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A whistle-stop tour of the Lake District lakes

When the solar is thrashing down on the Lake District, there’s no higher place to be than beside one of many giant our bodies of water that give this gorgeous nationwide park its title. Whether or not you fancy a cooling dip, only a paddle, possibly take out a ship, skim stones and even simply admire the view, a day beside one of many lakes is full of potential. However simply what number of lakes are there within the Lake District? Let’s go on a whistle-stop tour.

Earlier than we set off, let’s reply the query above. Simply what number of lakes are there within the Lake District? Any quiz boffs can have come throughout the query earlier than. The reply is one. Bassenthwaite Lake is the one ‘official’ lake within the Lake District. The remaining are meres and tarns, equivalent to Windermere or Ullswater.

Actually, there are sixteen lakes that are thought of the primary lakes of the Lake District, in addition to a whole lot of tarns dotted throughout the fells. Each has its personal distinctive really feel, boasting a number of the most spectacular surroundings in British Isles. Hardly shocking then that the Lake District has grow to be one of many UK’s most fascinating vacation locations.

For those who’re interested by visiting, hopefully our whistle-stop tour of the sixteen ‘main lakes’ within the Lake District Nationwide Park provides you with just a little perception into what every of them presents.

We’ll begin with the most important lake, Windermere.


At 10.5 miles lengthy, Windermere isn’t solely the Lake District’s largest lake, it’s additionally England’s largest lake. It’s additionally arguably the best-known of the lakes, with a lot to do on and round it. It’s a agency favorite for watersports fanatics, whereas the steamers and ferries making their common journeys up and down the lake present a extra leisurely method of taking within the gorgeous surroundings. There’s additionally an abundance of wildlife for individuals who wish to follow the shoreline.


If you’re eager to remain on dry land and easily admire the views, there are a variety of walks across the lake. Gummers How on the southern finish of the lake is a unbelievable stroll for the kids – it seems like a mountain and the views are superb – as is Orrest Head on the outskirts of Windermere village, from the place writer and fellwalker, Alfred Wainwright, first fell within the love with the Lake District. The quieter western shore additionally presents a day full of journey, together with Wray Fort and Claife Heights.

Briefly, Windermere is buzzing with exercise.

Esthwaite Water

Simply to the west of Windermere is Esthwaite Water, one of many lesser recognized lakes within the Lake District Nationwide Park. It was, nonetheless, mentioned to be Beatrix potter’s favorite lake and the inspiration for her much-loved character, Jeremy Fisher.

Esthwaite Water is privately owned and presents various choices for guests. From fishing to boat rent, osprey safaris to shoreline walks, there’s one thing for everybody.

Coniston Water

Our subsequent cease is Coniston Water, best-known for offering a number of the inspiration for Arthur Ransome’s well-known youngsters’s e-book, ‘Swallows and Amazons’.

Coniston Water

This picturesque lake is a well-liked vacation spot for households, seeking to recreate a number of the tales from the e-book, or just having fun with some enjoyable on the water. Why not paddle throughout to Peel Island in a canoe and revel in a picnic? Alternatively, benefit from the surroundings aboard the fantastically restored Gondola, a Victorian steam-powered yacht which sails gracefully up and down the lake in the summertime months.

The Coniston Launch is one other nice option to see the lake, providing numerous cruises. It sails from Coniston Boating centre and stops at Brantwood, the historic dwelling of John Ruskin, poet, artist and social reformer, in addition to different jetties across the lake.


Within the coronary heart of the Lake District Nationwide Park is Elterwater, a small lake mendacity half-a-mile south-east of the village of the identical title. The title itself means ‘lake of the swan’ and whooper swans nonetheless winter right here.

Elterwater Swans

As with all of the lakes, count on breath-taking surroundings. With the Langdale Pikes as a backdrop, the views listed here are notably spectacular. There are additionally a few waterfalls to admire, Colwith Power and Skelwith Power, each on the River Brathay, which hyperlinks Elterwater to Windermere.

Grasmere and Rydal Water

Simply to the north of Windermere are Grasmere and Rydal Water, two of the smaller lakes within the nationwide park, however with a lot to supply, nonetheless. For one, the surroundings right here is nothing wanting spectacular.

For land lovers, there’s a stunning stroll that may take you round Grasmere and Rydal Water, whereas for individuals who want to be within the water, Grasmere and Rydal Water and have grow to be very fashionable for wild swimming.

However Grasmere and Rydal are best-known for his or her connection to romantic poet, William Wordsworth. Two of his former houses are close by – Dove Cottage in Grasmere and Rydal Mount, the place he lived from 1813 till his demise in 1850, aged 80. Described by Wordsworth himself as, “the loveliest spot that man hath ever discovered”, Grasmere and Rydal Water and effectively price a go to for anybody coming to the Lake District.


Persevering with our journey north from Grasmere and Rydal Water, we come to Thirlmere, a man-made reservoir which was created in 1894 to provide water to Manchester.

The reservoir is surrounded on all sides by enchanting forests, the place residents embody purple squirrels and purple deer. The small automotive park adjoining to Wythburn Church is a wonderful start line for these planning to sort out Helvellyn, Swirral Edge and Striding Edge. Definitely not a stroll for the faint-hearted.


Positioned close to the favored vacationer city of Keswick, our subsequent cease is Derwentwater, the widest of the lakes in Cumbria. Ignored by the mighty Skiddaw and the extra family-friendly Catbells, Derwentwater’s dramatic landscapes change from one minute to the subsequent, relying on the time of 12 months and the climate, making it a photographer’s dream.


Nearly all of the land subsequent to the shoreline belongs to the Nationwide Belief and as such there are a variety of picturesque walks across the lake. As we’ve talked about, Catbells presents a family-friendly hike, and though difficult at instances, with a couple of steep scrambles, it’s not too technical. We must always level out that parking can show just a little difficult, particularly on the peak of summer season, so why not take a Keswick Launch to the Hawes Finish Jetty and begin your stroll from there? Keswick Launches function on an everyday timetable across the lake, stopping at seven touchdown phases.

And for these wishing to discover the lake underneath their very own steam, why not rent a rowing boat, stand-up paddle board, canoe or perhaps a windsurf? There are additionally self-drive boats obtainable if you happen to don’t fancy fairly a lot exertion.

Bassenthwaite Lake

As we talked about at first of this put up, Bassenthwaite Lake is the one ‘official’ lake within the Lake District, by advantage of getting the phrase lake in its title. It’s additionally essentially the most northerly of the most important lakes, and the shallowest at simply 70 ft deep.

There’s a lakeside path alongside the western shore, nonetheless the one entry to the jap shore is at Mirehouse, a high-quality nation home with robust literary hyperlinks.

The lake is a well-liked vacation spot for birdwatchers. Herons and cormorants are a typical sight, whereas the summer season months herald the return to its shores of the ospreys, little doubt attracted by the Atlantic salmon which come to Bassenthwaite to spawn.

On the northern finish of the lake, you possibly can go to Dubwath Wetland Nature Reserve, the Lake District’s first ever wetland nature reserve, dwelling to grasshopper warblers, curlews, greylag geese, reed buntings and meadow pipits, amongst others.


Earlier than we head to the western fells and arguably a number of the Lake District’s most dramatic surroundings, we’re heading east to Ullswater, the Lake District’s second largest lake and a powerful contender for the title of England’s most lovely lake.

At round 7.5 miles lengthy, Ullswater is far quieter than Windermere, and the encircling panorama is nothing wanting spectacular. There’s the problem of Helvellyn by way of Striding Edge, St Sunday Crag or the Fairfield Horseshoe on the doorstep, whereas the Excessive Road fells and Purple Screes additionally supply fashionable mountain walks. The 20-mile Ullswater Approach which circumnavigates the lake is an effective way to discover the realm, though possibly do it in phases, hopping on and off the lake’s well-known steamers on the 4 piers – Pooley Bridge, Howtown, Aira Power and Glenridding. This award-winning and environmentally accredited Lake District attraction has been offering cruises on Ullswater for over 160 years.

The extra adventurous amongst us could want to windsurf, canoe, stand-up paddle board or sail our method across the lake.


Essentially the most easterly of the most important lakes is Haweswater, which, like Thirlmere, is a made-made reservoir which was controversially constructed to provide water to cities and cities within the north-west of England. This meant flooding the villages of Mardale Inexperienced and Measand, the foundations and ruins of which will be seen these days in instances of drought, a sight which brings in guests, curious to get a glimpse of a bygone time.


You get a real sense of wilderness once you go to Haweswater, largely as a consequence of its tranquillity and lack of farms and grazing.

Eleven down, 5 to go. Let’s head to the western fells.

Loweswater, Crummock Water and Buttermere

For those who fancy getting away from all of it, these lakes are effectively definitely worth the journey. At Loweswater and Crummock Water specifically you possibly can really feel miles from wherever. Buttermere will be busier, because it’s served by bus in the summertime.


These three lakes are interlinked; in actual fact, Crummock Water and Buttermere had been as soon as one massive lake. Surrounded by historical woodlands, Loweswater is the smallest of the three and if it’s tranquillity you’re after, you’ve come to the appropriate place. Get pleasure from a dip within the lake or take a stroll by way of the woods or on the encircling fells.

The biggest of the three is Crummock Water. This gorgeous lake lies on the foot of Grasmoor Peak and is dwelling to the tallest waterfall within the Lake District, Scale Power. For these on the lookout for journey on the lake, rowing boats can be found for rent alongside the shore. It’s also fashionable with wild swimmers who love the sheltered shingle seashore by the slate boathouse. Like Thirlmere, if you happen to’re fortunate you may spot a purple squirrel within the woodlands on the lake shore.

The ultimate a part of the trilogy is Buttermere, the best-known of the three. It’s simply reached from Keswick and Cockermouth, and the encircling peaks present nice strolling routes. There’s a round route across the lake and though it’s fairly straightforward and comparatively flat, the steep slopes of the encircling mountains equivalent to Haystacks and Pillar add a component of drama.

And for images fanatics, the reflections are superb. Particularly the road of timber under Fleetwith Pike, Inexperienced Crag and Haystacks.

Ennerdale Water

A couple of miles to the west of Buttermere is Ennerdale Water which, regardless of being one of many prettiest lakes within the Lake District, is probably the least visited. Stretching for two-and-a-half miles, that is essentially the most westerly of the most important lakes and with no roads operating its size, additionally it is some of the peaceable. Solely canoes and kayaks are allowed on Ennerdale (though you do have to have a allow). There are additionally some superb walks which comply with the shoreline, or for essentially the most adventurous, why not sort out one of many surrounding fells?


Our remaining cease is Wastwater, described by William Wordsworth as “stern and desolate”. Wastwater is England’s deepest lake at 260 ft and boasts a number of the most dramatic surroundings within the Lake District. The steep slopes of the screes on the south-eastern aspect of the lake plunge straight into the lake, whereas the slim valley with the peaks of Purple Pike, Nice Gable and Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, has been voted considered one of Britain’s favorite views.


That is iconic Lake District. A lot in order that the three peaks which stand on the jap finish of lake (Lingmell, Scafell Pike and Nice Gable) had been chosen because the image for the Lake District Nationwide Park.

There may be solely a small highway in which ends up in Wasdale Head, the favoured start line for these eager to climb the encircling peaks, so be ready for just a little congestion. And be careful for these Herdwick Sheep!

That’s it. We hope you’ve loved our whistle-stop tour of the Lake District lakes and that we’ve given you just a little inspiration on your subsequent journey to this superb place. And subsequent time that query comes up in a pub quiz – what number of lakes are there within the Lake District – not less than you’ll know the reply.

Rachael Thomas is Managing Director of Matson Floor Property Firm Restricted, which has various Lake District vacation cottages, together with Birkdale Home. Birkdale Home is a luxurious Victorian residence on the coronary heart of a privately owned property within the English Lake District.

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