The Lake District
The Lake District is a National Park located in Northwest England, filled with rugged mountains and winding lakes. I first read about it in a canoeing post, and after doing a little more research it’s only climbed higher and higher on my list of things to do in the UK. Not only is it gorgeous in a this-is-England’s-historic-countryside way, but it also has a couple Dark Sky Discovery Sites (aka awesome stargazing). Since I’m a huge planner and love to digitally explore the crap out of an area before actually going, I figured I would share this awesome list with you! Hopefully I’ll be able to check most of these off when I visit in the fall, if not I’ll just have to go back.
YHA Black Sail Hostel
Located in the Ennerdale valley of Lake District, you can only get to the YHA Black Sail Hostel by foot or bike since it’s 2.5 miles from the closest road. It’s also super tiny (16 beds) and looks like the kind of house that Snow White’s crew would have lived in- understandable since it was originally a shepherd’s bothy (shelter). It also seems like it’s my kind of glamping…. there are showers (although outside) and beds, but it’s remote and relaxing. A place to spend time with nature and the people around you, and remove yourself from the constant e-mail-checking Instagram-posting world we live in. I can just see myself coming back after a hike to a cold beer, cozy fire, and conversation.
Kayak or Canoe
From what I’ve read, there are plenty of companies that offer kayaking or canoeing on various Lake District lakes. I first read about a canoeing adventure on Landlopers, a travel blog by Matt Long. Matt used the company Keswick Canoe & Bushcraft, and they provide more than just the means to canoe. Fun tips about the wildlife as well as survival techniques are all topics of discussion. I love the idea of not only venturing out onto the water, but learning about my surroundings.
Hikes and Walks
Being a National Park, there are countless paths for all abilities. I love a morning or afternoon hike that’s somewhat strenuous and covers a fair amount of terrain… a great way to spend a few hours and leave you sufficiently exhausted (but proud!). What’s pretty awesome is that the Lake District Authority has an event calendar on their website, and you can find guided walks of all types. They have everything from full day walks to buggy friendly trails. The well organized trails also make for a safer experience.
I love the night sky and have spent a lot of time in Northern Michigan, where the stars look like someone spilled glitter there are so many twinkling. Unfortunately, living in Chicago my stargazing is limited due to all of the light pollution. I read about Dark Sky Discovery Sites, a UK network of the best sites to stargaze, and was immediately sold. Even better there are sites in the Lake District! The locations are nominated by local organizations and some of the sites provide events and activities. Their website is full of info so you can know where to go and what to expect.
Honister Slate Mine
The last working slate mine in England, it’s believed that slate was mined in the Honister Slate Mine as far back as the Roman Era. Today you can visit and learn about the mine and go on a great adventure. You can climb the same path the miner’s used to take up to Fleetwith Pike, walk across a bridge suspended 2.000 feet above the mountain’s valley, and do tons of other activities. The reviews are great and it’s obvious safety is the top priority but the experience is still one that you’ll never forget.
Doesn’t the Lake District look amazing? So green, rolling mountains, sheep grazing… such a special place. Have you been? Any recommendations for a newbie?