Parts of the Lake District can be incredibly busy, and it’s no wonder. This quintessentially British holiday destination attracts over fifteen million visitors a year, so sometimes you may find that the most popular tourist spots and attractions can be over run with people, especially during certain times of the year.
But, fortunately, the Lakes is home to a surprising amount of wonderful relatively unknown destinations and things to do that you can enjoy and savour without great swarms of crowds around you. Here are just a few of the hidden gems in the Lake District that you can visit to escape the masses.
High Lickbarrow Farm
Hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Windermere village, High Lickbarrow Farm is nestled right in the heart of the countryside. This traditional Lakeland farmhouse houses a formal front garden and topiary, set amidst a beautiful lowland landscape. The farm has been occupied by the Bottomley family since 1947 and was finally bequeathed to the National Trust by Michael Bottomley following his passing in 2015.
High Lickbarrow is a unique gain for the National Trust’s collection of Lake District properties. However, it is not open to the general public in the same way most National Trust properties are; you need to book in advance to see the farmhouse. Surrounded by extensive wildflower-rich pastures, abundant bird song, becks full of native white-clawed cray fish and the farm’s Albion cattle, High Lickbarrow is the perfect destination for nature lovers and those seeking tranquillity.
One of the lesser known yet wonderful fells in the Lake District, Gummer’s How is just a 20-minute drive from Windermere. This walk offers stunning views of Windermere and is perfect for quiet reflection. You may also get the chance to encounter wild deer on this walk and see birds such as the great spotted woodpecker.
Another gem just one mile from Windermere, the Holehird Gardens sits within the grounds of the Holehird Estate, and its stunning, extensive gardens are open to visitors. This garden of nearly five acres is set on a hillside and is home to some glorious views over Windermere to the fells beyond. The gardens are maintained entirely by volunteers from the Lakeland Horticultural Society.
A highlight for many visitors, and what is considered to be the centrepiece of Holehird Gardens, is The Walled Garden. With its splendid herbaceous borders and island beds, they provide year-round interest and colour with a wide variety of bulbs, roses, climbers, shrubs and small trees.
With various plants making an appearance in every season, the Holehird Gardens are worth a visit any time of year.
Just a short, 20-minute drive from Windermere to Ambleside, is a building that has been a popular subject for many artists, including Turner. Bridge House is a 17th century survivor; once a shop that sold apples for nearby Ambleside Hall, it was built over Stock Beck to escape land tax. This tiny building has survived for centuries as Ambleside developed around it. Through the years it has been used as a counting house for the mills of Rattle Ghyll, a tea-room, a weaving shop, a cobbler’s, a chair maker’s and a home for a family of eight.
It was purchased in 1926 and passed into the care of the National Trust, which 20 years later they turned into their first information and recruitment centre. Bridge House is an icon and Ambleside’s most curious relic, and you can visit free of charge.
Stott Park Bobbin Mill
Take a step back in time to when the Lake District was a thriving hive of industry with a visit to the Stott Park Bobbin Mill. Nestled on the shores of Lake Windermere, this working mill produced millions of wooden bobbins vital to the Lancashire spinning and weaving industries – it’s the only working bobbin mill left in the Lakes today. Built in 1835, the mill has been preserved by English Heritage in its original working state. Guided tours around the mill start at 10.30am and are repeated at half past the hour, every 60 minutes.
One of the most prominent activities for visitors to the Lakes are the excellent available walks, hikes and cycling routes, some of which fly a little under the radar. One of these is the Rayigg Wood, an area of superb natural beauty that lies between Windermere and Bowness.
This unspoilt wonder sits in an enclosed area, so it’s no wonder it often goes unnoticed. But if you take the small path directly off the main road and wander down to the stream under a canopy of trees, you’ll find yourself immediately removed from the outside world, surrounded by nothing other than the sound of rushing water.
There is so many wonderful, hidden places to discover and explore in the Lakes and the perfect way to do it is from the comfort of your accommodation in Windermere Marina Village. Take a look at our range of beautiful holiday cottages in the Lake District to kick-start your journey into the wonderful hidden gems of the Lakes.