Year of the Staycation: Hiking in the Lake District

As foreign holidays are still in doubt, making the most of the UK is very much our agenda. Neither of us had visited the Lake District before, so we decided to go for the last bank holiday in May.

Friday

The journey took around 7.5 hours due traffic (!!!) and roadworks so we felt exhausted by the time we got there. Sam booked us a lovely one-bedroom apartment, which was super clean, equipped and modern. It was the perfect base for us to explore the lakes, forests and mountains! But first, a good night’s sleep ready to climb Scafell Pike the next day.

A great base for exploring!

Saturday

At 978m, Scafell Pike is England’s highest mountain. And as we climbed Wales’ highest mountain recently, this was next on our hiking list. It took around 1 hour, 15 minutes to drive from our apartment so we left early in the morning. We chose the Wasdale Head route, which starts from the National Trust car park at Wastwater.

It’s a popular route but not to be underestimated. It’s a tough and very steep hike with hard terrain. You are constantly scrambling over rocks! It took us approximately 1 hour, 45 minutes to get the top but the views were worth it, even if it was misty. It usually takes 3 hours to climb up but I think it all depends on your fitness levels. It’s an accomplishment however long you take!

View from the top – we made it!
Sam testing the terrain
Beautiful scenery from our climb
All smiles mid-hike!

After climbing down, we were both ready for some hearty grub. We had a restaurant booked but opted for a cosy pub instead. The thought of going back to the apartment to change didn’t appeal after a long day! The Greyhound Inn in Kirkby-in-Furness was just what we wanted – quick, tasty food, a relaxed environment and a warm welcome.

Sunday

My friend Jess recommended for us to try world-famous Grasmere gingerbread so that was our priority on Sunday. We got there for when it opened at 9:15am, talk about eager! You can smell the spicy-sweet aroma as soon as you arrive! The verdict? Absolutely delicious. So good that I went back for another pack!

So good I went back twice!
Post-gingerbread happiness

After wandering around Wordsworth Daffodil Garden and a coffee at Herdwicks Café in Coniston, we set off for Rydal Cave in Ambleside. Walking around this manmade cave was one of the highlights of the entire trip. It’s a real hidden gem! Perfect if you’re looking for a less challenging walk, that’s family-friendly. Children will love exploring the cave! The surrounding views are also hard to beat.

Checking out Rydal Cave
Feeling on top of the world at Rydal Cave!
Rydal Water looking serene

On the way back, we parked in Watershead Pier for a stroll. It was lovely to see the yachts, people on kayaks and the sunshine sparkling off the water before driving to Hawkshead Village for dinner. I highly recommend Hawkshead if you like quaint little places. It’s full of cute houses, cafes, local produce shops and cosy pubs. The Little Ice Cream Shop was a personal favourite!

The glistening lake at Watershead Pier
Pineapple (left) and mango (right) sorbet – ideal combination!

Monday

Our main aim today was to climb Helvellyn, the third highest mountain in England. We opted for the picturesque, Thirlmere route and it took us about 1 hour and 27 mins to walk up. I enjoyed this climb more than Scafell as it was a bit less touristy and I preferred the views. Again, it’s not to be underestimated – there were some very steep parts! But a must-do if you’re ever in the Lakes. A quick refuel at Sheila’s Cottage and a walk around Ambleside town and we were ready to crash in the hotel.

The bridge before the climb at Helvellyn
Summit Helvellyn
Wow! This view was incredible!
He’s definitely taking posing tips from me!

We stayed an extra night due to car trouble and Sam thoughtfully booked Stonecross Manor Hotel so we could relax in the spa. Unfortunately, the jacuzzi and steam room were out of action due to Covid but we swam for an hour in the pool before crashing out with a film and room service. So needed after a really busy few days!

Tuesday  

Today was back to work for me but as I’m still WFH, I made use of the hotel Wi-Fi and worked until we checked out before using my personal hotspot in the car all the way home. Flexible working at its finest! We managed to check out Kendal on my lunch break though – Brew Brothers had the best vegan menu I’ve seen in a long time! And of course, I picked up a Kendal mint cake from The Famous 1167 Chocolate House.

On your bike! A cute feature at Brew Brothers
Sampling what Kendal has to offer

I can safely say that we made the most of our time in Lake District. It’s somewhere we wouldn’t necessarily visit more than once a year, purely due to the distance and the painfully long journey getting there. But if you live relatively close by or don’t mind the travel, it’s an ideal place for exploring the lakes (naturally!), forests and mountains.

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