The Lake District is very much open for business during the winter months. If you are looking for winter activities in the Lake District there is something for everyone, whether high octane or a little more sedentary. Here are a few options of things to do in the Lake District when planning your Lake District winter break.
Whatever time of year, the Lake District offers some of the best views in the country, enjoyable either on foot, by road or by boat. Take a Windermere Lake Cruise on the lake – a great way of discovering the area – or if you are feeling a little more adventurous, hire a self-drive motorboat to see the sights. Take time to wander around the cobbles and country lanes that make up the many quirky and characterful Lake District villages – here are five of our favourite.
Windermere Lake Cruises offers a fantastic way to explore the Lake District. Choose the cruise that is right for you and then is is all aboard a steamers, traditional wooden craft or modern cruiser. There are several colour-coded cruises to choose from in the Winter season, leaving daily from Bowness, Ambleside, Brockhole and Lakeside.
The Red Cruise is a half lake round trip from Bowness to Ambleside, the northern half of Windermere. Yellow Cruise concentrates on the southern half of the Lake, again starting in Bowness and travelling to Lakeside. This cruise connects with the Haverthwaite Steam Train and the Lakes Aquarium. The Blue Cruise takes you on a trip around the islands of the lake, taking in great mountain views as well as the wooded shoreline. Freedom of the Lake ticket gives you unlimited access over a 24 hour period to all the cruises, allowing you to jump on and off as you please and when you see something you’d like to explore further.
Dogs are welcome on all the cruises and travel free. Enjoy the Captain’s commentary explaining about the history of the area and pointing out places of interest.
Perhaps you don’t want to venture too high in the hills and mountains in winter, unless you are very experienced climber. The weather can change quickly and conditions can become challenging even for the most proficient. However, there are some beautiful low level walks, perfect for winter walking such as…
Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge. A gentle walk through meadows and beside a tarn with the prize of a roaring waterfall and Chester’s tearoom at your destination. Distance, 4 km.
Western Shore of Windermere. Take a Lake District Cruise from Waterhead to the western side of Windermere and enjoy the tranquility of the quieter side of the lake. First stop is Wray Castle – great fun for all the family – and then a 6.5 km walk to the ferry terminal which will take you to Bowness.
Tarn Hows. A stunning 3 km circular flat walk around man-made tarns surrounded by wooded hills with the Coniston hills and Langdale Pikes beyond.
The Wild Boar Woods. Guests at The Wild Boar can enjoy the 72 acre woodland adjoining the Inn. With a huge variety of trees including sweet chestnuts, larches, alders. Listen for woodpeckers and look out for deer, buzzards and falcons. There are also a number of woodland activities. Choose from Clay Pigeon Shooting, Archery, Axe Throwing or Falconry.
Low Wood Bay to Jenkin Crag. A 3 km walk with stunning views over the lake. Just ask at Low Wood Bay Reception for a map of the route.
There are a selection of Christmas Fairs in the Lake District and surrounding areas – great places to purchase crafts, local food and drink and Christmas gifts with a difference. Take a look at Yew Tree Barn, Windermere Christmas Celebration, Askham Hall Christmas Market, Hawkshead Christmas Fair and Lowther Christmas Fair.
Keswick Victorian Fayre Father Christmas accompanied by his reindeer will parade the cobbled streets of Keswick bringing in a lovely Christmassy atmosphere. Traders clad in Victorian costume, street entertainment throughout the day, fun fair and a nativity scene. Thirty local and national charities exhibit their wares, and there’s a selection of Christmas craft activities and goods to buy.
Something of a Lake District icon, Grasmere Gingerbread is rather famous. From humble beginnings in Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere kitchen in 1854, this spicy sweet biscuit/cake has a reputation that has spread around the globe.
Now run by third-generation owners, the gingerbread is baked freshly each day and sold alongside other award-winning products. Step into the tiny little shop and step back in time with shop-keepers clad in Victorian outfits and gingerbread wrapped in parchment or in a presentation tin.
Staveley Mill Yard. Described as a ‘village within a village’ this is a great place to visit and browse the purpose built shops and units. Situated on the banks of the River Kent with the sound of waterfall in the background, Staveley Mill Yard makes for a pleasant and picturesque shopping trip.
Amongst others, there’s hand-turned furniture, jewellery designer, Artisan Bakery with coffee shop, Aiguille Alpine outdoor products, Wilfs Café, Wheelbase Cycles, Pure Lakes Skin Care, The Blind Chocolatier and award-winning Hawkshead Brewery with Beer Hall.
Hayes Garden World. So much more than a garden centre! Hayes Garden World in Ambleside really go to town at Christmas, transforming much of their large site into a full scale winter wonderland, with activities for children and a huge array of Christmas gifts, garden furniture, home interiors, as well as the myriad of plants and landscaping products you would expect.
Low Sizergh Barn Farm Shop. It’s a shop, a café, a nature trail and a milking parlour – Low Sizegh Barn Farm Shop is definitely worth a visit. The Farm shop is a larder packed full of local produce and cheese and ice cream made from their own herd, as well as crafts and clothing. The café has the most wonderful cakes and sweet fayre and if you time it around 3.30pm you can watch the herd of cows being milked from the viewing window in the café. There’s a great farm trail which is free for everyone to enjoy with lots of wildlife and wild flowers to spot and identify.
Dickensian Festival, Ulverston. It’s quite a spectacle, with Goths and Steampumks, re-enactments and Victorian school events. Ulverston’s Dickensian Festival is a community event but attracts thousands of visitors from around the country. The town is already a fantastic place to visit with cobbled streets, artisan shops, and great pubs and cafes. When the Dickensian Festival comes to town, add a huge variety of free entertainment for adults and children, costume competitions, music, dancing, a traditional fairground and a Christmas market with a huge array of unusual gifts and festive food. A great place to do your Christmas shopping.
Windermere Jetty, Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories, is a short stroll from Bowness on Windermere. The architecturally designed buildings on the shore of the lake house a fascinating collection of historic steamboats and motorboats, including SL Dolly, one of the oldest mechanically powered boat in the world. Other famous exhibits are Margaret, the oldest sailing yacht in the UK, Esperance, the boat that inspired Arthur Ransome’s houseboat in Swallows and Amazons, as well as Beatrix Potter’s wooden rowing boat. There’s an onsite workshop where you can watch boats being restored, using traditional crafts. A wet docks provides the option of taking a Heritage Boat Trip, a vintage cruise on Osprey, a restored Edwardian steamer.
The collection of craft includes examples of every type of boat building construction, using a wealth of traditional techniques. As such it is a living history of boat design and nautical engineering. Many of the boats were made locally in Cumbria, which makes it an important part of the Lake District’s history and heritage.
Hawkshead Chocolate Factory is a fantastic family activity where you can book a children’s chocolate workshop (parents can watch from a viewing window), or a family chocolate workshop. Mixing white and milk chocolate you make your own chocolate bar and decorate with a choice of toppings and scribe with your name. Next you move on to a very hands-in/on chocolate mould creation, as well as chocolate covered marshmallows. All chocolate creations are wrapped for taking home along with apron and hair net. Lovely gooey chocolatey fun for all!
Is this real life, or is it just fantasy? The Puzzling Place is a world of Optical Illusion. Five exhibits including three illusion rooms. Anti-gravity Room turns everything on its head. You will be standing at an impossible slant without falling, Balls will roll uphill and water will flow at an impossible angle. The illusions are in the mind but happening to everyone at the same time. Eyelusion Exhibition explores the best optical illusions through interactive exhibits, artwork and sculptures. Grow tall or shrink tiny in the Ames Room or do a 90 degree twist in the Sideways Room. The Hologram Room has 60 holograms or horror-grams that appear to come to life as you change your viewing angle.
The home of the first ever pencil. Derwent Pencil Museum is a fascinating journey from the graphite mine ad cottage industry that it supplied three hundred years ago, to the worldwide enterprise that it is today. There are secret WW2 pencils, hidden maps, an 8 metre coloured pencil and miniature pencil sculptures and various artistic activities. Perfect for budding artists as all children are! Browse the Derwent Fine Art Shop and enjoy refreshments in the café.
Hugely popular with children and adults alike, the World of Beatrix Potter attraction takes you on a larger than life-size tour through the books of Beatrix Potter. Meet Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and Jemima Puddleduck up close. The tour starts with a short film, before entering this make believe world of much loved characters. Outside, explore Mr MacGregor’s garden and find out where Peter Rabbit got caught in a net. There’s also a Gift Shop and Café to round off your visit.
A relative newcomer, Lakes Gin has already won accolades and awards for their classic English Gin as well as its fruity counterparts such as Pink Grapefruit Gin, Rhubarb and Rosehip Gin Liqueur and Elderflower Gin Liqueur. There is also a Lakes Vodka collection and a selection of Single Malt and Blended Whiskies, known for their long fermentation and maturation process giving deep and complex flavours.
Lakes Distillery is housed in a beautiful Victorian building on the shores of Bassenthwaite and they are open for Tours and Bistro dining. For the chocolate lovers amongst us, there’s also a Whisky and Chocolate Pairing Tour. To round off this ‘something-for-everyone’ day out, there’s a chance to Meet the Alpacas that live on-site. An opportunity to get up close, hand-feed them and take as many photos as you like.
With over 30,000 exhibits, the Lakeland Motor Museum is a colourful kaleidoscope of motoring heritage through the years. With a fully equipped 1920s garage you are really brought face to face with the earliest days of motoring. Also on show is a full sized replica of the 1935 Bluebird car, 1939 boat and 1976 jet hydroplane. There are also interesting exhibitions on Fashion through the years, with a street of shop windows demonstrating merchandise for days gone by, and a feature on The Land Girls as well as lots of interesting local history.
Winter is the time to treat yourself to a Spa break, Spa Day or even just a Spa treatment. Taking time out from a busy lifestyle, can be a real boost to your wellbeing, a recovery from a stressful year, or preparation for the year ahead. The Spa at Low Wood Bay is beautifully situated overlooking the lake, with a luxurious indoor outdoor Thermal Journey, and a huge range of pampering options. Our Spa Days include lunch at Blue Smoke on the Bay. Rest, Relax, Rejuvenate.
We have two amazing Afternoon Tea options for you to consider. The Wild Boar Alternative Afternoon Tea takes the traditional experience of afternoon tea and adds a delightfully playful roughie toughie twist. Blue Smoke on the Bay Wood-fired Afternoon Tea, is served on tiers of mini frying pans, and includes delights such as Sticky Lollipop Pig Wings, Hot Smoked Salmon and Loaded Nachos. Quite a departure from delicate finger sandwiches, although we felt we had to keep the scones with lashings of cream and jam.
Falconry at The Wild Boar. Wear the falconer’s glove and get up close and personal. Expert tuition in how to handle the hawk and develop trust between you. Great photo opportunities. Enjoy a ‘hawk walk’ as the bird glides through the trees, soaring and swooping back to the falconer’s hand. Watch the hawk on a simulated hunt as the dummy prey is released and the dive, swoop and pounce begins. Marvel at one of the most powerful animals on the planet.
High adventure indeed in the grounds of Brockhole. Choose from four different experiences, dependant on age. The full Treetop Trek experience is for adults and children over 7 years, and should last between 2 – 3 hours. Lots of aerial challenges and a whopping 250 metre triple action decent. The mini version Trek last about 1 hour and is open to adults and children over 5 years. Treetop Nets is open to all and is a series of giant bouncy nets, tunnels and ball zones. There’s also an outdoor climbing wall with thrilling zip wire finish.
Set in the beautiful Grizedale Forest, Go Ape offers five exciting experiences. Treetop Adventure for younger participants and Treetop Adventure Plus give you lots of wobbly bridges, platforms, crossings, obstacles and zip wire rides. Treetop Challenge is for the real adrenalin junkies – high platforms and difficult crossings that take 2-3 hours to complete. Finally, Zip Trekking Adventure will have you zipping through 3 km of the forest on a total of 7 different zip wires.
There’s a whole calendar of things to see in the night sky including Meteor Showers, Super New Moon, Wolf Moon, Snow Moon and Worm Moon. Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre is the first accredited Dark Sky Discovery Site in the north west of England. Before venturing out into the night, enjoy a demonstration of the stars from Starlab, an inflatable planetarium using high tech projection technology. Then it is telescopes at the ready (you can also bring your own) and prepare for the real star night-time event.
Swap your cosy bed to hang off a cliff overnight! Why would you? And yet, that’s the latest and popular high octane adventure at Honister Slate Mine. Lots of thrilling adventures, whatever the weather. Cross the Infinity Bridge 1,000 feet above the ground. Yes, it’s the longest high-wire bridge in Europe and your pulse will be pounding, but you will never forget this character building adventure.
Via Ferrata Xtreme set in the stunningly beautiful Borrowdale valley is another adrenaline junkie’s dream adventure by Honister. Three hours of vertical ladder climbs, overhanging descents, a very explosed Burma bridge crossing and a cargo net scramble. Cayoning, or gorge walking/scrambling is new for 2021 and you will cross a waterfall, abseil down steep drops and scramble over rocks. Exciting and just a little bit scary! There are also mine tours and climbs, as well as guided walks for those that want to keep their feet firmly on the ground.
One of the earliest British stone circles and arguably the most atmospheric. With a stunning vista over the Thirlmere Valley and a backdrop of the mighty Helvellyn and High Seat mountains, in the low winter light Castlerigg Stone Circle can seem a little bit eerie. The circle is 30 metres in diameter with 38 stones varying in height from 1 metre to 2.3 metres. A must see winter sight.
Lots of expert tuition in shooting, archery and the ancient art of axe throwing will make sure that you hit the target. Set in our beautiful 72 acre ancient woodland, this is a perfect winter activity – made even better knowing that there is a warm crackling fire and superb food waiting for you on your return to the Inn.
Brockhole House and gardens was designed in the Arts and Crafts style at the end of the 19th Century by architect Dan Gibson and the famed landscape garden designer Thomas Mawson. Originally the home of the Gaddum family, it went through a period as a rural convalescent home before being purchased by the Lake District National Park Authority. It became the UK’s first National Park Visitor Centre. It now houses an historical gallery, The Lake District Story exhibition, restaurant, gift shop and kitchen garden. There’s also a programme of events throughout the year, a well maintained children’s play area, Tree Top Treks, and, of course, sweeping views from the house down to the lake and mountains beyond. It’s a lovely place for all ages to wander and experience the beauty and heart of the Lake District.
Set amidst the stunnning Troutbeck Valley, Lakeland Pony Treks offer a riding experience for every age (from 4 years up) and ability. Even as a beginner you will be out in the Lakeland countryside and for more advanced riders there’s a one hour fell trek experience on safe bridle paths with mountains all around.
Voted No. 1 ‘magic moment’ on BBC Countryfile 30th Anniversary programme. This is a pre-booked interactive bird and animal experience. Located in the Hamlet of Ayside, in South Lakeland, Predator Experience has its own five acre site and magnificent views of the Coniston range of mountains. Experienced animal and bird handlers will get you up close and personal with foxes, wolves, eagles and other birds of prey. Small group numbers will ensure that you learn about the animal and bird habits and habitats. A truly memorable experience.
Thirty displays of freshwater and seawater inhabitants, the Aquarium of the Lakes is great for introducing children to life below the water. It has species such as seahorse, salmon, trout, pike, rays and sharks. The underwater Lake Tunnel is a clear favourite, and if you are there at 4 pm, the duck diving is very entertaining. There’s also a good selection of wild fowl, as well as otters, snakes, tortoises, and a colony of leaf-cutter ants. Combine with a Windermere Lake Cruises boat trip and a Lakeside and Haverthwaite steam train ride for a great day out in the Lake District.
Twenty four acres of beautiful Lake District land and over one hundred types of animals – wild and domesticated. Emus, Ostriches, Owls and Eagles, Zebra, Lemurs, Wild Boar, Yak and Lynx are just a fraction of the wildlife on show at Lake District Wildlife Park. This award-winning zoo is definitely worth a visit.
Throughout the year there are various activities at Lake District Wildlife Park including Keeper talks, Alpaca Walking, Hawk Walk, Meet the Meercats, or the ultimate Keeper Experience where you experience first-hand what it’s like to become an animal keeper. Join in with the Christmas celebrations and craft activities in December.
A favourite amongst locals and visitors, Zeffirellis has a five-screen cinema featuring all the latest film premieres. Zeffirellis also has a Jazz Bar that has a vibrant atmosphere and hosts informal music events most weekends, usually free of charge.
Right in the heart of Ambleside, Fellinis is a stylish and comfortable venue that has an exciting programme of live satellite shows throughout the winter months. Watch theatre, music, opera and dance performances as they are happening in venues around the world. Enjoy a pre-performance drink in the lounge bar, then sink into plush cinema seating and be transported to the internationally acclaimed stage and music hall productions.
This is cinema 1930s style. The Royalty Cinema in Bowness-on-Windermere has three screens housed stylish art deco surroundings, offering all the latest film releases. Screen 1 is the original 1930s auditorium with stalls and circle. It also houses a Wurlitzer Pipe organ dating from the late 1920s. Wurlitzer concerts feature during the spring and summer, and outside that there are special performances to look out for.
Housed alongside The World of Beatrix Potter, it’s worth checking The Old Laundry’s theatre listings throughout the winter months. They do a great family festive show for smaller children with lots of Christmassy hilarity and gifts from Santa.
Brantwood was John Ruskin’s former home and the setting alone over Coniston Water is worth the visit. Ruskin, the prominent Victorian art critic, philanthropist and social thinker. This well preserved house and home gives a unique insight into the man and his character, and features numerous paintings and personal possessions . The 250 acre woodland estate, has no fewer than 8 gardens, with varied and interesting plant collections.
The Armitt is a museum, library and gallery combined; it’s devoted to preserving and sharing the cultural heritage of the Lake District. Founded in 1912 to support exchanging ideas in the community, the Armitt has seen support from the likes of Beatrix Potter who gave some of her family’s books, her personal first editions of the ‘little’ books and a large number of beautiful botanical watercolours. The Armitt also hosts one of the country’s most important collections of artwork by Kurt Schwitters, who influenced development of twentieth-century art and lived in Ambleside during his final years
Blackwell is the home of arts and crafts in the Lake District. This large and impressive house was designed Baillie Scott and built in 1901 as a holiday home for Sir Edward Holt, a well-off Manchester brewer. The house is filled with extraordinary arts including a rare hessian wall-hanging, leaf-shaped door handles, ornate window catches, stained glass and carved wooden panelling.
There are some great National Trust properties in the Lake District. Here are some of our favourite National Trust properties.
English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues have two fantastic venues in the Lake District from which to take advantage of all the Lake District Winter activities listed above. Low Wood Bay and The Wild Boar offer everything you could want in terms of comfort, great food and excellent service.
Contact our team for more information on the best winter offers.
Low Wood Bay. Telephone 0330 4042 email@example.com
The Wild Boar. Telephone 0333 2203 108 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org