With activity dating back over 5,000 years, the Lake District is not only one of the most beautiful places in the UK, it is also full of rich history to discover. If you are looking to travel to the Lake District, it is worth visiting some of its most historical places to uncover the wonderful culture that inhabits this region. Here are a few of the best historic locations to visit on your trip to England’s largest National Park.
Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass
Muncaster Castle is a privately owned Grade I listed castle that overlooks the River Esk, a mile east of the west-coastal town of Ravenglass in Cumbria. Owned by the Pennington family since 1208, Muncaster Castle has since grown from a medieval fortified tower-house, with many additions and changes to the castle up to the late nineteenth century.
There are gardens and wildlife areas here to explore, with admission to the public available year-round for the castle and its grounds. The castle is also reputedly haunted, and houses a treasury of stunning artwork and antiques, and interestingly, Henry VI sought refuge here during the Wars of the Roses. Many visitors come to the castle to explore the history and stories of events that have occurred here over the years.
Beatrix Potter’s Farmhouse, Hilltop, Hawkshead
The farmhouse made famous as the home of world-renowned author and illustrator Beatrix Potter, creator of Peter Rabbit, is a historic hot spot for literature lovers world-wide. The house is now managed by the National Trust and visitors can see how Beatrix Potter lived, as well as evidence of her great passion for the Lake District. Hilltop also showcases some of the many thousands of objects and letters that Beatrix collected over the years, offering a deep dive into her life and history of the time.
Nearby Hawkshead is home to some stunning accommodation a little north of Grizedale Forest, from farmhouses and barns to lodges and cottages. Lake District Cottages from Lakelovers offer retreats for couples as well as groups, with some properties having space for 12 guests, with room to bring along your pets too. For a family getaway, the stunning Bobbin Beck Cottage offers a luxury stay in Grizedale, with a garden patio and steps down to the river in a beautifully secluded location. This area is undoubtedly one of the best places to stay in the Lakes, with easy access to the rest of the park.
Honister Slate Mine, Borrowdale
Honister Slate Mine is the last working slate mine in England, which has been quarrying Westmorland green slate since the 1700s. It is a popular tourist attraction, with underground tours available to teach visitors about the workings of the mine and to see what it was like to be a worker there all those years ago, complete with special effects to give to the feel of history come to life!
Adventurous visitors can have a go at mine climbing to get hands on with the rock, and there are several levels of via ferrata to try, including the famous infinity bridge challenge. The views of Honister Pass are incredible from up here, and even if you don’t feel brave enough to scale the dizzy cliff heights, there are plenty of walking trails to explore which makes the experience one of the best day trips in the national park. This area is also popular for wild camping, with easy access and some of the best scenery in the UK!
Stone Circles in the Lake District
There are several stone circles in the Lake District that draw visitors from across the country, the most visited being Castlerigg, Cockpit, Swinside and Burnmoor Stone Circles. The original purpose of these grand historic monuments is still unknown, although many people think they may have been used for rituals, gatherings or simply a sign of land ownership. Whatever the case, the mystery is a large part of their appeal.
The 5,000 year old Neolithic monument at Castlerigg near Keswick has stones that measure 10 feet high. Sitting in a picturesque location surrounded on all sides by the mountains of the northern Lake District, this is the most popular stone circle in the national park. Over in the east, Cockpit Stone Circle lays on Bronze Age crossroads high above Ullswater, sprawling for an impressive 90 feet across the moorland of Askham Fell. Swinside Stone Circle is one of the lesser visited monuments located near Broughton in Furness, with 55 stones that measure 10 feet high and, like Castlerigg, it dates to the Neolithic period. Meanwhile Burnmore Stone Circle, which is found near Eskdale over in the west, is made up of five separate circle sites dating from 2000 BC. This is the largest of all the stone circles, covering more than 2.5 square km, but like the others, can be visited free of charge.