From gorgeous hikes to cute hideaway cafes, now is the perfect time to take a romantic Lake District break.
There has never been a time in the last few years of living in the UK where I haven’t wanted to go to the Lake District. With its rolling hills and lakes covered in mist, there really is no place that epitomizes the United Kingdom better. And yet somehow, it kept not happening.
Like, I would keep looking at hotels and sticking in dates but then never actually taking the leap and booking a stay. I would see other people’s posts on their blogs and social media and think to myself: gosh, I should really go to the Lake District. And then I wouldn’t do anything about it. Which is really against character for me (hello, I have a travel blog).
Well, I’m glad to say that this past May I finally went to the Lake District.
I dragged Daniel along with me on one of our two revision weeks before exams (a time in the UK university system when you have no class and are expected to study the whole time. I usually go out of my mind if I don’t have anything else to do, so travel is usually involved–In the past I’ve been to Barcelona, Copenhagen, and Seville–all during revision weeks) for a charming little romantic Lake District break complete with glamping, lambs, and quaint English villages. And it was everything it promised to be.
Here’s how we spent an amazingly relaxing 4 days on a romantic Lake District break.
Psst… for practical tips and advice on how to have your own romantic (or non-romantic) Lake District break, scroll to the bottom of this post or just click this link!
OUR PERFECT 4 DAY ROMANTIC LAKE DISTRICT BREAK
On the first day of our romantic Lake District Break, we traveled from St Andrews to Windermere by train, switching in Edinburgh and Oxenholme. Then, it was a short, half hour bus ride from Windermere to Rydal, where we would find the Herdwick Huts, our home for the next four nights.
A little overly complicated to get from one point in a tiny country to another? Yes. Worth it? Also yes.
CHECKING IN AT THE HERDWICK HUTS
There was no overly complicated check-in process at the Herdwick Huts, though. Our key was just hanging on the door with a chalk sign stating my name. While this definitely could have seemed a bit sketchy, for an introvert like me who really hates having to interact with people it was perfect.
And holy s*** was our shepherd’s hut the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. With its plethora of candles and red accents set against light wood paneling and the bleating of sheep in the background, I couldn’t think of a better place to spend our romantic Lake District break.
We set off to explore the grounds of Rydal Hall, which the Herdwick Huts are located on, next. Mostly just to find the bathrooms, but also because they were pretty cool. At the bottom of a garden path, we found a small hut apparently built literally just for its scenic view of the waterfall (which honestly is a mood).
There was also a field full of sheep and since it was May, the most adorable little lambs I’d ever seen. Little did we know, those wouldn’t be the last time we would see lambs while in the Lake District…
Our first morning in the Lake District was spent sleeping in. Since we had four days there and there’s a lack of traditional “attractions” like the city breaks we normally take we really didn’t feel too rushed to get up and start doing things. And let me tell you: it was pretty amazing.
When we did finally get up and moving, we decided to walk across the road to the nearest hiking trail. Because in the Lake District you can just walk across the road and there will be a hiking trail.
HIKING AROUND RYDAL WATER
The Herdwick Huts where we were staying are located just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Rydal Water–one of the smaller, lesser-known lakes of the Lake District (but don’t worry, it was still a very Lake District-y lake), so we started our hike on the trail around the lake.
We found a pretty perfect staring-out-into-the-distance picture rock early on, so clearly had to stop for a photo shoot.
Then it was on and further around the water, over a cute little bridge, and past loads and loads of the best dogs ever. (I don’t know if you know this or not but I really like dogs).
Eventually, we moved up and past the lake into a more field-like area, where I was delighted to find loads more lambs (which, really, is something I should have been expecting considering it was springtime in the UK which basically has more sheep than people).
We stopped somewhere on a bench to eat our packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (American peanut butter supplied by Daniel, who brought a jar over with him after spring break). A cute family with two small boys sat on the bench next to us and the parents were very courteous about my staring at their baby’s feet.
THE REST OF THE DAY
Eventually, we made our way back to our little shepherd’s hut just before it started raining, and spent the afternoon reading, cuddling, and attempting to start a fire in the woodburning stove but to no avail (unsurprisingly this isn’t the first time we’ve failed at starting a fire.)
Dinner was at the nearby Badger Bar, where we were basically the only customers, the food was delicious, and I once again ordered a beer despite not even liking beer because I feel judged whenever I go into a pub in the UK and don’t order a beer (#justanxietythings).
A DAY TRIP TO AMBLESIDE
On the third day of our romantic Lake District break, we decided to go a little further afield and hopped on a bus to Ambleside, the nearest real town to where we were staying.
Now, I’m not going to lie. Our main motivation here was to find a coffee shop where we could connect to wifi for the first time in two days (I had some work to catch up on, okay?) but it was definitely a good motivation because it forced us to go and check out one of the cutest little touristy towns ever.
Once we hopped off the bus in downtown Ambleside we did a little wandering and found a park to eat our lunch in (pb&j for the second day in a row).
THE JACKET ADVENTURE
Even though it was May, this was England, so it was still rainy and a little bit cold outside–and Daniel, being the dumb dumb that he is, had forgotten to pack any sort of jacket. So finding one for him was next on the agenda.
Due to the fact that it’s a tourist town located in the Lake District, Ambleside is home to a whole lot of outdoors stores, so finding a jacket wasn’t really an issue. Finding one that was in our price range definitely was though. Finally, we found one that was 50% off–and I actually managed to convince Daniel to buy it.
Now, why is this so notable? Well, because Daniel won’t buy new socks even if all of his socks have holes in them. And in two years of living in SCOTLAND he had never actually owned a rain jacket before this very moment.
The second he put his fancy new rain jacket on, he did the dorkiest dance I’ve ever seen.
COFFEE AND THE OUTSIDE WORLD
With the jacket problem firmly solved, we found a nearby coffee shop, grabbed some lattes, and immediately connected to the wifi and didn’t talk to each other for the next hour and a half or so.
As unromantic as that might seem, I’ve always loved being able to sit in comfortable silence, both of us doing something that we want to do, with warm and delicious coffee at hand. It’s actually one of our pretty regular routines, and I think it’s cozy and romantic af.
WANDERING AROUND AMBLESIDE
Of course, it wouldn’t be a trip with me if I didn’t insist that we wander around and get lost. Unfortunately, Ambleside was far too small to actually get lost in, but we got some pretty good wandering done anyway. I even managed to find my dream house, with a door that was my absolute favorite color in the world.
Finally, we grabbed an early dinner at a Thai restaurant before heading back to our glamping hut, this time walking the half hour back through fields of lambs.
DAY TRIP TO HAWKSHEAD
On our fourth and final full day in the Lake District, we decided to go even farther afield–around to the other side of Lake Windermere to Hawkshead village, home of the Beatrix Potter Gallery.
And let me tell you, the second we stepped off the bus in Hawkshead I took back everything I had said the day before about Ambleside being the cutest village ever. Nope, Hawkshead definitely took the cake.
BEATRIX POTTER MUSEUM
Our first stop was, of course, the Beatrix Potter Gallery, which is home to an astonishing amount of original artwork, all displayed in a 17th-century home. We learned so many surprising things about Beatrix Potter and how she lived her life as an independent woman. She definitely became a new hero of mine.
After about a half hour spent discovering every nook and cranny of the Beatrix Potter Museum (it’s pretty small), we spent another half hour discovering every nook and cranny of Hawkshead (it’s also pretty small). And yup, every single nook and cranny was the most charming and adorable thing I had ever seen.
Finally, we stopped at Kittchen, possibly the only cat cafe in the world that doesn’t charge an entry fee, for coffee and cake. Unfortunately, I hadn’t brought any allergy meds along, so we had to sit outside, but I did sneak a cat pet when I went to the bathroom.
AN UNDERESTIMATED WALK TO THE TARN HOWS
On our wander around Hawkshead, we saw a sign pointing to a path to Tarn Hows, one of the places I had read somewhere was a good place for a hike in the Lake District. We hadn’t done any planning in advance (which is super duper unlike me) so we just thought: “hey, let’s take a little stroll over to Tarn Hows!”
Well, little did we know our little stroll would actually be about an hour long. And that when we got to Tarn Hows we would have to walk halfway back in order to get to the nearest bus stop. …Oops.
All the same, it was a super lovely walk through random peoples’ fields with lots of sheep and lambs in them. That was definitely one thing that was super strange about the Lake District–even though we were always on marked paths, we oftentimes found ourselves just casually walking through peoples’ sheep pastures. And it was, like, totally casual. Definitely a different experience to hiking in the US!
Tarn Hows itself was certainly beautiful, but by the time we actually got there, we were far too tired to appreciate the serene walk around the lake that it offered.
The definite highlight, though? The four GIANT Newfoundlands who decided that they wanted to go for a swim. I have truly never seen anything like it (and I still need to post the video I have in the Dogspotting Facebook group).
On our final morning in the Lake District, we packed up our things and said goodbye to our trusty little glamping hut before grabbing breakfast at the tea room on the grounds. Then, it was off to Windermere to catch our train back home so we could take our exams.
All in all, our romantic lake district break was 100% a beautiful and serene success.
PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR YOUR ROMANTIC LAKE DISTRICT BREAK
Tempted to take your own romantic (or non-romantic) lake district break? Here’s all of the information you need to have a fabulous time!
HOW TO GET TO THE LAKE DISTRICT
The train stations serving the Lake District are Windermere, Oxenholme, Penrith, Carlisle, Kendal, and Stavely. Use Google Maps to figure out which station is closest to your accommodation and then Trainline to find tickets.
The M6 runs to the east of the Lake District and the journey is approximately five hours from London and one and a half hours from Manchester.
The nearest airports to the Lake District are Manchester and Glasgow. From there, train and bus links will take you where you need to go, or you can rent a car.
For more information on how to get to the Lake District, check out the Lake District National Park website.
HOW TO GET AROUND THE LAKE DISTRICT
The Lake District is surprisingly well served by public transportation–specifically busses and boars–so you don’t need to worry about how you’re going to get around if you don’t have a car. You can check out all of the bus and boat routes through the Lake District on the Stagecoach website.
WHERE TO STAY IN THE LAKE DISTRICT
The Lake District has loads of different accommodation–from five-star hotels to campsites. Here are two places that I recommend:
$ – YHA Hawkshead – Hawkshead was by far my favorite town in the Lake District and the YHA hostel there is no less charming. If you’re on a budget, this is definitely the place to stay!
$$ – Herdy Huts – The Herdy Huts, located on the grounds of Rydal Mount, are shepherds hut glamping pods complete with memory foam mattresses and mini kitchens. This is where we stayed and it was absolutely charming!
Check prices on: The Herdwick Huts
$$$ – The Malabar Hotel – If you have a bit more cash to dole out, I absolutely drooled over photos of the Malabar Hotel. This looks like the perfect place to relax after a day out exploring (there’s even free afternoon tea on the day you arrive!).
WHAT TO PACK FOR THE LAKE DISTRICT
Hiking Boots – if you’re going to be doing any kind of walking while you’re in the Lake District, definitely consider bringing along a pair of hiking boots. I have the Ahnu Women’s Sugarpine boots and absolutely love them.
Hiking Pants – similarly, bring along clothes that are good for hiking in. If you do a lot of hiking and don’t own them yet, then a pair of hiking specific pants like these can be a great investment!
Sweatshirt – even in the summertime it can get cold fast in England, so bring along a sweatshirt or other jacket to keep warm.
Rain jacket – I shouldn’t really have to tell you to bring along a rain jacket when you go anywhere in the UK, but hey.
Reusable water bottle – save yourself some money (and save the environment) by bringing along a reusable water bottle. If you bring one with a filtration system like this one you can even fill it up directly from one of the lakes!
Plastic tupperware for packed lunches – while you could go out to eat for every meal, it’s likely you’ll be on some longer hikes where you’ll want to pack a lunch. Bring reusable plastic tupperware for this and you’ll be good to go!
CAN’T-MISS THINGS TO DO IN THE LAKE DISTRICT
There are absolutely loads of things to do in the lake district, but here are a few you definitely can’t miss:
Hiking/walking – The hikes and walks in the Lake District are absolutely unparalleled, so you definitely don’t want to miss this! From the views of rolling hills to the random moments when you’re not sure if you’re on a public footpath or in some farmer’s pasture, taking a walk is one of the best things to do in the Lake District.
Wandering around the quaint little towns – The Lake District is chock full of adorably quaint little towns that are perfect for wandering around or even doing a little bit of shopping. Two of my favorites are Ambleside and Hawkshead.
Do these two things and you’ll have a quintessential Lake District experience.
Whew, we’re finally done! Do I have you dying to go to the Lake District yet?