Best Outdoor Activities to Enjoy in the Lake District

Climbing in the lake districtKnown as Britain’s adventure playground, there’s no better place to explore the outdoors than the Lake District. Whether you’re looking for a fun family day out, or are an experienced thrill seeker wanting to traverse the rugged peaks- the UK’s largest national park has it all.

There’s an endless choice of activities to get stuck into here, so we’ve compiled a handy guide of our favourites to help you choose what to pick. For couples on a romantic getaway, you can plan a scenic ramble together, or rent paddleboards to explore one of the region’s many lakes. Or if you’re on a group trip, why not go off-road on an unforgettable 4 x 4 adventure through the countryside?

Read on to get a taste of the different activities you can try here in the Lakes.

Walking, Hiking and Horse Riding

With over 3,000km of paths, bridleways, and byways, it’s no wonder the Lake District is so famous for its breathtaking trails. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker looking for a challenging fell ramble, or simply want a short stroll around one of the many lakes and tarns, there will be a perfect walk for you. Check out our guide to the 7 Best Walks in the Lake District to see a great mix of easy walks, and more challenging Lake District hikes to sink your teeth into. In terms of longer trails, the 190-mile Coast to Coast walk starts in the Lake District if you fancy a challenge!

If you’re looking for an expert guide to show you the best places to walk, look no further than Steve Watts from Lakeland Walks and Treks. Steve will use his years of local knowledge to craft a walk that suits your needs. He’ll meet you at your Lake District holiday cottage, and spend the day guiding you on the walk, keeping you entertained with his many stories of the Lake District.

Fancy exploring the Lakes on four legs rather than two? There are plenty of places to try horse riding in the Lake District. If you’re new to riding, or perhaps have little ones who are desperate to give it a try, Park Foot Pony Trekking near Ullswater, offer a variety of easy rides, around the paddock for 4-year-olds upwards, and out onto the fells for up to an hour for riders that want to soak up the views. If you already love riding, Bigland Hall Equine Group offer exhilarating hacks for riders of all experiences through the magnificent South Lakes landscape.

Cycling and Mountain Biking

The Lake District is one of the top cycling destinations in the UK, with miles of quiet country lanes, and off-road woodland routes to explore. If you haven’t brought bikes with, don’t worry, as there are many places to hire them from, such as Lake District Bikes. If you’re looking for a family-friendly cycle that takes in great views and has plenty of places to stop for a pick-me-up, we recommend trying the route from Ambleside to Grasmere, via the Grasmere trail.

Want to go off-road? Mountain biking is massive here, and there are lots of trails, including bridleways and restricted byways where you can cycle. Grizedale Forest is one of the best places to mountain bike, with miles of specially designed woodland trails to explore.

For keen road cyclers, the Lake District is synonymous with challenging mountain passes such as the Hardknott Pass and the Wrynose Pass. For a moderately challenging, very beautiful, and relatively traffic-free Lake District cycle route, this 13.8-mile Blea Tarn Loop passes through charming villages like Chapel Stile, and most importantly, past the Old Dungeon Ghyll in Langdale for a well-deserved pint. Plus, the route can easily be extended if you want a longer ride

On the Water

With so many lakes, rivers, tarns and indeed the ocean to explore, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of watersports to get involved with here. Spending the day on, or in, the water is a great way to see the sights and avoid the crowds.

If you want to try your hand at paddleboarding, kayaking or canoeing, Graythwaite Adventure offers the chance to make a splash and experience all of the above on the waters of Lake Windermere. Or if you prefer to chart your own course, you can hire everything from kayaks and canoes to stand-up paddleboards from Windermere Canoe Kayak. Want to feel the wind in your hair? Coniston Boating Centre is a great place to hire a sailboat if you’re already an experienced sailor, or join a taster session if you want to learn the ropes.

Maybe you want to stay on foot but still get a taste of the water sports experience. If so, ghyll scrambling, in other words, clambering through streams, jumping into clear pools and down waterfalls might be your new favourite activity. But, if you prefer a more leisurely activity, Lake District fishing is also a great way to get in touch with nature. Bring your own tackle and fish for free at Windermere, Coniston or Ullswater. If you want a little helping hand, you can book everything from fly-fishing lessons, to boat fishing trips on Esthwaite Water with Savage Fisheries.

Wild swimming is also very popular in the Lake District, and is something you can do in many places here. We recommend Harrop Tarn, Crummock Water and Buckstones Jump near Rydal for a refreshing dip.

Climbing and Treetop Adventures

There are hundreds of rockfaces and crags to explore here, so it’s natural that Lake District climbing and bouldering are so popular. If you’re looking to take to the ropes, More Than Mountains can make it happen, with family and friends abseiling and rock climbing guided sessions to suit your ability. If you want to try your hand at bouldering in the glorious landscape of the rugged fells, but don’t know where to start, the UK Climbing Lake District Bouldering Guide has some good spots to make a start from.

Or if you prefer to take to the treetops, and are looking for an adventure-filled activity that the whole family can enjoy, visit Go Ape Grizedale or Go Ape Whinlatter to zip through the trees and soar to your heart’s content.

On Four Wheels

Recently, Lake District off-roading in 4x4s and quad bikes has become more and more popular- and we can see why! This thrill-seeking activity combines adrenaline, cracking views, and motorsport skills to create a truly memorable experience. Graythwaite Adventure offer rip-roaring 4×4 off-roading experiences in classic Land Rover Defenders, which can even be followed by a bushcraft session toasting marshmallows over an open fire.

For quad-biking in the Lake District, try Lake District Off-Road. Warning- you might get a little muddy, but you’ll have so much fun, you won’t even notice. Or, if you prefer to stick to the tarmac, Cumbria Kart Racing is one of the best go-kart racing tracks in the UK. Either go head-to-head with your friends and family, or work together in a team endurance test to see if you can put the pedal to the metal.


Lake District golf courses put the rest of the country to shame with their unparalleled mountain views. There’s no better place to put than in the shadow of soaring fells, overlooking serene lakes. Windermere Golf Club is a firm favourite, with picturesque views over surrounding valleys. Eskdale Golf Course in the Western Lakes is also a good bet for pleasing scenery and a moderately challenging round.

Stay in the Lake District

If these incredible activities have you on the edge of your seat, ready to go and scale a mountain or whizz across the fells – you’ll need somewhere to stay in the Lakes.

Wheelwrights have charming  Lake District holiday cottages, from one-bed retreats to larger properties, in central locations like Ambleside, Elterwater, Hawkshead and Skelwith Bridge. You’ll be able to wake up from your comfy bed, make a leisurely breakfast, and step outside to the great outdoors, with adventure right on your doorstep.

If you want to local advice about any of the activities mentioned on this page, or want to learn more about our holiday properties, don’t hesitate to give our Elterwater-based team a ring on 015394 37635.