If you only have three days in the Lakes there will be tricky decisions to make on what to do, what to see, and of course, what you’ll have to leave out for next time! We hope our guide to 72 hours in the Lake District will help make choosing a little easier.
Day 1 – A day on the Lake
You can’t visit the Lake District and not take a boat cruise, but then again with only 3 days in the area you don’t want to spend hours on the water. A happy compromise is to take a Windermere Lake Cruise from Ambleside Pier to Bowness-on-Windermere. Just a 30 minute cruise down the river you’ll tick off your boat trip without too much time taken from your jam-packed schedule. Cruises leave from 9.50am so get to the dock early after having a look around Ambleside.
When in Bowness head straight into town and to The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction. A must see for children and adults alike. Children will love the vivid characters and adults will love stepping back into their childhoods.
When you’ve finished exploring Bowness jump on one of the regular buses to Windermere town, which takes just 15 minutes and run every 20 minutes. Make sure you get off at the rail station, from here you can pop over for a spot of retail therapy in Lakeland’s headquarters. With a café, kitchen demonstration workshops, their flagship store has plenty of kitchen and homeware on offer, so you’re bound to come out with your hands full.
Next (or before if you think you’ll have lots to carry after Lakeland!), take a walk up Orrest Head Fell – you will be able to say you went walking in the Lakes, but it will only take you 45 minutes there and back! This beautiful walk up hill will end with stunning views over Lake Windermere and beyond.
Head back into town and jump on the next bus back to Ambleside for dinner. Fellinis and Zeffirellis are a great cinema/restaurant combo option, allowing you to relax in the comfort of their cinema for a couple of hours followed by enjoying a delicious meal in one of their themed restaurants.
Day 2 – A literary day out
The Lakes has so many references to literary delights that you probably won’t fit them all in – but continuing after your visit to the Beatrix Potter attraction you can finish her story and explore even more authors in these small villages.
Start off with a visit to Hawkshead; a small but well-formed village. There is enough to keep you busy for a short visit, here you’ll be able to see Beatrix’s original drawings in the Beatrix Potter Gallery. Just outside of the village is where you’ll find Hill Top, Beatrix’s home where many of her tales were set.
From here head to Grasmere. This delightful village has charm aplenty. Well known for being the home of gingerbread, it’s also home to the Wordsworth family graves. With a large daffodil garden memorial to the man himself you can visit his grave in the St Oswald’s Churchyard. Don’t forget to stock up on original homemade gingerbread in Sarah Nelson’s shop while you’re here!
On we go now to Dove Cottage, just a short drive out of Grasmere. The first family home of Wordsworth and his family. Discovered when he was taking a walk along the lane with fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, maybe Dove Cottage will get your literary juices flowing? Make sure you also stop in the Wordsworth Museum for even more Wordsworth-themed exhibits.
You can see where poet John Ruskin lived and spent his retirement in Coniston, at Brantwood House. Why not make the journey by boat on the National Trust Steam Gondola from Coniston Boating Pier. He was buried in Coniston’s churchyard too.
Finish off with dinner at The Fish Inn in Buttermere – the location for the book The Maid of Buttermere. Written by Melvyn Bragg, and based on the character Mary Robinson from William Wordsworth’s The Prelude; the tale tells the story of her life as the shepherdess and daughter of the landlord of the pub.
Day 3 – A day for picturesque views and history
After a busy couple of days, today you can stand back and take in the stunning scenery the Lakes have to offer. There are so many beautiful drives through the Cumbrian countryside, but here’s a couple we recommend you take on your final day.
Drive over Kirkstone Pass from Windermere to Glenridding, the hillside views will blow you away, especially when the hills are filled with low-lying clouds, leaving the lower villages exposed under the sunrays. Stop off at Ullswater while you’re there to take in the Lake and walk up to Aira Force a waterfall in the ancient woodlands.
A little further north the roads from Borrowdale to Buttermere showcase the Lake District spirit. With windy roads up and down valleys and over the Honister Pass it’s worth stopping a few times to take in the dramatic views. Make sure you stop off at the Honister Slate Mine at the head of the pass; the 1.5 hour tour will delight with history as the Lake District’s last working example.
If you’ve been inspired for a short break in the Lake District, make sure you take a look at these cottages nearby.