Best campsites in the Lake District National Park
These are our assessor-recommended attractions and campsites in the English Lake District.
Found in the North-West of England, The Lake District is an upland region of extremes, home to England's highest peak, deepest lake and tastiest 'mint-based cake.' Located within the historic counties of Westmoreland, Cumberland and Lancashire - North of the sands, the English Lake District became a National Park in 1951, shortly after the Peak District, and gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 1997.
The modern county of Cumbria is home to the park and all the land in England above 3000ft. As the name suggests, the park has over 20 main bodies of water, with Windermere being the longest in England (at 16.8km long) and Wast Water (76ft) being the deepest. Despite the name, only one body of water is traditionally known as a 'lake', the rest being meres, waters or tarns. The islands of Derwent Water provide interest when joining one of the many lake cruises on offer.
The Lakes have long attracted adventurous souls, including Sir Chris Bonnington, Donald Campbell, Alfred Wainwright and was the inspiration for Peter Rabbit and Postman Pat!
Camping in Cumbria can be a mixed bag as the weather here is among the wettest in the UK, but the rewards are well worth it, with some excellent hill walking opportunities and ample watersports options to choose from.
The Lake District is the largest of the 13 National Parks in England and Wales (Cairngorm in Scotland is larger) and is characterised by a slate landscape to the north, granites across the central band and mudstones south.
The Northern slate and mudstone section is home to mountains, including Skiddaw and Blencathera. The central band contains the Borrowdale Volcanic Group, with Crinkle Crags and Scafell being the main walking attractions, with Scafell Pike being the highest point in England at 3209ft. The South-Eastern band of mudstones is home to 'The Old Man of Coniston'
Top 3 Lake District Attractions
A Lake Cruise
As mentioned above, there are lots of options when it comes to a lakes cruise in Cumbria. Windermere, Coniston, Derwentwater and Ullswater all operate regular cruises, usually on historic vessels.
The Steam Yacht Gondola on Coniston is a rebuilt Victorian steam-powered yacht owned and operated by the National Trust. The Keswick Launch Company operates four launches on the 3-mile long lake and all have a covered deck so you can stay dry in this wettest part of the country. Ullswater steamers run the length of the lake from Glenridding in the west to Pooley Bridge in the East.
There are lots of options to get on the water at Windermere, the steamers Swan, Teal and Tern might appeal, or the traditional wooden launches Princess of the Lake or Queen of the Lake might be more your thing. You could take a trip back in history with a trip from the Windermere Jetty Museum, with boats dating back to the 1780s. Or simply take your caravan or motorhome across the Windermere Ferry from Ferry Nab to Far Sawrey.
Climb a Wainwright
A prolific author and rambler, Alfred Wainwright, wrote what is commonly regarded as the definitive seven-volume guide to the 214 Lakeland fells. These fells are known in walking circles as 'Wainwrights', and avid walkers are often keen to tick off a new peak. Below we pick 3 of our favourite Lakeland rambles:
- Easy - Tarn Hows
Regarded by many as the easiest Wainwright to bag, Tarn Hows offers several route options from a relatively flat (by Lakeland standards) 3.2km loop to a short scramble to the summit of Black Fell. All can be achieved in an afternoon and are easily accessible from Ambleside.
- Moderate - Coniston Old Man
A medium-length walk of around 6 miles can be made from the Walna Scar Road via Buck Pike and Dow Crag. Expect some steep sections of path through rugged terrain, but on a clear day, you'll be rewarded with fine views of the Lake District fells, Morecambe Bay and the Isle of Man from the summit.
- Hard - Helvellyn via Striding Edge
Not for the faint-hearted, Striding edge is a classic Lakeland scramble that can become crowded in summer. Starting from Patterdale or the tourist village of Glenridding this should only be attempted by experienced walkers with a head for heights and extra caution should be taken in foggy, windy, rainy, icy or snowy weather (basically all the weather you would expect in the Lake District!)
Discover the Literary History
As you might imagine, the stunning scenery of the lake district has inspired many writers and poets throughout the ages. Amongst the most famous are:
Beatrix Potter was not only an author, but the wealth generated from her work allowed her to acquire around 4000 acres of land and fourteen farms, all of which she left to the National Trust upon her death. Her 17th-century home at Hill Top in Near Sawrey gives a unique insight into her life; amongst other things, she wrote about rabbits!
William Wordsworth, arguably the most famous poet of all time. His most famous Lakeland work is 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud'. He spent much of his life in the Lake District, and he is buried, along with Dorothy, his wife, in the churchyard of St Oswald's Church in Grasmere (don't forget to pick up some delicious Grasmere Gingerbread whilst you visit.)
Arthur Ransome is best known for his Swallows and Amazons series. Based on the surroundings of Windermere and Coniston, Cormorant Island was inspired by Windermere's Silver Holme Island, and Coniston Old Man became Kanchenjunga.
And if that isn't enough literary inspiration, then Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Ruskin, James Rebanks and Melvyn Bragg all have connections with the area.
Top 10 Lake District Camping Options
Included in our guides:
Skelwith Fold has been developed in the extensive grounds of a country estate taking advantage of the wealth of mature trees and shrubs. Over 30...
Included in our guides:
Castlerigg Hall Caravan & Camping Park is a well laid out park that was started in the late 1950s by the Jackson family, who over...
On the banks of Lake Windermere, this park lives up to its name. Set on a hillside in mature woodland, the park offers families a...
Coniston Park Coppice Caravan and Motorhome Culb site is set a stone’s throw away from Coniston Water this site is ideally placed for exploring the...
Eskdale Campsite is operated by the National Trust and is very well located for exploring the region, with good access to many superb footpaths. The...
Ravenglass Camping & Caravanning Club site is just 500 metres from the seafront. There are 70 pitches for touring units (some seasonal) on level hardstanding...
Braithwaite Village Camping and Caravanning Club in the heart of the beautiful Lake District is an outstanding site offering facilities to suit all needs and...
Troutbeck Head Caravan and Motorhome Club site in Penrith is set in classically beautiful North Lakeland countryside, and is conveniently only 4 miles from the...
Located just south of Kendal near to Sizergh Castle this Kendal Caravan and Motorhome Club site is ideally located for the Lake District National Park...
The Quiet Site is a secluded, family run park operating as a carbon neutral company. It is situated on a hillside in the Lake District...