A weekend at Lake Windermere, The Lake District

 In Active Travel, England, United Kingdom, Weekend Getaways, WMGT

The Lake District: one of the most beautiful, peaceful parts of the UK, with acres and acres of countryside to be explored. With lakes, hills, fields and mountains to enjoy, it was the perfect destination for WMGT adventure number 2 back in October 2017.

See the weekend come to life here…

It’s also the destination I chose for my first microgap adventure with Visit England, almost a year later. I enjoyed three days of adventure, challenge and new experiences, without leaving the UK, and without embarking on a full gap-year. Find out more about microgaps here.

Ok, so the weather did not work in our favour; we got very wet. But, that is England for you, and wherever you travel here you have to be prepared for any weather! But, I don’t let that stop me enjoying myself, and neither should you.

  • Day 2 We had retreated to bed pretty early in anticipation of the hike that awaited us this morning. We rose at 6.50am, made our packed lunches and layered up for what looked like a pretty soggy day. Today was the day we were set to climb and summit England’s highest mountain - Scafell Pike which stands at 978m above sea level. Now, there are plenty of routes to take up to the summit of Scafell Pike some longer than others and some certainly more challenging than others. You can see all your options here. Ascending to the summit from Wasdale Head is certainly the most popular route and the one most take when completing Scafell Pike as part of the Three Peaks Challenge. Ascending from Wasdale head makes for a 6.5mile round trip whereas, for example, the route from Borrowdale is approx 10miles. As you know, we were staying at Castlerigg Hall campsite which was actually closest to the Borrowdale route and on the opposite side of the mountain to Wasdale head but because of the poor visibility and predicted rain / wind we were strongly recommended to drive around that side to complete the hike. So with sensible heads on (knowing not to mess with nature) we drove the hour around and parked at the National Trust car park by the start of the route.
  • Scafell Pike: A guide to climbing England's highest peak
  • A 3-day adventure in the Lake District

This is definitely an area of the country I want to explore more fully when my van renovation is complete, but in the meantime, I’ve put together this handy blog post to inspire you to have a weekend stay-cation in this stunning area of countryside, more specifically, at Lake Windermere.

Where is Lake Windermere?

The Lake District National Park is in the north-west corner of England, in Cumbria. Lake Windermere is in the south-eastern part of the national park. The town of Windermere is about a twenty minute walk from the lake, and the town of Ambleside is about a mile away from the lake.

Did you know? Lake Windermere is England’s largest natural lake, at 10.5 miles long and 1 mile wide.

A weekend at Lake Windermere, The Lake District

How do I get to Lake Windermere?

By train

The Lake District is well connected by train: Oxenholme, Penrith and Carlisle are connected with London and Glasgow, and direct trains run from Manchester to Windermere. Local trains call at Kendal, Staveley and Windermere. There is also a scenic route following the Cumbrian coastline if you’re exploring the west side of the Lake District. Book your train tickets online on thetrainline.com.

By bus

Towns and villages such as Ambleside, Windermere, Coniston and Keswick are connected by bus, with extra services in the summer. You can also get the bus from Windermere train station to several other towns in the area.

By car

It takes 5-6 hours to drive to the Lake District from London or the South East, and about two hours from York or Manchester. Allow plenty of time of traffic – on long journeys like this, it’s inevitable you’ll get stuck somewhere. If you’re using a Sat Nav, pop in the postcode of your accommodation or one of these car parks.

Top tip: The roads in this area can be quite steep and bendy, so allow extra time and drive carefully!

By lift share

Better for the environment, much cheaper than driving alone, and a great way to make friends before your holiday starts! The LiftShare scheme is free to join, and you can ask for a lift or advertise spaces in your car on this site.

By plane

If you’re coming from further afield, Glasgow and Manchester are the closest airports. Manchester airport has a train station that connects directly to several towns in the Lake District, including Windermere.

From July 2019, you can also fly to Carlisle Lake District airport from London Southend, Belfast and Dublin. Find out more here.

Where should I stay near Lake Windermere?

We stayed in YHA Ambleside (LA22 0EU), located right on the shore of the lake with stunning views for all to see – also the perfect location for fun outdoor activities in the area. The hostel has 249 beds spread across three floors, with a restaurant, terrace and jetty all onsite.

If you don’t fancy staying in a hostel, check out booking.com or Airbnb for a hotel or apartment in the area.

Top tip: Get £22 off your first AirBnb stay here!

You can also book accommodation directly on the Lake District website. They have everything from camping to glamping, hotels to spas, log cabins to country houses, hostels to caravans, barns to BnBs… you name it, it’s there. What’s more, any commission they get goes towards the upkeep of the park, meaning you do your little bit towards keeping it a nice area for tourists to come. Amazing!

So, without further ado…

Here’s a weekend itinerary for Lake Windermere, Ambleside, the Lake District…

– FRIDAY EVENING

As soon as you arrive in the area, check into your accommodation and then explore the area surrounding Lake Windermere, Windermere and Ambleside. Go on a short walk and take in the views (particularly the sunset over Lake Windermere – it’s stunning!). Grab some dinner and get an early night ready for a full weekend of adventure!

Top tip: Tesco Ambleside is open 7am-11pm if you need to get any supplies for your weekend.

A 3-day adventure in the Lake District

– SATURDAY MORNING

Once you’ve had breakfast, make sure to get up and take in the morning views over Lake Windermere. The way the sun hits the water is truly magical. Then it’s time to prepare your lunchtime picnic to take on our first adventure…

Watersports time!

To get to the Windermere Canoe Kayak boat house, you need to get to Bowness-on-Windermere, to the Ferry Nab car park (LA23 3BF).
– It’s a ten minute drive.
– If you don’t have a car, it’s a 1 hr 15 minute walk.
– If you want to save your energy for later, you can walk for 15 minutes to The Sun Hotel, get bus 599 towards Bowness-on-Windermere to the Burnside Hotel, and then walk the final 10 minutes to the car park.
– Another option would be a taxi.

The crew at Windermere Canoe Kayak are great. You can choose to SUP, Kayak, Canoe or a combination! Prices start at £20 for two hours SUP or £27 for three hours kayaking. Hire includes a buoyancy aid, dry bag and help from an instructor. Find out more information on their website here.

Top tip: Wear clothes you don’t mind getting wet. Fleece and man-made materials are better than cotton, and don’t wear jeans or denim!

– SATURDAY AFTERNOON

Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy your picnic lunch on the lake shore!

During the afternoon, take some time to continue to explore the local area – on foot, or perhaps by bike! Windermere Canoe Kayak also rent out bikes, and have ‘pedal and paddle’ offers so you can make the most of the lake and the countryside, making a bike ride the perfect afternoon option. To find out more about bike hire, click here.

If you’d prefer to be on foot, here are some suggestions for local walks.

Also, be sure to check out Grasmere’s gingerbread shop, just north of Lake Windermere, for some delicious treats!

– SATURDAY EVENING

After a day of adventuring, you’ll probably be quite tired. Grab dinner either at the hostel or at one of the nearby country pubs – perfect for you and your friends to reflect on a wonderful day.

Top tip: Last time I was here I took the short drive over to Linthwaite House for a gorgeous dinner in their restaurant looking over the Lake District. Highly recommend if you’re feeling slightly fancy and in the mood for a lovely glass of wine and reflection!

A 3-day adventure in the Lake District

– SUNDAY

Rise and shine! If you’re an early bird, make the most of the beautiful sunrise over Lake Windermere.

If you’re not, after breakfast it’s time for a hike to explore the stunning national park you’ve come to see. I’d recommend another packed lunch for this one.

The route starts and finishes at Glenridding Tourist Information car park (CA11 0PD – pay and display, £8 a day).

It’s a 30 minute drive from the hostel, so really helps to have a car! If you don’t, there are bus options but they take 1-1.5 hours.

Hike length: 15km max
Duration: 6 hours max
Climb: 400m

The route…

– Walk along the roadside towards Patterdale
– Turn towards Side Farm
– Climb up Boardale Hause
– Follow the path over Beda Fell (alternatively, along Boardale)
– Drop down to Sandwick
– Follow the path to Ullswater Lake
– Take the lakeshore path back to Side Farm and Glenridding.

  • Keeping fit while travelling - WMGT Hot Topic

Top tip: Get a mountain guide or leader for the extra safety aspect, but also for the extra knowledge about the area! Rob and his team from North Country Guides were fantastic.

Once you’re back… it’s probably time to head home!

Options for extending your stay in the Lake District…

– Climb Scafell Pike – see my guide here.

– Do the Via Ferrata (classic or extreme!) at Honister Slate Mine – see my experience in this blog post.

– Rent bikes, a car, or walk to explore more of the surrounding countryside!

Have you been to the Lake District?

What were your favourite places in the area? I’d love to know!

Love as always + happy adventuring,

Mollie.

UK BANNER

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A weekend at Lake Windermere, The Lake District
A weekend at Lake Windermere, The Lake District
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