Struggling to figure out what to do in the Lake District in Winter? From spa days and museum visits to winter wonderland walks, there are plenty of fun-filled Lake District winter activities to keep you occupied.
It goes without saying that the Lake District, one of England’s most picturesque national parks, is busiest during summer, when the weather conditions are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.
But with an abundance of indoor activities that range from museum visits to spa days, there’s no reason to avoid visiting the Lake District in winter.
In fact, even hikers should consider visiting the Lake district during the colder months to take in the spectacular views of frost-covered valleys and snow-capped peaks.
Whether you want to brave the cold outside or relax in the warm comfort of the indoors, there are plenty of things to do in the Lake District in winter. Below, we discuss a few of our favourites.
Discover the Lake District in Winter
Thinking of visiting the Lake District in December, January or February? You can easily make your getaway to this beautiful National Park worthwhile thanks to these top Lake District winter activities.
1. Dove Cottage, Grasmere
If you want to learn about the life and work of William Wordsworth – one of the countless literary legends associated with the Lake District – you might want to visit Dove Cottage in winter.
Dove Cottage was the home of William Wordsworth and his sister from 1799 to 1808. The area surrounding the cottage undoubtedly inspired many of Wordsworth’s works.
Today, Dove Cottage is a museum that houses over 68,000 artefacts that include books, manuscripts, personal belongings, and Romantic-era art.
Being an indoor venue makes Dove Cottage an ideal place to visit when the Lake District weather conditions are a little on the chilly side. Even during summer, Dove Cottage is one of the best places to visit in the Lake District.
After browsing the interior of Dove Cottage, we suggest exploring the highlights of Grasmere, one of the prettiest Lake District villages. It certainly makes for a unique day out in Cumbria.
2. The World of Beatrix Potter, Bowness
Before moving on from the topic of the Lake District’s literary legends, we simply need to give a mention to Beatrix Potter, author of iconic children’s books such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
You can find out about the life and work of Beatrix Potter at the World of Beatrix Potter, an interactive museum in Bowness – one of the Lake District’s best towns. While exploring the museum, you’ll see exhibits that detail the stories behind Potter’s works. Kids can insert themselves into recreated scenes from the author’s famous stories.
3. Christmas shopping, Bowness
A trip to Bowness provides you with the perfect opportunity to do a bit of Christmas shopping. If Chrismtas has already passed, you might find local goods at bargain prices during winter.
To stock up on fashionable clothing, head to Gee’s, which is just a few minutes’ walk from the World of Beatrix Potter. For delicious treats and local spirits, visit stores such as Love the Lakes or Roly’s Fudge. You’ll also find branded shops such as FatFace, Joules and Pandora in Bowness.
Bowness happens to be one of the best places to visit in the Lake District for Christmas. If you love the place so much that you return in summer, you might want to try paddle boarding in the Lake District. Bowness is also one of the Lake District’s best skydiving spots.
4. Lakeland Motor Museum, Backbarrow
The Lakeland Motor Museum is a place you simply must see in the Lake District if you’re a car and racing enthusiast.
Inside this fascinating museum, you’ll see more than 30,000 exhibits that include cars, motorbikes, bicycles, scooters and accessories. The most notable items on display are probably Donald Campbell’s Bluebird replicas, some of which date back to the 1930s.
The Lakeland Motor Museum is open daily from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Prices start from £10 per adult and £6 per child. Discounts are available for families, and children aged under five years can enter for free.
The Lakeland Motor Museum really is a haven for fans of racing sports. It’s arguably one of the best days out in England for sports fans.
5. Lakes Distillery, Cockermouth
If you’re wondering what to do in the Lake District in winter, you might want to warm up by sampling a few varieties of whisky at the Lakes Distillery.
At this historic distillery, you can learn about the production of whisky from start to finish. You can also fill up on treats (in addition to whisky samples) from the on-site bistro. From outside, you can take in beautiful views of Bassenthwaite Lake. You might also see a few free-roaming alpacas.
The Lakes Distillery is open every day until 5 pm, except on Friday and Saturday, when it remains open until 6 pm. Tour prices with sampling start at £50 per adult.
6. Castlerigg Stone Circle, Keswick
Admittedly, cold and often wet weather conditions can make hiking in the Lake District somewhat challenging during the winter. But seriously – does anything beat the view of snow-covered mountains in one of England’s most beautiful regions?
With a history spanning more than 5,000 years, the Castlerigg Stone Circle is one of the oldest stone circles in England and an amazing sight to behold in the Lake District in winter. The stone circle is made up of 38 stones, some reaching heights of three metres.
The distance from Keswick to the Castlerigg Stone Circle is about four miles. As the route is mostly flat, it’s one of the easiest walking trails in the Lake District.
7. Orrest Head, Windermere
Fancy an even shorter winter walk in the Lake District? Then take a stroll to the summit of Orrest Head, which is reportedly the first fell climbed by Alfred Wainwright (yet another legendary author associated with the Lake District).
Provided you pack appropriate hiking equipment, there’s no need to let the winter put you off a hike to the top of Orrest Head. From here, you can take in panoramic views of snow-capped hills such as Bowfell and Scafell Pike, one of England’s highest mountains.
You can hike to Orrest Head from the town of Windermere in about 20 minutes. You’ll see signposts for the pathway near the NatWest bank.
8. Lakes Aquarium, Newby Bridge
For something memorable to do in the Lake District in winter with kids, pay a visit to the fascinating Lakes Aquarium in Lakeside, Newby Bridge.
You’ll encounter hundreds of freshwater and marine species while exploring the Lakes Aquarium. You can also walk through an underwater tunnel that allows you to imagine life in the ocean.
Just some animals that call the Lakes Aquarium home include stingrays, tortoises, starfish, and even some types of sharks.
You’ll find the Lakes Aquarium on the southwestern shore of Windermere, right next to the Windermere Landing Pier. By the way, cruise tours usually operate 364 days per year, making them another excellent activity to do during a trip to the Lake District in winter.
If you’re visiting the Lakes Aquarium to see all the adorable animals, you might be interested in learning about some of England’s best zoos.
9. Armitt Library & Museum Centre, Ambleside
As you might have gathered, the Lake District has inspired a heap of famous writers over the centuries. If you want to learn about the Lake District’s literary heritage, you won’t regret visiting the Armitt Library & Museum Centre.
The Armitt was established back in 1912 to celebrate the Lake District’s cultural heritage and promote the exchanging of ideas in the community. All sorts of authors have supported the Armitt over the years, including Beatrix Potter, who donated a collection of her family’s books.
Another notable exhibition at the Armitt is the collection of art by influential 20th-century artist Kurt Schwitters, who spent many of his final years in Ambleside (which is also one of the Lake District’s best paddle boarding spots over summer).
10. Chocolate Factory, Hawkshead
If you’re wondering what do to in the Lake District in winter to satisfy your sweet tooth, the obvious solution is to visit the Chocolate Factory in Hawkshead.
At the Chocolate Factory, you can not only stock up on and sample delicious treats, but you can also attend workshops to learn how to make your favourite desserts. The are plenty of classes for kids, but there’s also a truffle-making workshop just for adults.
The Chocolate Factory is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, and workshops are held frequently – though they’re worth booking in advance.
11. Whinlatter Forest, Whinlatter
Whinlatter is considered to be the only genuine mountain forest in England, so if you’re looking for unique things to do in the Lake District in winter, a walk through this forest is a must.
From December through to February or March (most years), Whinlatter Forest transforms into an enchanting winter wonderland, with the trees and trails covered in a blanket of white snow and frost.
While following the trails through the forest, you’ll take in views of Keswick, Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite Lake.
If you’re really interested in winter hiking, you might want to read about some of England’s best National Trails that look magical during the colder months.
12. Blackwell – the Arts & Crafts house, Bowness
If you fancy taking a journey back in time to the early 20th century while visiting the Lake District in winter, we suggest heading to Blackwell in Bowness, which many people consider to be the region’s home of arts and crafts.
This large house was constructed in 1900 as a holiday home for Sir Edward Holt, a wealthy Manchester brewer, based on the designs of Baillie Scott. Today, Blackwell is bursting with extraordinary works of art that include a rare hessian wall hanging.
Blackwell is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm. After exploring this historic house and museum, you might want to book one of Windermere’s best spa days while you’re in the area.
13. Lowther Castle and Gardens, Penrith
In medieval times, Lowther Castle was home to the Earls of Lonsdale. Today, the castle’s impressive ruins, gardens, café and shop are open to the public daily from 10 am to 4 pm.
If you’re a fan of historic grand architecture, learn about some of England’s best stately homes. More impressed by manicured greenspaces? Check out the biggest and best gardens in England. Some of the nation’s most impressive gardens even boast amazing mazes for kids.
What are your favourite things to do in the Lake District in Winter?
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in the Lake District in winter, so don’t let the chilly weather put you off a visit. Whether you want to treat yourself to a spa day, explore castle ruins or browse a museum, there are plenty of Lake District winter activities for you. Plus, it could be argued that there’s no better time to walk in the Lake District than winter, when the valleys are glimmering with frost and snow decorates the mountain peaks.
Have we missed any of the best places to visit in the Lake District in winter? Let us know in the comments below.
Quick list of things to do in the Lake District in Winter
- Dove Cottage, Grasmere
- The World of Beatrix Potter, Bowness
- Christmas shopping, Bowness
- Lakeland Motor Museum, Backbarrow
- Lakes Distillery, Cockermouth
- Castlerigg Stone Circle, Keswick
- Orrest Head, Windermere
- Lakes Aquarium, Newby Bridge
- Armitt Library & Museum Centre, Ambleside
- Chocolate Factory, Hawkshead
- Whinlatter Forest, Whinlatter
- Blackwell – the Arts & Crafts house, Bowness
- Lowther Castle and Gardens, Penrith