Southern Lake District
Hayes Garden Centre. Started out as a small garden centre with a café has grown to a huge shop selling a diverse range of products for the home and garden. This is a great way to wile away a few hours especially on rainy days. The newly opened pet centre is impressive with all manner of four legged furry things and a selection of reptiles too. The café looks out over the outdoor garden section and has views to Loughrigg Fell.
Bilbo’s Café. Completely unpretentious café serving a vast selection of baps with lashings of butter, bacon, sausage and fried eggs. Expect mammoth breakfasts to match the mammoth pint mugs of tea and good honest grub. The cakes are rustic and homemade and the atmosphere is convivial. Seating is on comfy sofas and bench seats and tables with plenty of climbing, running and walking magazines to peruse. All the staff are outdoor fiends of some description and will be more than happy to chat about routes, be they climbing, walking or biking. Your dog is very welcome too!
Excellent selection of independent outdoor shops. Choose from Epicentre, The Climbers Shop, The Mountain Factor, Cunningham’s and Gaynor Sports. Independent shops offer a multitude of excellent brand and enthusiastic, experienced staff to help you spend your money.
Fairfield Horseshoe. THE big walk to do from Ambleside taking in 8 Wainwright fell tops on a stunning horseshoe route. The highest point of the walk offers superlative views. Fairfield summit is dotted with stone shelters for a lunch stop, enjoying views to the craggy eastern faces of the Helvellyn range, Windermere and the far eastern High Street Fells.
Photo kindly supplied by Sean McMahon - lovethelakes.net
The centre of the village is closed to traffic making it a delight to explore. Wander through the cobbled squares and alleys lined with pretty whitewashed houses. The lack of traffic lends it self to a wonderful atmosphere as people browse the shops and quaint tea rooms.
There are many beautiful historic properties and churches with strong links to William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. Nearby Hill Top was the home of Beatrix Potter for many years and is open to the public.
Grizedale Forest has various way marked trails of varying difficulties and lengths – ideal for family walking. The weave their way through the forest into valleys, past hidden tarns and above the tree line.
Esthwaite Water is a well-stocked lake offering great fishing in stunning scenery. There is an onsite tackle shop where you can hire or buy pretty much anything you need for a day on the lake including motor and row boats. During the summer months expect competition from the visiting Ospreys and a whole host of other wild birds.
Orrest Head is where Alfred Wainwright first fell in love with Lakeland. From this modest summit you are rewarded with a beautiful vista including the Coniston fells, Langdale, the Fairfield range and Kirkstone to name but a few. Take the 20 minute walk and see for yourself.
Blackwell House is a fine example of a building listed for its examples of British domestic architecture. The house was built as a holiday home for a wealthy Manchester brewer and has lovely views towards Coniston and Windermere. The property was built around 1900 and still has nearly all its original decorative features intact. Much of the original furniture remains as well as decorative objexts from this era. The suntrap gardens and terraces are a delight to wander round and Blackwell is well worth a visit for anyone wishing to see a different aspect of attractions in the Lake District.
Brockhole is billed as the Lake District Visitor Centre and it is certainly a great way to start any trip to the South Lakes. The centre is especially friendly for children and wheelchair users and an excellent rainy day activity. Chose from the indoor play area, interactive displays and the predator park packed full of birds of prey, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.
High on any visitor’s itinerary must be a cruise on the Windermere Lake Steamers. There are 6 different stations around the lack to hop on or off and 4 different routes ranging from 45 minutes to 3 hours allowing you to take in the beautiful scenery and get a close up view of the many islands on the lake. Rowing boats and self-drive motorboats are also available to hire.
Lakeland or Lakeland Plastics as many Cumbrians still call it! This is more than a kitchen shop – every conceivable gadget and plenty more things you probably don’t need attractively displayed in their flagship store. Such is Lakeland’s drive to offer fantastic customer service, if there are no tables in their lovely café, you will be given a pager to alert you when a table becomes free as you browse the store!
Bowness on Windermere is a real honeypot destination with impressive lakeside piers, terraced rows of guest houses and traditional tea rooms. Main attractions include the World of Beatrix Potter, the Old Laundry Theatre and St Martin’s Church.
Love the Lakes shop tucked away on Ash Street offers a wide range of locally sourced products and prides itself on supporting Cumbrian producers and manufacturers. Owner Sean is a keen fell walker so be sure to pick his brains if you catch him in the shop.
The Great North Swim is held in June and attracts entrants of all abilities to take part in the 3 distances on offer. This is a popular event for participants and spectators alike and creates a real buzz of atmoshpere around Bowness.
Kentmere and Staveley
Kentmere is a hidden jewel in South Lakeland’s crown. This valley is accessed from Staveley and is a prime spot for walking. The horseshoe of fells make up a high level route of over 12 miles which are amongst the quietest miles in the district. The lanes down in the valley are pleasant for cycling and a walk up to the reservoir is ideal for those seeking a more leisurely ramble. There is plenty to explore in this secluded valley and some good boulder problems if you fancy a spot of bouldering. For a walk in Kentmere click here (handy if you're staying in Windermere).