Discover the Lake District: six things to do at Merlewood
1. Water sports!
You are in a national park that is famous for its multiple large bodies of water: make use of them!
It doesn't matter if you've grown up on the water, you're a seasoned professional, or this is your first attempt. Everyone will find something they can enjoy.
Windermere is the biggest natural lake in England and it's a great one for water sports. Bowness-on-Windermere is situated on the lake and has become quite the tourist hot-spot. Its boating centre allows you to hire canoes, kayaks, boats and paddleboards.
You can also stop in at the Brockhole visitor centre where there is boat hire and a range of things to do for youngsters and a café too.
Take a look at the website to plan your visit > www.brockhole.co.uk
2. Events in Cumbria
There are a number of annual shows, fairs and festivals that take place in the Lake District. If you are after a big weekend extravaganza, you wont be short of ideas.
The Lowther Show
A big country event with dog shows, horse racing, food and drink, music, crafts and activities. Takes place in the grounds of the stunning Lowther Castle annually in August. www.lowthershow.co.uk
Summer International Music Festival
At various locations including Kendal, Ambleside and Bowness there will be a selection of music performances from all genres. The festival draws together Cumbria's cultural heritage and explores its diversity. Takes place late July/early August each year. www.ldsm.org.uk
A festival in the Lowther Deer Park that is fun for all the family. There will be lots of music, stalls, food and drink, fancy dress and loads of colour. Takes place at the end of July.
3. A summer's walk
Just take in the fantastic surroundings by enjoying a gentle amble in the countryside.
From Merlewood you are in an excellent position to explore the southern Lake District. Morecambe Bay lies to the south so you can walk to Grange railway and travel to Cark station, then from here follow a lovely circuit that will walk you down to the coast. You'll hit the Cumbria Coastal Way for a short section and enjoy incredible views out over the large bay and its coastal marshes, before sweeping back in to return to Cark station. You'll be able to get detailed instructions of the route from Merlewood.
4. Historic Lake District
Take the opportunity to explore some historic locations while the weather is good.
This evocative ruin was once one of the wealthiest Cistercian monasteries in the country. It was founded by soon-to-be King Stephen of England and is located on the Barrow-in-Furness peninsula, now cared for by the English Heritage. Adult tickets are £5.60 (with gift aid) and some of the archaeological finds from the area are on display here.
Hardknott Roman Fort
Delve a little deeper into the Lake District's history. This Roman ruin (pictured below) is located along Hardknott Pass just outside Eskdale. It's free to visit and you can incorporate a walk into your visit. The fort at Hardknott was established during the reign of Hadrian in the 2nd Century.
The ruins of a 14th century fortress still stand on the little island off the coast of Cumbria near Barrow-in Furness. The only way to reach the site is via boat, which you can catch from Roa Island. The Castle was positioned as a defensive structure at the opening of Morecambe Bay and was built to protect Barrow-in-Furness from sea attacks.
5. Beaches in the Lake District
It may be the Lake District. But that doesn't mean it's impossible to find a good sandy beach. Cumbria is, after all, bordered on its west by the sea.
Silecroft Beach is right at the southern edge of the Lake District. It is a sand and shingle beach with the village of Silecroft, and its railway station, located nearby. This means there're facilities within easy reach.
Sandscale Haws National Nature Reserve is a fantastic dune habitat on the Barrow-in-Furness peninsula. It is a reasonably sheltered area cared for by the National Trust and home to a wealth of wonderful wildlife. This is a lovely area to explore and the sandy surroundings, with access to the sea, make it a beautiful place to relax too. Spend the day rockpooling and splashing about.
Askam-in-Furness is slightly further round the coast from Sandscale. A long sandy stretch is bisected by a long pier. There are plenty of facilities nearby in the village of the same name, where there is also a train station. At low tide this is a big beach, with lots of sand.
6. Climb a mountain
Go on. Challenge yourself.
The Lake District is home to the highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike. It would be a shame to be here and not attempt the summit... wouldn't it?
In the summer months you are sure to be rewarded with absolutely outstanding views at the top. Keep hydrated, know your limits and remember that the summit can be chilly, no matter the weather down below (it is about 3000ft above sea level after all!).
There are a number of different ascent routes. The route from Wasdale Head is perhaps the most popular for beginners. Though the route from Borrowdale is more scenic, if a little more strenuous.
Take a look at the website for information, guides and routes www.scafellpike.org.uk.
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