3 Budget things to do around Kendal, Windermere and Ambleside.
Even from Australia we knew that the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District was a place to go walking. I have several friend in Sydney who spend may of their adolescence and early adult years walking, hiking and camping in the lake districts.Who told me all about the area and how good it was for walking. Before they moved to Australia to find out what real bushwalking is about.
But as we found out Cumbria and particularly the Yorkshire dales and Lake District are the best places to walk in England. It’s high, its wet and its cold in spring but its awe inspiring. If we had more time and the correct tents and walking gear we’d have spent many days about the urban high water line in the Lakes District.
But as we didn’t we had to satisfy ourselves with day walks and strolls with the dogs. Certainly we found the bridle tracks very enjoyable walk ways. These public paths between paddock and across field afford a wonderful view and experience of the English country side. There are rolling hills and burbling brooks right out of a Beatrice Potter novel complete with rabbits of course.
But rabbits are not the only creature that stir as you pass by. There’s quail, pheasants and grouse that rocket to the air as you approach and glimpses of foxes in the distance.
By the waterways and lakes there are duck, black faced geese and numerous white swans. But most common of all animals to be seen are the thousands of sheep dotting the hillside. Looking like louse covered cranial bulges the hills are infested with sheep and doubly so in spring with almost every ewe mothering twins. That’s why we Australians referred to them as grass lice. But Cumbria’s rolling cranial shaped hills really bring the reference alive.
A particular favourite of ours was walking the dogs around Killington along the bridle down to the river Lune and its tributaries complete with their numerous ancient stone bridges. But don’t forget to walk around the Kendal castle and along the shore of lake Windermere.
Near lake Windermere you will find swans, ducks and geese that are so familiar with humans they will literally follow you to get a feed. So pack some bird seed and rolled oats to keep them happy and the kid amused.
Since Cumbria lakes district is one of the premium tourist spots in England expect to see plenty of people on all the advertise walks and rambles. For less crowds study a map for a few minute you’ll be able to find great walking tracks a few miles away for the throng that are still close enough to stop by a cafe or pub for lunch.
If outdoors adventure walking is your bag then check out the outdoor stores in Ambleside. We found a few real bargain in early spring. They were literally giving away stock as they changed over from winter to summertime gear. It probably won’t be the same mid season so ignore this comment if your visiting then.
The activity we enjoyed the most in the Lakes District was breaking free of the Motorways and Highway. The M’s and the A’s and pottering down the B’s and even the lanes. The country side below the highlands is a crisscross of roads and lanes between farms, villages and streams. We could have spent our entire time in Cumbria just cruising the roads visiting the quaint villages for a coffee or cider in the local pub. So get off the motorways and potter along the lanes. Its a perfect way to see the district if your not going anywhere in particular and don’t have to arrive on time.
A word of caution though the Internet is shocking, so make sure your pack an old map. You know the ones printed on paper that fold out and take up the whole dashboard. You will need it as there are so many roads and lane you could get lost and spend hours or day find your way back.
Don’t forget to just stop and stand still or drive to a spot and sit on a stone wall. Their is something to see in every direction. Stone fences, fells, tarns, lakes and more. Most of it ancient an beautiful. Just stop look and listen.
Of course to listen you need to find a spot a few miles from a road that’s deserted and not surrounded by other tourist. This is a hard ask in Windermere, Ambleside and most of the tourist towns so get a little further away to a spot less known and enjoy the scenery as a family.
For the more active
Cross country running. The bridle tracks thought the area offer a fantastic way to enjoy the scenery at a faster pace than walking. Strap on your running shoe, a daypack and take a weather proof then head off ons a 10 mile circuit over hills, through field, past sheep and along rivers. If you plan it right you might not see anyone all day. Alternatively you could stop at a pub or coffee shop every couple of miles.
If you want to see more swap the running shoes for mountain bike clobber and get on your bike. There’s plenty of formed mountain bike trials but a hybrid trail of bridle tracks and adjoining roads may afford the best view of the surrounding areas with out the constant bumps or skill require to stay on the bike whilst off road.
Again pack a lunch or plan to connect your ride with a cafe, restaurant or pub in the area. We found the cafes in Kendal particularly the NERO cafe in the centre of town to be a particular favourite. The staff were very friendly and a lot more quirky than the staff we usually find in a NERO cafe. A fun place to chill, catchup on what’s been happening in social media and to get warm.
Of course check out the Kayaking, Treetops Adventure and Swimming in the summer months