Backpacking isn’t just about heading for exotic locations that are far from home. Sure, you can go and lose yourself in a foreign metropolis or go trekking in a wild jungle, but you might be missing out on a great holiday that’s much closer to home.
The UK has so much to offer in terms of backpacking: cheap hostels, amazing locations, great food and a language that you can actually speak! This summer I decided to put my money where my mouth was by travelling north to the Lake District for a spot of backpacking, to get back in touch with nature and to maybe gain a little inspiration from the beautiful English scenery.
I started my journey in Buttermere, at a seriously chilled, back-to-basics campsite called Skyes Farm. For me, Buttermere offers just about the best views that the region has to offer, thanks to its stunning position right at the heart of the Lake District: it’s a must-visit if you’re in the area! Once you’ve set up base near The Lakes you’ll want to get exploring the local towns, so it’s good to know that travel is nice and simple around there. Sure, it’s a great place to get around by bike, but you can also take a more exciting mode of transport such as an open-topped double-decker bus, or even a ferry if you want to get across the water. So it should be easy for you to get from Buttermere to Keswick, a quaint market town near Derwent Water where you can walk, canoe and fish to your heart’s content. Keswick welcomes thousands of tourists every year, most of whom lodge in one of the charming local B&Bs or scenic campsites.
A trip to Ambleside is also recommended.This sleepy-looking town actually has a vibrant restaurant scene and plenty of decent shops to spend your afternoon mincing around. A favourite restaurant of mine is Zeffirellis, a popular bistro situated in an old restored cinema that serves vegetarian cuisine with a Mediterranean feel. If you fancy spending some of your tight backpacker budget on a fancy dinner then a trip to Zeffs should be on the cards: it’s all top-notch food. Near Ambleside sits the Lake District Visitor Centre, one of The Lakes’ most popular tourist destinations. Head here to burn off your excess energy through any number of different outdoor activities, from watersports on the lake to zip wiring through the air. If you need a place to stay, I recommend the Ambleside Youth Hostel, which has a great central location.
From Ambleside you can easily reach Grasmere, a tourist hub known for its amazing, dense gingerbread and its famous literary connection: the local Dove Cottage is Wordsworth’s birthplace. Or you could travel on to nearby Bowness, home to the Beatrix Potter museum. Or how about Windermere, where you canescape land entirely and take a cruise on one of the lake’s handsome-looking boats? Spending some time gazing out across the water and collecting your thoughts is a lovely way to while away an hour or two. Then from Windermere you can travel on to Kendal. Or, for that matter, wherever the wind takes you…
There are two tips I’d like to leave you with. Number one is that travelling between The Lakes’ youth hostels is by far the cheapest and simplest way of seeing the area; I would wholeheartedly recommend using them while on a backpacking trip. Number two is not to scoff at the idea of backpacking in Britain! Forget the Gringo Trail or South-East Asia: stay in the U.K and make the most of the enchanting countryside that we’re surrounded by! The Lake District has all the atmosphere, sights and amenities that a budget backpacker needs and is the perfect place to get away from it all. Go with an open mind and a willingness to explore and you’ll have as good a time as you could have anywhere else in the world.