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5 Free Things to Do in The Lake District

16 April 2016 | Mri Grout - A Lifelong Vagabond

One of the funnest facts about the Lake District, is it's actually a misnomer. In a technical sense, the Lake District only has one lake, which sounds impossible when drive around these beautiful fells and spot a 'lake' at the bottom of every valley. However, only one of these 'lakes' is a true lake and that is Bassenthwaite Lake; the rest are all reservoirs, tarns, meres, and waters! They might all seem the same to you (and me), but a reservoir is a man-made lake, a tarn is a mountain pool that was formed due to water filling in the impression left behind by a glacier, a mere is a body of water where its width is much larger than its depth, and a water is just the historical name for lake. So I guess one could argue that there's more than one lake in the Lake District after all!

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5. Ravenglass Bath House

Ruins of Ravenglass Bathhouse in the Lake District, England
This ancient bathhouse is the last remains of a 2nd century Roman fort and naval base in Ravenglass, Cumbria. It remained occupied until the end of the 4th century and now remains as one of the largest and tallest surviving Roman structures in England.

During its use, it supplied its baths via a high-ground water source located off in the east. However, the most mind-blowing fact I picked up here is that this bathhouse didn't just have cold/air temperature baths, but full on raging hot saunas - an invention that was unfortunately lost once the Romans finally left England, but fortunately rediscovered way before I was born. :P

Parking is not free in the designated area, but there is the possiblity of getting an unpaid spot on the weekend or any weekday if you're willing to walk.

4. Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg's stone circle near Keswick
Though the rocks here aren't as tall as those at the famous Stonehenge down south, Castlerigg actually offers one a better chance at uncovering the history of the past given it's one of Britain’s oldest Neolithic circles with its creation estimated to be around 3000 BC - making it a rough 250 years older than the Stonehenge. Another key difference between the two circles is that you can freely walk through, examine, and even touch the stones at Castlerigg. So go ahead and visit this magical place and as you stand in the middle of the circle, just imagine stepping back in time to the markets that used to be here.

For an added bonus, make sure to visit Castlerigg at dawn (or the night before) on the summer solace to experience a free Druidic celebration complete with costume.

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3. Latrigg

paragliding over Keswick from Latrigg Fell in Cumbria, England

As with all of the other fells in Cumbria, Latrigg is one that is easily accessible and takes about 2 hours for the average walker to do a return trip from Keswick. However, for those that can't handle the hik (or are carrying a really heavy paragliding bag) there is a pot-holed road that goes all the way up to the top, but it wil still require a short, flat hike to the amazing views of Keswick and the surrounding mountains.

For those that desire a more demanding hike with even better jaw-dropping views and flying opportunity, then check out the nearby Skiddaw fell. It stands at a height of 3052ft (930m) and can also be started at the carpark on top of Latrigg. A quick head's up though: this walk sports a fair number of false peaks so every time you think you're finally there, think again. Lols.

2. Derent Water, Keswick

ruins of Egremont Castle in the Lake District, England
A gorgeous lake that's home to two different marinas, it's not uncommon to see a number of sailing boats, kayaks, and canoes breezing along in ideal conditions. There are also a few good-sized islands sitting within it that act as nesting grounds for migrating geese and ducks, and one island is even close enough to the shore to swim to so no boat needed. This being England, however, the waters aren't what a Spanish native would call warm, but once you get used to the temperature (in the summer!) you could easily spend a day here.

The walk around the entire lake is about 12 miles, but there are a few artistic structures along the way.

*Kayaking or canoeing on Derwent Water is not free unless you know someone with club access.

1. Bleaberry Tarn

Situated at 1630ft (497m) and located only two kilometres from Buttermere, this hike has amazing views over the surrounding lakes and fells. The path starts at the bottom of a raging cascade and weaves its way through some beautiful woods before opening up past the tree line. In the distance you can spot a number of other waterfalls on the opposite hills, but the real treat is the jaw-dropping views from the top.

There are two walks that pass through Bleaberry Tarn. The first one is a four mile walk that has an ascent of 1850ft (564m). It starts from Buttermere village, heads up to Bleaberry Tarn, across to Dodd's summit, down through Ling Comb, and back into Buttermere. The other loop is eight miles and ascends 3000ft (914m). This one starts out the same as the former, but once you reach Bleaberry Tarn, you head over to Red Pike. From there you follow it to High Stile, then High Crag, and then Scarth Gap. You head down to the far side of the lake and once there, you walk alongside it until you're back at Buttermere village.

Do you know of any other free things to do in the Lake District? Or just want to write a review on one of the above places you've been? Then we'd love to hear all about them in the comments below!