The Lake District and Cumbria are blessed with amazing scenery for you to feast your eyes upon. But bring your focus down from the mountain peaks and the waters of the lakes and you’ll find even more beauty in the villages of the county.
With coastal delights, ancient settlements, hidden valley dwellings, villages and hamlets making up a big part of the character of the area, read on to discover some of our favourite pretty Lake District villages.
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Hawkshead easily tops the list, practically without trying! Sitting between Windermere and Coniston, the centre of this village has been designated a traffic-free zone, so you can get a uniquely olde-worlde enjoyment from it. With narrow ginnels, cobbled courtyards and whitewashed buildings, it’s just what you’d imagine when picturing a pretty village. There’s plenty for old and young to see too, with connections to Wordsworth and the Beatrix Potter Gallery, as well as a fabulous chocolate factory.
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On the southern outer edge of the Lake District is Cartmel, famous for its racecourse and fabulous sticky toffee pudding. It’s a real foodie paradise with two Michelin-starred restaurants, a cheese delicatessen, as well as lovely pubs and cafes. Cottages sit alongside a delightful stream whilst grand, ivy-covered houses nestle down alongside quirky village shops.
Once home to William Wordsworth and his family, Grasmere still retains the character that was evident back in the poet’s day. You’ll pass slate-built cottages sitting along the roads on your way to the nearby lake. Don’t miss a visit to Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingberbread Shop while you’re here. The smell of freshly baked sweet treats will draw you to the quaint shop, where you’ll find the world-famous gingerbread served up by friendly staff in traditional garb.
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This petite village in the valley of Eskdale is surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery and home to a handful of handsome buildings. One such building is the Eskdale Corn Mill, which lies over a stone bridge at the end of the street and is open to the public. Gather around and listen to tales of the milling history of the area, with hands-on exhibitions and knowledgeable guides. Beyond the mill, the road changes to footpaths that head directly onto the mountainside, with walks up to Blea Tarn and Burnmoor Tarn.
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In an area known locally as Back o’ Skiddaw, Caldbeck is a wonderful village with colourful houses, mining history, and riverside walks. In one of the lesser-visited areas of the Lake District, here you can enjoy fantastic scenery without the crowds. A walk along the river can take you The Howk, a limestone gorge with waterfalls and an old bobbin mill. Meanwhile, back in the centre of the village, you can browse the shops, marvel at the church, or eat at the cafe in the old Priests Mill.
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As the Lake District’s only coastal village, Ravenglass really deserves its place on this list. Sitting on the estuary where three rivers meet, it enjoys spectacular sunsets and long sandy stretches of shoreline when the tide is out. Fishing boats can be seen serenely bobbing on the water, while the slow pace of life allows you to really sit back and relax. The village is backed by stunning mountain scenery and the delightful ‘La’al Ratty’, a miniature steam railway, will take you on a trip towards those fells in Eskdale.
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The valley of Borrowdale has several wonderful villages and hamlets, making it hard to pick just one. Seatoller sits at the foot of Honister Pass – one of the Lake District’s famous high road passes – and mostly comprises slate-clad miners' cottages with gorgeous views. Bundled together in this modest village, the buildings feel cosy and welcoming, with a real traditional air. The surrounding countryside, too, is perfect for a walking holiday and makes the location truly idyllic.
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Does any village in the Lake District have a more impressive backdrop than Elterwater? The impressive Langdale Fells dominate the landscape here, giving the village a picturesque surround. Traditional slate terraced houses line the main street, while larger whitewashed cottages stand off to the side. A small river bubbles through the village towards the nearby lake of the same name, which literally translates from old Norse to 'swan lake'.
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Courtesy of Cumbria Tourism
This historic village has medieval origins and is made up mostly of wonderful old farm buildings and cottages. Almost all of the buildings offer some titbit of historical interest, while the small green in the centre adds to the tranquillity of this enchanting place. Overlooking the fields and forests of the Lowther Estate, this is a sylvan dream for anyone who seeks true peace and calm.
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