The road in front of us was clear and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. To our left, the blue lake shimmered in the sun and the mountains in the distance had bright, white peaks following the snow fall just a couple of days before. As far as road trips go, this was a perfect start.
“This is the closest thing to New Zealand that I’ve seen” I said to Michelle. “We should live here”.
“It rains here on 200 days of the year” she replied, bringing me back down to earth.
Michelle was right though, the Lake District is the wettest place in England and we were just really lucky that the weather was so incredible this weekend.
We were in the Lakes for a couple of reasons. Michelle had booked a weekend away for my birthday, I had been saying for a while that I wanted to visit and explore the area. I had only been here once before, when I was 9, so I didn’t really remember much about it but lots of people had mentioned what a beautiful place it was. Michelle also needed a break, for the last 7 weeks she has been suffering with relentless morning sickness so she was feeling worn down and in need of some rest and time off from work.
Our plan was to see as much of the Lake District as possible in the three days that we were here. With Michelle being 12 weeks pregnant we weren’t planning on doing anything too strenuous such as climbing Scafell Pike or mountain biking down Helvellyn.
We both pretty much fell in love with the Lake District from the minute we arrived, so we spent our weekend taking lots of little trips and short hikes, trying to fit as much in as possible. There’s no doubt that we will be back here many times in the future so it was great to get an understanding of the area so we know where to go next time. We are already planning to return, but next time there will be three of us instead of two.
The one thing that we did learn this weekend, is that spring is a perfect time to visit the Lakes, here’s why….
1 – You Can Get the Best Weather
Statistically, April and May are the driest months in the Lake District and the average expected rainfall is considerably less than August and September.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll appreciate a snow capped mountain. There’s something about a snowy peak that draws me in and I could sit and stare at them for hours. We got really lucky with our weekend as we had clear blue skies for all three days, with the temperatures hitting a respectable (for March) 18 degrees, However, in the few days leading up to our trip the temperatures had been pretty low and most of Cumbria had experienced heavy rainfall for the towns and heavy snowfall for the hills and mountains.
2 – There’s Loads to Do
It seems that whatever kind of getaway you’re looking for, the Lakes will have something that suits.
It only takes a quick look on Instagram to see that photographers in the Lake District are keen to highlight the variety that the region offers by the use of the hashtag #notjustlakes and they are right to do so. I’m sure that there are many, many people who don’t realise just how much is on offer here.
Whether it’s kayaking, mountain biking, climbing or hiking, there is adventure to be found all over the region. However, if you’re looking for something more relaxing there are dozens of towns and villages to explore, and plenty of leisurely lake side tracks to wander along.
Here are a just a couple of tips from places that we visited over the weekend.
- Hire a motorboat at Lake Windermere or Coniston Water
- Visit Aira Force Waterfall near Ullswater
- Walk the circular track around Tarn Hows
- Get closer to the mountains and drive over the Honister Pass
3 – There are Less People Around
Tourism is big business in the Lakes with more than 12 million people a year visiting for days out, weekend breaks or week-long holidays.
Visiting at the end of March, with beautiful weather, we expected it to be much busier than it was. With the exception of a small queue to hire boats from Coniston Water on a Sunday afternoon, we didn’t see a queue for anything. We never had any problems finding parking, never had to wait for a table at a restaurant, and most importantly, we managed to get to see some beautiful places near the lakes and mountains without seeing anyone around.
There’s something peaceful and rewarding about finding places with incredible views and being the only people there.
4 – There’s Great Food and Drink Everywhere
Let’s be honest, weekends away can quite often mean eating and drinking a little bit too much.
Pretty much everywhere we went in the Lake District we were spoiled for choice when it came to eating out. Whether is was coffee shops, pubs or restaurants there was always something tempting us.
To me, the difference between good coffee and bad coffee can be the difference between and good start to a day and a bad one, and fortunately, I didn’t get a bad coffee all weekend.
One highlight for us was Homeground Cafe in Windermere where we went for brunch twice in three days. Not only was my flat white perfect, but the Homeground Sarnie of bacon, avocado and hash browns was just about the best brunch I’ve ever had, and they even made a gluten free version for Michelle so she was just as impressed.
It seems as though the good people of Cumbria are on a mission to create the perfect ale and there are dozens of local breweries giving it a good go. Although we didn’t spend much time in pubs as Michelle is pregnant, I did manage to get hold of a few bottle of local ales from the supermarket and while Michelle had her afternoon nap each day I was quite happy to sit in our lodge and sample them.
5 – You Can Find Some Great Deals on Accommodation
Spring can be very much hit and miss when it comes to weather so a lot of people can feel reluctant to book a weekend away in advance. This can mean that a lot of hotels and holiday parks will have vacancies that they need to fill right before the weekend.
That’s great news to us as there are bargains to be found as many prices drop just a few days before the weekend in an effort to fill up the hotels. If you keep an eye on the long range weather forecast and can manage to get a weekend away without much planning you can enjoy a great weekend away without paying full price.
We managed to get an incredible, luxurious lodge at Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat for three nights for less than £200 and considering just how great the lodge was, it was definitely a bargain.
There’s no doubt that we will be spending a lot more time in the Lake District on family adventures, based on this weekend, we will be looking to make it a spring tradition.