In the Lake District you needn’t choose between water sports or hiking, tea rooms or trailheads. With over 20 major lakes and thousands of acres of mountains, the Lake District is a great destination for a varied and active adventure holiday.

Why the Lake District?

The Lake District’s most famous historical literary residents are the best to turn to for an explanation of what draws people to this national park. The world renowned romantic poet, dubbed ‘Lake Poet’, William Wordsworth resided in Rydal Mount, Ambleside in 1813 and the book and poems he wrote from this family home were a key component in the increase in tourism to the area. One of his most famous poems, ‘Daffodils’*, expresses the sublime atmosphere of the Lakes and the eye-opening inspiration that can come from looking out at the landscape there.

The famous tales written by Beatrix Potter, such as the tales of Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin and Jemima Puddleduck began as magical children’s stories set in the Lake District countryside. However, over time these fictional stories had a profound effect on the real-life scenery in which they had been brought to life. They are part of the reason that The Lake District remains as beautiful and natural now as it did when Miss Potter first imagined Squirrel Nutkin sailing on Derwentwater. In her success, Miss Potter used her profits to purchase land and in her will, left 4000 acres of land and 14 farms to the National Trust, so that they could preserve the countryside as nature intended. Thanks to this, we may still look upon it and see the same landscape that inspired these influential writers all those years ago. It is this preserved, natural, beauty which continually draws people to the area and makes the Lake District a British gem not to be missed.

Derwentwater - Chris Chapman

Derwentwater – Chris Chapman

A Water Wonderland

Canoeing, kayaking, sailing and water sports are all popular activities on the lakes. Lessons or equipment to hire are readily available at a number of locations, although it’s always best to book in advance. Here are some hire/tuition water sports companies around the Lake District to take a look at:

  • Low Wood Water Sports Centre (Windermere): Wayfarer sailing, motor boat hire, kayaking, canoeing
  • Windermere Canoe and Kayak (Windermere): Canoe and kayak hire and/or tuition, bike hire
  • Keswick Canoe and Bushcraft (Derwentwater): Canoe and kayak tuition and/or daytime expeditions, overnight expeditions and bushcraft activities
  • PlattyPlus (Derwentwater): Canoe, kayak, powerboat and sail boat hire with assistance available if required for beginners. Dragon boat and Viking boat also available

No matter what your ability you are welcomed to explore the lakes. Lake Windermere is perhaps the most namely of the lakes because it is the largest. If you don’t fancy the physical activity, or getting wet, you can take the passenger ferry from Hawkshead to Bownes – a trip out on Lake Windermere is a must.

Canoes on Derwentwater - Pete Birkinshaw

Canoes on Derwentwater – Pete Birkinshaw

An Extreme Sports Playground

Almost every extreme sport takes place somewhere in the Lake District; quad biking, rock climbing, gorge walking, caving, potholing, abseiling and gyhll scrambling, among others, are popular choices. There are loads of adventure companies to choose from, so here are a few examples of what’s on offer to narrow down your search:

  • River Deep Mountain High (Coniston/varied locations): gorge walking, rock climbing, dinghy sailing, abseiling, raft building, kayaking, mountain biking, guided walking
  • Mobile Adventure (varied locations): Canyoning (gorge walking), navigation courses, rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking, river trips
  • Country Adventures (varied locations): Canyoning, abseiling, rock climbing, zip lining, mountain biking, mountain rescue, waterfall climbing

A Hikers Paradise

With a multitude of fell walks, water’s edge walks, short walks or strenuous hikes, it would be impossible to discover all of the Lake District in one trip. The Lake District National Park website is a great guide to finding the right walks for you and if you’re looking for a great view, the walk up to Orrest Head won’t disappoint.

Windermere seen from Orrest Head

Windermere seen from Orrest Head

Accommodation For An All-Round Adventure Experience

If you want to keep the adventurous spirit in you alive after a day out in the mountains or on the lakes, then a niche accommodation like this could be just the thing for you. The National Trust campsites in Low Wray or Great Langdale offer an accommodation that’ll make you feel like a woodland critter in one of Beatrix Potter’s tales. Luxury Mongolian yurts are the definition of ‘glamping’. With soft duvets, futon beds, fairy lights and a wood burning stove, all the necessities (and some luxuries) are provided, so that you can get close to nature in the cosiness of a home from home. This would round off an expedition nicely, as there is no need to compromise on adventurous spirit, comfort or practicality.

Yurt At Low Wray - National Trust

Yurt At Low Wray – National Trust

Historical, Educational Activities – Great for a Rainy Day

Rydal Mount and gardens and Wordsworth’s previous residence, Dove Cottage, are now open to the public as historic sites. They offer a peek into the life of William Wordsworth and an enlightening look at the Lake District through his eyes.

A monument to Beatrix Potter’s achievement, all of her classic tales are brought to life in 3D displays at The World of Beatrix Potter. It’s a great family day out that offers entertainment, education, nostalgia and a little regional history, as well as a typically Cumbrian tea room to end the tour.

A Never Ending Adventure

Whether you spend most of your getaway in the water or on land, the beautiful, natural landscape and quaint old-brick towns have such a charm that the fond memories they leave you with will persuade you to return again and again, for adventure after adventure. With such a vast variety on offer, you could have a completely different experience every time.

*Daffodils – William Wordsworth

Daffodils Mean Spring - 3DPete

Daffodils Mean Spring – 3DPete

I wander’d lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch’d in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed – and gazed – but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

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About The Author

I am a graduate creative writer with a love of travelling. Last summer I travelled over four thousand miles of Western USA with my two sisters and can undoubtedly say it was the time of my life. The mixture of feelings and the unforgettable experiences that come with travelling are difficult to put into words, which is why, through writing for niche escapes, I want to encourage people to get out into the world, discover what it has to offer and try something a little different.

  • Peter Elkington

    Wordsworth actually wrote very little poetry while resident at Rydal Mount – and certainly not his most famous poem, ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’, which was written in 1804. He wrote nearly 80% of all his poetry in the eight years of his residence at Dove Cottage. He married and had his five children while living there, but eventually realised that it was just too small and that he needed to earn some money as his poetry was not generating any income.

    After he left his first family home, Dove Cottage in 1809, he wrote, bewailing his loss of inspiration, “Whither is fled the visionary gleam? Where is it now, the glory and the dream?”.

    In the years that followed, he fell out with his poetic and radical friends, became a political conservative and took a job as collector of stamp tax in Westmorland. Eventually, his poetry became famous and he was able to enjoy the fruits of his younger days.