The charm of the Lake District

Lake District

“One place suits one person, another place suits another person. For my part, I prefer to live in the country, like Timmy Willie.”  – Beatrix Potter

The Peter Rabbit author fell in love with the picturesque hills and serenity of the Lakes, and you can see how it’s hard not to.  The miles of hill and fields, the still lake views, the quaint little towns and their country pubs, it’s almost unbelievable this wonder of nature is just a few hours drive from home.

My first trip to the Lake District was almost 20 years ago. It was a family summer holiday in the 90s and the one thing I remember is how dull and wet it was the whole time. Even still, covered in grey clouds, it inspired a school art project. While everyone else painted blue skies and beaches from their summer holiday, I painted a gloomy landscape with my sisters walking in the distance in oversized rain jackets. The teachers loved it saying I had “found beauty in the most miserable weather.”

Since then I had always talked of going back, hoping it would be sunnier and brighter…and it was! After a long car journey and miles away from the city, the air was fresh and clean and it just looked even more beautiful than I had remembered it.

Where we went

In two days we managed to fit a lot in. We wanted to make the most of the time there and maybe planned a little too much as a result because we didn’t get time to sit in one place long enough and take it all in.  Nevertheless this is how much we managed to pack into our short visit.

pencil museum sign

Our first stop was the Derwent Pencil Museum. It wouldn’t have been my first choice, in fact I had no idea it existed, but we went all the same. It really is a very random thing to have a museum about and as a black and orange building in the middle of a huge car park, it doesn’t really fit in with the other buildings around the town.

An entrance ticket is naturally a pencil instead of a piece of paper so that’s a nice memento to take home. It’s small and compact and as you can imagine there isn’t a great deal to it. We were there for approximately 15/20 minutes, probably only extended by the fact I got distracted in the colouring corner and there was a quiz to fill out on the way round in order to win crayons – exactly three each.

Keswick town itself is busy and we visited midweek so I would hate to think how much busier it gets at weekends and during the school holidays. The most serene part of the town is at the other end by the Derwent Water. Following the crowds of people walking in the same direction, you can’t miss the lake but there is plenty of space for everyone to spread out and enjoy the view without sitting on top of each other.


This felt like a quieter, less touristy area near the Derwent Water and was close to where we were staying. The start of the walk around the river was just a few minutes walk from our hotel. Around every corner was a different viewpoint, a different spectacle of nature to take in. The sky was so blue, the fields so green and the mountains around us stood proudly overlooking the landscape.

There are hop on off boats that take you around the water in a clockwise and anti clockwise direction, stopping at various points of the lake. Just don’t leave it too late to get any of them like we did. The pick ups usually end about 4pm but the times change for different times of the year so check this properly before you set off.

Instead we had a walk around a part of the water and took in the scenery that way. We came across only a few people along the same route and the odd runner and it was a good way to work up an appetite for dinner.


For day two we headed for another small and compact museum – The World of Beatrix Potter.

The museum draws in a lot of Japanese tourists and at the height of summer you can queue for ages to get in.  However, we walked straight in and enjoyed wandering around, learning about the inspiration behind a lot of Miss Potter’s work.  The displays were creative and well put together and the garden was lovely, if not a little small, but again I’m not sure it’s worth the £7.95 entry.

Windermere is of course the biggest and most popular town in the Lake District, and so is the lake. On my first visit I remember my dad steering a boat we hired around a part of it while we sat in the back hoping he knew what he was doing. This time we opted for one of the organised cruises. Several different boats leave throughout the day from the harbour. Some are hop on and off boats to different parts of the lake, or you can take a non-stop 45 minute cruise around the middle of the lake – which is what we opted for.

Once that was over we decided to get a different view of the lake and headed to the other side – the Windermere West Shore. This is easy enough via the car ferry which costs just 50p per pedestrian each way and it takes just a few minutes to cross.


Once on the other side you can go up to the Claife Viewing Station to see the lake from above. There’s not much else to see from here but it offers a view from a different perspective and there is a four mile trail from here for walkers and endless waterside walks. There’s a cute cafe at the bottom too where you can put your feet up for a bit with a coffee and a cake.

Where we stayed

The Leathes Head Hotel, Borrowdale

This was a rural and luxurious hotel with beautiful views of the countryside. The welcome was great and staff were helpful in recommending places for dinner and the perfect gin from their extensive range at the bar.

Their garden, with the view of the valley, made a stunning backdrop for a refreshing afternoon drink in the sunshine.  Or once it’s cooler or raining, there’s a cosy lounge area with big armchairs, comfy sofas, a fireplace and plenty of books and games to while away the hours. { }

gin glass with a mountain view

Two days in the Lakes just wasn’t enough but I left as mesmorised by its beauty this time, as I did the first.

I’m almost certain there will be a third visit but next time I need to visit for a week, or a longer weekend so that we can sit a while longer and breathe in the clean air, and fully enjoy the wonder and charm of our surroundings.

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