Most people visit the Lake District in the spring and summer – totally understandable as you can usually predict what kind of weather you will get. That said, the winter months are a real treat.
The cooler temperatures mean that you can enjoy a brisk fell walk without breaking too much of a sweat, plus the views of the snowy mountain tops are a truly magical sight. And with the Christmas season in full swing, some of the cute villages are bursting with a unique charm, that you might be forgiven for thinking you’ve wandered into a fairy tale.
So, when you’re not out in the elements, completing a lakeside walk, checking out the Lakes’ hidden gems or challenging yourself to one of Wainwright’s fells, here are some of the more “indoorsy” things to do you might want to consider during your winter downtime.
The Winter Weather in the Lake District
The Lake District experiences its coolest temperatures between November and March with an average temperature of 8 degrees celsius. January is the coldest month with an average low of 2 degrees celsius.
The winter is also by far the wettest season in the Lakes too, with high chances of snow particularly in higher altitudes.
A caveat to this is that each valley seems to have its own micro-climate, and some days can seem to experience four seasons in one day.
The Christmas Markets
If you’re lucky enough to be in the Lake District in November to December, the Christmas markets are a must. Here are a few to choose from:
- Cumbria Life Christmas at Rheged
- The Lowther Christmas Fair
- Ulverston Dickensian Festival
- Keswick Victorian Fayre
- Yew Tree Barn Christmas Market Extravaganza
- Hawkshead Christmas Fair
- Taste Cumbria Christmas Festival
- Askham Hall Christmas Market
- Windermere Christmas Celebration
1. Take a Whiskey Tasting Tour at Lakes Distillery in Cockermouth
Location: Cockermouth CA13 9SJ
Basthenthwaite Lake in Cockermouth is where you’ll find the award-winning distillery. If whiskey is your thing, book yourself into a whiskey and tasting tour. Added bonus, you get to meet the alpacas onsite before settling down for a bite to eat at the bistro.
2. Walk to Orrest Head at Lake Windermere
A bracing walk at Lake Windermere is a delight in the winter, and this one is short and sweet if you’re not feeling up for a long haul in the chilling weather. This is Wainwright’s first fell, and only a 20-minute walk to the summit where the views are nothing short of fabulous.
Best to start your walk on the track opposite the NatWest bank in Windemere.
3. Eat Out at the Wild Boar Grill and Smokehouse Restaurant, Bowness
Location: Crook Road, Windermere – LA23 3NF
A Lake District visit during the winter wouldn’t be complete without a cosy evening in a pub. You can’t get better than The Boar Inn at Bowness, with its low oak beans, candlelight and open fire.
Better still, The Boar Inn offers an exquisite menu from its Grill and Steakhouse restaurant. Their smokehouse produces some amazing flavours in seafood, ribs and steaks, which go well with their home-brewed ales available at the bar.
Head Chef Dylan Evans has brought some of his experiences of the Middle East and Italy to his kitchen, with aromatic and colourful flavours penetrating the dishes.
4. Explore the Home of William Wordsworth in Grasmere
Location: Town End, Grasmere, Ambleside LA22 9SH
Dove Cottage is a must if you’re in the Lake District in winter time. Home to the iconic poet, William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy, they lived there from 1799 to 1808 where spent their time “plain living, but high thinking”.
Today there’s a museum with over 68,000 books and manuscripts along with various artworks and personal belongings. Wordsworth’s very own manuscripts hold centre stage.
5. Look Around Brantwood House in Coniston
Location: East of Lake, Coniston LA21 8AD
Antoher point of interest for literary/history fans is the home of John Ruskin – a writer and social reformer from the early 20th century. This museum couldn’t be in a more peaceful setting, set against the backdrop of Coniston River. After exploring the house and gardens, you can also enjoy an afternoon tea at the tea rooms.
6. Potter Around Staveley Mill Yard
Location: Black Lane, Staveley, Kendal LA8 9LR
A great place to visit if you’d like to check out some local delicacies. Try the sourdough pizza from “More? The Artisan Bakery” (a firm favourite with the locals); or check out the Antiques and Eclec Cafe that serves a dhal special. If all that isn’t enough, pay a visit to the Hawkshead Brewery in mill yard for a pint of local ale, lager or cider.
7. Check Out the Arts & Crafts Scene at Blackwell in Bowness
Location: Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House, Bowness-on-Windermere LA23 3JT
If arts and crafts is your thing, Blackwell is the palace to go. Blackwell is a large house, designed by Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott in 1901 to be the holiday home for Sir Edward Holt, one of the top dogs in Manchester brewing at the time. The building itself is inspired by the natural world and was built using traditional craft skills.
Today you can browse the interesting artefacts, wall-hangings, and stained glass windows that adorn this Grade I listed building. It’s also set in peaceful surreoundings with beautiful views of Lake Windermere.
8. Make Your Own Truffles at The Chocolate Factory, Hawkshead
Location: Main St, Hawkshead, Ambleside LA22 0NT
One for children of all ages, this award-winning Chocolate Factory invites you to learn the art of truffle-making accompanied by a glass of prosecco!
9. Transport Yourself at The Lakeland Motor Museum in Newby Bridge
Location: Old Blue Mill, Backbarrow, Ulverston LA12 8TA
Car enthusiasts love the Lakeland Motor Museum. Whether you’re into motorcycles, cars, bokes or scooters, there are over 30,000 exhbits covering everything, including a vast range of motorcar paraphernalia and memorabilia.
Pieces of special interest: The Donal Campbell Bluebird replicas from 1935-67, and the 1927 Dennis 250-gallon Fire Engine.
10. Browse the Ruskin Museum, Coniston
Location: Coniston LA21 8DU
The Ruskin Museum is where you’ll find out everything there is to know about Coniston and the Lake District in general. Opened by local artist and protoge of John Ruskin, WG Collingwood in 1901 the museum explores the history of Coniston all the way from the Stone Age to Donal Campbell and his famous Bluebird in the mid-20th century.
If you’re looking to visit the Lake District in the winter, you’re onto something good. If you’re around before Christmas, the markets are absolutely magical. But the winter months in general are a wonderful time to visit the Lakes. Whether you’re into some challenging fell climbing, lakeside walks or pursuing some of these local attractions, eateries and waterholes, the Lakes District in the winter is a must.
Planning a trip to the Lake District? See what our guided walking tours have to offer, here.