The Lake District

Pretty houses with a  green lawn in England's Lake DistrictThe Lake District is located in Cumbria, on the northwest coast of England about an hour from the Scottish border. The Lake District is to northern England what Cornwall is to the south, and I can’t figure out which one I enjoyed more. They’re both beautiful.

The lakes are a result of the last ice age. Glaciers receded from here and cut the U-shaped valleys that are now filled with water. My friends and I drove up on a Sunday, and the highways were packed with people coming down south after a relaxing weekend at the lakes. It’s easy to see why they all go.

Starting up north at Ullswater, we made our way south to Windermere. The farther south we went, the busier it got. I enjoyed the northern lakes more because of this.

Ullswater is located in a rugged area and is surrounded by mountains, hiking trails, and sheep farms. It was very reminiscent of New Zealand and looked a lot like Milford Sound, but without all the ice. And though Ullswater is the second-largest lake in the district, it’s one of the quietest.

Pooley Bridge Village, located at the northern end of the lake, is famous for the little stone bridge that gives the town its name. The bridge was nothing special, but the river is shallow enough to walk across and, despite its cold temperature, had many kids playing in it.

The lake that makes up the Lake District in the UK

Driving south, we passed mountain after mountain and farm after farm. There are a lot of sheep in this area, which is another reason this place makes me think of New Zealand.

We drove through the Kirkstone Pass, which provides stunning views of the whole area, including a few of the lakes. Little streams trickle downhill, and there are a number of swimming holes here. However, once you pass through, you reach the southern part of the district and the more heavily touristed area. Coming out of the pass, houses started to spring up all around, more cars were on the road, and people seemed to be everywhere.

When we pulled into Windermere, we hit traffic and crowds and I longed for the serenity of the northern lakes. We didn’t even stop in Windermere because, after driving around for 20 minutes, we realized we just couldn’t find parking. But I wasn’t too bothered. I like avoiding crowds. Interesting fact about Windermere, though: the home of Beatrix Potter, who wrote the Peter Rabbit books, is located here.

Not only is the Lake District amazing, but all of the surrounding area is too. My friends live in Lancaster, which was equally beautiful. It’s a more populated version of the Lake District, but still has all the charm. I woke up to this each morning:
Picturesque view of the lake and rolling hills on a sunny day in northern England

Ancient stone walls sectioned off vast numbers of sheep, green hills rolled on forever in all directions, and tiny English stone cottages dotted the landscape. This whole area had an “English country” feel that I’ve yet to see elsewhere, and coming here took me back a few centuries. The whole area is so well-preserved and so perfect, you often wonder if the locals got together and decided to rebuild everything like it was in the 1700s for the tourists. Luckily, that’s not the case. People here have just maintained these ancient houses out of their own free will.

Out of all the time I’ve spent here in England, my weekend in Lancaster and the Lake District felt the most “English.” The cottages, the sheep, the hills, and the Sunday venison roast caught by a man wearing this:

A British man with two dogs in from of the Lake in England

If you’re planning a trip to England, visit my page on backpacking Europe or my guide to England.

  1. Theresa

    I’ve always wanted to do a walking tour of the Lake District…hike from town to town through stunning scenery.

  2. NomadicMatt

    @theresa: just another reason for you to go to visit!

    @dawn: thank you for such nice words.

    @everyone else: thanks for the compliments about the photos. no one has commented on the english guy though….what do you think? very english huh?

  3. Antonini

    Matt, it is amazing to see all the places you have visited so far in England. You are presenting a broader view of what there is to see and visit in that beautiful country.

  4. Toni Burgess

    Hey matt, love your pics, and your description!!! Makes me realise even more how lucky we are to live here! Was good to see you, stay in touch and enjoy your travels…am jealous!! Toni x

  5. It is SO strange to read about my own “turf” through someone else’s eyes! It actually gives me a different kind of perspective on your own blog too!

    This morning I read your entry about Cornwall, which I barely know, but the Lake District is where a branch of my family lived and was my second home for years and years (suppose it still is really). You are spot on with your observation about the North being quieter, and I’m glad you wrote that, I always think people will be “put off” by Windermere/Ambleside/Bowness, but on the other hand, I’m glad the tourists stick to those places and leave the rest free for people who really appreciate the surroundings!

    I haven’t been there in the Fall for years, like over 20 – and am planning to go this year so am hoping it’s a good year for Autumnal color.

    Enjoying catching up with your blog, which I only discovered quite recently, so keep up the good work!

  6. Andy

    I live in Lancaster and realise just how luckey I am after reading your blog. Don’t take advantage of what’s on your doorstep until people point it out to you. Really liking the website after travelling to various places. Looking forward to visiting Oz soon and experiencing back packing for the first time. Wish me luck.

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