THE LAKE DISTRICT: AUTUMN 2020

As with many of you reading this, my travel plans for 2020 didn’t exactly go to plan! Although my dreams of paddling my way around Portugal slowly disintegrated, there was a positive, it made me look closer to home for my adventures.

I was so inspired by the stunning images I have seen of The Lake District on my social media channels, I knew it was somewhere I had to go. What better time to go than in the autumn when the colours are changing and the waterways are quieter.

Here’s a summary of our 4 day trip at the stunning Lake District in Cumbria, we tried to cram in as much as possible!

DAY 1 – ULLSWATER

It was an early start for me and my friend paddy. We left Exeter at 6am and headed north. We got up there pretty quickly, was incredibly lucky with the traffic!

Although we were staying in the south of the lakes, we decided to drive straight up to the north of the lakes on our first day to Ullswater lake. Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District being about 9 miles long and 0.75 miles wide. There’s a few hotels and pubs here if you wanted to grab a bite to eat.

I did not have time before I left to check launching spots so I was a tad concerned we were going to get there and be driving around for a while before figuring things out. However, it was super easy to launch. There are plenty of lay-bys along the edge of the lake to park and launch, as well as several car parks. We parked at Glencoyne car park in the picture below, sorted ourselves out and walked across the road and into the lake, easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Car Park Ullswater

Wow, what a lake it was! Stunning scenery, just take a look at the gorgeous images below. We did not have time to see this, but there’s a National Trust place called Aria Force Waterfalls in Ullswater that are supposed to be amazing – car park for this is on the map above.

After our paddle, we headed south and drove through the beautiful national park to get to our cottage in Grizebeck (link to Airbnb here). We lit the fire, watched Exeter Chiefs smash Bath rugby and then went to the local for some grub, it was the perfect day!

DAY 2 – WAST WATER & DERWENTWATER

We got up early the next day to paddle Wast Water. My Dad grew up near the Lake District and told me all about this place so I had to see it. I actually grew up in the Yorkshire Dales and have been to the lakes as a kid but I can’t remember it at all so it’s been great to go back.

Wast Water is located in Wasdale, a valley in the western part of the Lake District. The lake is almost 3 miles (4.8 km) long and more than one-third mile (500 m) wide. It’s the deepest lake in the Lake District at 258 feet – that’s darn deep!

On the way we stopped in a pretty village called Santon Bridge for breakfast. We went to Santon Bridge Gift Shop & Woodland’s Tea Room (dog friendly) and I highly recommend it for a spot of breakfast or lunch!

When we drove down into Wast Water I was stunned, it was so incredibly beautiful! As with Ullswater, plenty of places to park alongside the lake, although much smaller so I can imagine it’s busy in peak season. I don’t need to do much talking here, I think we can let the pictures do the talking:

Once we had finished our paddle at Wast Water we headed north towards Bassenthwaite Lake National Nature Reserve and Derwentwater. On the way we stopped at The Lakes Distillery which I also recommend for a spot of gin tasting!

We didn’t paddle at Bassenthwaite Lake National Nature Reserve but it looked very pretty, I think this is one of the lakes where you need a permit or pass to paddle so if you do want to go there, check the rules etc.

We parked in the cool town of Keswick and went on a walk around Derwentwater. I really liked Keswick, had a cool vibe about it and it’s a good place to park for a walk around Derwentwater. Derwentwater felt like something out of Jurassic Park, it was incredible, kind of gutted I didn’t paddle but sometimes you have to listen to your body and give it a rest!

The footpaths are easy to find and follow, although I did not paddle here, I think if you keep going south from Keswick on the road, there should be launch spots near the water but check this out as I am guessing.

Some images of stunning Derwentwater:

We decided to stop off at Coniston Water on the way back to the cottage to watch the sunset, it was gorgeous.

Coniston Water

DAY 3 – WINDEMERE, GRASMERE & RYDAL AND AMBLESIDE

Day 3 was predicted to be at tad rainy and miserable so we decided to visit a couple of towns and go on some recommended walks. Our first stop was Windemere, it is a busy town but also beautiful, it’s the longest lake in the Lake District and you cant go without saying you have been to Windemere right?!

We then went for a walk around Grasmere & Rydal Lakes – they are smaller lakes but the colours of the changing leaves were stunning. There’s a walk that takes you around both lakes which is a beautiful walk. There’s a fab pub on the way round for a mid walk pint called the Badger Bar. Great place! Pictures of Grasmere & Rydal below.

We finished the day in Ambleside with dinner at the Royal Oak. Proper hearty food which is just what we needed!

DAY 4 – CONISTON WATER & HOME

Day 4 it was time to head home so we went to the lake which was closest to our Airbnb – Coniston Water. Coniston Water is about five miles long and half a mile wide. Above its western shore, the mountain of the Old Man of Coniston towers above the lake and the village. It’s very pretty! The lake is about half a mile down from the village, there are shops, pubs and places to eat in the village too if ya hungry!

We found a car park on the east side of the lake and walked across the road to get in the water, was pretty easy (map of rough location below).

Car Park Coniston

When got there, it was lovely and flat, within 20minutes the wind picked up and WOAH it was hella windy! It’s amazing how quickly the weather can change in the lakes. We tried to paddle against the wind but we gave up after a while and decided to do a downwinder and one of us walk back to the car at the end! It was a rather quick paddle! There’s a lovely jetty on Consiton Water and the sunsets are amazing from it, it’s about 200meters down from the car park and is pictured in the images below.

THINGS I LEARNT AT THE LAKES:

  • The weather can change super quickly so be prepared
  • I found it easier than paddling at home, launch spots were close by & it was much quieter
  • If it’s windy on the sea, it’s very dangerous, at least on the lakes you’re not going to get blown out to sea, so this was quite nice, if it was windy, the paddle wasn’t completely written off
  • People are so friendly, it was one of the friendliest places I have been to… making me wonder why so many people are miserable in the south, ha!
  • The lakes are not that close together – you’re going to be stretched to do more than one in a day
  • The food is delicious – there were so many pubs and restaurants in the lakes, great if you’re a foody
  • Staying just outside of the park was great, it was cheaper and we didn’t get stuck in any traffic
  • It’s very dog friendly, most places we went for dinner accept dogs and the Airbnb was also dog friendly so i’ll be taking the dog next time!

So that’s that, I CANNOT WAIT TO GO BACK! Any questions just give me a holla!

Big thanks to supinflatables.co.uk for lending me a spare board for a few days!

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