core and never satisfied, I too, felt thoroughly spoiled but left wanting so much more.
Not since a road trip across Scotland pre-children had been so utterly wowed by a destination in my own country… I kept turning to my husband and saying: ‘Just five hours in the car, and we can experience this? This!’.
We had exceptional weather during our stay – which meant the sun glistened across the calm waters of all the lakes we visited, as well as the waterfalls and fells we saw. In our woodland walks, we caught glimpses of it glinting through the leaves. I felt honoured to be able to enjoy the natural land around me and was thankful that The National Trust’s conservation work is so prominent. In fact, it is vital to the region and its continued longevity.
The National Trust is in charge of looking after around a quarter of the Lake District National Park and, as regular readers already know, my family and I are huge fans – we’ve been loyal members for over seven years.
The first thing we did when we arrived in Cumbria was looking to them as our guide. After all, we only had a short period of time so we had to choose wisely. The Lakes are situated across some 2,300 square km, so where do you even begin?
From designated carparks, to facilities and places to stay, the National Trust does have it covered, so let them be your guide if you decide to visit this stunning part of the UK.
If, like us, you’re a little overwhelmed about where to begin your tour of the magnificent Lake District, then I’ve broken down some of the more prominent National Trust sites you can visit in this handy list below – and once there, you’ll be able to pick up the NT’s numerous leaflets, which provide much more detail.
This list isn’t, by any means, comprehensive, but will be a decent starting point for your adventure in the Lake District.
Dalton Castle A 14th-century tower known as Dalton Castle was formerly the manorial courthouse of Furness Abbey. A guided tour around this small, but intriguing building gives a fascinating insight into the lives of the Abbot and monks of Furness, at one time amongst the most powerful in the country.
Sizergh This imposing house stands proud at the gateway to the Lake District. Its rich and beautiful garden includes a pond, lake, and a superb limestone rock garden. We spent a happy day here exploring…
Wray castle A mock-Gothic castle sitting on the shores of Lake Windermere with turrets, towers and informal grounds.
HOUSES, PARKS AND GARDENS
Acorn Bank Wander along the Crowdundle Beck to the partially restored watermill, enjoying wildlife in the woods on the way, and discover more about the history of gypsum mining on the estate. Enjoy the views across the Eden Valley to the Lake District from the magnificent backdrop of the sandstone house.
Allan Bank Make yourself at home at Allan Bank, where Grasmere’s valley unfolds from the picture windows and woodland grounds. Once home to National Trust founder Canon Rawnsley and only partially decorated, this isn’t a typical National Trust experience. Secret hideaways, such as the Victorian viewing tunnel, create an air of mystery.
Beatrix Potter Gallery Beatrix Potter’s original artwork on display in a 17th-century house.
Hill Top Enjoy the tale of Beatrix Potter by visiting Hill Top. Full of her favourite things, this house appears as if Beatrix had just stepped out for a walk. Every room contains a reference to a picture in a ‘tale’.
Townend The Brownes of Townend in the Troutbeck Valley were just an ordinary farming family – but their home and belongings bring to life more than 400 years of extraordinary stories.
Wordsworth House and garden Situated in the Cumbrian town of Cockermouth, Wordsworth House is the birthplace and childhood home of romantic poet William and his sister Dorothy.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Aira Force and Ullswater We managed the climb up to Aira Force waterfalls with a baby and a five year old. It was well worth it – for the views across Ullswater alone.
Borrowdale and Derwent Water Derwent Water is often called the ‘Queen of the Lakes’ – and after a short stroll around, it’s easy to see why. There are eight NT carparks in order to explore this area which takes in iconic routes like Castle Crag and Cat Bells. Honister Pass is a short drive from here, too.
Buttermere Valley We drove through Buttermere and had to stop the car on several occasions to just get out and admire the scenery. It comprises of dramatic fells, farms and woodland which encompasses three lakes – Crummock, Loweswater and Buttermere.
Castlerigg Stone Circle The 38 stones which are set within a ring of mountains, has stood at Castlerigg for about 4,500 years since it was created by Neolithic farming communities. Monkey couldn’t resist climbing on them…
Claife Viewing Station and Windermere West Shore You can travel over to the Viewing Station by boat from Bowness. Here you’re rewarded with panoramic views of Lake Windermere as well as a 4-mile lake shore trail that leads to Wray Castle.
Fell Foot This lakeshore park has breathtaking mountain views, as well as easy lake access for boating, paddling and swimming.
Stagshaw Garden and Ambleside Just a short walk from Ambleside you’ll find Stagshaw Garden, an informal woodland garden which in the spring and summer bursts into life with an absolute blaze of colour and wonderful scents.
Steam Yacht Gondola What better way to enjoy Coniston Water than via a lovingly restored Victoria steam yacht gondola. We had such a great time learning about the area and its inhabitants.
Sticklebarn and The Langdales An adventure playground of rugged slopes, craggy summits and a cracking pint!
Wasdale Wasdale offers a wide range of views: from the lakeshore of England’s deepest lake to the summit of the highest peak, Scafell Pike. Find a spot to let the world slip by, have a picnic or go wild swimming.
We so wanted to go and have a pint at Sticklebarn and the Langdales – the only National Trust pub in the whole country. And see England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike and the deepest lake, Wastwater, but sadly, we just didn’t have the time…
And that’s the problem. Too much to see, and so little time – which means it’s a given we’ll be back to the Lakes for many years to come…
Have you been to the Lake District? Do you have wonderful memories of your time there? I’d love to know in the comment section.