10 Inspiring Places To Explore in England’s Lake District

With its impressive mountains, idyllic lakes, and romantic countryside that has inspired writers and artists through the ages, England’s Lake District is truly one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. Not only is the area an extensive national park, but it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017. If you’ve always wanted to learn more about this special region, keep reading to discover 10 must-see places in England's Lake District!

Grasmere, England - English Lake District

1. Lake District National Park

Lake District National Park, in the northwest region of England, is the perfect place to find tranquility and melt into a breathtaking landscape of picturesque rolling hills and majestic lakes. The most popular of all the United Kingdom's national parks, it welcomes 16 million visitors each year and covers 912 miles of magical, scenic beauty. 

Within Lake District National Park, visitors will explore wooded forests, 16 lakes, and 150 mountains. One of the highlights of the Lake District's natural wonders is the beautiful Lake Windermere, the longest lake in England, with its slender, finger-like shape. The peaceful, rolling hills around Lake Windermere have inspired travelers, artists, and writers for hundreds of years. Nearby Scafell Pike is the tallest mountain in England, at a height of 3,209 feet.  

Keep reading to discover more things to do in the Lake District!

2. Brantwood House and Gardens

Brantwood House and Gardens is one of the most picturesque places in the Lake District to visit. It was the home of John Ruskin, an influential English art critic, writer, and social thinker of the Victorian era. Some of the most famous Victorians, including Charles Darwin, Holman Hunt, Kate Greenaway, and Henry Holiday, spent time with Ruskin at Brantwood House. 

Today, the unique architectural features of Brantwood House and Gardens still delight visitors from across the world. Road Scholar will take travelers across England to visit Brantwood on the shores of picturesque, serene Coniston Water. The house is a treasure trove of historical importance and a center for contemporary arts. 

3. Catbells High Ridge

Catbells, with its spectacular views across lakes, is one of the most popular places to hike in the Lake District. The walk takes around one hour each way, a total distance of 3.5 miles, perfect for a half-day adventure.

Travel guidebook writer Alfred Wainwright has this to say about Catbells:  “It is one of the great favorites, a family fell where grandmothers and infants can climb the heights together, a place beloved. Its popularity is well deserved: its shapely topknot attracts the eye, offering a steep but obviously simple scramble to the tall summit …”

4. Levens Hall

Levens Hall is a historic country home near Kendal in the Lake District. It is known for its beautifully preserved Elizabethan architecture and world-famous topiary gardens, the oldest and most elaborate in the world. Within Levens Hall is a historic collection of Jacobean furniture and Wellingtoniana. The gardens were designed by Guillaume Beaumont, gardener to King James II and Colonel James Grahme. There are over 100 individual yew trees shaped as peacocks, chess pieces, and other intricate designs.

Everything you see at Levens Hall has been beautifully maintained over hundreds of years. Take a tour of the home and garden, and dine in the café, a restaurant with food grown on the estate.

5. Tullie House Museum

Considered one of the best attractions in the Lake District, the Tullie House Museum has an impressive collection of exhibitions covering a range of interests, from fine and decorative art to human history and natural sciences.

The museum’s historical collections include pieces dating back to c.10,000 BC, including jewelry, pottery, and metalwork from the Bronze Age and artifacts from the early medieval period to the Tudors.

On the 14-day Road Scholar tour, The English Lake District and Borders, travelers will visit the award-winning Tullie House Museum in Carlisle, with its collections of Roman and Border Reiver relics. 

6. Holker Hall and Gardens

The Holker House was built in the early 17th century by the most renowned Neo-Elizabethan architects and designers of the time. The grounds hold a key to the past: 23 acres of formal and woodland gardens with ancient plantings. Holker Hall is accessed via Kirkstone Pass, the highest pass open to motor traffic in the Lake District and home to spectacular views.

Road Scholar’s 13-day adventure, The Best of England and Wales, takes travelers on a storybook journey to the Lake District for a magnificent tour of Holker Hall and Gardens. 

 

England

Portions of Hadrian's Wall still stand across the English Lake District.

6. Hadrian’s Wall

At the beginning of the second century, England was home to an entirely different kingdom — the Roman Empire. Roman Emperor Hadrian informed residents that a wall should be built to keep “intact the empire,” and upon this ruling, Hadrian’s Wall was constructed. Spanning an impressive 73 miles across northern Britain, Hadrian’s Wall remains an incredible archaeological wonder that illuminates Roman industry and engineering. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and remains a popular landmark for history lovers visiting the region.

7. Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top House

Visitors to Beatrix Potter’s country home, Hill Top House, may feel like they have been there before — perhaps it’s because they can imagine a hungry rabbit named Peter hopping around the garden, or a naughty squirrel named Nutkin causing mischief in the yard. Beatrix Potter composed 13 out of her 23 children’s books at Hill Top House, and the home itself remains unchanged from when the author left it to England’s National Trust in 1943.

8. Northumberland Coast

If you love charming coastal villages, historic castles, and sweeping beaches, there’s no better place to explore than the Northumberland Coast. A treasure trove of history and natural wonders — more than 700 castles and two National Nature Reserves call Northumberland home — it’s a dream for people who love to explore on foot or via road trip. If you enjoy stargazing, some of the largest protected night skies can be enjoyed here.

9. William Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage

Located in the village of Grasmere, Dove Cottage has been home to several tenants through the years, most notably the poet William Wordsworth. Poems such as “My Heart Leaps Up” and “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” were composed during the years that Wordsworth resided in Dove Cottage with his family, and his sister, Dorothy, kept a fascinating Grasmere journal that has since helped historians and preservationists understand what life was like during this period. Wordsworth’s poems were known to reflect his love for nature — a passion that was undoubtedly enhanced by his residence in Grasmere. Literary enthusiasts can still visit Dove Cottage, its gardens, and the Wordsworth Museum which further tells of the life of this innovative writer.

10. Muncaster Castle

The historic home of the Penningtons — a family who have traced their ancestors’ residence of this castle back to 1208 — Muncaster Castle is a true gem of Cumbria. It is thought that the castle was built upon Roman foundations and was once a place of refuge for King Henry VI. With 77 acres of woodland and historic gardens known for their camellias, magnolias, daffodils, rhododendrons, and azaleas, this fascinating castle and its grounds are also home to a raptor center where hawks and owls reside. Its beauty and wealth of history make Muncaster Castle a favorite location for educational events, weddings, and visits by people who wish to stroll the grounds and take in this beautiful home.

Explore The Lake District With Road Scholar

Explore Road Scholar's special collections of tours through England and its stunning Lake District. Road Scholar’s experiential programs consist of diverse cohorts of like-minded travelers eager to learn. Through spirited conversations and active discovery, you’ll return with lifelong friends and cherished memories.