In ExploreTravel

Famous for its world-class landscape, you could be forgiven for assuming that The Lake District, Cumbria is packed with people at every turn.

With a little research and forward-planning, it’s remarkably easy to find some amazing locations not far off the beaten-track, where you can truly get away from it all and capture some amazing photos to share with friends and family on Instagram and other channels.

Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, why not check out these ten ‘hidden gems in the Lake District, Cumbria?’

Lowther Castle & Gardens

Lowther Castle & Gardens

For a relaxing stroll that will be adored by adults and children alike, this spectacular Gothic ruin is nestled in 130 acres of ancient and romantic gardens. The award-winning Lowther Castle is a place in which to relax and recharge, while learning about its fascinating history. Plus, deep among the trees is one of the largest adventure playgrounds in the UK, named “The Lost Castle” which guarantees hours of fun for youngsters. Other treasures include the Garden-in-the-ruin and the Western Terrace with stunning views of the Lake District. Despite its fantastic seclusion, Lowther Castle is just 15 minutes from the M6.

Grizedale Forest

Grizedale Forest

Snugly located between Coniston Water and Windermere, this stunning forest, managed by Forestry England, features no fewer than eight waymarked walking trails, ranging from the easy to the more strenuous. More than 40 amazing sculptures are dotted throughout the forest, meaning beady-eyed explorers can spot much more than just thousands of mighty trees during their visit. A haven for wildlife, the only remaining indigenous woodland herd of red deer in England call Grizedale home, alongside families of roe deer, buzzards, barn owls and red kites. Great for cyclists too, why not get away from the traffic and try-out the North Face single track mountain bike trail as well as other waymarked routes along forest roads?

Appleby & Surrounding Villages


Located in the heart of the Eden Valley, the ancient market town of Appleby boasts a fine indoor market and a good selection of traditional shops, while the riverside is perfect for a stroll or a picnic. Sitting in an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the North Pennines are nearby, including the 893 metre-high Cross Fell. The valley floor is occupied by the Eden River and its tributaries, once the site of Roman settlements. Older still is the double-ringed Oddendale Stone Circle and evidence of Iron Age settlements. Appleby Castle, dating back to Norman times, also proudly overlooks the river. The nearby village of Orton regularly hosts one of the best farmers' markets in the North West, while Kirkby Stephen offers intrigue thanks to its underground passages which were once used to smuggle beer to the ale-houses to avoid paying taxes.

Ulverston & the Furness Coast

Sir John Barrow Monument, Ulverston

The birthplace of Stan Laurel of ‘Laurel & Hardy’ fame, the market town of Ulverston gives visitors the perfect base from which to explore both the Southern Lake District and the stunning Furness coastline. Overlooked by the impressive, restored Sir John Barrow Monument on Hoad Hill, Ulverston is also the home of the UK’s shortest, deepest and widest canal. With beautiful views across the bay from Birkrigg Common, the Coast Road is well-worth a drive, with plenty of places to pull-over for a memorable beach stroll before reaching further hidden gems like Piel Island and its castle, accessible only by small ferry. Also nearby is Walney Island, which boasts not one, but two nature reserves – so be on the lookout for seals!

Cumbria’s West Coast

Cumbria's West Coast

Described by The I newspaper as “England’s most forgotten coastline”, it is a common mistake for visitors to Cumbria to overlook more than 150 miles of stunning shores and beaches. While lakes are more commonly associated with Cumbria than the sea, The Lake District Coast gives visitors plenty of good reasons to see the county differently, reinforcing the message that it is not just all about the lakes and mountains. From the town of Haverigg on the southern tip of the beautiful Copeland district up to the Solway Coast, there is plenty to discover everywhere in between. From seaside towns like Ravenglass and St Bees, to fantastic beaches, scenic estuaries, historic harbours, marine nature reserves and imposing sandstone clifftops, a visit to Cumbria’s stunning coastline will remain with you long after you leave.

Morecambe Bay

Morecambe Bay

The magnificent Morecambe Bay offers visitors more than 100 miles of glorious coastline to explore, from the historic ship-building town of Barrow-in-Furness around to the Edwardian seaside resort of Grange-over-Sands. Take a walk up Hampsfell, where a pair of binoculars are a must, thanks to the hospice lookout tower offering stunning views for miles around. Stop off for sticky toffee pudding in Cartmel and take in Arnside & Silverdale’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by exploring numerous nature reserves or strolling along the Leven Estuary at sunset. It’s great to explore by bike too, thanks to the nationally-recognised ‘Bay Cycleway’, linking an 81-mile route from Walney Island around to Glasson. Or, for those more partial to taking the train than going under their own steam, why not explore the bay area by taking a train on the Furness railway line?

Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian's Wall

Cumbria is the home of Carlisle, England’s most northerly city. Steeped in Viking and Roman history, perhaps the city’s most famous “neighbour”, is Hadrian’s Wall: A line of defence, which at more than 70 miles long, is an internationally recognised World Heritage Site. Stretching from Bowness-on-Solway on Cumbria’s western coast all the way across England to Wallsend, the vast majority of what remains of the 2,000 year-old structure is open to visit, along with some key sites along the way including Roman forts at Vindolanda, Chesters, Housesteads and Birdoswald, which stands high above the River Irthing and is home to an interactive visitor centre which provides a great introduction. Built as a means of keeping invaders from Scotland out, the impressive Carlisle Castle is constructed from stones taken directly from the wall itself.

The Solway Firth

Silloth, Solway Firth

Forming part of the border between England and Scotland, The Solway Firth stretches from St Bees Head to the Mull of Galloway. Part of the Irish Sea, this beautiful stretch of coastline is flanked by low level hills and small mountains. This largely rural area is also an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Victorian seaside town of Silloth is a highlight, thanks to its leisurely atmosphere, seaside recreation and spectacular sunsets. The long promenade provides a good walk with views of the majestic Solway Firth and across the water to Scotland.


Silecroft Beach, Millom

Millom is one of Cumbria’s best-kept secrets. Another town on the Duddon Estuary, offering easy access to large areas of salt marshes and sandy beaches, the town is positioned under the watchful eye of Black Combe. Its 2,000 foot high summit rewards walkers with panoramic views across Cumbria and as far as the Isle of Man, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Meanwhile, at The Millom Discovery Centre, its jewel in the crown is a detailed model railway, providing a fascinating illustrated history of the town’s iron ore industry. Further afield, a half-hour walk will lead you to the Hodbarrow Nature Reserve. Something of a birdwatcher’s paradise, there is a fabulous viewing hide overlooking what is the region’s biggest coastal lagoon. Check out what’s nearby by rail, here.



England’s highest market town, Alston, sits at more than 1,000 feet above sea-level, giving visitors to Cumbria a literal chance to be on top of the world (or the county, at least). Situated in the civil parish of Alston Moor, the town’s modest population of just over 2,000 people is a welcoming community, nestled snugly in the centre of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which, incidentally, is the second biggest of the 40 AONBs across both England and Wales. Even the drive to Alston is part of the overall experience, with visitors treated to magnificent views of the surrounding countryside, no matter which route is taken. North Cumbria is the home to many ancient churches, and Alston is no exception to this, with St Augustine's church located on a site whose Christian connections stretch back to the 12th century. Find out more about Alston here.




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