Breathtaking lakes in the Lake District

The Lake District - a captivating corner of England

It is the mountains, forests, wildlife, myths and lakes that inspire visitors to return to this captivating region time after time. And, if you're wondering how many lakes in the Lake District there are, then the answer is sixteen. Sixteen beautiful stretches of water that saw the Lake District become the birthplace of modern tourism in England. It inspires not just wildlife watchers and walkers but artists, poets and novelists.

  1. Windermere and Ullswater - lakes with attitude
  2. Poetic beauty at Grasmere and Rydal Water
  3. The romance of Derwentwater and Thirlmere
  4. Coniston Water - far from the crowds
  5. Dramatic scenery at Wastwater and Buttermere
  6. Fairies and myths at Bassenthwaite

Even the names of the lakes in the Lake District capture the imagination. But, it's only Bassenthwaite that is a true lake - the others are meres and tarns. We've put together a list of lakes in the Lake District to give you a flavour of their unique qualities and charms.

1. Windermere and Ullswater - lakes with attitude

Topping the list of the 10 largest lakes in the Lake District are Windermere and Ullswater. Long and thin, Windermere has some of the region's most popular resorts on its banks. Bowness-on-Windermere is the go-to spot for all kinds of boating activities. Windermere is also home to attractions such as the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway, the Windermere Jetty Museum and the Lakes Aquarium. Ullswater's largest town, Glenridding, is a popular base for hillwalkers and mountain climbers and a good starting point for a meandering stroll around the lake on the Ullswater Trail.

A Windermere fact: Windermere is home to 19 islands so complete your Lake District holiday with a steamboat trip on the lake

2. Poetic beauty at Grasmere and Rydal Water

Both Grasmere and Rydal Water would feature on a list of small lakes in the Lake District. Despite their size, however, they're not lacking in beautiful scenery. In fact, William Wordsworth fell in love with Grasmere, calling it, 'The loveliest spot that man hath ever found'. Grasmere and Rydal Water were his favourite haunts in the Lake District. From Rydal Water, take the steps up to Wordsworth's Seat. It was from here that he spent many hours in poetic contemplation. Then walk around Rydal Water taking in two of Wordsworth's homes – Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount.

A Grasmere fact: The village of Grasmere is actually a 10-minute walk from the lake. This distance makes the lakeside paths some of the quietest in the region

3. The romance of Derwentwater and Thirlmere

Derwentwater is characterised by its constantly changing moods. One moment, as you take a romantic stroll around the lake, waves crash dramatically against Friar's Crag while the next moment brings absolute calm with the lake's islands reflected in the mirror-still waters. A sunset boat trip adds to the romance. In contrast, it's the wildlife that brings romance to Thirlmere. In the spruce and larch forest that lines its banks, you're quite likely to spot red squirrels and red deer.

A Derwentwater fact: Lord's Island is home to the atmospheric ruins of a great house. This was abandoned after Lord Derwentwater was arrested for his part in the 18th-century Jacobite Rebellion

4. Coniston Water - far from the crowds

Coniston Water is one of the best lakes in the Lake District for escaping the crowds. Once owned by the monks of Furness Abbey it has, more recently, provided transport for copper and slate mined in Coppermines Valley. Arthur Ransome brought it literary fame when he based his book 'Swallows and Amazons on the lake. Coniston Water doesn't have the wild beauty of other Lake District spots, but this lack of drama keeps the crowds at bay. Have fun scouting the settings for Ransome's classic or enjoy a trip on the Victorian steam yacht, Gondola.

A Coniston Water fact: It was on Coniston Water in 1967 that Donald Campbell met his untimely death during his world speed record attempt. Bluebird K7 crashed at a speed in excess of 500kph

5. Dramatic scenery at Wastwater and Buttermere

Wastwater is one of the most dramatic lakes in the region. Red Pike, Kirk Fell, Lingmell, Great Gable and Scafell Pike – England's highest mountain – tower over it. The Screes, great mounds of broken rock that rise from the lake bed and soar up to 2,000 feet, add more awe-inspiring drama to this remote lake. Wastwater rewards serious fellwalkers with exhilarating views. Red Pike can also be reached from Buttermere (the lake by the dairy pastures) as can the summit of Haystacks. This was the favourite walk of Alfred Wainwright, the famous author of many Lake District guidebooks.

A Wastwater fact: The symbol of the Lake District National Park is made up of the silhouettes of Lingmell, Great Gable and Scafell Pike

6. Fairies and myths at Bassenthwaite

One of the largest and shallowest of the lakes, Bassenthwaite has no towns or villages on its shores which adds to its mystery. The lake is said to be the home of magical creatures and has at least two secret fairy sites. One is the Iron Age hillfort of Castle How while the other is Elva Hill which slopes down to the lake. As you walk, look out for the doorway here that legend says leads to another world!

A Bassenthwaite fact: On Bassenthwaite's east shore is Mirehouse, home to a small open-air theatre. It was built in 1974 for a production of Tennyson's 'Morte d'Arthur'

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