England, Europe

The Lake District: Keswick And Beyond

This fall, I got to spend my birthday weekend in one of my favorite places in all of England: the Lake District. Having previously visited for the first time in April around Coniston, I could not have asked for a better place to celebrate!

The Lake District is renown for its beautiful scenery and outdoor activities. One of the days I was there, we hiked up Helvellyn, one of the highest peaks in the Lake District at 949 meters. The other day was spent exploring at a more leisurely pace!

Keswick is one of the main tourist hubs in the Lake District. The small town is full of cafes, pubs, and lots of shops—especially outdoor/gear shops. The town itself is worth a stroll, but the main attractions lie slightly outside of town.

One of the most famous lakes in the Lake District, Derwentwater, is located right at the edge of Keswick. The boat launch piers are famous photo spots, and the surrounding peaks around Keswick are beautiful. The lake is 3 miles long and has an island not far from mainland Keswick.

By far, my favorite place in this area of the Lake District is the Castlerigg Stone Circle. Older than Stonehenge, Castlerigg Stone Circle dates back to the Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age, and was probably constructed around 3200 BC. It’s meant to be one of the most visually impressive prehistoric monuments in Britain, and it’s not hard to see why! From the circle, you can see some of the Lake District’s highest peaks and the entire area is simply stunning. Unlike at Stonehenge, you can walk around and in between the stones.

Don’t miss Castlerigg Stone Circle on a trip to this part of the Lake District! It’s about 2 miles from Keswick if you want an easy walk, or there’s free parking on the road nearby. The site is free to visit.

Honister Pass is a mountain pass on the B5289 road, which connects Borrowdale with Buttermere. It’s a trek getting up the pass, and it’s even worse going down (all I could smell at the bottom was burning tires and clutches). The pass is one of the steepest in the Lake District, but it gives way to amazing scenery in the valley. Honister Slate Mine, the last working slate mine in England, is located in Honister Pass.

One of my favorite places (and possibly the most photogenic) in the region was Buttermere. While the village of Buttermere is nice enough, the lake is truly the main attraction. I definitely recommend hiking here! There is an easy 4.5 mile path around the lake, which was one of the highlights of my entire Lake District trip.

Take your time going around the lake. It’s not a difficult hike, but the area is so beautiful.

The path takes you all the way around the lake, including through a rock tunnel. You end at Gatesgarth, where I stopped and got some amazing ice cream—made right from the farm! Gatesgarth has lots of parking spots, which are done on the honor system—you just put money in a bucket. (The parking lot in Buttermere can get really busy on nice weekend days.)

Crummock Water is the next lake along from Buttermere, and was my lunch view on this day in the Lake District! The lake is 2.5 miles long and 0.75 miles wide. There are lots of good walking paths around here as well, and the lake is popular with kayaking and canoeing. It’s also located on the B5289 road.

The Basics

The Lake District National Park was established as a national park in 1951. More recently, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017! It is in northwest England in the county of Cumbria.

Getting Around

Having a car is definitely the best way to get around the Lake District. This trip to the Lakes was the first with a car, and it made a huge difference—we had so much more freedom to do what we liked! That being said, the Lakes do have a very good bus system if you will be relying on public transportation. They even have buses (the #77) going from Keswick to Buttermere via Honister Pass! I wouldn’t want to be driving the bus up and down that mountain… Check out routes and times at the official Lake District page here.

Where I Stayed

I stayed at a wonderful Airbnb near the village of Grange in Borrowdale for this trip to the Lake District. Our host (Evy) was lovely, and the house was beautiful with to-die-for views. It was perfect to use as a base for hiking and exploring more of the region. We had our own room, which was a bit small but very cozy and comfortable. Breakfast was included in the morning, and there was space for us to park our car. I’d definitely stay here again!

(New to Airbnb? Sign up here and receive £25 or US Dollars equivalent off your first stay!)

I loved my birthday weekend in the Lake District. It is such a beautiful part of the country, and I enjoyed exploring it so much. I already can’t wait for my next trip to the Lakes!

Have you ever been to the Lake District? What were your favorite things in the area?

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