10 REASONS TO VISIT THE LAKE DISTRICT THIS OCTOBER HALF TERM
Borrowdale is the most wooded valley in the Lake District, so by the time Autumn comes around its views and colours are extra special. The October half term is a perfect time to see it at its best, as oaks, birch, holly, hazel, alder and yews combine to create an amazing palette of autumn colours, leaves still clinging to the trees. There are a number of great vantage points from which to appreciate this spectacle. Head up to Castle Crag to get a panoramic view where you can take it all in; or take a stroll along an easy 8 mile loop of the valley from Grange to Seatoller, following the River Derwent – this will take you through the forest itself, then onto an elevated path above the valley. Alternatively, walk through Great Wood then climb to Walla Crag for another great view from above.
Grasmere and Rydal
Grasmere is one of the gems of the Lake District at any time of the year. It can be overwhelmingly busy during peak times, but the October half term is a much more sedate time to visit. The surrounding peaks really come alive in Autumn as they become awash with colour, as do the two lakes of Grasmere and Rydal Water reflecting them. To the south of both lakes is Loughrigg Fell, which offers great views across Grasmere and Rydal. Early risers can be rewarded with a spectacular display if they reach the summit before sunrise – low hanging mist hangs in the valleys over still water, while the fells slowly turn orange as the sun rises over them.
Alternatively, head to Allan Bank for a lovely woodland walk, with the chance of seeing plenty of wildlife – deer, otters and red squirrels have all been spotted by National Trust rangers. As you ascend the bank, you’ll see some fantastic views across the Grasmere valley, a real mix of reds, oranges and yellows. The Allan Bank house owned by the National Trust – once home to William Wordsworth, as well as the Trust’s founder, Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley – is well worth a visit, too. It is a much more relaxed experience than a typical National Trust property; you can paint or draw, read by the fire or play in the grounds. Views of Grasmere’s valley unfurl from picture windows and picnic spots on the lawn.
Head to Langdale this October half term for classic Lake District views. Stunning fells and summits, dry stone walls and old cottages, and lots of Herdwick sheep all offer striking contrasts to the blaze of orange that the densely packed trees become in Autumn. For spectacular views of the valley, head up towards Blea Tarn and Side Pike. Blea Tarn is a photographer’s dream, a small mountain lake surrounded by some of the most famous fells in the Lake District. Side Pike is to the North-East of the Tarn, and while it is not a simple ascent, the summit offers brilliant elevated views of the valley below.
You could also simply take a stroll across the valley floor, through fields and over bridges, and marvel at Autumn colours that surround you. Langdale is one of the region’s most popular locations, but there should be fewer people in the October half term than during peak times, allowing you to avoid the crowds.
Like many other popular Lake District destinations, Buttermere is another place that really comes into its own when Autumn sets in. The trees that cover the western side of the lake look beautiful in their own right, but it is the mirror effect of the lake’s waters that make it really stand out. As Buttermere is one of the smaller lakes in the region, the water is often calm and still, meaning the full spectrum of autumn colours are reflected in the lake. This is an easy walk for families, with easy access for pushchairs. A walk around Buttermere should only take a couple of hours, but you may find yourself stopping to take pictures every couple of minutes, such is its captivating beauty. Linger a while, take a picnic, brave a paddle, skim stones and soak it in.
Finally, make sure to visit Coniston Water this October half term. Mid to late October is perhaps the perfect time to visit the lake, as there are some incredible displays of Autumn colour in every direction. This means that the best place to view them is from on the water itself. You can hire a boat from Coniston Boating Centre<, but for a really atmospheric – and more leisurely – way of traversing the lake, take a trip on the National Trust’s Steam Yacht Gondola. The still, crisp Autumn air, in addition to the fabulous colours, makes for a spectacular cruising experience. The Gondola runs until October 31 before hibernating for the winter, so the October half term is one of your last chances to catch a ride until summer comes back around.
There are also some great events taking place in the Lake District this October half term:
Lakes International Comic Art Festival
The Lakes International Comic Art Festival comes to Kendal each year for a weekend in October. Celebrating the amazing world of comic artists, creators and writers, it brings the biggest names in comic art to the Lake District with over 70 special guests from across the comic world. Even if you’re completely uninitiated to the world of comics, it is well worth a visit to see these amazing artists at work. For those comic book veterans, the exhibitors and guests represent some of the biggest names in comics – Marvel, DC, The Walking Dead to name just three. There really will be something for everyone, from children’s comics to graphic novels, from manga to caricature and satire. Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October, the first weekend of October half term, in a variety of locations in Kendal.
Wasdale Head Show & Shepherd’s Meet
This traditional Shepherd’s Meet dates back over 100 years. Unlike most other rural shows, which tend to take place in the summer, the Wasdale Head Show takes place in October. It is believed that this is because it started with farmers from Wasdale meeting farmers from adjoining valleys, who walked their Tips (rams) over to Wasdale Head to trade them, swap them or hire them, ahead of Tip Lousing season (letting the rams loose with the ewes) in November. Whatever the origins, the present day show is now a great family day out. The show committee have endeavoured to maintain the traditions and history of the event, while still offering something for everyone. There will be lots to see, including: hound trails, fell racing, sheep showing, children’s sports, a parade of vintage machinery and so much more.
Grand Day Out in Cumbria
The weekend of 21st-22nd October is, depending on your school’s term dates, either the first or the last weekend of the October half term. It is also the date that this year’s Grand Day Out in Cumbria takes place, a weekend of outdoor fun and charity fundraising.
There are a number of spooky events taking place in the Lake District in the run up to Halloween – if you’re brave enough. Ravenglass and Eskdale railway are running a Halloween Ghost Train on the final Friday and Saturday of the October half term, where you will travel the line in darkness, with some fiendish figures making an appearance along the way. Survive the Ghost Train and you will receive a sweet goody bag when you return.
There is surely no better time to delve into the Lake District’s ghoulish past. Lakeland Hauntings regularly run Ghost Walks throughout the year – they’re running them daily in Keswick in the October half term week, as well as in Cockermouth. Alternatively, head to Muncaster Castle – one of the most haunted castles in Britain. They’re running Halloween events from 26th-31st October, which will include a Monster Cabaret, Scary Maze, Ghostly Grotto, Scary storytelling and songs, and much more.
Quiet Roads, Lower Prices
As we’ve already mentioned, one of the huge benefits of visiting the Lake District in the October half term is avoiding crowds. The peak season of June and August is lovely, but can mean packed car-parks and frequent traffic jams. Visiting just after the summer months means there will be fewer visitors and in some places you’ll get the views all to yourself. One of the other benefits is that lower demand means lower prices. We have some fantastic offers for the October half term, full week holidays or short breaks.