48 Hours in The Lake District - What to do on a weekend in The Lake District
The Lake District National Park is 2,362km², the largest in England, and is home to some of the greatest, most beautiful and dramatic scenery there is – in my opinion anyway! There are limitless things to do here and although one person managed to run all 214 of the Wainwright Fells in 5 days, 23 hours and 49 minutes, it takes most people the best part of a lifetime. There’s plenty to do in-between as well so if walking mountains isn’t your thing there’s still so much to keep you busy.
The Lake District is also home to England’s wettest inhabited place, Seathwaite, but we get plenty of sun too and if you ask anybody the mountains look incredible in any weather. So, pack your waterproof (and your factor 50!) and get yourself here for 48hrs in the Lake District!
Friday afternoon in The Lake District
So you’ve hopped off the M6 motorway and instantly you’re hit with some fantastic views of the mountains. It’s time to srtat your 48hrs in the Lake District We are going to start our weekend right in the centre of the national park, Ambleside. It’s a busy, central hub and means it’s a great base for a weekend trip.
Head to the Apple Pie Cafe & Bakery and sit in or take out. Everything is baked fresh and, even though it’s a really popular place to eat, it still holds the ethos of ‘a local orientated, family-run business.’ They have plenty of options and are really good for all the family. Also, make sure you try their apple pie while you’re here, it’s scrummy!
Alternatively, if wanted somewhere nearby to eat, out of town, head to Chesters by the River in Skelwith bridge. It features in my list of amazing Vegan and Vegetarian places to eat, plus they have a takeaway and a lovely gift shop too. There’s something for everyone here with pizza, pastries, cakes and AMAZING salads. It’s not often I talk about a salad like that, but believe me.
If you grab takeout from The Apple Pie then you can meander around the town of Ambleside. Take a look at the 17th Century Bridge House, one of the smallest buildings owned by the National Trust, something not to miss if you only have 48hrs in The Lake District.
Lake Windermere is only a little walk from the town centre as well so you can go and stretch your legs by the waterfront.
Alternatively, you could go round to Wray Castle. It looks mighty impressive with its turrets and gothic-looking towers – just like something a child would draw. The Castle has plenty of options for indoor and outdoor things to do. There’s beautiful lakeshore walks along Windermere and grounds to play in, then you can head inside to look at all the rooms, dress up and build your own castle.
If you chose to eat at Chesters by The River then take a walk along the river to Elterwater. This traditional Lake District village is full of charm, beautiful views of The Langdale Valley, one of my favourites, and cute pubs and cafes too.
Friday evening in the Lake District
It’s time to check in to your accommodation. If you’re here for a bit of luxury then book your weekend at Brimstone Hotel, situated in The Langdale Valley about 15 minutes from Ambleside. You can have your own luxury suite and haven of tranquillity. You can recharge in the spa and have a truly relaxing time.
For something a little closer to nature for 48hrs in The Lake District you can head just up the road to Rydal where you will find some quirky, but comfortable yurts. They are perfect for families and pets and make for being comfortable and cosy.
If you’d like to put on something lovely and head out for an exotic evening at Gilpin Spice. This is full of pan-Asian dishes inspired by countries such as the Philippines, Thailand and Japan.
If you’d like something a little more family-friendly then head to Misto for some Pizza and Pasta in a friendly and modern surrounding.
Ambleside is also full of lively, local orientated pubs, lots of which serve food. The Golden Rule is a practically unchanged pub full of character and atmosphere. It makes for a great place to pick up a bite to eat. They’ve been nominated for plenty of awards for their post-walk atmosphere and a pint!
Saturday morning in The Lake District
Heading out of Ambleside you can take the drive over Kirkstone Pass, up ‘the Struggle’ passing by the highest pub in England, The Kirkstone Inn, to go over to Ullswater.
The journey down the winding road into the valley and along the lake is spectacular and you can pull over for a quick photo opportunity at any given point. Take your time on these magnificent passes and really soak it all in.
Down by the lake you can hop on The Ullswater steamer where you can see the whole lake and the towns and villages on its shore whilst taking in the vistas of some of England’s tallest mountains like Helvellyn and High Street. Take a walk off the steamer to go and see Aira Force, a 65ft waterfall that comes tumbling down into what looks like a magical fairy glen.
Saturday lunchtime in The Lake District
Once you’ve recovered from your sea (lake) legs you are going to head west to Keswick, one of the bigger towns in the Lake District and absolutely full of life. There’s plenty to do there come rain or shine, even a museum all about pencils! Look it up, it’s actually a great place to visit for all ages.
Anyway, for lunch, you are going just outside of town to The Lingholm Kitchen. Their brunch menu is literally mouth-watering and definitely not to be missed, so it’s a good job it’s served until 3:30pm. Set in the beautiful grounds of The Lingholm Estate on the shores of Derwentwater and was the inspiration for ‘Mr McGregor’s Garden’ in the lovely Peter Rabbit Tales by Beatrix Potter.
If you’d like to stay in Keswick then there are lots of other great options for lunch too. Merienda serves fantastic coffee and lunch options. Kats Kitchen is a fully vegan experience right next to the river and also head to Fitz Park and Cafe West. The Cafe is set in Keswick Museum and run by West House, which provides services and training to Adults with disabilities.
Saturday afternoon in The Lake District
The Lake District is full to the brim of adrenaline-filled, adventurous, outdoor activities to do. One of these is at the top of Honister Pass standing at 1,167ft. Take a drive down the beautiful Borrowdale valley and drive up to the top where at Honister.com there is the opportunity to take part in Via Ferrata, walking an ‘Infinity Bridge’ or Climb the Mine, all in and around the oldest working slate mine in England. This is a spectacular way to see the stunning scenery that The Lake District has to offer.
If climbing on rock faces and walking across wires 200ft of the valley floor doesn’t sound like your cup of tea then you can take a tour to see their world-famous Westmorland Green Slate that has been extracted there for centuries. There’s also plenty of walking to be done from here or you could grab a cuppa and a cake for their cafe and admire the beautiful view down into Buttermere valley.
Saturday evening in the Lake District
If you still have some energy left after climbing on some rock faces then head back into Keswick for your evening meal.
The Fellpack is a relaxed and informal restaurant that celebrates the best, seasonal, local food we have to offer. The dishes and their hard-working staff are individual and always eclipse what the Lake District is all about.
The Pheasant is a local, traditional, Keswick pub. It has a small-town pub feel and local ales to try. The more traditional ‘pub grub’ food might be exactly what’s needed after a long day of Lake District adventuring.
Alternatively, you can try and tackle the infamous Cow Pie at The George Hotel. Another pub with a traditional feel and local ales to try. It’s cosy feel in the bar is great for a cold night and the open fires will make you want to stay all evening.
If you need to stretch your legs after that then take the short 10 minute walk down to Derwentwater. The Lake is magnificent any time of day but if you time it then you can watch the sunset over the fells, illuminating their majestic ridgelines.
Sunday morning in The Lake District
Just before you have to head back to real life back home you can walk or drive to the beautiful little village of Grasmere. If you would like to then stop on the way at Rydal Caves. They are a magnificent show of man-made caverns, where a lot of the local roof slate would have been sourced. If you want the full experience then hop across the stepping stones to see – and hear – the immense space.
Grasmere itself is a lovely little village, well worth a wander around. Just on the outskirts is Dove Cottage, the poet William Wordsworth’s home from 1799 to 1808.
For a great brunch to fuel your journey home you could head to Lucia’s for some delicious cakes and pastries and speciality coffee. The homemade vibe is friendly and welcoming, somewhere great for the whole family.
Alternatively, dip into Mathilde’s for some simple, elegant and warming food. It’s set in a beautiful art gallery so there’s a feast for your eyes too.
Just before you leave, don’t forget to pick up your Grasmere Gingerbread. This is world-famous and can only be bought from the small cottage next to the church. Tom Cruise is one of their famous customers too! No better way to round off your 48hrs in The Lake District.