One thing I’ve learnt about the Lake District over the years is that however familiar you think you are with a particular area, there’s always something just around the corner that you’ve not seen before – and then you get home and read about it in a guidebook somewhere and have to go back!
Some of the best Lake District viewpoints fall into this category, because they’re not always where you would expect to find them. Here’s a selection of my favourite views, most of which don’t require you to walk a long distance to see them – although if you are a walker, many of them lie on popular walking routes too.
10 of my favourite Lake District viewpoints for non-walkers
This is by no means a complete guide to the area’s best viewpoints, as I only wanted to share those I have so far experienced for myself and which really made me go ‘wow’. I’ll probably write another guide in the future as I experience more – I think it’s a good start though!
1. Monk Coniston, Coniston
The Monk Coniston car park at the northern tip of Coniston Water is a really handy stopping place from which to capture great pictures of the lake and its surroundings. Autumn’s the best time, as the trees around Coniston Water form a glorious scene when the leaves turn colour, and you’ve two options here: 1) A fairly still bay of water, which can be seen from the car park, 2) The jetty, which is a five-minute walk away through the trees.
2. Queen Adelaide’s Hill, Windermere
For very little effort at all, you can witness a beautiful scene looking north along Windermere from the top of Queen Adelaide’s Hill on Rayrigg Road near Windermere. There’s parking at the bottom of the hill, and a little while ago I devoted an entire blog post to visiting it.
3. Millerground, Windermere
Just below Queen Adelaide’s Hill you’ll find Millerground, with further lovely views across the lake and jetties. This piece of shoreline is easily accessed from a footpath which leaves the layby on the bends on Rayrigg Road, just below the entrance to the Miller Howe Hotel.
4. Claife Viewing Station, Windermere west shore
If you’d like to add some real character to your snaps, pay a visit to Claife Viewing Station on the western shore of Windermere, which is easily reached using the Windermere Car Ferry (just 50p each way if you’re a foot passenger travelling over from Bowness-on-Windermere).
The viewing station dates back to the 18th century when tourism first became fashionable in the Lake District, and you can use the coloured glass in the windows to create some really unusual effects. I’ve written more about the history of Claife Viewing Station here.
5. Friar’s Crag, Keswick
If you’re a regular visitor to the Lakes, you may sigh when I mention Friar’s Crag outside Keswick, but I still come across people who don’t know it’s there, and it would be a sin not to mention such a beautiful, if popular, view! You can reach it along a footpath from the Derwentwater Foreshore next to the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, and it takes just 10 minutes to get there. The bench at Friar’s Crag makes a really good foreground feature in a photo, but as it’s very popular, you may need to nip in as I did between sittings! Find out more about Friar’s Crag in my recent post…
6. Surprise View, Derwentwater
Surprise View is another popular viewpoint in the vicinity of Derwentwater, but not nearly as well-known as its nearby counterpart, Ashness Bridge. Funnily enough, I visited Ashness Bridge when I was young and on a school trip in the area, but we weren’t taken to Surprise View, so it stayed off my radar until fairly recently. Unfortunately a lot of trees have grown behind Ashness Bridge, limiting the view of Derwentwater behind it, but Surprise View really does live up to its name and took my breath away when I found it – I wrote about the best ways to visit these two viewpoints in this post about Derwentwater.
7. Bassenthwaite from the Noble Knott car park, Whinlatter Pass
You’ll find the Noble Knott car park on the Whinlatter Pass as you make your way from the small village of Braithwaite, outside Keswick, to the Whinlatter Forest – which is, out of interest, England’s only true mountain forest. The Noble Knott car park is on your left-hand side when approaching from Braithwaite, and on your right you’ll spot a layby (which usually has an ice cream van in the summer). This layby is an excellent stop-off point for a lazy picture looking across Bassenthwaite, with Skiddaw on your right and the forest on your left.
8. Crow Park, Keswick
Crow Park is a fairly plain looking hill which can be accessed through a gate opposite the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick. Actually it’s a little bit like one of the grass hills from the Tellytubbies! It’s well worth taking five minutes to walk onto the top though. Apart from the lovely view along Derwentwater there’s this rather stunning vista towards Keswick itself.
9. Glencoyne, Ullswater
Ullswater is a fascinating stretch of water, because unless you are a keen walker it can be quite difficult to access the best views of it; another easier way to do so is by boat. Glencoyne, however, is an excellent place to stop for a fantastic view to the north of the lake, and there’s a National Trust car park directly opposite the beach on the other side of the road.
10. Kirkstone Pass
There’s something very special about a scene from the top of a Lakeland pass as the road below snakes away into the distance, and as you head over the top of the Kirkstone Pass from Ambleside towards Patterdale, there’s a handy little car park on the left-hand side which enables you to do just that. It’s well worth stopping here for a photo mid-journey.
Have I missed your favourite easy-to-reach view from my list? If so, do please share your own recommendations for others to enjoy during their time in the Lake District!