Hawkshead and Grizedale
The village of Hawkshead is a really unique gem in the Lake District. Its centre is completely traffic-free, with a car park outside the village, meaning you can get there easily while the village itself maintains its olde worlde feel. Cobbled streets, quirky courtyards, and whitewashed buildings all combine to make a characterful place for a stroll. A museum to William Wordsworth resides in his former school, while Beatrix Potter is also honoured in the one-time law office of her husband.
The Chocolate Factory
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, then don’t miss out on a trip to The Chocolate Factory, Hawkshead. The children’s chocolate workshops allow kids to make their own delicious chocolate creations, get their face painted (with chocolate!), and take home their own gift bag. Adults don’t miss out either, with truffle and Prosecco evenings available, as well as a well-stocked gift shop!
Covering nearly 25km in the heart of the South Lakes, Grizedale is an immense forest that’s a veritable playground for all ages. It includes 10 walking trails, nine cycle and mountain bike trails, a Go Ape! high ropes course, bike hire, play areas, picnic areas, Segway trails, fell pony adventures. You really could spend your whole visit exploring the forest!
Art and sculpture
Grizedale Forest is also home to a collection of unique forest sculptures that are dotted around the woodland. Created by some of the top names in contemporary art, you can follow the Grizedale Forest Sculpture Trail to take them all in, or spot them as you go about your day on the many walking and cycling trails. Alternatively, head to the gallery space, which holds a number of exhibitions throughout the year.
The beloved children’s author and celebrated conservationist has links in many parts of the Lake District, but none more so than in the area around Hawkshead. The village itself was once the location of her husband’s law office, and today the building is a gallery displaying her wonderful artwork, which includes her book illustrations and naturalist drawings. Near the village, Hill Top is her first purchased home. It now belongs to the National Trust and allows the public to step into a room left exactly as she would have had it. Both in and around Hawkshead and Hill top, fans of the author can find many nods to her characters and book locations, including Mr McGregor’s vegetable patch, Tabitha Twitchit’s shop and The Pie & the Patty Pan archway.
Find out more about Beatrix Potter’s Lake District.
Fishing in Esthwaite Water
With even more connections to Beatrix Potter – The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher is said to be based on the lake – Esthwaite Water is privately owned but still offers access for excellent fishing. It’s renowned for its trout stock, and you can hire a boat or fish from the shores.
You can hardly visit the South Lakes without paying a trip to England’s longest natural lake, Windermere. At over 18km long, it’s one of the Lake District’s most popular lakes thanks to its gorgeous scenery, ample walking, and varied attractions. One of the most popular things to do is to take a boat trip either right around the lake, or to Ambleside or Bowness-on-Windermere for a day trip. Or why not brave the water with a spot of wild swimming?
Quirky historic gems
The area is full of quirky historic sights, most notably the grand Victorian folly that stands overlooking Windermere. Wray Castle was built in 1840 and is surrounded by lovely woodland that leads down onto the lake. Claife Viewing Station has been restored by the National Trust to replicate its original purpose as a viewpoint, with beautiful stained glass windows overlooking the lake. Stott Park Bobbin Mill offers tours and an exhibition of its history as a mill that produced millions of bobbins for the Lancashire spinning and weaving industries.
Widely considered one of the prettiest areas of Lakeland, Tarn Hows is a man-made lake that benefits from a beautiful position. Despite its beginnings, you would hardly know that it wasn’t part of the natural landscape, so well does it fit in with its wooded shores and mountain surrounds. A car park is nearby and a walk around its shores is a miles without stiles route.
To the west of Hawkshead and Grizedale is Coniston Water, the location of Donald Campbell’s infamous final water speed record attempt, as well as many of his other successful outings. You can learn about this multi-world-record holder at the Ruskin Museum. Elsewhere, you can enjoy your time on the lake by hiring a boat or taking a trip on a Steam Yacht Gondola, or head up the imposing Old Man of Coniston for a good hike.