Planning a Lake District break this summer and looking for inspiration for things to do? We have it covered with our A-Z guide. How many of these can you get ticked off?

A is for Alpaca

Alpaca Closeup

We start our A-Z guide with one of the more unusual activities available in the Lake District: Alpaca Walking! Alpacaly Ever After offer visitors to the Lingholm Estate the chance to take an alpaca for a walk in the grounds of the estate, taking in the gardens, paths, and the lake where the alpacas may be inclined to have a paddle. These, soft, cute, and weirdly adorable creatures make perfect walking companions and the team will take plenty of photos for memories that last a lifetime. Combine your walk with a trip to the Lingholm Kitchen for a delicious lunch and you will not be disappointed.

Alpacaly Ever After also have a herd based at the Lakes Distillery where you can pay to meet the herd and feed them. This is a great activity to do in combination with a tour of the distillery. Alternatively, the nearby Lake District Wildlife Park offers an alpaca walking experience that will take you around the grounds of the Armathwaite Hall estate.

B is for Beautiful Borrowdale

Grange Bridge over River Derwent

Grange Bridge over River Derwent

Borrowdale is very much in the heart of the Lake District and from here you can access some fantastic walks, including the summit of Scafell Pike from Seathwaite. This rich green valley is brimming with hidden caves, stunning summits, and magical waterfalls. It’s a place of myth and legend, where you will find ancient trees in eerie groves, and fairies are said to dance amongst the pools and babbling streams.

For a real challenge, take on the Keswick and Borrowdale round, an epic 17-mile walk that takes in Walla Crag, Ashness Bridge, Rosthwaite, Castle Crag, and Cat Bells. However, if you are visiting with children, you might want to check out our Borrowdale Loop Walk that is ideal for younger walkers.

C is for Coniston

Coniston Water

Coniston Water

It’s not the easiest place to reach, but it’s worth it once you get there. Coniston is a great place to base yourself if you are interested in walking, with easy access to the Coniston fells, as well as the hills and ancient quarries around Tilberthwaite. Coniston Water is one of the largest lakes in the national park and you can enjoy a cruise on a steamer here, or hire your own boat to take out on the water to then go and explore the islands that inspired Arthur Ransome when he wrote Swallows and Amazons.

If you prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground, then there is plenty to see and do in the Coniston area. John Ruskin’s former home, Brantwood, is on the eastern side of the lake and today it welcomes visitors who can learn more about the writer and philanthropist. The Ruskin Museum is located in Coniston village and features a range of historical artefacts from the area, as well as a section dedicated to Donald Campbell, who set his water speed record on Coniston Water with his Blue Bird boat.

D is for Delicacies

Gourmet Bangors & Mash

The Lake District has a rich food heritage so do make sure you try as much as possible during your visit. We think your list should include:

E is for Ennerdale

Road to Ennerdale Water & Fells

Road to Ennerdale Water & Fells

Over in the western Lake District, Ennerdale Water is one of the quieter lakes to visit, thanks to its fairly remote location. It is in the Ennerdale valley that a unique re-wilding project has taken place, with the aim to protect and enhance the natural habitat in the area. Wildlife is flourishing here, with red squirrels, roe deer, birds, and butterflies all calling this vast valley their home. The valley has some fantastic walking opportunities.

For children, this short 2-mile walk is a great introduction to the area, whilst seasoned walkers might wish to take on an ascent of Piller Fell. However, the best way to explore the valley is by bike, as there are around 10-miles of forest track starting from the Bowness Knott Car Park that will take you deep into the valley. For more information, check out winnerdale.co.uk.

F is for Furness Peninsula

Furness Abbey

Furness Abbey

The Furness Peninsula lies at the southern end of Cumbria, jutting out into the Irish sea. It is home to a number of towns, including Ulverston, an ancient market town, and Barrow-In-Furness, where you will find the ancient ruins of Furness Abbey.

The area has been home to humans for over 3,000 years and there is plenty to see for history buffs, such as Dalton Castle and the Swinside Stone Circle. From the peninsula, visitors can also access Piel Island and try and become a Knight of Piel in the Ship Inn.

G is for Ghyll Scrambling

Ghyll Scrambling

A group of happy ghyll scramblers 

(Andy, www.ghyllscrambling.co.uk)

Ghyll Scrambling is a thrilling sport that takes full advantage of the Cumbrian landscape and the weather. The activity involves ascending up a mountain stream, and is one of the few activities that is actually improved by rainfall. Although almost anyone can try this sport, we recommend that, unless you are experienced, you use a qualified professional to lead you on a ghyll scrambling expedition. You can find out more information here.

H is for Helvellyn

Striding Edge with Red Tarn on Helvellyn

Striding Edge on Helvellyn, overlooking Red Tarn

Scafell Pike might be the highest mountain, but we think Helvellyn is the most epic. It’s England’s third highest mountain and from the summit it offers spectacular views across much of the Lake District and beyond.

Those who are feeling brave can ascend the mountain from the eastern ridges of Striding Edge or Swirral Edge, but if you prefer something a little safer, you can take the old pony track from Glenridding that leads up alongside Keppel Cove.

I is for Inn

Wateredge Inn

Wateredge Inn on Lake Windermere (chrisd2105 / Bigstockphoto.com)

The Lake District is home to some fantastic pubs and inns that are brimming with atmosphere. Many brew their own ale as an added bonus. Our favourites include the Kirkstile Inn at Loweswater, the Pheasant Inn at Bassenthwaite, the Cuckoo Brow Inn at Near Sawrey, and the Drunken Duck Inn that is located near Ambleside. There is nothing better than a pint and a good meal at the end of a long walk, so make sure you plan your route to include a visit to a Lake District pub!

J is for Jetty

The Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam & Stories is one of the Lake District’s newest attractions, having opened in March 2019. The museum is home to collection of boats, some dating back to the 18th century, along with a conservation workshop where visitors can see the efforts that are going into preserving and restoring the collection. Visitors to the museum also get exclusive access to heritage boat trips, and there is a fabulous café that overlooks the lake.

K is for Keswick

Views of Keswick & Derwent Water from Latrigg

Views of Keswick & Derwent Water from Latrigg

Located at the northern end of Derwent Water, and overlooked by the impressive summit of Skiddaw, Keswick is a town you have to visit during your Lake District summer break. Brimming with independent shops, fantastic pubs and cafés, plus a wonderful market on Thursdays and Saturdays, the town centre is a delightful place to wile away a few hours. It’s a ten-minute walk from the town centre to the shore of Derwent Water where you can hop on a steamer and explore the rest of the Lake.

L is for Langdale

Blea Tarn with Reflections of the Langdale Pikes

Blea Tarn with Reflections of the Langdale Pikes

Little Langdale and Great Langdale are located in the heart of the Lake District, and these two valleys offer some of the most picturesque scenery in the Lake District. It’s a walker’s paradise, with plenty of areas to explore, including the iconic Langdale Pikes. The area is also where ancient packhorse routes from across Cumbria intersected, leaving behind bridleways with delightful stone bridges, such as Slater’s Bridge in Little Langdale.

The Langdales are also home to the only pub that is directly run by the National Trust: Sticklebarn Tavern, and the area was once mined and quarried extensively, leaving behind some extraordinary caves, such as Cathedral Cavern.

M is for Muncaster Castle

Muncaster Castle

Muncaster Castle

Located in the far western side of the Lake District, Muncaster Castle dates back to the 13th century, though it’s thought to have been built on the site of a Roman fort. Home to the Pennington family, many of the castle’s rooms are open to members of the public, whilst outside there are extensive gardens to explore, with plenty for children to do, including a maze and a play area. The castle is also home to a Hawk & Owl centre where you can get up close to a collection of magnificent birds of prey.

N is for Navigation Course

Women hiking in the Lake District

If you are planning on heading out onto the fells for the first time during your Lake District break, then you might want to consider doing a navigation course. A basic navigation course will help to keep you safe on the fells, covering topics, such as identifying features on an OS map, route planning and navigation, and what to do in an emergency.

The Lake District National Park Authority offers navigation courses on a regular basis throughout the year, as do a number of specialist outdoor activity companies that are based in the area.

O is for Osprey

Osprey flying in the blue sky

The summer is the perfect time to visit the Osprey viewpoint at Dodd Wood, by Bassenthwaite lake. It’s a short walk up through the woodland to the viewpoint, where there are telescopes pointed in the direction of the Osprey’s nests.

These wonderful birds return to the same spot each year to breed and if you are lucky you may spot some of the chicks in the nest. After, why not continue up to the summit of Dodd where there is a spectacular view, and then enjoy a delicious cake in the tea room by the car park.

P is for Potter

Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's Former Home in the Lake District

Beatrix Potter's Former Home, Hill Top (chrisd2105 / Bigstockphoto.com)

We don’t mean Harry Potter. Children’s author and illustrator, Beatrix Potter, first came to the Lake District as a child on holiday with her family, and then later moved here, running a successful Herdwick farm. Many of her whimsical stories were inspired by the Lake District landscapes.

This summer, seek inspiration of your own and visit some of the places that she loved, including her former home at Hill Top, and her holiday destinations, Wray Castle and Lingholm. Children will love the World of Beatrix Potter where characters from her most famous tales are brought to life in 3D model form.

Q is for Queen of the Lake

Queen of the Lake on Windermere

Queen of the Lake on Windermere © windermere-lakecruises.co.uk

The Queen of the Lake is one of the traditional launch vessels in operation by Windermere Lakes Cruises. It was built in 1949 and is one of four other traditional vessels that are in use by the company, along with a collection of steamer boats and modern vessels.

There is no better way to explore Windermere than by boat, and with jetties located around the lake you can hop off and explore a host of other attractions, including Brockhole, Wray Castle, and the Lakes Aquarium.

R is for Railways

ALT

The Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway (Fattimafuta / Bigstockphoto.com)

For train enthusiasts, the Lake District has some true gems. Over in the western Lake District, the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway is a narrow gauge railway that was originally used to transport iron ore from the Eskdale fells down to Ravenglass where there is a mainline railway. Today it offers heritage rides through the valley, with playgrounds at each end, and plenty of pubs and walking spots along the route. Check out the official site for ticket info and opening times.

In the south of the Lake District, the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway runs between the southern tip of Lake Windermere and the small village of Haverthwaite. This railway was originally a branch line and now steam engines pull carriages from a bygone era. Combined tickets are also available with rides on the Windermere Lakes Cruises on the official railway site.

S is for Sizergh Castle

Sizergh Castle & Garden

Sizergh Castle & Garden

Home to the Strickland family and managed by the National Trust, Sizergh Castle is a brilliant place to stop when on your way into, or from the Lake District. It’s located near Kendal, just off the M6, making it the perfect stopping point before arriving at your accommodation.

The grounds are brimming with trails that will take you around the gardens, through ancient woodlands, and past traditional Lake District farmland. For children, there is a fantastic wild-play trail that is guaranteed to wear them out, and if you are feeling peckish during your visit, the National Trust operates a café here serving up some delicious food.

T is for Tarn Hows

Tarn Hows

Tarn Hows

Tarn Hows is one of the most visited spots in the Lake District, but don’t let the crowds put you off. This outstanding beauty spot was created in the 19th century when a damn transformed three smaller tarns into one. There is a two-mile circuit around the tarn that is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs, making this spot one of the most accessible in the national park. There is no café, but the area is so beautiful you can enjoy a picnic with a fabulous view.

U is for Ullswater

View over Ullswater

View over Ullswater

Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District, and like its bigger sibling, Windermere, it has a host of opportunities for visitors. Ullswater Steamers operate a fleet of traditional vessels that take passengers on tours of the lake, sailing between Glenridding and Pooley Bridge at either ends of the lake, with stopping points in between.

Aira Force is an iconic waterfall that is located close to the shore of the lake and is the start of a walk into Glencoyne Park, which is where Wordsworth is thought to have found inspiration for his poem “I wandered lonely as a cloud”. There are some stunning walks in the area, including an ascent up Helvellyn, though if you are here with children you might prefer a gentle stroll to Lanty’s Tarn.

V is for Visitor Centre

Brockhole Visitor Centre

Brockhole Visitor Centre © iknow-uk, Flickr

The Brockhole Visitor Centre on the shore of Windermere is brimming with activities that are suitable for the entire family. It’s free to get into (parking charges apply), and you can take a stroll through the pleasant gardens and along the lake shore, or the kids can have a run around through the huge adventure playground.

If you are looking to spend a few more hours there, then check out the huge range of paid activities that are available, including boat hire, bike hire, archery, high ropes, mini golf, and much more.

W is for William Wordsworth

Dove Cottage in Grasmere

Dove Cottage in Grasmere (TamiFreed / Bigstockphoto.com)

The works of William Wordsworth are intrinsically linked to the Lake District landscapes. The poet, who helped launch the Romantic era in English literature, rarely ceased to find inspiration from the lakes and fells that he called home. Fans of his work flock to the national park, and there are plenty of places of interest to visit.

Wordsworth was born in Cockermouth in 1770, and today his childhood home, Wordsworth House, is open to members of the public. His former school, Hawkshead Grammar School is now a museum. As an adult, Wordsworth spent some time in the south of England and France, before returning to live in the Lake District in 1799 at Dove Cottage where there is a museum celebrating his works and that of his sister, Dorothy.

He spent a brief period living at Allan Bank before moving to Rydal Mount where he lived until he died in 1850. His grave can be found at St Oswald’s Church in Grasmere.

X is for Xtreme

Via Ferrata

Via Ferrata

High in the fells above Buttermere, the Via Ferrata Classic and Via Ferrata Xtreme at Honister Mine offer an adrenaline fuelled experience that is like none other. Using cables, ladders, and rungs, the Via Ferrata gives visitors the chance to climb terrain that is usually inaccessible to most people in a safe, controlled way.

The classic route is suitable for anyone aged 10 years and above, with no previous climbing experience required. The Xtreme route features exposed edges, tough vertical climbs, and a hanging rope bridge and is not for the faint-hearted. If you prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground, then check out Honister’s mine tour as an alternative.

Y is for Yacht

Sail boat on Derwent Water

Sail boat on Derwent Water

Arthur Ransome’s classic children’s book, Swallows and Amazons, was inspired by his sailing adventures around Coniston Water and, this summer, you can have your own sailing adventure on the lakes, by taking part in a sailing course. At the Windermere Outdoor Adventure Centre, run by Better Leisure, you can do a range of courses that are recognised by the Royal Yachting Association. Throughout the school summer holidays, the centre will be hosting week-long courses that cost £225 and not only provide RYA qualifications, but also include taster sessions in other water sports, such as canoeing and windsurfing.

If you have sailing experience, then you can hire a small boat from a number of different providers, including the Derwent Water Marina, the Glenridding Sailing Centre, and the Coniston Boating Centre.

Z is for Zoo

Lion at the South Lakes Safari Zoo

Lion at the South Lakes Safari Zoo © southlakessafarizoo.com

The South Lakes Safari Zoo is under new management and a lot has changed since the controversies of recent years. Vast improvements have been made to the animal’s habitats and welfare, leading to the RSPCA declaring that the site is no longer under investigation.

This is a unique zoo experience where many of the animals roam in open paddocks that visitors can walk through, allowing you to get close to the creatures. There are over 1,000 animals here, including lions, tigers, giraffes, rhinos, zebra, and more, with feeding experiences available for an extra fee for some animals.