How to Plan a Road Trip to the Lake District

Written by Shayle Follows

One of our favourite places to visit has to be the Lake District. Here’s how to plan a road trip to the Lake District.

The Lake District has so many things we love, hikes, waterfalls, water sports, unique shops and fantastic places to stay eat and drink. We have put together a guide on how to plan a road trip to the Lake District. We have included some of our favourite places to stay, locations to check out and activities to try so that you can fall in love with the lakes just like we have.

Hire a Campervan, Lakes Campervans

If you don’t already have one, hiring a campervan is a great way to explore all that the Lake District has to offer.

Plan a Lake District road trip

Located in rural Cumbria on the edge of the Lake District National Park, Lakes Campervans is a family run business. They are very friendly and helpful here and they are located just 10 minutes from Ullswater and 5 minutes from the M6 motorway. This is a fantastic place to begin your adventure and get exploring the Lakes!

All of the campervans are stylish 4 berth VW Transporter California’s. They are easy and comfortable to drive and come complete with everything you could possibly need for your trip. You will have unlimited mileage to explore as far as you want to go.

The vans feature a pop-up roof, two double beds, a sink, a fridge, two burner hobs, an interior table and exterior table, two camping chairs, an awning, two front swivel seats, a night heater, a touch screen control panel, air-con, cruise control, parking sensors, Bluetooth, Apple car play, built-in window blinds, and USB charging points.

Hire a Campervan, Lakes Campervans 

There are so many places to go and see while you are staying in the Lake District, the Lakes Campervans offer a great list of campervan friendly places to visit and stay in the Lake District. You can find it here.

Stop One, Ullswater

Ullswater is a vast, beautiful lake. It is the second-largest in England. It is seven and a half miles long but not even one mile across. It’s a great place to stop for a few hours on your Lake District road trip, take photos and admire the scenery. The Ullswater Way is a 20-mile route around the lake and is a great way to explore the area further. It features boat and bus stopping points, so you can combine how you travel on this route.

While you’re there visit Aira Force Waterfall

Aira Force Waterfall

We love this short 1-mile loop route, it only takes an hour but rewards you with a wonderful view of the powerful Aira Force Waterfall. It is suitable for all ages, younger children will need assistance. It is a mixture of stepped and level pathways, unsuitable for pushchairs as there are steep drops to one side of the path in places. The waterfall is really magical and a real sight to see when in full force. The lower track here guides you through pretty woodland where you can spot wildlife.  Aira Force is run by the National Trust, so you can find out more about the parking and prices here. Follow the route here.

Stop Two, Keswick

Located on the northeast shore of Derwentwater is the market town of Keswick. The town lies between Skiddaw and Derwentwater and is very traditional. In 1276 Edward I granted the town its market charter. It continues to this day. Keswick Market is fantastic and brings many locals and visitors to the town. The general market stands every Saturday and Thursday.

While you’re there try Ghyll Scrambling or River Tubing with Keswick Adventures

Gyhll Scrambling

Only a few minutes from Keswick located on the banks of Derwentwater is Keswick Adventures. They offer fun and thrilling water sports in the Lake District, such as raft building, ghyll scrambling and river tubing.

Ghyll scrambling is suitable for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness, you don’t need prior experience. You will head down a rocky Lake District mountain stream, overcome obstacles such as natural rock chutes and discover pools of water and mini waterfalls. All of this is under the guidance of their experienced instructors.

Jump in a tube with your paddle and off you go river-tubing. You cross the lake and then embark on a safari down the river. Take in the incredible scenery and wildlife as the current takes you downstream. Those wishing to enjoy some White Water action can take on their rapid section on the man-made weir. All safety kits and full-length wetsuits are provided.

Stop Three, Grasmere

Grasmere is such a peaceful part of the Lake District to visit and a must-stop destination when planning your Lake District road trip. If you’ve got a paddle board the lake here is perfect to practice on as it’s much quieter than many of the other lakes. Grasmere also has strong links to the iconic poet Wordsworth. If you’re a poetry admirer then why not visit the Wordsworth House and Garden, as well as the author’s home Dove Cottage.

Where to glamp, Grasmere Glamping Pods

Located on Broadrayne Farm, Grasmere Glamping Pods are the ultimate place to make your base in the Lake District and relax. You can book the full week, 3 night weekend or a 4-night mid-week break. The pods are complete with a sofa, dining table, log burning stove and a TV. They have their own kitchens with everything you will need, sockets with integrated USB chargers for your devices and a bathroom.

We love this option as you’re comfortable rain or shine, for the sunnier days there is even a BBQ area, including charcoal BBQ where you can cook and admire the views.

The farm itself is a former 17th-century farm and is surrounded by the most incredible scenery. We find this location is perfect for many mountain and valley walks, the famous Coast to Coast route passes through here and the village of Grasmere is just minutes away. So there will be plenty to do here on your weekend in the Lakes.

Stop Four, Ambleside

We’re big fans of Ambleside and when we’re not road tripping we love to stay here. It has unique shops, delicious restaurants, a cinema and plenty of places to stay. It is very popular with climbers and walkers. We think it’s one of the best bases for exploring the Lake District. You can catch a ferry here and head to Bowness and Lakeside pier near Newby Bridge, Wray Castle and Brockhole Visitor Centre.

Fancy a little more luxury? Stay at The Waterhead Inn

The Waterhead Inn at Ambleside

Fancy staying in a hotel instead? The Waterhead Inn is located next to Lake Windermere in peaceful Ambleside. This stylish hotel features an onsite restaurant, bar, rooms with lake views, free wifi and a garden terrace to enjoy dinner, and drinks while watching the world wander by. Your dog can stay here too.

We really love staying in Ambleside, it’s a great location for watersports (especially if you’re a beginner!) as it is the quieter end of Lake Windermere.

Stop Four, Windermere

Windermere is probably the first place you think of when you think of the Lake District. Windermere and the surrounding area are very famous making it a popular place to visit. There is a range of activities, attractions, watersports, walks, and things to do around the lake.

While you’re there visit The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction

World of Beatrix Potter in the Lake District

Who else grew up besotted with the tales of Peter Rabbit? The World of Beatrix Potter™ is a fun family attraction that brings to life Beatrix Potter’s enchanting stories in a magical recreation of the beautiful Lake District countryside. They feature live theatre shows and even have an outdoor Peter Rabbit Garden to enjoy. Find more information here.

Or try watersports at Low Wood Bay, Watersports Centre

Paddle Boarding on Lake Windermere

If you fancy trying different types of watersports on your trip to the Lake District, Low Wood Bay watersports centre is a great place to hire equipment to use on Lake Windermere. They offer a wide variety of watersports instruction and boat hire suitable for all ages and abilities. So don’t worry if you are a beginner.

They offer boat hire, canoe and kayak hire and paddle board hire so you can explore England’s largest lake at your own pace. For something a little different try wake surfing and kneeboarding. They use well-established training techniques, MasterCraft ski boats and modern wakeboards and kneeboards.

Low Wood Bay Watersports Centre is a recognised training centre with both the RYA (Royal Yachting Association) and the BWSW (British Water Ski and Wakeboard). Find more information here.

Stop Five, Scafell Pike

You can climb Scafell Pike on your Lake District road trip

Finally, if you’re feeling super adventurous… around 50 minutes from Windermere is Scafell Pike. This hike is not one for the faint-hearted! You must have a decent level of fitness, and enjoy going uphill, a lot! Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England, it’s no easy stroll. The footpaths here are managed all year-round to care for the fragile habitat. To have the best experience you will need to plan ahead, use a map and compass and check mountain weather conditions. It’s a rewarding climb though and for many, a tick off the bucket list!

For tips on how to climb Scafell Pike safely head to the National Trust website.

We hope that this article has given you some inspiration to get planning your own road trip to the Lake District. It truly is a wonderful part of the world, the options here are endless and you will have a totally different experience every time you visit.