Cumbria is well-known for being one of the most gorgeous places in the UK, with rolling hills, vast lakes, and pretty villages.

But rather than wandering lonely as a cloud across the hills, why not take a more direct route to the loveliest spots in the Lake District?

We’ve planned out the perfect road-trip through the region, taking in places like Grasmere and Lake Windermere, complete with recommendations for delicious lunches and relaxing spas.

Starting in Lancaster, this gentle route takes you all the way to Keswick, a distance of about 50 miles.

But the short journey time (a very doable 1hr 16 minutes) means there is plenty of time for stops.

Let’s get going!

Dip into… Fell Foot Active Base, Lake Windermere

At the bottom of Windermere, the Fell Foot is home to a new café, adventure centre (with underfloor heating, changing rooms and showers) and a park with a beach, making it the perfect place for a wild swim followed by a hot chocolate.

If that sounds too cold, you could try paddle boarding or canoeing.

You can also do some walks through the meadows and around the lake shore here.

Unwind at… Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa, Lake Windermere

One of the newest and most luxurious spots in the Lake District can be found nestled above the top corner of Windermere.

If you’re turning your road trip into an overnight stay, there’s plenty of laid-back glam (and free access to the outdoor spa) at this resort within a resort.

For everyone else, it’s all about the a hearty lunch. The Blue Smoke On The
Bay restaurant serves up succulent steaks, fish and vegetables from a 10ft wood-fired grill.

Sail away… Heritage Lake Cruise, Lake Windermere

The vintage tour on one of the Jetty Museum’s restored heritage boats is one of the most whimsical ways to experience Lake Windermere, with fascinating stories told by the knowledgeable skippers (tickets from £9).

Afterwards, stop off at the excellent museum café for coffee and cake.

Stroll around… Grasmere Village

One of the area’s prettiest villages and home to the poet William Wordsworth (check out his former home Dove Cottage, now a museum, while you’re here), Grasmere has a small lake that you can walk around, while the village is small enough to browse all of the art galleries, shops, cafes and pubs, too.

The famous – and tiny – Grasmere Gingerbread Shop, next to the church, is unchanged since Victorian times but just as popular.

Make sure you leave with at least one packet. Grasmere is an ideal place to stay and the Shepherd’s Hut at the Victorian House Hotel (from £110 B&B) is the most romantic spot in town.

Eat at… The Yan at Broadrayne, Grasmere

Tucked away above Grasmere in what looks like little more than a wooden shed, but with all the atmosphere of a mountain chalet, The Yan is home to some of the best food you will eat anywhere.

The short, no-nonsense menu is filled with outstanding crowd-pleasers from shepherd’s pie (£16.95), made with delicious local Herdwick lamb, to sticky toffee pudding (£7.95).

It’s popular and tables are hard to come by, so be sure to book ahead.

See movie magic at… Carnforth railway station

Carnforth railway station might not seem an obvious stop on a road trip but this heritage attraction is frozen in time.

Step back into the age of steam trains and reimagine the golden age of cinema, as this was the film location of the 1945 movie Brief Encounter.

Today, it’s a free-to-visit heritage centre and shop, dedicated to a bygone era.

Don’t miss… Hill Top, Ambleside

Beatrix Potter’s 17th-century home in the Lake District and, of course, Mr McGregor’s famous garden in the Peter Rabbit stories, is as idyllic in real life as it appears in her illustrated books.

You can explore all of it and learn about her life, as it is now managed by the National Trust. There’s a lovely shop, too.

Shop at… Chesters By The River, Skelwith Bridge

Whether it’s a set of Wainwright’s Walks mugs, beautiful Danish jewellery, or stylish homeware, Chester’s always has a stylish mix of products that will draw you back every time.

It’s also home to one of the best cafés for lunch or a cake, and now does take-away, too.

Perfect for walkers in need of a refuel.

Walk to… The Langdale Pikes, Ambleside

If you visit the Lake District without doing a walk, can you really say you’ve even been?

The flat walk along the river from Skelwith Bridge to Langdale and is a gentle enough amble for the kids or grandparents, with the reward of the Wainwrights’ Inn pub at the end of it.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, gear up at The Epicentre in Ambleside (you’ll need good waterproofs and reliably comfortable walking boots) then trek off to The Langdale Pikes – an epic (and classic) Wainwright Walk that takes in several peaks along the horseshoe route, as well as waterfalls and a tarn.

Detour to… St Bees beach

It’s easy to forget that the Lakes borders some of the country’s most spectacular coastline.

The pretty village of St Bees is home to a long sandy beach and red sandstone cliffs. It also marks the start of the Wainwright’s ‘Coast To Coast’ walk.

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