Everyone needs to escape the city at some point …
Living in London, or any major city for that matter can be exhausting. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and escape from the city. And in October that was exactly what I needed.
Located in the North West of England is where you can find the stunning Lake District, a mountainous area just waiting to be explored. The region is known as a popular holiday destination attracting visitors to its rich lake, forest and mountain scenery. It also boasts strong literary associations, inspiring famous English works by William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and John Ruskin.
The Lake District National Park is contained within the English county of Cumbria, and accounts for 2,362 square kilometres. It is within the national park that you can find England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike, a featured hike in the Three Peaks Challenge. As well as the nation’s highest peak, the Lakes also contains Wast Water and Windermere, England’s deepest and longest water body, respectively.
How to Get There
The Lakes can be reached by both public and private transport, however to get the most out of your adventure in the Lake District, I would recommend having a car.
Oxenholme Station is the gateway to the Lake District, connected by frequent services from major English cities. There are also other stations within the Lake District which may be more suited depending on where you wish to explore in the Lake District. Trains serve Windermere, Carlisle, Barrow, Kendal and Penrith.
Check Trainline to plan and book your journey to the Lake District.
Tip: Train prices jump up significantly the closer you are to your travel date. Book well in advance to avoid exorbitant train prices.
Driving yourself is by far the most flexible way to enjoy the Lakes. Depending on where you travel from will determine the travel time.
On this occasion I travelled from Surrey, which according to Google Maps should have taken only 4.5 hours. Well, much to our disappointment, Google was wrong; Why Google, Why?! Traffic was not in our favour and we ended up travelling for 6.5 hours.
Tip: If you’re anything like me and seriously struggle navigating the English roads, make sure you have access to mobile data or a GPS for navigation. Otherwise download Maps.me for offline GPS to navigate yourself to the Lakes.
Where to Stay
There are infinite options for accommodation in the Lake District. Firstly, you need to decide which region of the Lakes you want to explore, check out the National Park’s website for ideas.
After deciding on which area of the Lake District you want to explore, you need to select the type of trip you’re after. Accommodation in the Lake District ranges from camping and youth hostels to bed and breakfasts and luxury hotels. Everyone and their adventure is catered for.
In October we stayed at the YHA Ambleside, at the northern end of Lake Windermere. We travelled there as a part of the second Where’s Mollie? Global Travellers event. WM Global Travellers is an initiative by Where's Mollie? that aims to connect people through real life adventures across the globe rather than behind screens. This trip was her second event, with her first taking her to lead sixty strangers to conquer Mt Snowdon, read about that adventure here (coming soon).
Getting around the Lake District
As mentioned above, I honestly believe that the best option is to have a car when exploring the Lakes. But I know that this is not always an option for everyone, and usually I fall into this category too. Don’t fret, there are public buses that service most of the towns, check here to look all your transport options and start planning your visit.
Where to Go Hiking
With the Lake District containing the highest lying land in England (910m above sea level), there are endless hiking opportunities. Some of the most popular hikes in the Lakes include Scafell Pike (the highest peak in England), Helvellyn and Coniston Old Man.
Our hike, however, took us to a different area of the Lake District. We drove from Ambleside to the town of Glenridding, at the base of Ullswater. Our drive took us up to Kirkstone pass via The Struggle before taking us down into Glenridding. Yes, the road was seriously called ‘The Struggle’, even our sat nav confirmed it and it really was a struggle!
We met up with our local mountain guides at the visitor’s centre and then we were off. We walked beside the main road through the town towards Patterdale before linking up with the hiking paths. We didn’t walk a specific tourist trail, rather our guides orienteered us to explore more secluded areas of the region. Leaving Ullswater lake behind, we hiked up the pass towards the divide of Boredale and Bannerdale valleys. Here we reached a junction, leaving us to determine whether we would take the easy route down through the valley, or challenge ourselves to continue climbing above the valley. Always up for a challenge, we opted to continue our ascent above the lake and valleys, and we were rewarded with breathtaking views of the dramatic English landscape.
Credit and thanks to Lydia Collins for the above photo
Credit and thanks to Lydia Collins for the above photo
It did get quite breezy atop the fell, and that’s putting it lightly. Half of us were nearly blown off into the valley, but we can blame this on the backlash of Hurricane Ophelia. With everyone accounted for and the wind calming down, we continued our hike over the fell before stopping for a stop of lunch. You can’t get a lunch view like this in the city, that’s for sure.
Making our way back down to the lake shore; having only lost 2 soles in the decent, hiking shoe soles, not human, we joined up with the Lakeside Path. This path, forms part of the Ullswater way, with this section of the trail being known as the most beautiful and rewarding stretch. The striking autumn shades shone through the tree lined trail, contrasting the shimmering blue Ullswater lake. Much less strenuous than the fell hike, the lakeside path still presented its own challenges, but it was the perfect way to end our Lakes adventure. The trail took us all the way back to Glenridding where we warmed up with hot chocolates and cakes. Six hours and 23 kilometres later, we had conquered a corner of the Lake District.
Hiking around the Lakes is an incredible way to get back in touch with nature, escape the city life and just breathe. You can hike independently or with a guide and if you’re not into hiking, the Lake District still has so much to offer. So start planning that adventure!