With its mixture of lakes, rivers, mountains and sea the Lake District caters for pretty much every outdoor pursuit imaginable, from wild swimming and ghyll scrambling to quad biking and paragliding. There’s a wealth of comprehensive guidebooks and websites available – a Google search should provide all the in-depth information you need. But for a quick overview of some of the activities that might drag you away from The Badger Sett and out in to wonderful surroundings of The Lakes here’s a few ideas.
It goes without saying that one of the most popular activities in the Lake District is walking – from gentle rambles along a lake shore to high-level wilderness treks. The Cumbria Way, a 74 mile long-distance footpath traces a spectacular route from Ulverston in the south-west to Carlisle in the north-east and runs through our valley. If you don’t fancy doing the whole thing then we recommend a couple of sections right on our doorstep – take your pick between an easy river-side stroll to the pretty village of Caldbeck or a wild ramble across the Caldbeck Fells towards Skiddaw – the fourth highest mountain in England. We also recommend Dodd Woods on the eastern shore of Bassenthwaite and Bannerdale Crags – a circular ridge walk from the village of Mungrisdale. For a change of scenery head a few miles east to the beautiful Upper Eden Valley for another circular route which takes in the picturesque stone circle of Little Meg & Her Daughters and the weird and wonderful Lacy’s Caves.
Whatever kind of cycling you’re into, from flat-as-a-pancake disused railway lines to gravity defying downhills, the Lake District provides some fantastic routes to suit all abilities. Personally mountain biking is my thing and there’s nothing I like better than riding from the door of the Badger Sett relentlessly uphill to the top of High Pike then hurtling down the other side into the wilderness of the Caldbeck Fells before returning via Dash Falls for an early evening pint at The Crown – a circuit of around 25 miles. Other great mtb routes in the area include the bridleway along the eastern shore of Ullswater which, although you don’t gain much height, is more challenging than it sounds and the Altura and Quercus man-made trails at Whinlatter Forest – both of which are great fun with stunning views along the way. If you’ve left your trusty steed at home then Cyclewise have a hire centre (with quality bikes) at Whinlatter and also run training sessions. For other great rides in the Lakes take a look at James Kirby’s Mountain Bike Cumbria website or for a change of scenery the famous trail centres of the 7 Stanes are only 50 miles away, over the border in Scotland. If road cycling is your thing then the network of quiet country lanes between the cottage and the Eden Valley provide endless combinations of routes and for the long distance cyclist try the Reiver’s Route, known as the ‘return coast-to-coast’, which passes by the foot of our driveway and runs from Tynemouth on the east coast to Whitehaven on the west. If all of the above sounds far too energetic then try a simple out-and-back along the picturesque disused railway line which starts in Keswick and heads eastwards to Threlkeld.
Climbing and Scrambling
When W. P. Haskett Smith climbed Napes Needle on Great Gable in 1886 the sport of rock-climbing was born. Since then The Lake District has become a mecca for climbers and scramblers from around the world. Some of the best climbs (like Shepherd’s and Black Crags) can be found in Borrowdale to the south of Keswick, less than half an hour’s drive from The Badger Sett. If you fancy something slightly less vertiginous then there are two of the finest scrambles in England on our doorstep – Striding Edge on Helvellyn and Sharp Edge on Blencathra are both of which are easy Grade 1 scrambles. Sharp Edge is the harder of the two and can be challenging in winter conditions when a rope is advisable. If you don’t mind getting wet then try a bit of Ghyll Scrambling – its great fun and safe and there are a number of places that will kit you out with all the gear then lead you down a river gorge for a couple of hours – try Newlands Adventure Centre for a location nearby. And if the weather is just too bad to venture out on to the hill then head to the climbing wall at Keswick!
Messing around in boats...
Of course the Lake District is a great centre for watersports of all kinds. Almost all of the Lakes have hire outfits with a selection of craft. One of our favourites is Nichol End Marine on Derwentwater. They have a good range of canoes, kayaks, dinghys, windsurfers and motor launches as well as a nice café overlooking the lake. You can also launch your own boat from here. Rowing, paddling or sailing to one of the many islands on the lake is a superb way to spend a sunny afternoon. If you have your own canoe or kayak then we have some great white water rapids on the rivers Caldew and Caldbeck which run through the valley. If you would rather someone else take the helm then head down to Ullswater for a trip on one of the wonderful Ullswater Steamers. We recommend embarking at Glenridding and taking the boat to Howtown Pier then walking back along the lake shore – a distance of about 7 miles.
There are a number of top quality courses all within easy reach. The nearest and arguably most picturesque is Keswick (12 miles) which features an 18 hole, 6225 yards, Par 71 course with commanding views of Lakeland scenery. Stony Holme, near Carlisle (16 miles) features an 18-hole 5787-yard par 69 course, as well as a challenging nine-hole par 3 course and a 16-bay floodlit driving range. Silloth-on-Solway (23 miles) is a fine coastal links course with stunning views of the Galloway Hills to the north, and south to the Lakeland fells and the distant Isle of Man. Penrith (14 miles) is beautiful and well-balanced featuring an 18 holes, 6047 yards, Par 69 course.
For a sweaty-palm inducing couple of hours we recommend a trip to one of the two Lake District Go-Ape centres. The closest is at nearby Whinlatter Forest Park and we love it! The location is beautiful and you can combine a trip here with a cycle ride through the forest on one of the marked trails. The other Go-Ape centre is in the South Lakes in Grizedale Forest and is worth the trip the high-level zip wire which crosses the valley.
There are a number of riding schools in the area. Low Farm Riding Centre (towards the coast near Aspatria) offers specialist Riding for the Disabled sessions and Livery whilst Rookin House Farm (at Troutbeck on the way to Ullswater) is in a beautiful location and offers guided treks as well as a range of other outdoor activities.
If wild swimming is your thing then you’ll have no trouble finding an idyllic river pool or lake to jump in to. Black Moss Pot in the Langstrath valley (off Borrowdale) is excellent or for a peaceful lake swim try Crummock Water or Buttermere. Ask us for details of a secret and very special deep river pool location close by!
You might not think of the Lake District as a skiing destination but we have the mountains and plenty of winter snow so why not? In fact The Lakes can boast to be England’s premier ski resort thanks to the Lake District Ski Club which has been in existence for more than 75 years and operates a number of runs on the eastern slopes of Raise, near Ullswater. Don’t expect luxury facilities but there’s a ski tow, members hut and toilets and some exciting skiing to be had (for intermediates and experts only). You need to join the club to ski here but membership is cheap and can be bought on the day. For more details check out the Lake District Ski Club website.