A complete guide to sustainable travel in the Lake District, UK.
The Lake District is a mountainous area located in northwest England. This place is incredible, and definitely my favourite in this country. Whatever the season and wherever you go, there is always something to do or see. The colours, the peaks and the lakes, everything is perfect for people like me who love photography and the outdoors!
The Lake District is also an ideal place to travel sustainably and responsibly.
Sustainability is at the core of the National Park Authority. Their vision states that “The Lake District National Park will be an inspirational example of sustainable development in action”. Therefore, they want to create a tourism industry that is thriving and profitable and protects the local environment and culture.
And more national parks should do the same!
However, the Lake District is also one of the most popular places in the UK, and its popularity comes with an impact. Of course, many of the effects of tourism are positive. But high demand also means more visitor facilities, crowds and carbon impacts, leading to more challenges for the National Parks Authority to overcome and consequences you need to be aware of when travelling to the Lakes.
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- The impacts of tourism in the Lake District
- How is the Lake District working toward sustainability?
- How to get around the Lake District sustainably?
- Best eco-conscious hotels and B&Bs in the Lake District
- Best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the Lake District
- Best (eco-friendly) things to do in the Lake District
- How to be a sustainable traveller in the Lake District?
- related post
The impacts of tourism in the Lake District
- Tourism creates new jobs and income for local people.
- Tourists support local businesses and products.
- Money from tourism goes back to the local economy and is used to preserve the area.
- Services provided for the use of tourists also benefit local populations.
- Jobs are often seasonal, and wages are low.
- Prices rise in stores as tourists have more money to spend.
- Shops cater for the needs of tourists, not locals.
- A large number of tourists damage the environment.
- Watersports cause erosion of lakeshores and create conflicts of interest between different lake users.
- A large number of hikers provoke footpath erosion.
- Demand for holiday homes is driving up house prices for locals.
- Tourism produces more pollution and litter.
- In high season, traffic causes parking issues, and narrow roads become congested.
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How is the Lake District working toward sustainability?
As you can see, the negative impacts of tourism outweigh the positive ones, and it is why we should all act in ways that rebalance these effects.
Here are the goals of the National Parks Authority to ensure the heritage of the Lakes. They want to:
- Preserve the landscape, wildlife and cultural heritage.
- Improve the visitor experience by providing better services.
- Enhance access to the countryside and water.
- Provide more opportunities for eco-activities.
- Offer local food and crafts typical of the region.
- Ensure that high-quality eco-accommodations are available.
Additionally, here are some of the steps they are taking to help preserve the Lake District for future generations:
- The National Trust and other conservation groups have undertaken footpath maintenance. They have rebuilt or restricted access to some paths to reduce the effect of erosion.
- They have improved public transport, and visitors are encouraged to use the buses instead of bringing their cars into the National Park.
- They have set up restricted parking zones in some villages. In Elterwater, for example, they have expanded the car park on the outskirts of the village and limited parking on grass verges and near houses.
- They continue to educate visitors about conservation issues with posters and leaflets available at tourist offices and visitor centres.
- They introduced a 10mph speed limit on Windermere in March 2005 to decrease the noise from speedboats spoiling the lake for users and reduce shoreline erosion and pollution.
How to get around the Lake District sustainably?
The best way to get around the Lake District is on foot. This national park is perfect for hikers and nature lovers, offering plenty of trails for all levels. You will also find numerous walks around the lakes that allow you to slow down and fully appreciate your surroundings.
However, the car is probably the fastest way to get around the Lake District, but not the most environmentally friendly! I understand some places may be difficult to access without a car, or hiking is not always accessible to everybody. Therefore, driving is ok, as long as you are mindful of others, such as cyclists and walkers, drive slowly and park carefully. Here are all the car parks across the National Park: https://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/visiting/car-park-status. Planning your trip in advance will also help reduce impact. And if you can, try driving an electric car!
Another way to get around the Lake District more sustainably is by public transport. The National Parks Authority has improved its public transportation network, and visitors are encouraged to use buses instead of bringing their cars. Here is more information about the buses: https://www.lakedistrictonboard.com/transport/lake-district-buses/.
As mentioned, walking is one of the best ways to explore the lakes, but also cycling! You can bring your bike or rent one, as the Lake District cycling routes take you on some of the most scenic trails in the UK.
And finally, something impossible to forget: boats. Make the most of the Lake District by sailing across a lake, hiring an electric boat or using a streamer to visit local villages. The unique thing about this National Park is that you can get on and off a boat at different locations and move around in a truly memorable way.
Want to learn more about sustainable travel? Check out this article: 15 Travel Books to Inspire Your Next Eco-Adventure
Best eco-conscious hotels and B&Bs in the Lake District
1- Moss Grove Organic, Grasmere
Moss Grove Organic is a beautiful 5-star boutique guest accommodation in the heart of the Lake District. This hideaway is the ideal place to relax and unwind after a long day hiking and enjoying the outdoors. Perfectly blending classic and modern, this restored Victorian house also has an elegant style and organic concept.
After a significant renovation project in 2006, Moss Grove Organic strives to make all it does as natural and sustainable as possible, from organic clay paint and natural screen-printed wallpaper to the sheep fleece insulation.
2- Cedar Manor, Windermere
Cedar Manor is a family-owned boutique hotel in Windermere, ideally located for exploring the beautiful Lake District. Whether you wish to hike through stunning scenery, sail on a lake or relax in a café, you will find everything you need within walking distance.
Cedar Manor is also part of the Green Hotel accreditation and is actively involved in sustainable tourism. Today, they work on significant measures to protect the environment and support the locals, such as reducing carbon footprint and raising staff awareness.
3- Victorian House Hotel, Grasmere
Located in the idyllic village of Grasmere, Victorian House offers a central base to explore the delights of the Lake District. And if you want to get away from it all, discover the Shepherds Hut, the perfect hideaway leading to private riverbank views.
The Victorian House Hotel also has the unique mission of making Cumbria Greener by 2037 by reducing the carbon footprint of travellers in the Lake District. And as one of their exceptional measures, they will offset your impact by planting a tree if you travel by public transport.
4- Southwaite Green, Cockermouth
Southwaite Green offers you a new eco-way to experience the Lake District. Situated on the edge of the National Park with stunning views of the western fells, these four cottages combine quality and comfort with the latest green technologies.
With Gold Award from the Green Tourism Scheme, Southwaite Green ensures your stay is enjoyable whilst lowering your carbon footprint. The cottages have retained their traditional character with local stone and timber and use green technologies such as ground and air source heat and solar panels.
5- Ivythwaite Lodge, Windermere
The Ivythwaite Lodge is a traditional stone and flint Lakeland guesthouse located in the beautiful town of Windermere. Owned by Andrew and Abigail, they welcome you to their spacious accommodation with original details and modern features.
In addition to being a perfect getaway, Ivythwaite Lodge is taking several steps toward sustainability and measures to reduce the environmental impact of its guests. For instance, they have recently partnered with Ecologi to offset their carbon footprint and become a climate-positive organisation.
Best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the Lake District
1- Kat’s Kitchen, Keswick
Kat’s Kitchen is a lovely vegetarian and vegan café in Keswick offering a variety of homemade meals and freshly baked cakes – plenty of choices for any time of the day! In addition, they are committed to doing good for the planet by using organic ingredients and plastic-free packaging.
2- The Garden Cafe, Kendal
Set in a quiet courtyard, The Garden Cafe welcomes you to a cosy and peaceful area of Kendal. Entirely vegan, this café serves delicious fresh homemade plant-based meals. Plus, it operates with a zero-waste policy and uses local speciality ingredients.
3- Fellini’s, Ambleside
Fellinis is a modern restaurant serving vegetarian and vegan cuisine with a distinctly Mediterranean twist. Defining itself as ‘Vegeterranian’, this restaurant is a perfect place for a romantic getaway and offers a frequently changing menu to match the seasons. Additionally, you can find above an outstanding cinema showing the latest film productions and world-class events.
4- Green’s, Grasmere
Green’s is a café located in the picturesque village of Grasmere, serving tasty food using fresh, local ingredients. They offer a menu with plenty of choices and specialise in vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes.
5- Café Bar 26, Keswick
Café Bar 26 is a 100% plant-based restaurant in the heart of Keswick, offering food and drinks in a comfortable and unique setting, perfect after a day exploring the lakes. Do not forget to stop by in the evening to enjoy one of their superb cocktails.
Best (eco-friendly) things to do in the Lake District
- Take a cruise on Lake Windermere
- Climb the highest peak of England, Scafell Pike
- Observe the stars at Low Gillerthwaite
- Stroll around Lake Buttermere
- Wander in Ambleside
- See the sights by electric bike
- Roam the trails at Whinlatter Forest Park
- Check out Castlerigg Stone Circle
- Explore Ullswater lake
- Eat and drink local
Looking for easy walks & hikes in the Lake District?
Check out this article: The 10 Best Easy Walks in the Lake District
How to be a sustainable traveller in the Lake District?
Now your turn! Be a more responsible traveller in the Lake District and leave a positive impact with these ten sustainable travel and ecotourism tips to make your trip greener:
1- Prioritise public transport
I know it is not easy when you want to reach remote places, but try to use public transport as much as you can. The Lake District has an excellent transport network and is easily accessible by train. Once there, do not hesitate to use the buses to get around.
Here is more information: https://www.lakedistrictonboard.com/transport/lake-district-buses/.
2- Be mindful of where you park
If you use a car to reach the Lake District or move around, be aware of where you park it. This National Park has a fragile ecosystem that needs protection. Here are all the car parks across the National Park: https://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/visiting/car-park-status. Try planning your trip beforehand to help reduce your impact.
3- Stick to marked trails
When you go on a hike or a simple wander, always stay on the marked paths and be careful not to litter. Remember that your surroundings are fragile and need attention.
4- Stay in an eco-conscious accommodation
Many accommodations are working to become greener by innovating and reducing their impact. Therefore, try booking your Lake District getaway at a hotel or B&B that adopts eco-responsible practices and look for green accreditations on their website.
Also, check out these five sustainable hotels and B&Bs in the Lake District:
- Moss Grove Organic, Grasmere
- Cedar Manor, Windermere
- Victorian House Hotel, Grasmere
- Southwaite Green, Cockermouth
- Ivythwaite Lodge, Windermere
And if you want more, have a look at BookDifferent.
5- Enjoy a boat trip
Make the most of sustainable travel in the Lake District by participating in eco-friendly water activities such as swimming, sailing across a lake, hiring an electric boat or using a streamer to visit local villages and appreciate beautiful sunsets.
6- Eat local and shop at markets
When you travel to the Lake District, being mindful of what you eat and buy is key to leaving a lower footprint and being a sustainable traveller. Ask the locals where they like to eat, buy your food at local markets, and go to local vegetarian and vegan restaurants supporting farmers and sustainable products.
The same applies to the souvenirs you bring home. Ask questions to learn more about the product you want to buy and its origin, shop local, decline objects made with animal products and refuse single-use plastic bags.
The Lake District is full of incredible markets where you can buy the best local organic meats, fish and vegetables, plus a wide range of crafts – so take advantage!
7- Be zero waste and avoid plastic
Sustainable travel in the Lake District also means picking up your trash or any you come across, and avoiding plastic at all costs! The best way to reduce waste when exploring is to arrive prepared. That is why considering what you bring with you is essential, even for a weekend break or a day trip. Here are some ideas, bring:
- Reusable filtered water bottles (reduce single-use plastic)
- Eco-friendly tote bags (reduce single-use plastic)
- Travel towels (reduce water usage)
- Cutlery and containers (reduce single-use plastic)
- Reusable straws (reduce single-use plastic)
- Biodegradable shampoos (reduce toxic chemicals)
- Solid toiletries (reduce water usage)
- Zero-waste sunscreens (reduce single-use plastic and toxic chemicals)
- Portable solar chargers (reduce energy usage)
Check out this page for more ideas on eco-friendly products & gear.
8- Go Camping
Another great way to reduce impact in the Lake District whilst enjoying the outdoors is to go camping. There is no better method to slow down and immerse yourself in nature. The National Park offers many campsites with excellent facilities and a low carbon footprint. Check out this website for more information: https://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/visiting/where-to-stay/camping-camp-sites.
However, keep in mind that the Lake District is a protected area. Therefore, you can not go wild camping and set your tent wherever you want. Please, be respectful and book your spot at an accredited campsite. The experience will be just as magical.
READ MORE: 10 Best Campsites in the Lake District, UK.
9- Explore by bike
The Lake District is a perfect place to explore with a bike. Bring your own or rent one, and start your journey along some of the most scenic trails in the UK. Take time to stop and appreciate the spectacular scenery of the Lakes.
Alternatively, you can rent an electric bike to help you on the hills. There are plenty of charging stations along the way, so you do not have to worry and can fully enjoy the moment without harming the planet.
When visiting the Lake District, take the opportunity to give back and help local organisations. For instance, check out Fix the Fells, a project undertaking maintenance and repair work on the footpath network, monitoring and improving the condition of popular routes in the Lake District. Participating in local projects will help you better understand the consequences of tourism and become a more responsible traveller.
The Complete Sustainable Travel Guide – What, Why, How & Tips
How to explore with less harm and more positivity? Here is a complete guide to sustainable travel – an incredible way to explore the world whilst positively impacting people and our planet!
I hope this sustainable travel guide will help make your adventure in the Lake District greener!
Remember, always leave a place better than you found it.
Want to know more?
- 10 Best Travel Apps for Exploring Sustainably
- Best Ecotourism Activities Around the World
- 8 Best Filtered Water Bottles for Travel & Hiking
- 10 Best Zero-Waste & Reef-Safe Sunscreens
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Do you have any other suggestions for sustainable travel in the Lake District?
Let me know in the comments below!
With love ♡