The Lake District National Park is one of the UK’s most visited natural attractions for outdoor activities and adventure. England’s largest national park is home to a breathtaking landscape of stunning peaks, emerald green hills and infinite views. You’ll find tors, woodlands, peaks and more than a few lakes – the clue’s in the name. Adventure activities in the Lake District are endless and with its expanse of infinite landscapes and wide open spaces social distancing comes easy.
Trig point at Old Man Coniston with Scafell in the background
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At Low Water on the hike up Coniston Old Man
Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, rambler, scrambler or water lover there’s an adventure activity to suit you. The Lake District gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 2017 and is a fabulous UK destination for an active short break or a week away.
You’ll find some quirky B&Bs, idyllic cottages and beautiful hotels in the Lake District. Once you’ve booked your accommodation you’ll be looking for active things to do. Read on for some of the best adventure activities in the Lake District National Park, from water activities and hiking to climbing to cycling and canyoning.
Hiking in the Lake District
Hiking Old Man Coniston
Hiking is a fabulous way to spend your outdoor time in the Lake District and one of the best ways to take in the natural beauty of the region. Hiking is a must do activity in the Lake District because the region has some of the best hiking in the UK and some impressive peaks. Suitable for both adults and children, there’s a massive choice of walks and hikes for every ability. We go back again and again and enjoy different hikes and some old favourites every time. Hiking is one of my favourite activities in the Lake District because it’s a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the landscape, get loads of fresh air, exercise and feel that you’ve earned the rosy glow of a good pint at the local pub in the evening (and there are some great pubs). It doesn’t get much better.
There’s a hike for everyone. Beginners and the less energetic will enjoy gentle lakeside strolls and woodland walks amid beautiful scenery. We visited with my elderly parents one year and found some leisurely walks with fabulous views which they were happy tackle. The more energetic can head for the peaks, scale the heights and try some fell walking – there may even be some scrambling involved. You’ll be rewarded with some epic views once you reach the top and trekking the hill tops takes hiking, and the views, to a whole new level.
Read more – Top things to do in the Lake District
Public footpath sign Lake District
We loved hiking Coniston Old Man (we didn’t take the parents on this one). On the route we discovered an old tin mine, cooled our feet in an icy-cold tarn and took in the epic views from the peak looking down on Lake Coniston. We encountered a few Herdys too (Herdwick sheep). Don’t forget to have your photo taken at the trig point when you get to the top. The fresh air and exercise is totally invigorating. Scafell Pike, the Lake District’s highest peak is another must-do for hikers visiting the area.
You might want to read my best travel backpacks guide. This guide will help you choose the best backpack for you and your trip.
The trig point at the top of Old Man Coniston
The walking trails and hikes in the Lake District are all well signed but you could grab yourself a Wainwright’s guide and go it alone, ensuring you take all the necessary precautions of course. Check how long the hike will take and remember to make a note of sunset times.
Another option is to take a guided walk or group tour. If you need hiking gear head to Ambleside which is packed full of shops selling gear for all kinds of Lake District activities. If you need walking boots, hiking poles, wet weather gear, rucksacks or Kendal Mint Cake I guarantee you’ll find it in Ambleside.
Water activities in the Lake District
To head to the Lake District without taking to the water isn’t on. Every kind of water activity is available in the lakes from the adrenalin rush of wakeboarding to gentle boat trips on Lake Windemere. On the calmer lakes try your hand at canoeing, kayaking, wild swimming or get your balancing act together with stand up paddle boarding. For more of an adrenalin rush head for the larger lakes for wakeboarding or water-skiing. Sailing boats, dinghys and motorboats are more great ways of getting out on the water.
Canoeing and kayaking in the Lake District
Coniston Water is an excellent spot for boating with Coniston Boating Centre hiring out all types of boats, canoes and stand-up paddle boards – one of my favourite activities in the Lake District. You’ll see families of all ages having fun and messing about in boats on Coniston Water. Getting out on the water is one of the best activities for families.
Via Ferrata in the Lake District
At the top of Honister Pass you’ll find a slate mine. Honister Slate Mine is the last working slate mine in England and produces the world famous Westmorland green slate. You can choose to take a tour of the mine or you can go a few steps further and climb it. There are two Via Ferratas to choose from. The Via Ferrata originated in the Dolomites in Northern Italy, and it means ‘Iron Road’ or ‘Iron Way’ due to the iron steps and bridges drilled into the rock. Probably the most extreme of Lake District activities.
The award winning Classic route is suitable for most ages and abilities and follows the original miners’ route to the top of the mountain. If you’re looking for a full on adrenalin rush opt for the Via Ferrata Xtreme which involves exposed mountain drops, ladders, vertical climbs, a Burma bridge, aka the infinity walk, and a cargo net crossing. This Lake District activity sure isn’t for lightweights but it’s well worth the buzz and the incredible views from Fleetwood Pike at the top. Check rates and availability for the Via Ferrata at Honiston.
Cycling & mountain biking in the Lake District
Mountain biking in the forest
Time to come back down to earth, get in the saddle and take to the roads and the Lake District’s hundreds of cycle paths. Cycling in the Lake District is a popular activity and pedal power will get you around some of the prettiest spots in the national park. Fresh air, wide-open spaces and miles of road ahead. For every uphill grind there’s an effortless downhill to follow or choose from more leisurely routes. They all wend their way through stunning scenery. There are plenty of places to hire bikes and helmets if you need to.
Boat trips in the Lake District
For a more peaceful water-based Lake District activity take a boat trip on Lake Windemere, England’s largest lake. Choose from cruises, steam yachts and dinner or lunch cruises – it’s a great way to catch your breath and take time to enjoy the breathtaking scenery. If you’re feeling more energetic hire a rowing boat and get out on the lake under your own steam.
Climbing in the Lake District
Scrambling in the Lake District
The Lake District has some of the best rock climbing in England. There’s a crag for everyone, from proficient climbers to total novices. Depending on your ability, go with an instructor and learn the ropes and techniques to get your rock climbing experience off to the best start. There are climbing walls at Keswick, Kendal and Ambleside to get you started in a safe environment. For the skilled, well you should know what to do. Guided rock climbing is available at many locations across the Lake District national park. Consider abseiling to get back down to earth again.
If you can’t get to a suitable place to climb or for beginner climbers you could build your own climbing wall at home.
Gorge walking, ghyll scrambling and canyoning
Gorge walking, also known as ghyll scrambling, is an incredibly exhilarating, active experience and probably not recommended for the faint hearted. If you decide to participate you’ll find yourself walking through rivers, sliding off rocks, negotiating waterfalls, jumping from a height into pools and generally getting right up to your neck in cold water. It’s a Lake District adventure and a half.
Canyoning into a waterfall
A visit to the Lake District makes an active break whatever time of year you visit. For the adventure lover, Lake District activities are exciting and varied. You’ll always find an adrenaline rush, whether you’re looking to repeat a favourite activity or discover something completely new.
Have you had an adventure in the Lake District? Tell us your favourite activity in the comments below.