A weekend in the Lake District
The Lake District is by far the UK’s most popular park with 15 million people arriving each year to explore its fells and countryside, and its really not hard to see why. The rustic panoramas of rocky hilltops, mountain walks and glittering lakes are enough to stir the imagination. Full of outdoor opportunities, country walks, mountain hikes and lake cruises, the Lake District has something for everyone. Just four and a half hours from London, a weekend in the Lake District is perfect to unwind and slow down in the fresh country air.
Made up of sixteen lakes, towns in the Lake District are scattered around these. I stayed at The Samling Hotel, just outside of Ambleside on Lake Windermere which is well located to enjoy all that the Lakes have to offer in a weekend.
Drunken Duck Inn
We arrived just in time for a late lunch at the Drunken Duck Inn, a typical country pub on the outskirts of Ambleside. A chilly autumn afternoon is warmed up next to the fireplace with a menu of hearty favourites.
Early winter sunsets turn the lakes a beautiful shade of pink. Head to Brockhole Pier on the edge of Lake Windemere for a great spot from which to enjoy the show.
Loughrigg Fell is a great short walk that allows spectacular views of Lake Windermere from its peak. Taking around 45 minutes to walk up its 335m, the views from the top across Lake Windermere are breathtaking. It has everything you could ask for in a Lake District view, expansive lake, rough fells, and a wooden ladder that’s just ready for Instagram.
Chesters by the River, on the edge of River Brathay, is a bright, modern cafe with a delicious home-made menu and an outside area complete with wood-burner. A great little spot to refuel for the afternoon in a great setting.
Lake Grasmere is one of the smaller lakes in the area but it more than makes up for this with it’s beauty. The walk here along a relatively level lakeshore path makes it a really accessible walk. The lake has a stunning mirror effect and the autumnal colours are just asking to be painted. Take a walk up the hill behind the lake in order to get a panoramic view of Lake Grasmere.
If you’re looking for a postcard-ready Lake District village, Ambleside is it. A quaint little town built from the same slate and grey stone that is so characteristic of the Lake District. Surrounded by fells, it’s cosy town popular with walkers with outdoor shops, idyllic pubs and cafes to refuel after a long uphill walk. The old mill stands as a reminder to its textile past.
The Samling Hotel restaurant offers a 7-course vegan tasting menu. The restaurant has already acquired a strong reputation and strives to produce a relaxed memorable dining experience. With their Development Kitchen and growing their own leaves and micro-greens, a dinner at The Samling is exactly what is needed to make your Lake District experience really special.
The Old Man of Coniston
To the west of the village of Coniston and on the edge of Lake Coniston sits the fell known as The Old Man of Coniston. Having enjoyed two leisurely walks the previous day, I’d come to accept this as standard so was caught quite off guard when we were still walking an hour and a half later and even more off guard when the walk turned into an on all-fours scramble.
The mountain has seen extensive slate mining activity for 800 years with the remains of the abandoned mines forming significant features on the route, as well as a great opportunity to stop and take a breath. The peak from the north-east involves a steep rocky climb towards the end, so we took the back route down which provided a more leisurely descent past lake shores. But soon the sun was beginning to set on our unexpected adventure so with the thought of darkness and having gone all of this time without a drop of water that we left in the car in ignorance, it became a leisurely jog to arrive back safely.
I can highly recommend this walk, the views were incredible and the experience very special, just make sure to bring some water, maybe a snack and appropriate layers of clothing.
The Lake District is the perfect weekend to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Packed full of spectacular scenery, great walks and fresh air, a weekend in the Lakes will now be a regular medicine for me from my city-living life.