There’s a lot to be said for visiting the Lake District in winter. There’s a lot less other visitors than the rest of the year for a start so its easier to get around and visit attractions. Yes you will need to wrap up warm but a crisp and sunny day with snow on the mountains is still a magical experience and the scenery is no less impressive than at any other time of year. As you drive around you actually get better views of the lakes and mountains as you can now see through the leafless trees which line many Lakeland roads. Not all attractions stay open in the winter, or maybe just at weekends, but there are still plenty to visit and I’m sure they will be very glad to see you especially with Covid also reducing visitor numbers in recent times.
Of course you might see some bad weather, but you can see that at any time of year. The difference is the wintry stuff which can make driving hazardous and it pays to stay away from the mountain pass roads if it is at all wintry up there. One advantage of being out in the cold is visiting a nice warm pub with a roaring real fire where you can sit back and relax with food and drink!
A low level central Lake District drive is probably a good winter option so you can appreciate the lakes and mountains without going too high. The Windermere Circuit drive is a low level one that has some magnificent scenery and attractions. Starting at the head of the lake in Waterhead next to Ambleside where there are plenty of attractions. You then drive down the eastern shore where you could stop at Brockhole visitor centre which has some awesome activities all year round. Its not too far from there to Bowness-on-Windermere and there is good lakeshore access just before that at Rayrigg Meadow. Bowness itself has plenty on offer and you could get some lunch and explore the town. Just outside Bowness is the beautiful Blackwell House which opens again on 24th January. The road then heads south to the foot of the lake at Fell Foot Park which provides a scenic stroll at any time of year.
Over Newby Bridge and back up the western side of the lake you soon reach Lakeside where there is an interesting aquarium, open every day, plus Windermere lake cruises, weekends only in January. Also, the Lakeside & Haverthwaite railway which is open for the February school holidays. Nearby, Stott Park Bobbin Mill is closed all winter but it’s a pleasant drive northwards through the forests, although they suffered a lot of damage in storm Arwen at the end of November 2021 when many trees were blown over and it is going to take a long time to clear them all away. Next stop is the not very well known Esthwaite Water where you can hire a boat on the peaceful lake which is popular for fishing. The famous home of Beatrix Potter, Hill Top, is nearby but closed until 12th February. Hawkshead is a fabulous small village at the opposite end of Esthwaite Water where you could explore and get refreshments before heading along the picturesque minor road to one of my favourite places, Wray Castle. The Castle is closed for the winter but there are wonderful walks along the lakeshore, although also affected by fallen trees at the moment. Then its just a short trip back to Waterhead to close the loop and maybe find a pub with a roaring fire to sit by whilst you reminisce on a great day out!
Covid is still having a significant impact at times, especially with attractions and hospitality which are struggling with staff absences so may reduce openings or need to close temporarily. It is always best to check websites and book where possible. But there is still plenty to do and see so come and enjoy the Lake District winter wonderland while you can!