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Lush green hillsides, towering mountains and endless lakes are just a few of the reasons visitors flock to the Lake District. It’s not surprising – this area is one of the most naturally beautiful in the entire country!
However, if you haven’t already added paying a visit to a few of the best villages in the Lake District to your Lakes itinerary you’re doing something wrong!
These villages are some of the very best places to base yourself during your trip to the Lake District, or even just to spend a few hours wandering through. From the famous to the hidden gems, here is my list of the top 8 villages in the Lake District you need to visit.
Map of the Best Villages in the Lake District
To help you visualise where all of these villages are in the Lake District check out the map I made for you below!
Best Villages in The Lake District
Let’s start this list off with one of the best! The beautiful village of Hawkshead is often described as the prettiest village within the Lake District.
The village lies just between Lake Windermere and Coniston waters. In its former days, it was a prosperous medieval town, although tourism has now largely taken over the village. Its historic past is still present, though, which you’ll see in its array of paved streets and whitewashed houses.
The centre of the village is designated as a traffic-free zone, perfect for pottering around where you can catch a bite to eat at one of the many cafes before heading off to the nearby trout fishery or exploring the beautiful southern lakes.
Coniston in the southern Lake District is the home of the picturesque Coniston waters. This small village is renowned for its location nearby many beautiful fells such as the Old Man of Coniston.
If you love outdoor adventures, then this may be the best village in the Lake District for you. You can head out on a boat trip along Coniston Water or head out on one of the many nearby hiking trails, the most famous being the Old Man of Coniston walk.
Once you’ve enjoyed a full day of activity you can recover in one of the local cafes and pubs, like the old-timey Ship Inn or the 400-year-old Black Bull.
Possibly Cumbria’s most famous village, Grasmere is located in the heart of the Lake District. As with many other villages here, you’ll instantly notice its historic past in its 19th century buildings and slate-built cottages. Grasmere looks like a cottagecore dream!
Grasmere rose to fame thanks to famous poet William Wordsworth, who settled in Dove Cottage here. The cottage is now a museum, so a stop in Grasmere is essential for any fans of literature!
As well as Dove Cottage, you’re also able to visit Allan Bank, a Grade II-listed building that was the home to Wordsworth and his family from 1808 to 1811. It was also home, for a short while, to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Arnold and Matthew Arnold.
To round off your trip to Grasmere, don’t forget to take a walk around Grasmere Lake, which is one of the smaller lakes in the Lake District, will captivate you with its beauty.
Ivy-covered houses, stained glass windows and modern sculptures, set the scene for lovely Cartmel. Located on the southern lakes peninsula, this is the village to visit for you if you’re a fan of good food and history.
And nope, we’re not just talking about traditional pub food. There are actually two Michelin starred restaurants in the village! First there’s L’Enclume, with two Michelin stars, and Rogan and Co., which has one.
If you don’t fancy splashing the cash on a fancy tasting menu whilst in Cartmel, head to the 12th century Cartmel Priory and familiarise yourself with its 800-year history.
Seatoller is located just below England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike, in the stunning Borrowdale valley. It makes for a great base for hikers, and the locals have capitalised on this by making the village a hikers haven.
Scafell Pike is one of the three mountains in the famous Three Peaks hiking challenge, so if you visit in summer you’ll find that Seatoller is swamped with hiking enthusiasts!
Back in the 17th century, though, Seatollers’ main focus was on the mining industry, with the first records of quarrying in the area dating back to 1643. It’s also rumoured that it was in this area that the raw material needed to make pencils, which was the main industry in nearby Keswick, was first found.
The River Derwent runs through this tiny village and Seatoller is often described as a postcard English village. However, it’s also one of the smallest villages in the Lake District with a very small number of shops and houses. Nevertheless, it makes for a great peaceful getaway.
Ravengrass is the only coastal village within the Lake District, making it stand out from the other Lake District villages on this list. It’s a picturesque village, and is often used as a base for hikers heading out on the scenic Lakeland Fells.
Since there are plenty of hungry hikers to feed several Ravenglass businesses have popped up serving food and drink with remarkable views of the nearby estuaries of the rivers Esk, Mite and Irt.
The village was an important base on the Irish Sea for the Romans in the 2nd century. A huge fort once stood here, but nowadays all you’re able to visit are the ruins of the fort’s bathhouse. It’s still absolutely fascinating and definitely worth a visit, though!
A coastal walk along the Irish sea is a must if you venture here, and there are lots of different routes to choose from. Pack your binoculars, though! Ravenglass is composed of many protected conservation areas that protect the rare birds here.
The village of Boot lies In the valley of Eskdale, encompassed by 360° views of spectacular valleys and mountains. Only a handful people live here, and the village thrives on on tourists visiting Lake District villages. Before tourism, quarrying and mining was an important part of Boot’s history and heritage, and it continued in the village until well into the 20th-century.
To access this minuscule village, you can take one of two roads including, Hardknott Pass. Hardknott pass is in fact the joint steepest road in England with its 33% gradient. You could also arrive by train, since the Ravenglass & Eskdale railway terminates here (Dalegarth Station).
Whillan Beck river lies just north of the village, whilst the River Esk is situated on the south side of the village.
Elterwater arguably has the most impressive views over the Lake District. You’ll be able to spot the nearby Langdale Pikes, and Lake Windermere, which the village sits next to. It’s also just a short distance away from Grasmere, making these two Lake District villages easy to combine into one visit.
The River Brathay runs straight through Elterwater where it’s deposited into the Elterwater Lake half a mile further. Both the village and the lake lie in the Elterwater valley, which offers fabulous hiking and cycling opportunities.
Within the village of Elterwater traditional slate terraced houses line the streets. There are also a few old-fashioned pubs such as the Britannia Inn, which make this village a cosy and comfortable one. If you’re visiting the Lake District on a budget, Elterwater is a great place to stay as it has its own hostel!
FAQs about Villages in the Lake District
How Many Villages are In the Lake District?
It’s tricky to say exactly how many villages there are in the Lake District, since there are plenty of tiny settlements that some would count as a village and others would not. However, in terms of universally accepted villages in the Lake District there are at least thirty.
Which is the Prettiest Village in the Lake District?
The prettiest village in the Lake District is very subjective, however, most people would agree that it’s Hawkshead. This village looks straight out of a hikers’ dream – surrounded by mountains, valleys and woodland, the village really does have its own unique beauty and charm.
When is the Best Time to Visit the Lake District?
The peak season in the Lake District runs from April until October, as that’s when you’ll get drier days, clearer skies and warmer temperatures. You’ll also have a wider choice of hiking routes as snow won’t be an issue like it can be in winter. However, in order to avoid the summer crowds and prices, it’s best to visit the Lake District in April, May, September and October.