5 of the Best Lakes in the Lake District
The Lake District in Cumbria, in NW England is one of the most beautiful and inspiring regions in the world. Lakes, tarns, rivers and streams with a mountain range that rises to over 900 metres above sea level make up this varied area. With 16 lakes and many smaller tarns and pools, there is only ONE that is called a LAKE – Bassenthwaite. The words MERE and WATER also refer to LAKE.
Here are 5 of the most well known lakes, each truly lovely in its own unique way.
Not to be confused by the village of the same name, at 10.5 miles, it’s England’s longest lake and is a mecca for watersports enthusiasts. There’s sailing, wind-surfing, rowing, swimming, canoeing, surfboarding and water-skiing (if you don’t mind a genteel max speed of 10mph. There’s so much for the whole family to see and do here. My favourite things include feeding the enormous and very feisty swans at bustling Bowness, taking a ferry from Lakeside all the round the lake Ambleside and gazing longingly at the huge Victorian mansions which line the shores.
The second longest lake, Ullswater has a much more tranquil air than Windermere. Ferries sail along its sinuous waters from quaint Glenridding up to the quieter village of Pooley Bridge. A great way to enjoy this lake is to walk from Glenridding around to Howtown on the opposite shore and get the ferry back. I love going up to Aira Force, a waterfall half way along the lake and hiking up Gowbarrow Fell for the spectacular views along the lake and the undulating mountains all around.
On the edge of the village, the third largest of the lakes is a favourite for its fishing and the Gondola, a beautifully restored Victorian steamboat that sails gracefully round the lake in the summer months. This deep lake has been popular with speed fanatics for many years and was the scene of the tragic death of Sir Donald Campbell in 1967. He was travelling at over 320 mph when his boat, the Bluebird, flipped over and disintegrated. On the opposite side of the lake from the café, named after his boat, is Brantwood, John Ruskin’s famous home – I enjoy taking the ferry across the lake and having a scrumptious cake in the their quirky café, Jumping Jenny’s.
In the north of the Lake District, Derwentwater, just outside the popular walking centre of Keswick, is for many, myself included, the Queen of the Lakes. Lovely old wooden rowing boats lie waiting for you to take a leisurely potter around the oval lake, enjoying the views of Cat Bells and many other famous fells. Derwent Isle, now owned by the National Trust, was once owned by a true English eccentric, Joseph Pocklington. In the 18th century he used to hold regattas on the lake with mock battles and canon fire to entertain the locals. One of my favourite views in all of Cumbria is from Friar’s Crag, a little spit of land jutting out into the lake. Looking across the wooded shoreline towards the Jaws of Borrowdale with the sunlight glittering on the water is a truly memorable sight.
Further into the heart of the Lake District is picturesque Buttermere, a popular spot for visitors from the earliest days of tourism in the 18th century. The drive over Honister pass into the valley is spectacular and you can see the famous hardy Herdwick sheep with their smiley faces gazing on the fell side. I like to wander along the lake shore to Sour Milk Ghyll, pouring down the hill if it’s been raining, and see if I can spot the elusive and now seriously endangered Red Squirrels. The classic combination of lake and mountains creates a peaceful atmosphere that seems to relax even the most stressed of visitors.
Zoë Dawes, aka The Quirky Traveller, is a travel writer who spends a lot of her time wandering round the Lake District. She loves showing visitors its inspirational sights when she is not on her quirky travels around the globe. She was recently voted Britain’s Best Travel Blogger and her website www.thequirkytraveller.com was voted in the Top 10 Inspiring Travel Websites 2010.
You can follow her on Twitter @quirkytraveller and on Face Book www.facebook.com/thequirkytraveller