Lake District

Cool and Quirky: The Places to Be in the Lake District

Kendal features in The Times’ list of ‘coolest’ postcodes to live in 2023, highlighting this stunning market town as a truly trendy place to be. With gorgeous landscapes, interesting history and a thriving food scene, it’s clear to see why Kendal features on the list!

But it’s not the only place in the Lake District and Lancashire area that boasts cool credentials. Keswick is a favourite of celebrities, with Romeo Beckham and Mia Regan enjoying a glamping holiday in the area and Bill Bailey spending some downtime in a local hotel.

Both Penrith and Milnthorpe are popular on social media, with the hashtag #visitpenrith receiving over 16,500 tags on Instagram and #milnthorpe receiving over 32,700 views on TikTok.

Here, Pure Leisure, which offers Lake District Lodges for sale, recommends some more trendy places in the Lake District. Check out this list to ensure your visit to the area features cool and quirky days out, perfect for your Instagram grid.

Key findings

  • Keswick is a favourite of celebrities, with Romeo Beckham, Mia Regan and Bill Bailey enjoying breaks in the area.
  • The hashtag #visitpenrith has over 16,500 tags on Instagram.
  • The hashtag #milnthorpe has over 32,700 views on TikTok.
  • The hashtag #haweswaterresevoir has over 62,900 views on TikTok.
  • The fairy steps in Beetham have been popular with tourists since the late 19th century.
  • The hashtag #alpacawalking has over 1.5 million views on TikTok.
  • Predictions indicate the glamping industry will grow by more than 10% by 2030.

1.    Haweswater Reservoir, Penrith

The hashtag #haweswaterresevoir has over 62,900 views on TikTok and when you hear about the story behind this area, it’s clear why. When the water level in the reservoir is low enough, you’ll be able to glimpse Mardale Green: a tiny hamlet lost to the waters in the 1930s when the reservoir was originally formed.

Sometimes referred to as the Lake District’s answer to Atlantis, this legend of this little lost village is full to the brim with historical facts. The remains of the buildings and stone walls themselves actually resemble sunbathing alligators at first! But when the water level begins to drop further, the reality of the dismantled village is slowly revealed.

The village is revealed when river levels drop below 50%, which usually only happens after an extended period of dry weather. Kevin Donaldson, Sales Manager at Pure Leisure’s Lowther holiday park in Penrith comments: “This makes our longer, hotter summers the perfect time to spy this slice of history, although the reservoir itself is still a stunning sight during the wetter months! Visit the site this December for sweeping views of glass-like water – a truly gorgeous view if we get any snow this winter.”

Where to refuel

Known as Penrith’s best-kept secret, The Lemon Tree Café Bistro is a great choice for locally sourced ingredients across a range of dishes. Whether you’re looking for a great breakfast before you head out to the reservoir or fancy a nice glass of wine after a long day spent exploring, this is the place to be!

Kevin also recommends La Casita Penrith. “This hidden gem is definitely worth a visit. Serving traditional Spanish dishes made from the finest Cumbrian produce, this tapas restaurant offers a taste of Spain in Penrith! Featuring striking red-painted window frames and a handmade bar, it’s well worth popping into this quirky restaurant for an authentic cocktail.”

2.    Fairy Steps, Milnthorpe

The Fairy Steps near Slack Head are infused with magical legends and have been popular with tourists since the late 19th century. Located near the quaint village of Beetham, this narrow flight of natural stone steps is thought to be home to fairy folk! It’s said that if you can climb the steps without touching the surrounding stone on either side, the fairies will grant you one wish.

Zoe Wilcock, Sales Manager for Pure Leisure’s Milnthorpe sites comments: “This is a great place to visit if you love hiking, this trail also showcases stunning views and you’ll be sure to spot plenty of wildlife.”

While the path towards the fairy steps seems tranquil enough, it’s actually one of the so-called ‘corpse trails’ of past years. Local residents used these paths to carry the coffins of those who died in remote areas of the Lakes to the churchyard for burial.

Where to refuel

To round off your fairy adventure, pop into The Garden Café at Beetham Nurseries. With a great selection of hot and cold drinks as well as yummy breakfasts, lunches and baked goodies, there’s something for everyone. Feel free to bring your well-behaved pooch along after a lovely long walk and enjoy browsing through the many gifts and trinkets found in the nursery shop.

3.    Alpaca walking, various locations

The idea of alpaca walking has exploded in popularity in recent years, with the hashtag #alpacawalking now grossing over 1.5 million views on TikTok. Pure Leisure’s Group Marketing Manager, Mike Morris, suggests visiting Alpacaly Ever After, near Penrith. “This sanctuary gives alpacas and llamas high-quality care while also allowing visitors to get in touch with nature by walking the gentle animals through the gorgeous landscape of the Lake District.”

The sanctuary has five sites scattered across the Lakes. Experience a meet and greet with an alpaca, walk them through beautiful surroundings and even take them on a longer trek! These cute animals are endlessly Instagrammable and are sure to bring a smile to your face. You can even buy a hand-knitted hat or scarf made using alpaca yarn to remember your visit.

If you’re in the Keswick area, make sure to stop in at one of the most gorgeous Lake District hotels – Armathwaite Hall – for your alpaca fix. The hall’s Lake District Wildlife Park is home to four happy alpacas: Buzz, Hugo, Hector and Herbie. Spend an hour getting to know the alpaca’s individual natures and enjoying their curiosity in the surrounding countryside.

Where to refuel

If you’re looking for an evening meal or Sunday dinner, check out Four & Twenty. This stunning little bistro serves great seasonal British cooking using local produce and is only a 20-minute drive away from the alpaca sanctuary. It also has a selection of wines and in-house cocktails to choose from!

4.    Hall More, Milnthorpe

Predictions indicate the glamping industry will grow by more than 10% by 2030. This expansion is great news for those who love to be close to nature but want something a bit more luxurious than a tent to sleep in! Hall More Holiday Park in the stunning Milnthorpe is the perfect solution.

Enjoy an escape to the countryside at this relaxing and peaceful caravan park. Zoe reveals, “If you love fishing, this is the perfect place for you with a mixed-coarse fishery and well-stocked trout lake nearby. There are also plenty of walking trails and cycle paths to enjoy.”

For a truly Instagrammable experience, try one of the rustic glamping pods, which comes with your very own wood-fired hot tub!

Where to refuel

Hall More’s rustic glamping pods come with their own fully-functional kitchenette, complete with utensils, for all your cooking needs. But if you don’t fancy cooking, why not treat yourself to an evening at L’Enclume. A 30-minute drive away, this incredible restaurant offers a truly unique dining experience, with seasonal tasting menus and small plates.

If you’re heading to the Lakes, be sure to visit these cool and quirky places to make your trip one to remember! Whether you’re taking the kids, enjoying a solo trip with your beloved dog or heading on a couple’s escape, you’ll love these exciting activities and stunning landscapes.

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