The Lake District is a huge national reserve in the North West of England with incredible scenery and plenty of options for outdoor activities. We've prepared and personally tested the Lake District itinerary and are ready to reveal all the secrets. P.S. We have chosen the most budget and spartan accommodation option - camping. There are plenty of campsites in England, and they are in incredibly beautiful locations and well equipped. You'll find plenty of showers and kitchens, and even Wi-Fi internet access to keep you socially connected. You can sleep in tents, tipis, lanpods, glamping sites, motorhomes and yurts - there are plenty of options to suit all tastes.
There are quite a few interesting towns on the way to the Lake District. For example, Nottingham (yes, from the legend of Robin Hood) and Leeds, with one of England's most romantic castles, while the more westerly route takes you to Coventry, Birmingham and Manchester.
See you, London! Let's take a trip to the Lake District, one of the most beautiful places in the UK.
The drive to the reserve takes five and a half hours. But we decide to stretch our way and stop in Stratford-upon-Avon, a small town known throughout the world as the birthplace of playwright William Shakespeare.
In the city centre stands the house where Shakespeare was born, and every shop or pub in the area is associated (or tries to associate itself) with the Bard in one way or another. On central Henley Street and Ship Street there are surviving fourteenth- and fifteenth-century dwellings - striped, wrinkled and creaky, but no less charming for that. Another famous building in Stratford is the home of Anne Hathaway, the playwright's wife, with a large garden and sculpture park.
Of course, the main attraction of Shakespeare's homeland are the theatres. There are three in this small town: the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, The Other Place and the Swan Theatre. If you have a spare evening in Stratford, don't deny yourself the pleasure of visiting at least one.
Our campsite is near Kezik, a small town in the north of the Lake District. It is surrounded by many campgrounds, campsites, and guesthouses where nature lovers flock. For such a small town, Kezik is full of shops with outdoor goods, and almost every house has an ad for a place to stay. From here we finally head to our tent camp.
Our home for the week was the yurt at Inside Out Camping. It could sleep five people, had a wooden flooring to protect us from the cold at night, a kitchen and a wood-burning stove inside. The campsite where we settled in had clean toilets and showers with hot water. The organisers have thought of every detail. Solar panels give us access to mains electricity, a gas cylinder for cooking, and there's even an excellent BBQ set. Such a civilized variant of rest as campers. And the main thing - our camp is situated on the bank of mountain river. It is unbelievable pleasure to fall asleep and wake up to its sound. One more advantage of such rest - full off-line. There was no cellular communication in the campsite, we could disconnect from the outside world and enjoy nature and good company. Of course, such "conveniences" are not found in every camp, but it is highly recommended to put smartphones away for the time of camping.
The first hiking route we decided to do is around Lake Derwent Water, also called the "Queen of Lakes". The trail is fairly flat and easy, and is ideal for beginner hikers. It also winds along the scenic shoreline, interspersed with ancient woodland and small piers. There are picnic areas, restaurants, cafes and toilets along the way.
Windermere is the largest natural lake in England. It is 17 kilometres long and only one and a half kilometres wide.
There are different ways to get here, but we chose the most unusual - by an old steam train. This is the service offered by the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Historic Railway. Its length is only five kilometers, but the ride takes less than 20 minutes. But how much fun! As the small train pulls up to the station, emitting puffs of steam, you feel like a Hogwarts student about to go and learn magic with Harry Potter.
The steam train leaves Haverthwaite station about every hour and arrives at Lakeside station, right on the shore of Lake Windermere. There's also a pier where you can board a pleasure boat and head out to explore the body of water. It is said that a monster, nicknamed Nessie the Humpback, lives in its depths. After a short boat ride (no monsters were found along the way), we arrive at the charming resort town of Windermere, which is full of hotels, cafes and restaurants for tourists. Here you are reminded everywhere that Lake District is also the home of Peter the Rabbit. This is where children's author and artist Beatrix Potter lived at Hill Top Farm when she created her furry characters. Her cottage now houses a house-museum with a magical garden, where families with children love to visit.
There are many hiking routes in the Lake District, from the shortest and easiest to many hours long. We chose a route from the village of Grasmir to a network of small lakes in the heart of the national nature reserve.
The road winds through sheep pastures and steep hills, along a mountain river that suddenly turns into a real waterfall. And beyond that is an incredible view of a small lake nestled amidst green hills. The walk takes about an hour one way, and you can picnic on the lakeside with an unforgettable view.
By the way, Grasmere village is known all over the world for its gingerbread. It is said that this dish was invented here - in a small church cottage, which now houses the Gingerbread Shop. Whether it's true or not, it's really worth trying gingerbread from Grasmere.
After exploring the Lake District in four days, we decided to explore the castles of the North West of England.
The castle was built in stone in 1095-1125 and expanded between 1125 and 1185. Recently the place has become nationally famous thanks to British politician Dominic Cummings. A year ago, at the height of the lockdown, he travelled to Durham and visited Barnard with his family, then explained his trip was because he wanted his eyesight checked before his journey to London. The story led to a major political scandal and, a year later, became a famous joke. But Barnard Castle, today a spectacular ruin, has benefited from the scandal. As the caretaker told us, after Cummings' visit many people began stopping by for tours.
Surrounding Barnard Castle, the mini-town of Barnard Castle has proved to be a mecca for antique lovers. From antique furniture to World War II newspapers, vintage and antique shops are everywhere and there's really a lot to be found. And the prices will especially please people who are used to paying triple-dollar prices for such artefacts.
Another castle on our list is Raby. It's situated in a huge deer reserve near the village of Steindrop in County Durham. It was the home of the ancient Neville family of nobles back in the 13th century. The castle retains its aristocratic interiors and large collection of paintings, and is surrounded by an incredibly beautiful park.
Filled with impressions with gingerbread in our pockets we return to London, stopping on the way to York, a majestic city with a huge and beautiful cathedral, medieval streets and walls and an ineffable atmosphere of old England.