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Lake District Villages holiday cottages

Lake District Villages

Jemima Kirkwood 09 January 2020

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

Famous for its many beautiful lakes, the Lake District is visited by those from far and wide who come to experience one of the most beautiful locations in the world. Mountains, valleys and woodlands caress the lakeside, and it is these landscapes and natural surroundings that earned the Lake District its UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2017.

But the beauty doesn’t stop with the wild nature. The idyllic and picturesque villages situated throughout the Lake District are truly beautiful in their own right, with gorgeous stone buildings, picturesque winding lanes and cobbled streets. These historical and characterful settlements have grown to be some of the most-visited locations in the UK whilst retaining everything old fashioned about them. Now lively and bustling places to be, you can enjoy days out exploring all their quirks, browsing unique boutiques, grabbing a coffee in a cosy tea room and enjoying all the wonderful experiences on offer!

Here we list a few of our favourites which we feel are a must-see when staying in the Lake District.

Hawkshead

Location: Southern Lake District

Described as the prettiest village in the Lakes, Hawkshead was once a prosperous medieval town and is now a well-loved base for exploring the southern lakes and beyond. Made up of paved streets and whitewashed houses, you can spend hours pottering about window shopping, grazing in all the welcoming cafes and treating yourself to a cream tea.

Read our full guide to Hawkshead to find out more. 

Highlight attraction: Fishing at Esthwaite Water – a trout fishery dedicated to fishing enthusiasts of all experience levels.

Nearest Lake: Esthwaite Water

Interesting fact: Wordsworth (the English poet) attended the village grammar school, which today houses old desks covered by his carvings, as well as the headmaster’s study and a classroom in their original form.

Where to eat: The Red Lion Inn – a traditional coaching inn open daily, serving a range of scrumptious homemade pub meals. 

Where to stay:

Coniston

Location: Southern Lake District

Coniston is a brilliant village for the outdoor enthusiast, with The Old Man of Coniston and the fells right on the doorstep. Hillwalkers, climbers and mountain bikers come from near and far to experience the magnificent outdoors and enjoy their down time back in this lively spot. With lots of cafes and pubs, there is plenty of choice for eating out and being close to Coniston Water - there are opportunities for boat trips, and also lazy days with picnics.

Highlight attraction: You can explore the lake on the Steam Yacht Gondola trips passing through spectacular Lake District farm and woodland, including the walled garden and tree collection of Monk Coniston Hall.

Nearest lake: Coniston Water

Interesting fact: The book ‘Swallows and Amazons’ by Arthur Ransome, was based on Coniston Water.

Where to eat: The Yewdale Inn welcomes locals and visitors alike to enjoy its warming food and drink on offer all year round. This pub is dog-friendly.

Where to stay:

Keswick

Location: Northern Lakes

This beautiful market town, nestled in the shadow of the mountains, is an idyllic and memorable town settled on the shores of Lake Derwentwater. Now a major centre for tourism in the Lakes, Keswick offers a wide range of attractions from shops, restaurants and museums to boating trips on the lake. Outdoor activities such as walking, climbing and biking are amongst the many sports undertaken in this beautiful area.

Highlight attraction: Keswick Mountain Festival – an annual festival attracting around 20,000 visitors to enjoy three days of world-class sports, outdoor activities, talks, films and music.

Nearest lake: Lake Derwentwater

Interesting fact: The Castlerigg Stone Circle, which can be found close by, dates back to the megalithic era.

Where to eat: Fellpack is a unique and tasty dining experience serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. The delicately crafted food and drinks menu makes use of the best local produce around. 

Where to stay:

Kendal

Location: Southern Lakes

Situated to the south of the Lake District, Kendal is especially well placed to cater for everyone’s holiday needs. Being home to a fine selection of shops and boutiques, two castles, two museums and many historical buildings, the town itself will keep you busy for hours. Lake Windermere is a small 9 miles away so a trip to the waterside couldn’t be easier and where you'll find boat trips, water sports and beaches to play on. Kendal should definitely be on the list!

Highlight attraction: Kendal Castle is situated on a mound-like hill, known as a drumlin, to the east of the town of Kendal. The building has been a ruin since Tudor times and is free for the public to explore.

Nearest lake: Lake Windermere

Interesting fact: The town's most famous export is Kendal Mint Cake – a high-quality energy bar.

Where to eat: The Moon Highgate offers expertly prepared, high-quality food in a comfortable relaxed setting. All produce is sourced from across Cumbria.

Where to stay:

Bowness-on-Windermere

Location: Southern Lakes

This is Lakeland’s most popular holiday resort and being an excellent centre for boating activities, Lake Windermere alone has over 10,000 boats registered. So, if you are a fan of boats, this is the place to admire them! The lake is today one of the prime destinations for water sports in the Lake District. Several marinas and sailing and windsurfing centres are to be found on the shores. You will also find a large selection of Adventure Activity companies, guides and instructors for all abilities based around the lake.

Highlight attraction: Brockhole Visitor Centre – set in 30 acres on the shores of Windermere, this is host to a variety of activities from tree-top trails and pony rides to kayak tours.

Nearest lake: Lake Windermere

Interesting fact: Influences through the centuries include the Vikings around 1000 AD, from whose language many Cumbrian words are taken. The Norsemen are believed to have introduced the Herdwick sheep to the Lake District.

Where to eat: The Hillthwaite restaurant in Windermere offers creative English cuisine with a modern twist, as well as boasting spectacular views of Lake Windermere! 

Where to stay:

Grasmere

Location: Central Lake District

This little village is probably one of Cumbria’s most popular destinations, thanks to William Wordsworth (1770-1850). Dove Cottage, where the poet used to live with his sister, still stands and opens its doors as a small museum. Most of the buildings here date back to the 19th century, though the surrounding countryside farms are much older. Today Grasmere is totally given over to the tourist industry, with plenty of gift shops, places to stay and places to eat. It has a lovely vibe and can easily fill a slow-paced afternoon.

Highlight attraction: Sarah Nelson's Grasmere Gingerbread – ‘the best gingerbread in the world’.

Nearest lake: The lake at Grasmere

Interesting fact: Wordsworth and his wife have a tombstone in the churchyard of St Oswald’s Church, now one of the most visited literary shrines in the world.

Where to eat: Greens Café & Bistro serves breakfasts, lunches and a wide selection of cakes and pastries baked freshly for you.

Where to stay:

Cartmel 

Location: Southern Lakes peninsula

The ancient village of Cartmel is famous for the 12th-century Cartmel Priory, with its beautiful stained-glass windows, modern sculptures, and ancient choir stalls. It houses a variety of interesting shops and traditional pubs around its main square, and in the narrow winding streets leading off from it there are a variety of historically interesting buildings. The maze of lanes and bridges cross a sweet little river where you can see ducks and swans enjoying the lazy currents.

Highlight attraction: On the market square is Cartmel Village Shop, famous for its sticky toffee pudding.

Nearest lake: Southern Lake

Interesting fact: The village is most famous for its ancient priory which has been a place of Christian worship for 800 years.

Where to eat: Food is a major attraction with Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume restaurant holding two Michelin stars. Dine here and please those taste buds!

Where to stay:

Other villages in the Lake District

  • Ambleside – A picturesque village next to the northern shore of Lake Windermere. Popular with tourists and home to the most photographed building in the Lake District, The Bridge House.
  • Caldbeck – An idyllic village with a duck pond and many old buildings, such as St Kentigern’s Church, which has the graves of Mary Harrison “the Beauty of Buttermere” and the famous huntsman John Peel.
  • Dent – A sweet place filled with cobbled streets and old stone cottages, with a fountain in the centre of the village commemorating Adam Sedgwick (the geologist).
  • Ravenglass – An interesting village located at the estuary of three rivers with local attractions including Muncaster Castle, and the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway.
  • Seatoller - In the heart of the Lake District sits Seatoller, a village that was once a part of the mining industry in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is proudly the centre for climbers and walkers wishing to ascend the nearby Sky Head Pass.

For more information on this wonderful holiday destination, check out our full guide to the Lake District where we list the best places to go, fun things to do and see, great walks and outdoor pursuits and, of course, the best places to eat!

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