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The second largest lake in Cumbria and one of the quietest is Ullswater. There is no better way to experience its beauty than from the water itself. Enjoy the spectacular views of the mountains and countryside while cruising the historic Ullswater Steamers. If you prefer to take the helm yourself - the Glenridding Sailing Centre offers family-friendly taster lessons from its base at the foot of Helvellyn and children can even steer the boat under supervision. Alternatively, rent kayaks and explore the bays and islands at the southern end of the Ullswater on your own.
In the Ullswater Valley, the Aira Force waterfall is a popular destination. Most visitors walk up, take a few photos and take the same route back. However, we recommend parking near the village of Dockray and following the River Aira Beck downstream. In the distance, you will see the lake Ullswater as you wander through the ancient forests and admire the cliffs rising on either side. At the end you will reach the 20m high waterfall, which is just as awesome from the top as from the bottom.
Ravenglass is the only coastal town in the national park and is said to have once been the last point of defense of Hadrian's Wall. Here, against the backdrop of England's highest mountains, the Scafells, is the world's oldest narrow-gauge steam locomotive. Muncaster Castle, home of the World Owl Trust, is just 5 minutes away. Explore the 70-acre site - especially in May, when the bluebells and rhododendrons bloom. Panoramic views of the Lake District can be seen from Loughrigg Fell - although it is one of the smallest mountains in the Wainwright Fells, its isolated location allows for views in all directions.
A round trip on the lake Derwentwater is worthwhile for nature lovers and peace seekers. The ships regularly commute between seven berths so you can enjoy a 50-minute cruise or stopover to explore the pebbly beaches and hiking trails on the lake. A good starting point is the marina at Nichol End with the on-site café serving homemade pizza you can sit and overlook the slopes of Skiddaw. A short walk will take you to the nearest wharf in Hawes, from where you can continue your boat ride or join hikers in the direction of High Brandelhow via the 451m high Catbells.
On the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake, near the town of Kewswick, sits the Mirehouse - a 17th century manor house. In the woods around there are many natural play areas for children giving them hours of fun. Walk the maze and discover the many caves, which also provide a sheltered picnic area. The adventure playground puts the sense of balance to the test - cross the bubbling stream on a rope bridge, rope ladders and narrow bars. The rhododendron-lined footpath takes you past a playhouse and an obstacle course through woods and fields, finally reaching the shores of the lake.
Whinlatter Forrest is a true paradise for active holidaymakers with its many bike trails with different levels of difficulty. You do not need sophisticated skills to experience the thrill of a two-wheeled descent - the 8km Quercus Trail is suitable for anyone who is quite safe on the bike, even if you have to walk and push for short distances. The trail meanders over and around the lower part of the forest. Even though it does not lead to highs, like the advanced Altura Trail, it still offers good views of Blencathra, Skiddaw and the other northern mountains.
Near Hawkshead stretches Grizedale Forrest - known for its mountain bike trails and the Go Ape! High ropes course. But, if you want to use both your head and your muscles, you could try orienteerin where the idea is to use clues in the landscape to follow a specific route. You can buy the orientation maps for seven possible routes in the visitor centre. The orienteering courses differ in their length and difficulty and there's even a route for mountain bikers. Keep an eye out for a glimpse through the clearings on Coniston Water or try to spot some of the over 60 hidden sculptures in the trees.
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