Having grown up in the South East of the UK, I never really ventured “up north”. To me it was a distant place shrouded in rain, clouds and the sometimes beautiful, sometimes utterly incoherent Northern accent. (Go listen to Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys talk, you’ll see what I mean).
Aside from York (which I ADORE) and then Scotland, I didn’t think much was up there. Typical Southerner they’d say. And they’d be right.
Side note for anyone who’s not British: There is a HUGE rivalry between the North and South of England. But people who live in the North and South cannot agree on who is actually classed as “Northern” or “Southern”. We have established a delicate peace through a silent agreement that no one likes anyone.
However, visiting the Lake District has shown me that yes, I was ignorant of the beauty of the North. It is an absolutely stunning place and a perfect example of how beautiful the British countryside can be. So let’s break down exactly WHY the Lake District is such a wonderful place and should go straight to number 3 of places to visit in the UK (sorry but nothings gonna beat London and Cambridge…Typical Southerner, I know).
1) The Great Unspoilt Outdoors
The scenery in the Lake District is second to none. Rolling hills which are only interrupted by ancient historic walls, towering mountains daring you to climb them and gorgeous lakes scattered across the area… What more could you want? I was lucky enough to catch it on a sunny weekend, but even on the misty mornings and grey days, the bleak weather adds something majestic to the dramatic sights. You feel as if you’ve stumbled into a 19th century novel and it takes everything in you to stop yourself from running across the hills looking for your victorian-era prince.
2) The Lakes (It is called The Lake District...)
I’d hope this would be obvious, but the lakes are adored by all who visit the Lake District. (Its kinda in the name). Again, they all look beautiful, but you don’t just have to look at them – there’s endless activities on them. In Summer visit Windmere Lake or Coniston Water where you can hire paddle boards, boats, go windsurfing and more! Or if you’re feeling brave (and possibly equipped with a wetsuit) you could even take a dip in the freezing lakes, carved out millions of years ago by ancient glacial rivers.
3) Scafell Pike
When I visited the Lake District, we nearly didn’t walk up Scafell Pike. Which would have been an absolute crime as I only agreed to visit under the assumption I would be able to climb the tallest mountain in England. (I like to tick those boxes).
After some complaining we agreed to go. And it turned out to be one of my favourite days in the UK. Stocked up with Mars bars, sugary drinks and maybe the occasional piece of fruit, we made it to the top! And it was well worth the aching legs over the next few days. The views were gorgeous throughout the hike and from the top you can see all the way out to the coastline on the west. The trail up the mountain follows along a mountain stream, up rocky steps and descends into a scramble across rocks by the end of it. It’s not easy, but I’d say almost anyone could make it – if your reasonably fit and like a bit of a challenge, it’s the perfect day out.
However, be aware that in the summer it can be INSANELY busy going up, so if you can go for a week day in September when most of the schools have returned and it shouldn’t be too hot or cold! It also gets very chilly at the top so take an extra windproof layer with you and a hat, especially if your like me and any drop below 20C (70f) feels like a blizzard is just around the corner.
4) The Villages
Being out of the way and pretty difficult to get to, the scenery throughout the Lake District is mostly untouched, and the same goes for the little towns, particularly the ones towards the centre of the Lake District.
Situated near Windermere Lake, Ambleside is probably one of the more touristy areas, but it’s also very convenient being at the centre and so close to one of the more popular lakes. Grassmere was my personal favorite. While it is much smaller than Ambleside it still had plenty to see. You could follow one of the trials around the village which will quickly take you into the serenity of the local countryside – you’re never far from another hike or walk! However, many people would view more walking as another circle of hell after climbing Scafell Pike.
If you see a holiday as a chance to relax rather than lose a few pounds, you can easily find one of the riverside cafes to enjoy some tea and cake or explore the local shops and pick up some of the famous Kendal Mint Cake, used by hikers for over 100 years. (Don’t worry if you buy it you don’t have to go hiking).
5) There's so much to do!
There is so much to do in the Lake District. Mainly if you’re an outdoor person that’s true – but I think this place is good enough to change anyone’s opinion on the great outdoors. For those looking for the simple life, just grab a map and go walking. There are so many trails, all varying in difficulty and length so you’ll be sure to find something for every ability.
For those looking for a wider range of activities, Brockhole on Windmere Lake is the ideal place, offering boat hire, kayaking, high ropes adventures and more. While the centre is aimed at young families, that didn’t stop me channeling my inner Katniss during our archery session. I’m proud to say that I did hit a few bulls eyes, however when the zombie apocalypse comes, I’ll be avoiding “attacking” roles at all costs. I’d much rather the “hiding on a desert island until it blows over” option.
While this is probably one of the most extensive activity centres, you’ll find activities, bike and boat hires at most of the major lakes and towns.
So there you have it, my 5 reasons to love the Lake Distirct! Have you ever visisted? If there’s anything I’ve missed let me know, I need a good excuse to visist again…