Places to visit – A taste of the lakes

A trip to the Lake District would only be complete with taking in the breathtaking views of the hills along the idyllic lake shores.

The region is home to an array of stunning lakes, waterways, and tarns, with 16 leading lakes considered the most prominent bodies of water.

In the following section, we outline the central bodies of water that are easily accessible and frequently visited by tourists and locals.

We provide information on parking availability and the presence of nearby amenities such as toilets, restaurants, pubs, and accommodations.

Esthwaite Water

Nestled between Windermere and Coniston, south of Hawkshead lies Esthwaite Water.

The lake was a favourite of author Beatrix Potter and served as inspiration for one of her characters.

Although much of the land surrounding the lake is privately owned and restricted, there is still plenty to do, such as trout fishing, charming walks, and viewing Osprey.

Elter Water

Nestled just a few miles west of Ambleside in the village of Elterwater, Elter Water is a picturesque lake known for its swans and waterfall.

Conveniently located along the Cumbria Way, it is an excellent destination for families and those with mobility needs. It is just a short distance from Ambleside, in the village of Elterwater.


Wastwater, offering stunning views of Scafell Pike and other picturesque fells, is the ideal location for a peaceful lakeside picnic.

Situated in the picturesque Wasdale Valley in the west, this lake features a scenic 8-mile walking trail along its shores.


Ullswater is a must-visit for those exploring the Lake District, as it is the second-largest lake in the region, surrounded by the stunning Helvellyn mountain range.

The lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family, including boat hire, sailing, and scenic walking trails.


Thirlmere, surrounded by impressive peaks including Helvellyn, offers breathtaking scenery, though no water sports are allowed.

It is secluded, with several walking trails around the lake, which is 10 miles in circumference.

Rydal Water

Rydal Water, nestled between Windermere and Grasmere, inspired many of William Wordsworth’s works.

This picturesque lake attracts visitors but tends to be quieter than nearby lakes. It boasts a breathtaking background and a notable cave.


Grasmere Lake, located in the village of Grasmere, offers picturesque lakeside views near the former home of William Wordsworth and the renowned Grasmere Gingerbread.

A 3-mile walk around the lake is a popular tourist attraction, particularly during peak season.


Windermere is the largest lake in England and the Lake District, attracting the most visitors for its water sports and recreational opportunities.

Boats and ferries frequently cross the lake, providing stunning vistas. In addition, the 45-mile “Windermere Way” walk circles the lake’s shore, offering a scenic hike.


For a serene and less crowded option, Loweswater is a gorgeous lake that tourists often overlook.

Situated between Cockermouth and Egremont, a 4-mile trail surrounds the lake, providing a peaceful walk with breathtaking views.

Although there are no amenities, a popular local pub can be found in the nearby village of Loweswater.

Ennerdale Water

Ennerdale Water, situated between Cockermouth and Egremont, is a favourite among residents of the Lake District.

A forest surrounds the lake, and a 6.5-mile, relatively flat walk follows its shores.

The location holds special significance as it is where Bill Clinton proposed to Hillary and was also a filming site for the movie “28 Days Later.”

Derwent Water

Located just outside of Keswick, Derwent Water is a well-known lake among locals and tourists.

The famous Cumbria Way walking trail follows one side of the lake, offering views of the prominent Cat Bells peak.

The lake also features a theatre that presents various events throughout the year and multiple boat rental options along its shores.

Crummock Water

Crummock Water is a hidden gem with breathtaking views that often go unnoticed by tourists.

It’s the perfect spot for a peaceful picnic or a paddle. Located near Cockermouth, food and facilities can be found in the nearby village of Buttermere.

An 8-mile walk encircles the lake, although some parts of the trail follow a road.

Coniston Water

With its inspiring woodland and recognizable shoreline, Coniston Water served as the backdrop for Arthur Ransome’s “Swallows and Amazons” series.

A 14-mile walk encircles the entire lake, or you can take a steamer boat across it and enjoy a lovely hike along the Cumbria Way back to Coniston.


Buttermere, located near Cockermouth, is a famous lake for tourists and locals, with a 4.5-mile well-maintained trail and breathtaking views along the shore.

It is easily accessible and boasts a variety of restaurants and accommodations.

Buttermere is a favourite for picnicking and is the starting point for many well-liked hill walks.

Bassenthwaite Lake

Bassenthwaite Lake, situated between Keswick and Cockermouth, is one of the largest lakes in the Lake District and provides prime opportunities to observe Ospreys.

It is the only lake in the Lake District to have “Lake” in its official name.

The area offers great picnic spots and several excellent walking trails.


Haweswater offers a serene location for those seeking a charming, less crowded spot for a picnic.

Despite its creation in 1929 to supply water to Manchester, the lake still boasts several great walking trails and breathtaking views.

Cottages in the Lake District

(Fantastic selection of holiday cottages across the Lake District.Available to book now.)