Through the Viewfinder
And What Alice Found There
With all this sunny weather lately I’ve hardly had time to even think about blog posts, never mind actually writing one! There’s been far too many good opportunities to get out and about so I’ve not been at my desk much recently, hence the lack of posts. However, as the sunshine is forecast to stick around a bit longer (fingers crossed this is true) I thought it would be a good opportunity to share with you some of my favourite things to do on a summer’s day in the Lake District…
1. Hike the Wainwrights
If, like me, you’re trying to tick off all the Wainwright fells, now is an excellent time to get a good chunk done! It’s true that the sunny weather and bank holiday weekends attract a larger crowd of visitors but if you get up early enough it’s still easy to get out before anyone else is about. The early bird catches the worm, as they say! With 214 fells to choose from there’s bound to be something to suit your ability / time frame / favourite views – not to mention all the other fells in the Lakes not classed as Wainwrights! So number one on my list of things for a sunny weekend in Cumbria is hiking – but don’t forget to take plenty of water when it’s hot weather and always take a map! If you don't want to carry a paper map with you why not check out the OS Maps App which uses GPS to show your exact location - it's ideal when you want to see how far off the summit you are! (Despite this, I always carry a paper map as a backup in case my phone battery dies!)
2. Take a dip in the Lake
This is the ideal activity to do straight after a hike in the sun, hence why it’s number two in my list. What better way to cool off and refresh yourself after a long and challenging hike than to dive right into one of the many lakes or tarns on offer around here! Even if you haven’t been for a walk beforehand, wild swimming is one of life's little pleasures that is so much more fun than going to a swimming pool and is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. Choose your lake, find a parking spot, wander the shores until you find your ideal section of beach, then jump right in! It’s true that getting in the water is the hardest part, especially on a really hot day when the water feels even colder compared to the hot air. But once you take the plunge you won’t regret it and it’s surprising how quickly you get used to the water temperature. I don’t swim in a wetsuit so it’s not a necessity, but I would advise wearing shoes as the lake floor is often quite rocky. Don’t forget your towel and dry clothes for afterwards, and a GoPro adds some extra fun to your swim!
3. Go Boating
Most of the popular lakes offer boat hire or there are large passenger boats like the Ullswater Steamers, Windermere Lake Cruises & the Steam Yacht Gondola on Coniston which offer fantastic cruises on the water where you can sit back, relax and take in the views. You could also hire a private boat that comes with it's own friendly skipper with My Lake Cruise. Crack open the bubbly while sunbathing on the deck, leaving the skipper to do all the driving and navigating - perfect for parties and celebrations! If you’re a bit more adventurous you can take out a speedboat or kayak, or even try your hand at paddle boarding! Or of course, if you own your own boat then the world is your oyster (or the Lakes in this case). However you like to spend your time on the water it’s definitely something to take advantage of in the sunshine when the water is calm and the views reach far and wide.
4. Camp under the stars
Wild camping is quickly growing to be another of my favourite activities in the Lakes. A lot of people will tell you it’s illegal (which is strictly true) but on the most part it’s tolerated in the Lakes as long as you follow a few simple rules. Stay only one night in any one place, keep tent numbers to a minimum (ideally just one tent), take all waste home with you, leave no trace of your trip behind, and if you’re in the fells then ideally camp above the highest fell wall and away from footpaths. It’s simple really and mostly common sense! Respect the landscape and you’ll get so much more out of your trip – there’s really nothing better than poking your head out of the tent, in the middle of the night, not a sound or another person to be seen, and seeing the glorious night sky come alive above you. Bliss! If you’re not really into wild camping then there’s a massive collection of campsites dotted all over the Lakes which range from basic fields (almost like wild camping) to fully kitted out sites complete with hot showers and shops – something for everyone!
5. Road trip through the heart of the Lakes
Finally, if you can’t decide on just one area and want to see it all then take a road trip through the Lake District and discover just how beautiful each valley is! If you’re short on time you could travel from South to North (or vice versa) along the A591 between Kendal and Keswick, taking in Windermere, Ambleside, Rydal, Grasmere and Thirlmere along the way. This is easily done by car but is also accessible by bus with day rider tickets available on the 555 service meaning you can hop on and off as much as you like all day – perfect if you fancy exploring some of the local pubs! If you’ve got a bit more time on your hands you could travel along all the mountain passes in the Lake District and discover some of the more rural areas. The passes you would travel along are Hardknott, Wrynose, Newlands, Kirkstone, Whinlatter & Honister. Offering fantastic and dramatic views, these roads wind up and around the mountains taking you to stunning hidden valleys and beautiful countryside. But beware – many of the passes are narrow, steep and winding so you must be a confident driver and you must travel slowly and carefully in case you meet oncoming traffic.
These are some of my favourite things to do when the sun makes an appearance in the Lakes, but what are your favourite summer activities? Share your ideas in the comments section – I’d love to hear what everyone else gets up to!