It’s summer 2022 already! Time flies. Always a busy time of year in the Lake District with the peak in visitor numbers and so many attractions and activities available. The last 2 summers have been badly affected by Covid restrictions and a lot of visitors staying local unable to go abroad. This summer it feels similar in that many visitors will again be from the UK as going abroad now has additional issues and the current high cost of living and vehicle fuel also restricts many from going too far. You can do the Lake District relatively cheaply and have a lot of fun with a tent and a stove but it relies on decent weather which certainly isn’t guaranteed!
It had been quite an average start to this Lake District summer weather until 18th & 19th July when temperature records were broken all across the area, and in fact all across the UK. Keswick recorded 34.3 degrees Celsius on 19th, eclipsing its previous recorded high of 30.8 degrees Celsius. Some like it hot but we aren’t designed to cope with such heat around here and it’s not great when roads start melting! Fortunately, it was fairly short lived although might become more normal if we believe the experts. For the time being we seem to be back to average with a bit of everything thrown in. A bit better than average would be nice!
The good thing about the Lake District in warm weather is that you’re never far from water. The lakes and rivers all have places where you can park up to enjoy a picnic and paddle, normally with a magnificent backdrop view thrown in. There are also a few Lake District drives which include Cumbrian coast, mostly just outside the National Park but still quite easily accessible. These areas tend to be a bit quieter than the central Lakes with plenty of open spaces and probably a refreshing sea breeze. Ideal for a summers day out.
One such coastal drive I would recommend this summer is the Ulverston – Barrow – Furness Peninsula drive which explores the picturesque Furness peninsula and coast in the south west corner of Cumbria. An area largely off the beaten tourist track but certainly has its attractions having been heavily influenced firstly by the monks of Furness Abbey and later by steel manufacture and ship building.
Ulverston has a pretty town centre and not many realise it was the birthplace of the world famous comedian Stan Laurel in 1890. Heading out of town you soon arrive at the unexpected and impressive Buddhist Temple at Conishead Priory with pleasant coastal access. Nearby is Bardsea Country Park where you can park overlooking the huge Morecambe Bay, the sea retreats so far at low tide you can’t even see it! A short trip inland leads up to Birkrigg Common with wonderful views over the whole Peninsula and a stone circle. Then on to Gleaston Water Mill via the coast at Aldingham before heading out to the most southerly part of mainland Cumbria at Roa Island (not now an Island!). Piel Island nearby is an island and makes an enjoyable boat excursion, with its pub and castle. We then head towards the big industrial town of Barrow-in-Furness where industry has declined over the years but it’s still well known for ship and submarine building.
Beyond Barrow is the wild Walney Island which has a good hard beach facing south west and what looks like thousands of wind turbines out at sea. You can see the Isle of Man on a good day. Now back through Barrow, the free Dock Museum is a great place to learn the interesting history of the area. Then nearby are the impressive ruins of Furness Abbey where the fortunes of the area began in the 12th century. Next and quite well hidden is the fabulous beach and nature reserve at Sandscale Haws, in the words of the National Trust – “Outstanding dune habitat supporting a wealth of wildlife and with magnificent views across the Duddon Estuary onto the Lakeland Fells”. A great place for a stroll. Heading back towards Ulverston now we pass through the town of Dalton-in-Furness before arriving at South Lakes Safari Zoo, a great family attraction with a good selection of animals. Just one more stop at the historic Swarthmoor Hall, again off the beaten track but well worth a visit. Then a short hop back to Ulverston and some well earned refreshments.
Staff shortages are still affecting a lot of attractions, public transport and hospitality so it’s always worth checking websites before travelling. There’s always plenty of free natural attractions to enjoy anyway. Happy exploring!