Outdoor Activities and Adventures in the Lake District

The Lake District is an outdoor adventure hub with activities for everyone to enjoy. With diverse landscapes of peaks and lakes, plus a wealth of fell and forest land, ghylls and rivers, the Lakes is a mecca for thrill seekers. If you’re staying at one of our holiday cottages and looking to try something new, here are some of the many adventure activities you can do in the Lake District.

Cycling And Mountain Biking

Cycling in Grizedale Forest in the Lake DistrictWhinlatter Forest Park is mountain biking paradise! The Altura Trail is a red-graded, 19km long track perfect for experienced riders. If you can take your eyes off the berms, jumps, rock features, skinnies and corkscrews, you'll see fabulous views over Bassenthwaite Lake, Derwentwater, Helvellyn and Skiddaw from your position 500m above Keswick. There is also a blue-graded route called the Quercus Trail suitable for moderately experienced riders. You'll cycle through an oak forest and towering conifer glades.

In the South Lakes, Grizedale Forest offers up more forest routes, ranging from flat and family-friendly to physically demanding expert graded options. Keep an eye out for the fascinating sculptures dotted amongst the trees for an added bit of interest!

You'll find bike hire at several outlets across the Lakes, with electric bikes available in a number of places too.

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Ghyll Scrambling and Canyoning

Ghyll Scrambling with West Lakes Adventure in the Lake DistrictGet wet and have fun in the Lakes! One of the best things to do here is to walk up a mountain stream, climb a waterfall or jump into natural pools with a ghyll scrambling activity. Canyoning is a more extreme version, so pick the adventure that suits you best. Keswick Adventures and West Lakes Adventure offer fun, friendly activities and even a discount for guests with Sally's Cottages. Eden Valley Adventures also offers these activities around Ullswater and the Eden Valley.

Boating

Group kayaking on Ullswater in the Lake DistrictWith so many beautiful lakes and tarns, there are lots of opportunities for boating. Sailing, kayaking, canoeing, motor boating... take your pick! You can either bring your own, hire one from a nearby provider, or take a guided lake or river tour. If you're bringing your own, don't forget to check access requirements on each of the lakes and rivers.

The Glenridding Sailing Centre is in the pretty village of Glenridding on Ullswater and you can sail dinghies, traditional boats, canoes and kayaks. Derwentwater Marina has plenty of boats for hire, or head to Grasmere's Faeryland to hire colourful rowing boats! On Ullswater, Tall Bloke Adventures runs delightful kayaking trips (discounts available for Sally's Cottages guests).

Horse Riding

Horse Riding on Silecroft Beach in CumbriaWhether it’s galloping across the Cumbrian coastline or trotting over Lakeland fells, horse riding in the Lake District is a magical experience. Murthwaite Green Trekking Centre in Silecroft is a friendly family-run horse riding centre offering fantastic beach rides. They have direct access onto Silecroft Beach with its 5 miles of golden sands and shallow waters, ideal for horse riding.

Cumbrian Heavy Horses, in the Whicham valley near Millom, use Clydesdale and Shire heavy horses, and provide farm rides, beautiful beach rides and Lakeland fell trails.

If you're not looking for anything too adventurous, or perhaps have little ones with you, Lakeland Pony Treks offers family beginner sessions. Or Rookin House between Keswick and Penrith has everything from half hour rides to pony parties!

Via Ferrata and Climb the Mine

Infinity Bridge at Honister Slate Mine in the Lake DistrictDive deep into a Lake District mountain or scale sheer cliff faces at Honister Slate Mine. On the Via Ferrata you'll follow the old miners path, crossing a route of rungs and cables up to 2,126 ft high, emerging victorious at the top of Fleetwith Pike. There's also an infinity bridge, a wire crossing that dangles high above the valley bellow. This one's not for the faint hearted!

For rainy days, head inside the mountain and Climb the Mine, where you scale the edges of huge caverns, looking down on the remnants of mining history below. You can even learn more about the history with a tour through one of the working mines! Or Open Ascents leads guided climbs and moutaineering across the Lake District.

Cliff Camping

Also at Honister Slate Mine is the vertigo-inducing cliff camping experience! Suspended 500 ft above Honister Pass, you'll cross the Infinity Bridge, abseil down one of the cliffs of Fleetwith Pike, and end up on your portaledge. You'll spend the night there with a Cumbrian food hamper, enjoying the incredible scenery and perhaps the best sunset and sunrise you've ever known!

Climbing, Scrambling and Bouldering

Climbing at Kong Climbing Wall in the Lake DistrictAs the home of climbing, the Lake District is a hub for climbers, scramblers and boulderers. Indoor and outdoor options are available and you really are spoiled for choice. Shepherd's Crag in Borrowdale is a popular spot with a range of routes for both beginners and experienced climbers. It even has a handy cafe - High Lodore Farm - right by it for refreshments! Wasdale is also a must-visit for any fans: Napes Needle in the valley is an important part of climbing history. For bouldering, Langdale Boulders is the place to go, or head to Striding Edge on Helvellyn for a hair-raising scrambling experience.

If you're looking for lessons or indoor experiences, Kong in Keswick or Ambleside Climbing Wall have an excellent choice of indoor routes and learning oppportunities. Eden Rock in Carlisle has a good selection of indoor bouldering challenges.

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Go Ape!

Go Ape! at Whinlatter Forest in the Lake DistrictIn Whinlatter and Grizedale forests you'll find an adventure in the tree canopy! Go Ape! is a high ropes course that provides a challenging adventure complete with rope bridges and zip wires. Grizedale boasts Go Ape!'s highest platform in the country and has a Zip Trekking Adventure, a network of seven tandem zip lines between the forest's Douglas Firs which cover a total distance of 3km!

The standard Go Ape! Treetop Adventure is also available at Whinlatter Forest near Keswick, which is England's only mountain forest and home to Bassenthwaite's ospreys.

Treetop Trek & Treetop Nets

Treetop Trek at Brockhole on Windermere lake is great adventurous fun for all ages! Balance on wobbly bridges, jump across treetop nets, zip wire high up in the air, and slide or abseil back down to the ground! You're safely clipped in the whole time, but you'll still feel your heart pound as you try not to look down! When you're done, leave yourself time to see more of Brockhole, which is known as the Lake District's visitor centre.

Quad Biking & Off-Road Driving

Quad bikes at Rookin House in the Lake DistrictGet behind the wheel of your quad bike, four-wheel drive, or even a JCB! Rookin House between Keswick and Penrith has an amazing number of exciting and unusual outdoor activities, including lots of off-road experiences. Splash through the mud, race Madtrax buggies on a rough terrain course, or learn how to use a JCB excavator! Rookin House also offers up much more including shooting, archery, an assault course, human bowling, fishing and paintballing!

Around Lake Windermere you can go off-road with Kankku and explore hidden Lake District trails.

Wild Swimming

Wild swimming in Eskdale in the Lake DistrictGrowing ever more popular, wild swimming is an invigorating outdoor activity that suits the Lake District very well! With plenty of rivers, lakes and tarns to choose from, swimming spots are in no short supply. And the scenery really is breathtaking, all the more so viewed from the water! If you're a confident outdoor swimmer, you can explore with a friend. Or, to build your confidence and find the best spots, the go-to swim guide in the Lake District is Suzanna Cruickshank of Suzanna Swims.

Segway Rides

Segway tour at Whinlatter Forest in the Lake DistrictZip around forest paths or down country lanes on a segway ride. These two-wheel vehicles are a great way to cover lots of ground in a short amount of time, and its great fun too! Once you've learned balance and some basic controls, nothing can stop you! Lakeland Segway in the beautiful village of Cartmel is the longest running segway tour company in the UK, while Grizedale and Whinlatter Forests have lots of routes to explore too.

Paragliding and Hang Gliding

People paraglidingIf land and water isn't enough for you, then take to the air and see the Lake District with a bird's eye view! With lots of mountains and beautiful scenery, the national park is the ideal place for paragliding and hang gliding. Hop off the top of a mountain and gently float through the air, with the wind in your hair and the world far below you. If you're experienced, you can choose a launch site for yourself, or get in touch with someone like Escape Paragliding near Keswick, who will even pick you up on your walk. Just imagine reaching a peak and getting a lift back down in the most incredible way. Amazing!

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Paddle Boarding

Though you're bound to lose your balance and fall in once or twice, paddle boarding is a great way to glide along the rivers or lakes of the Lake District. Bring your own, hire one, or get a guided tour - whichever option you choose, this is a popular activity that you'll simply love! There are plenty of providers around Windermere, Coniston, Derwentwater and Ullswater. Get ready to be blown away by the experience!

Activity Providers

General Activity Providers

Keswick Adventures outdoor adventure providers on DerwentwaterTake a look at the below providers, who offer a range of options for all your outdoor adventure needs.

Watersports and Boating

  • Coniston Boating Centre
  • Platty+, Derwentwater
  • Glenridding Sailing Centre
  • Windermere Canoe and Kayak
  • Derwentwater Marina
  • Low Wood Bay Watersports Centre
  • Tall Bloke Adventures (discounts available)

For a cosy place to return to after a day of Lake District adventures, head to one of our fabulous self-catering holiday cottages!