15 Best Things to Do in Hawkshead and Surrounds (Lake District)

9th March 2021

Hawkshead, located in England’s Lake District, is an idyllic, medieval village made up of quaint, whitewashed cottages and narrow streets. Surrounded by undulating countryside and farmlands, the pedestrianised village makes a good base from which to explore the many attractions in this scenic part of the country. 

While the village gained its popularity as the home of Beatrix Potter and the backdrop to the delightful “World of Peter Rabbit and Friends”, there are loads of things to do in Hawkshead. 

Related reading:
Not sure if Hawkshead is for you? Take a look at the 8 best Lake District towns and villages to stay
Check out the ultimate list of things to do in the Lake District 

Things to do in Hawkshead for Kids

wray castle

Wray Castle

Grizedale Forest and Go Ape 

The verdant forest at Grizedale is home to abundant wildlife, including the country’s only remaining herd of indigenous red deer as well as a multitude of bird species. Grizedale Forest offers a range of gentle walks, mountain bike rides and a café where you can refuel between activities. Staff at the Visitors’ Centre are on hand to help you pick the trail most suited to your level of fitness. 

Treat your family to an action-packed outdoor adventure at Go Ape, and explore the forest canopy on high rope adventures featuring exciting zip lines, rope swings and treetop rope-bridge crossings. Adventures range in length and thrill factor to suit all ages from four years and up. For those who prefer to stay a little closer to the ground, zoom off along the forest trails on a Segway, and enjoy lake and mountain views along the way

Wray Castle

Complete with towers and turrets, this impressive castle on the edge of Lake Windermere offers a host of fun activities for adults and children alike. 

Young Beatrix Potter fans can explore the Peter Rabbit Adventure rooms and take part in fun activities related to the books. These include, among others, a castle building room, period dressing and playing in Peter’s burrow. 

For those wishing to enjoy the lake views and tranquil surrounds, there are circular walking trails to Latterbarow and Blelham Tarn, the latter also offering a fascinating glimpse into the history of the area. 

The World of Beatrix Potter

Step into the World of Beatrix Potter – a fun, family-friendly attraction located in Bowness-on-Windemere, just a short drive from Hawkshead. 

The exhibits include the many characters made famous in the books – including favourites like Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Tom Kitten and Jemima Puddle-Duck. This delightful, themed attraction also features the award-winning Peter Rabbit Garden which replicates the storybook world, as well as a themed café and gift shop. 

In addition, there’s a theatre where the original stories of “Peter Rabbit and Friends” are re-enacted, bringing to life the characters that we’ve come to know and love. 

Bowness-on-Windermere Treasure Trail

If a treasure hunt sounds like a fun way to spend some time as a family, head out of Hawkshead to the nearby Bowness-on-Windermere. Navigate the self-guided trails using the map which guides you to various clues posted along the trail on plaques, statues and other historical features. Solve the clues to progress along the 2.3-mile route which leads you to the fictional treasure.

Outdoor & Adventurous Things to do in Hawkshead

Tarn Hows and Coniston

Tarn Hows and Coniston

Tarn Hows and Coniston

Outdoor enthusiasts looking for things to do in Hawkshead will not be disappointed. Just two miles out of Hawkshead lies a scenic, man-made lake – Tarn Hows. Fringed by lush forest and rolling hillsides, the area makes for excellent walking. 

The walking trail at Tarn Hows covers a distance of fewer than two miles around the tarn and is suitable for most levels of fitness. The gradient of the path is relatively flat, save for one or two brief hillier sections. The trail is wheelchair, pram and buggy friendly, so this makes for a fun outing for the entire family!

Nearby Coniston also offers a selection of walks for you to truly enjoy the Lake District scenery. There’s even a walking trail that joins Coniston to Tarn Hows with the option of returning by boat.

Trout Fishing at Esthwaite Water 

A relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors in this picturesque part of the country is a day spent fishing. Esthwaite Water offers a scenic backdrop against which you can fish for trout in the waters of this lesser-known lake of the district. 

Beginner fishermen need not worry – you can opt for some tuition and guidance from the on-site tackle shop. Whether you choose to head out by boat or cast your line from the banks, rest assured that there is plenty of trout to be caught as the lake is regularly restocked. 

Latterbarrow Nature Reserve

Wildflowers and butterflies are the order of the day at Latterbarrow. This small reserve is home to abundant plant species and the various insects that feast on their nectar. In addition to the grasslands and wildflowers, the woodland area covers half of the reserve, providing a range of habitats for local fauna. 

Walks through this natural wonderland yield spectacular views, specifically for those bold enough to climb to the very top. Take a picnic along to make the most of your time at the top. 

Windermere Lake Cruises 

The largest natural lake – not just in the District, but in all of England – Lake Windermere is an idyllic place for a placid cruise. And what better way to enjoy the Lakeland views, surrounding mountain scenery and fresh air? 

Daily circular cruises set out from Ambleside, Bowness or Lakeside pier, offering cruises ranging from 45min to 90 mins in duration. There’s also the option to break up your trip and take in some of the local attractions along the way.

Food & Beverage in Hawkshead

The Chocolate Factory

The Chocolate Factory

The Chocolate Factory

Let your sweet tooth guide you to the factory shop at Cocobean where you can shop from over 100 varieties of loose chocolate, as well as a range of delectable chocolaty treats to enjoy. All products are made in-store or sourced from predominantly local suppliers. 

Children can sign up for interactive and entertaining chocolate-making workshops where they’ll whip up tasty creations to take home. There’s also a lady’s chocolate making and prosecco evening as well as plans in the works to add workshops for adults!

The Drunken Duck Inn

After all the outdoor adventures and sightseeing, refuel at one of the District’s top establishments – The Drunken Duck. 

Rumour has it that the restaurant owes its name to an unfortunate incident in Victorian times involving beer spilling into a ditch and local ducks making the almost fatal decision to drink up the spoils. The ducks passed out and narrowly escaped being roasted by the landlady who assumed they were dead and plucked them for cooking. 

The Drunken Duck offers a fine-dining cuisine and home-brewed ales in the style of a historic pub, complete with flagstones and country atmosphere. A meal here should most certainly be on your list of things to do in Hawkshead.

Hawkshead Relish Company

Stop by the Hawkshead Relish Company for some of their award-winning preserves – arguably one of the tastiest things to do in Hawkshead. What started as a small café has since turned into a thriving business making creative and tasty condiments. 

Their range of chutneys, relishes and preserves has grown to over 100 products, all lovingly made without nuts, gluten or additives and preservatives.

Hawkshead Brewery

Beer lovers should make a point of stopping by the Hawkshead Brewery where they brew a range of refreshing beers, dark stouts and pale ales. Their beers are handmade and crafted with love by passionate beer drinkers. There’s a daily tour of the brewery, or you can watch the brewery at work form one of the special viewing areas. 

Alternatively, if you’re more into the beer drinking than the beer making, visit the Beer Hall where you can relax with friends and enjoy tasting their core range and small-batch beers. 

Historic Things to do in Hawkshead

Brantwood

Brantwood

Grammar School

Step back in time on a visit to the Hawkshead Grammar School, attended by the poet William Wordsworth between 1779 and 1787. 

The schoolroom still contains the same wooden benches (look out for Wordsworth’s name carved into one of them), while the headmaster’s study contains a range of historic items, some dating back to the 1500s. 

Brantwood

The home of John Ruskin – notable writer, artist, and great thinker – Brantwood is filled with personal treasures, fine art and exquisite furnishings. The house overlooks Coniston on an estate featuring 250 acres of remarkable gardens. 

Beatrix Potter Gallery & Hill Top – National Trust

The most popular tourist attractions in Hawkshead are the farmhouse of beloved children’s author Beatrix Potter – Hill Top – as well as the Beatrix Potter Gallery. Explore the author’s home (preserved just as she left it), as well as the actual backdrop to the tales of “Peter Rabbit”. True fans will delight in experiencing a slice of Potter’s life preserved and frozen in time!

In addition to writing timeless children’s tales, Potter was a talented painter and naturalist. A visit to the Beatrix Potter Gallery will offer the chance to see the vast collection of her illustrations and watercolours of the local nature.

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From dense historic castles to tucking into delicious homemade chocolates, here are the 15 best things to do in Hawkshead, Lake District.

From dense historic castles to tucking into delicious homemade chocolates, here are the 15 best things to do in Hawkshead, Lake District.

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