The Lake District is a well-known and much-loved area in the North of England, made even more famous by Alfred Wainwright’s printed and televised series of walking routes. In fact, the Lakes see almost 16 million visitors each year, keen to explore the lakeside paths, the fells and the crags, walking in the footsteps of the great man himself.
Surprisingly, however, the Lake District is spattered with some secret spots that are scarcely known, let alone visited.
We’ve picked our five favourite Lake District hidden gems, but shhhhh… don’t tell anyone! We want to keep them on the low-down.
1. Wasdale Valley
- Parking: Lake Head car park CA201 EX; Nether Wasdale car park OS: NY 127038
Although it’s home to England’s most prominent and one of the Lakes’ most popular mountains, Scafell Pike, Wasdale Valley is one of the most untamed valleys in the area. It has mountain ridges and remote landscapes in its western part and is a good option for walkers and climbers to get a bit of respite between climbs.
The flipside to its remoteness is that it’s tricky to get to, but it’s for this reason that you’ll benefit from an authentic and uninterrupted immersion in nature. There is, however a shuttle bus from Ravenglass and Gosforth during the summer months, and some parking options in Wasdale itself.
2. Grizedale Forest
- Parking: Grizedale Forest car park, LA22 0QJ
Managed by Forestry England, Grizedale Forest sits between Coniston Water and Windermere and is home to eight waymarked walking trails varying in difficulty.
One of its striking features is that, as you walk through the forest you get to spot the 40 sculptures dotted among the thousands of trees.
Grizedale is the only remaining indigenous woodland housing red deer. Amongst the diverse wildlife are buzzards, roe deer, red kites and barn owls, to name but a few.
It’s not just great for walkers too. Its single track is perfect for mountain bikes. Well worth an off-road biking experience through this fabulous hidden gem.
The village of Calbeck is a remote spot, hidden away between Keswick and Penrith in the Northern Fells of the Lake District. Named after the Cold Beck river on which it sits, the village is steeped in a history of corn mills, woollen mills, bobbin mills, a paper mill and a brewery, the buildings of which still exist in the village.
The village itself has a pretty duck pond, a limestone gorge with waterfalls called the Howk, as well as the ruins of the Bobbin Mill, all of which a gentle options for a sunny afternoon.
It sits within walking distance to some of the iconic Lake District fells including Skiddaw and Blencathra, they’re more untrodden than many of the more popular fells.
If you’re looking to explore beyond the beautiful scenic village, you can escape to more remote fells such as High Pike and Carrock fell – ideal options if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle.
4. The West Coast of Cumbria
Boasting a staggering 150 miles of shoreline, Cumbria’s coastline is a barely-known option for tourists both from within Britain and abroad. And not only is it extensive but it is largely untouched, with some stunning vistas.
From the town of Haverigg on the southern tip of the Copeland district and all the way up to the Solway Coast, there are some secret places any seaside lover would be delighted to discover. Seaside towns of Ravenglass and St Bees there are tucked-away little harbours, sandy beaches (Millon Bay is a must) and pretty estuaries. And of course, there are plenty of clifftops from which you can admire the beautiful views across the ocean.
5. Lowther Castle & Grounds
- Location: Lowther, Penrith CA10 2HH
- Website: Lowthercastle.org
For something a bit different, Lowther Castle is an amazing Gothic ruin, set in amongst 130 acres of ancient gardens. Although it’s steeped in historical interest (and you have the option of exploring the ruins, exhibitions and even the adventure playground if you’re feeling playful), its seclusion lends itself to a gentle saunter around the grounds, or even a bike ride if you fancy hiring two wheels to get around.
Although the castle is hidden away, it’s surprisingly easy to get to – just a 15-minute drive from the M6.
Looking for a more structured experience of the Lake District? Take a look at our guided walking tours.