A walker’s guide to picnic spots in the Lake District – by Erin Wallace
As a Cumbrian, I have, of course, done many walks around the Lake District with friends and family. After all, we have the mountains right in our back gardens!
Living in an outdoorsy household, I’ve hiked up some challenging routes, wild camped in extreme weather and bagged many Wainwrights. However, though I love the thrill of reaching a summit after an excruciatingly difficult trek up a fell, I have to admit that a quiet picnic on a lovely summer’s day is one of my favourite activities.
Speaking of summer, the season of warm days is nearly here in the Lake District! As we’re all becoming more willing to venture outside, I’m sure many of you will be thinking about how to spend those rare sunny days.
Here are my perfect picnic spots around the Lake District that you will surely want to visit!
Silver Bay, Ullswater Lake
I can’t tell you how many times I have been here with my family. When I was younger, we would canoe or kayak from the bay at Glencoyne car park, across the lake and land at Silver Bay, the rocky beach off Silver Point
Occasionally, we would stop at Norfolk Island on the way and have a little explore. During nesting season, however, we had to be careful not to disturb the geese and swans.
Once we reached Silver Bay, we would unpack our food and collect wood for our Kelly Kettle. A Kelly Kettle, for those who don’t know, is an outdoor kettle. You kindle a fire in the pot at its base and that heats up the water contained in the metal flask-type-thing within the kettle. With this, we would make hot chocolate and toast marshmallows on the smouldering embers once the kettle had boiled.
Silver Bay is amazing for exploring; surrounding it is a maze of trees and ferns which are perfect for playing hide-and-seek in. The bay looks out over the lake towards Aira Force and, on a sunny day, you can splash around in the water.
You can also get to Silver Bay by foot. It’s located along the Ullswater Way from Side Farm, in Patterdale which is a lovely walk and perfect for hikers of all abilities. I would recommend taking food that is easy to pack into tupperware boxes. My family and I would usually take a platter of lunch foods, such as cut up veg, cold meats, cheese & crackers and some pots of berries.
Glencoyne Woods at the base of Sheffield Pike
This one is for those who like a bit more of a challenging hike. We went for a family trip up to Sheffield Pike a couple of years ago and, about halfway up, we stopped at some small ridges just above Glencoyne Woods. Here, we got out the pocket rocket stoves and cooked ourselves some soup and snacked on other little lunch nibbles.
What I remember most vividly about this trip was sitting on top of a rocky outcrop, looking out over the lake below and taking in the view. It was a lovely summer’s day and you could see for miles. Definitely one of the best spots I’ve visited in Cumbria!
Even better, Sheffield Pike is a Wainwright! So, if you’re a budding hiker trying to bag those fells, then this is perfect for you. If not, you can just walk up to the spot and then amble back down through Glencoyne woods and return to the car park below.
If you’re looking for somewhere nearby to stay the night, the walk is within walking distance from the beautiful Inn on the Lake hotel which sits on the shores of Ullswater.
Summit of Latrigg, Keswick
The walk up to Latrigg is by far one of the most popular routes for a relaxed, family friendly stroll out in the fells.
Last summer, after exams had finished and I was on holiday, my mum and I walked up Latrigg and sat down on the grass at the edge of the summit. We didn’t take any lunch with us as it was only a short morning outing, but it definitely deserves to be on this list.
With a view over Keswick and beyond, you could sit there (on a nice sunny day, of course) for hours, just watching the world go by. Take a proper spread with you to this spot as the ground on the top of Latrigg is pretty flat. Sausage rolls, cakes, pastries, a cup of tea, whatever you want, but go full-out picnic!
Castle Crag, Borrowdale
Once covid-19 restrictions had eased in Cumbria, my family and I went for a walk up to Castle Crag on a decent weather day in early July. We started at Rosthwaite National Trust car park and followed the River Derwent to the base of the hill, where we started our ascent up towards the crag.
We passed through several woods, hopped over a handful of streams and stopped at some amazing view points before eventually reaching a loose spoil tip of slate that was left over from the 19th century quarry there. We wound our way up this path and eventually found ourselves on a flat summit with a memorial plaque on the side of a rocky outcrop.
Again, we didn’t stop for lunch, but many others did and the view was amazing! Pack some small bites into a rucksack and a flask of coffee or hot chocolate to enjoy at the top.
Walk along the River Derwent from Ouse Bridge, Bassenthwaite
This is a lovely, tucked-away walk which takes you along the River Derwent and into the woods. If you start at Bassenthwaite, where you can park in the spaces next to the lake, you can walk over Ouse Bridge and turn left onto a path before the caravan park which takes you through a field (don’t go into the farm!). You’ll need a map for this as it’s not a clear footpath and isn’t very well signposted!
We ambled along a path that led us through the woods and next to the side of the river. We followed this for a while and eventually found a smaller path that took us right to the bank of the river. There was a small wooden bench that we sat on and enjoyed a coffee and some homemade biscotti that my dad had made. Then, we saw a flash of blue streak past and disappear into the side of the opposite bank. It turned out to be a Kingfisher!
It was a lovely hidden-away spot that, although difficult to find, is perfect for those who love a challenge!
Now you know my favourite picnic spots in the Lake District, it’s time for you to try them for yourself!