Things to do and see

it is very difficult to know where to start as there is so much to see and to do in the Lakes - a lot of it within close proximity of Loughrigg Cottage. There are many ideas in the various books in the library at Loughrigg Cottage, and more at the Lake District Visitor Centre at Brockhole. Below are some of our suggestions.


Ambleside is a bustling town and it seems to be busy at most times of the year. It is worth taking a moment to appreciate the Victorian buildings that are evident everywhere and highlight when tourism - facilitated by the railways - first discovered the Lakes.

Modern Ambleside has something for most visitors. As ever there are a large number of outdoor shops, but also an eclectic mix of other shops - from specialist artists to book shops, craft shops, delis and clothing stores.

If shopping is not your thing, the most famous building in the centre is the House on the Bridge. It is - on some days - opened by the National Trust and well worth a look inside - it doesn't take long. It is reputed to have been lived in by a family of six - but the National Trust guides we have met have been reluctant to support that number of occupants!

We recommend you take the short walk up to Stock Ghyll waterfall - even if you are not up for a longer walk. You can also explore Waterhead, on the north shore of Windemere, including Galava, the remains of the Roman fort. It was built under Hadrian's rule and the foundations are very well preserved.

Also at Waterhead is the embarkation point for boat trips on Lake Windemere. The Victorians built the pier here, in 1845, but the Romans got there first back in AD100. The cruises seem to run every day of the year except Christmas Day and also sometimes include evening dinner cruises as well as self hire rowing boats and motor boats - great fun.

A short walk out from Waterhead on the Windemere road takes you to the Stagshaw Gardens - a woodland garden supposed to be at its best (like the garden of Loughrigg Cottage but rather more extensive) in May and June. You can also walk out from Waterhead to the viewpoint at Jenkins Crag.

There are many other activities in Ambleside including:
  • the Armitt Museum: at the time of writing a semi- permanent Beatrix Potter exhibition and more general Lakeland history - including for some reason a lock of John Ruskin's hair!
  • Zeferellis cinema : 4 separate screens with a personal feel and with attached (and recommended) restaurants - see separate food recommendations. Zeferellis also has regular Jazz evenings.
  • White Platts 9 hole golf course, putting green and crazy golf - right in the centre of town
  • Ambleside climbing wall in Lake Road -
  • Cycle hire - at least 3 different places for cycle hire.
  • Loughrigg Tarn is also supposed to be a great place for wild swimming if that is your thing - and said to be relatively (!) warm.

No visit to Loughrigg Cottage is complete without taking the short walk to Rydal village. First stop is Rydal Mount which was Wordsworth's home between 1813 and 1850. Check the website for opening hours - - and get there early (after all there is no excuse) to avoid the coach tours. It is also possible to book evening tours.

Also in Rydal is Dora's field (just by the Church) although the famous daffodil display is only on show for a short period each year.
Opposite Rydal Mount is Rydal Hall - which has a unique example of an Edwardian Garden, a sculpture park and a highly rated tea-room!

If you take a circular walk over Stepping Stones and via the Vale of Rydal walk to get there, you may find in summer months (except on match days) there is a Lakes photography exhibition in the cricket club.

While in Rydal - please don't miss having a look at Rydal Water even if you don't want to walk its length.


Grasmere gets busy at most times of year. If you get there early enough there is always room to park in the car park on the right as you drive in off the B5287 just after you turn left off the A591. Don't bother driving into the village further as it gets very congested at busy times. Of course if you feel energetic you can take the beautiful walk from Loughrigg Cottage into Grasmere in just over an hour and get the bus back to Rydal. Or take the bus both ways.

The most famous sight in Grasmere is of course Dove Cottage, Wordsworth's home between 1799 and 1807. A ticket to the house will also get you in to the nearby Wordsworth museum.

On the North West side of Grasmere is Allanbank. That was also Wordsworth's home for a couple of years - although he disliked it as it was draughty and cold. It is now owned by the National Trust and is a fascinating visit. Also in Grasmere is St Oswald's Church - the site of Wordsworth's grave and much-visited.

As you might expect Grasmere is full of interesting shops and cafes and so worth exploring. Drop in to the Heaton Cooper Gallery - showing work by 3 generations (at least) of Lakeland artists - and see how ideas of landscape paintings have developed over time. We are told that the Gingerbread shop is a must. And for something completely different walk down the road along the Lake and drop in at Faeryland to hire a rowing boat to go on to Grasmere - or just to have a cup of tea.

The Langdales, Elterwater & Skelwith Bridge

If you have come for the walking you will want to explore the Langdale Valleys on foot - high and low. But a drive out in that direction is highly recommended in any event. Start by having a coffee, cake and a shop at Chesters in Skelwith Bridge.

From there drive down alongside Elterwater into the village of Elterwater, until the 1940's a centre for gunpowder manufacture and where the seminal artist Kurt Schwitters created his most famous work, the Merzbarn - sadly now moved to Newcastle for safekeeping.
From Elterwater drive up Great Langdale to Dungeon Ghyll, with the dramatic Langdale Pikes and Crinkle Crags as well as Bowfell looming over you as you come down the valley.

From there you take the steep road up and over into Little Langdale. There is no excuse not to stop as you go past the wonderful Blea Tarn at the top - alternating between brooding and twinkling depending on the weather.

In Little Langdale is the well-know Cathedral Quarry- a favourite for caving - and the much photographed ancient Slaters Bridge on Little Langdale Tarn, as well as many photogenic farmhouses.

As you come in to Windemere from Ambleside the A592 leads off North towards Troutbeck and from there up over the Kirkstone Pass and down towards Brothers Water and then Ullswater. The drive over Kirkstone is recommended (except in bad weather and icy conditions) and Ullswater is worth exploring in itself. But on route it is worth visiting Troutbeck and , in particular, Townend. This is owned by the National Trust and is a traditional stone and slate farmhouse. If you read the letters of Woodrow Wilson you will see he was very keen to buy it himself when staying at Loughrigg Cottage - but it seems the Presidency led him in other directions.

Windemere is - literally - just down the road and worth visiting not just to shop at Booths.

On route do drop in at the Brockhole Visitors Centre: not just an information centre but also a free adventure playground for 5-14 year olds, together with a tree top walk and zip wires. You can also rent bikes, canoes and rowing boats from here as well as play mini golf and follow various walking trails.

If shopping is your thing you will want to wander round Windemere and visit the Lakeland headquarters shop - next door to the station.
Windemere is also the home of Kankku - offering off-road driving experiences -

Bowness - next door to Windemere - is home to two very different attractions - The World of Beatrix Potter - - and Blackwell House - - a stunning Arts & Crafts house, wonderfully preserved.

South Lakes
Beyond Bowness the road takes you down the side of Windemere to the south. There is a huge amount to explore in Lakeside and beyond. These include the Lakeland Motor Museum at Newby Bridge - , the Lakes Aquarium also at Newby Bridge and Stott Park Bobbin Mill. From here you can also take a ride on the Lakeside - Haverthwaite Railway or drive on to the pretty (and foody) village of Cartmel. Cartmel is also (if you fancy it) the home of and of course Cartmel Races.
For many visitors a trip to the Lakes will not be complete without a visit to the home of Beatrix Potter- Hill Top House in Near Sawrey, a 17th century farmhouse. It is a short drive from Loughrigg via Clappersgate and Hawkshead.

Also near Hawkshead is Grizedale Forest - a very different walking experience to the high fells and offering cycling and walking trails, high wire adventure and a forest sculpture trail.

While on this side of Windemere don't miss Wray Castle, a mock-gothic castle built in 1840 now owned by the National Trust.

Also to the west is Coniston - which again has a very different feel to Windemere and which was the setting for Swallows & Amazons. Do stop off at Tarn Hows on route but ideally early or late when the crowds have not yet arrived.

Go on to visit Brantwood - the home of John Ruskin- indeed you can even visit it by taking the restored Victorian steam Gondola from Coniston pier.

If you want to explore for yourself hire a boat and head out on to the Lake for your own Swallows & Amazons experience.

North to Keswick

The A591 continues beyond Grasmere up to Keswick. It is only 15 miles and well worth the short journey. On the way you will pass Thirlmere - not really a lake but a Reservoir, created by submerging the old village of Wythburn. Even if you do not have the time or inclination to walk round Thirlmere, you should at least drive round.

Keswick itself feels like a busy county town. It is bustling and lively with an increasing number of interesting shops and galleries alongside some more traditional attractions. These include the Cumberland Pencil Museum and the Puzzling Place -

Keswick has its own well-regarded theatre - the Theatre by the Lake - but you will need to plan ahead for that. You can take a boat tour on the beautiful Derwentwater - - or visit the 3000 year old Castlerigg Stone Circle.

If you visit Keswick, don't miss the drive down Derwentwater to explore Grange and Borrowdale, although watch out for the traffic bottlenecks at the end of the day. At the end of the valley you can drive up the Honister Pass and visit the Honister Slate Mine ( offering visits underground - into the mines - and (literally) overground via the Via Ferrata.

North of Keswick is another high wire experience - Go Ape in the Whinlatter Forest park.

Further Afield
There are many other places to explore further afield: the length of Ullwater: the Hawkshead brewery in Staveley; the great Abbot Hall Gallery in Kendal; Hardnott Pass and Roman Fort; La'l Ratty Steam Railway in Eskdale and the brooding magnificence of Wastwater; the (allegedly) haunted Muncaster Castle.. The list could go on - but we will leave it to you to keep exploring! Do please remember to leave a note of your discoveries in the Guest Book in Loughrigg Cottage.


Things to do and see

The Lake District has so much to offer in all seasons

For prices, availability and online booking please either call Lakelovers on 015394 88855 or book online