01 of 07
Windermere in the Mist
The Principle Lakes of England's Lake District
England's Lake District, often called Lakeland, stretches over 885 square miles of Cumbria in the northwest corner of England, just below the Scottish Border. There are more than 50 lakes and mountain tarns as well as England's highest mountain, Scaffell Pike, and three others of more than 3,000 feet.
Each of the lakes, all products of receding glaciers more than 15,000 years ago, has a distinct personality and each provides opportunities for activities and relaxation for vacationers of all ages and tastes. These are some of the principle lakes within the Lake District National Park.
The railroads arrived at Windermere in the 1840s and with the railroads came the Victorians. Today, Victorian steamers and steam yachts still ply the lake.
Throughout the 19th and early 20th century, wealthy English industrialists built their summer retreats and vacation homes around Windermere. The lake, 10.5 miles long and about a mile wide, is still surrounded by their substantial homes, many now converted into guest houses and hotels. Victorian steamers still cruise Windermere from Lakeside, Bowness or Ambleside and it is possible to cruise in an Edwardian steam launch, like the one pictured here, from the Windermere Steam Centre and Steamboat Museum.
In good weather, the Langdale Pikes range is visible, the first glimpse of the rugged fells to the west. Children's authors Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome are associated with Windermere.Continue to 2 of 7 below.
02 of 07
Ullswater, just across the Kirkstone Pass from Windermere, is the second largest lake, at 7.5 miles long. It is accessible and popular.
Walking with his sister on a stormy day, Wordsworth was inspired by field of daffodils beside Ullswater to write his most famous poem. The lake is one of the most accessible in the Lake District, just inside the National Park from the M6 Penrith junction. The A592 skirts the west side of the lake opening up stunning views of mountains and meadows. There are low level, lakeside walks including the National Trust trail to the Aira Force waterfall, as well as the start of several hikes into the higher fells.Continue to 3 of 7 below.
03 of 07
Buttermere, one of the smaller lakes in the west of the Lake District, is surrounded by rugged mountains but ringed by a low-level, 4-mile walk that is great for a family outing. The nearby village of Buttermere has a church, a few B&Bs, a campsite and youth hostels.
Westmoreland green slate is mined near Buttermere at the Honister Slate Mine, which is open to the public.Continue to 4 of 7 below.
04 of 07
Dove Cottage, Grasmere
Grasmere is both a small lake and the tiny village on its northern edge. The village is most famous for its association with Wordsworth and the romantic poets. Wordsworth occupied Dove Cottage, with his sister Dorothy and wife Mary, for only about 8 years but it was here that he wrote many of his most famous poems. Samuel Taylor-Coleridge visited often and writer Thomas de Quincy moved in when the Wordsworths left. If you are romantically and poetically inclined, you can explore the garden and find the garden seat where the poet often worked.
St. Oswald's, in the village, is where Wordsworth is buried and there is also a Wordsworth museum.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Coniston Water, in the center of the Lake District National Park, was the setting for Arthur Ransome's popular children's book, Swallows and Amazons.
It was also the setting of a 20th century English sports tragedy. In January 1967, land and water speed record holder Donald Campbell, attempting to break his own water speed record in his boat Bluebird, went out of control on the return portion of the circuit, crashed at more than 320 mph, flipped over and sank. The wreckage of Bluebird was not found until March 2001 and Campbell's body was recovered in May of that same year. He is buried in Coniston village, nearby.
A much more gentle way to take to Coniston Water is onboard Gondola, the National Trust's refurbished Victorian steam yacht.Continue to 6 of 7 below.
06 of 07
Derwentwater, one of the northern lakes, is short and wide - in fact it is the widest of the lakes in in the National Park. Above it, Skiddaw, one of the four Lakeland peaks over 3,000 feet, is popular with visitors and fit fell walkers. There are plenty of easy woodland and shore walks on land owned by the National Trust.
The market town of Keswick, one of the largest towns within the National Park, is handy for shopping, accommodations, outdoor gear and tourist information. There's a steam launch - The Keswick Launch - that visits seven landings on the lake, and an unusual National Trust property, Derwent Island House, on a circular island in the middle of the lake.Continue to 7 of 7 below.
07 of 07
Driving the narrow road that hugs the western shore of Wastwater, one cannot help but be impressed by the mountains that mass and plunge steeply into the lake along the eastern shore. England's deepest lake - reaching 50 feet below sea level from a surface at least 200 feet above sea level - sits at the foot of Scafell Pike, at 3,209 feet, England's highest mountain. It is only one of the giants lowering above Wastwater. Other giants include:
- Scafell - 3,163 ft
- Great End - 2,986 ft
- Bow Fell - 2,959 ft
- Great Gable - 2,949 ft
- Fell Kirk - 2,691 ft
- Pillar - 2,926 ft