For obvious reasons this summer is particularly busy in the Lake District and we know that lots of you will be yearning for places to visit and get away from the crowds. Luckily the Lakes is big enough for there to still be a few areas that remain relatively peaceful, even when the hotspots are thronging with people.
We’ve put together a list of some of our favourite locations to get away from the crowds (at least a little bit!).
Follow in Wordsworth’s footsteps in the Duddon Valley
Travel over the Wrynose Pass road, which twists its way steeply uphill at the head of Little Langdale, and you will eventually reach a fork in the road at Cockley Beck. While one road leads over Hardknott Pass to Eskdale, the other drops down to the beautiful Duddon Valley.
Also known as Dunnerdale, the valley is much less frequented than the neighbouring Eskdale and Wasdale to the north. However, there is still plenty to do, with the option of fantastic walks into the fells around Coniston Old Man, as well as Harter Fell and Caw which overlook the valley. The Duddon is also good for swimming and canoeing and the valley has a good selection of crags and boulders for climbers.
None other than William Wordsworth wrote a series of sonnets praising the beauty of the valley, helping cement his reputation as the pre-eminent Lakeland poet in the 19th century. It has lost none of its appeal in the last 200 years.
Discover the Crake
Coniston Water is understandably one of the most well-loved spots in Cumbria, with attractions including John Ruskin’s former home at Brantwood, Coniston Old Man and boat trips on the lake itself.
However, at its southern end, the lake flows into the River Crake, which eventually empties into Morecambe Bay at Greenodd. The surrounding valley is a great place to explore, with spectacular views north to the cone of Coniston Old Man. A network of small roads and paths run between the Crake and the neighbouring Rusland Valley and you can spend many happy hours losing yourself (hopefully not too literally!) riding or hiking around the many secluded little hamlets tucked away between rolling hills and trees. Another neighbouring valley, the Lickle Valley, is well worth a visit too, overlooked by a range of small, but perfectly formed fells which you are likely to have to yourself.
Soak up some silence at Devoke Water
At the village of Ulpha, in the Duddon Valley, the road rises steeply onto the hillside to emerge onto the wide moorland plateau of Birker Fell. As well as offering one of the best views of the Scafell range, the road also passes below the remote tarn of Devoke Water. Almost a mile in length, Devoke Water is one of the district’s largest and highest tarns.
Fishing enthusiasts will be attracted by its perch and brown trout, while for walkers it is simply a peaceful and beautiful place to spend some time. It’s also a great spot for a swim on a hot day.
For cyclists who fancy a challenge and like a steep climb it is possible to set off from the Three Shires Inn over Wrynose and Hardknott, drop down to Eskdale and then pull up over the Birker Fell road before dropping down to the Duddon Valley and then back to Little Langdale via Wrynose. You’ll definitely deserve a pint after that one!
Climb one of Wainwright’s ‘outliers’ above Whicham
The Whicham Valley runs roughly south west from the Duddon Valley down to the coast near the town of Millom. From the little village of Whicham itself, a path climbs up to the summit of Black Combe. At 600m Black Combe is one of the Lake District’s most easily identifiable fells, with a distinctive whale-like appearance, and one of those described by Alfred Wainwright in his book The Outlying Fells of Lakeland. Wordsworth was a fan of Black Combe as well, and believed it was where "the amplest range of unobstructed prospect may be seen that British ground commands”.
Slightly inland from Black Combe, the Neolithic Swinside Stone Circle is one of the most well-preserved and least visited ancient monuments in Britain. Consisting of 55 stones made from local slate, it is one of many such circles in Cumbria, which are believed to have been used for ceremonial purposes.
The Whicham Valley is also home to Cumbrian Heavy Horses, which offers guided rides on Clydesdale and Shire horses in the local fells and down to the coast. A very special way to see this beautiful and lesser-visited corner of the district.
Have an ice cream at Silecroft Beach
The Lake District is so famous for its mountains that people are often surprised to learn we actually have a coastline as well. However, south west from the Whicham Valley is the village of Silecroft and its long and often deserted shingley beach.
With views across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man, the beach is a good spot for kite surfers and Silecroft Beach Cafe sells a tasty range of meals and snacks. An evening spent watching the sun go down here is time very well spent indeed.