The UK is a beautiful country with breathtaking scenery, stunning views and awe-inspiring landscapes. From beaches, mountains and forests, our gorgeous country has it all; and that includes a whole host of picturesque lakes. With 40,000 lakes to choose from, from England’s Lake Windermere to Scotland’s Loch Ness – here are our top picks.
1. Lake Windermere
Possibly one of the UK’s most famous lakes (and England’s largest body of water), Lake Windermere lies at the heart of the Lake District National Park, in Cumbria. Windermere is the largest natural lake in England at 10.5 miles long and 219 feet deep! It’s a hive of activity with water sports and activities for the whole family, pretty villages dotted along the shoreline and a host of cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants to choose from.
Where to find it: Coordinates: 54.3739° N, 2.9376° W. Lake Windermere is huge so there are lots of lots of spots to head to to begin your exploration. Brockhole and The Lake District Visitor Centre car park is a good place to start.
Best adventure nearby: Have some underwater fun at the Lakes Aquarium.
Best place to eat nearby: Enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner at The Boathouse Bar & Restaurant.
2. Coniston Water
Just down the road from Lake Windermere, is another of the Lake District’s 16 lakes; Coniston Water. This picture-perfect lake is breathtakingly beautiful with the Eastern Fells of Fairfield & Helvellyn dominating the views at the head of the lake. It’s no surprise that this beautiful spot was the inspiration for Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons.
Where to find it: Coordinates: 54.3432° N, 3.0716° W. From Coniston village head half a mile south-west to the National Trust gondola.
Best adventure nearby: Sail around the lake in style on the elegant Victorian Steam Yacht Gondola.
Best place to eat nearby: Appreciate good food in a relaxed setting at the award-winning Steam Bistro.
3. Llyn Tegid
Llyn Tegid – or Bala Lake – is the largest natural lake in Wales, laying on the eastern edge of Snowdonia National Park. Rushing rivers tumble off Penllyn’s mountain ranges and into Bala creating a beautiful spot for sailors, swimmers and fishermen. The scenic site hosts many events throughout the year and is often a hive of activity for locals and tourists alike.
Where to find it: Coordinates: 52.8972° N, 3.6088° W. The north-eastern end of the lake is a short walk from Bala centre.
Best adventure nearby: Be a thrill seeker and try white water rafting at the National White Water Centre.
Best place to eat nearby: Put your feet up and enjoy a bite to eat at the family-run Plas Yn Dre.
4. Lough Neagh
Location: Northern Ireland
Lough Neagh is a freshwater lake in Northern Ireland. At 151 square miles, Lough Neagh is the largest lake (by area) in the British Isles and supplies 40% of Northern Ireland’s water. Five of the six counties have shores on the lough. The tranquil setting is a haven for wildlife and the area has a rich history and heritage for visitors to enjoy.
Where to find it: Coordinates 54°37′06″N 6°23′43″W. Lough Neagh is so vast there are lots of different options. From Belfast, head north on the M2 to the Antrim Lough Shore Park car park.
Best adventure nearby: Meet and learn about beautiful birds of prey at World of Owls.
Best place to eat nearby: Try fish dishes or wood-fired pizza at The Boathouse.
5. Loch Ness
Location: Scottish Highlands
One of the world’s most famous lakes, Loch Ness has earned its notoriety around the world thanks to its alleged mysterious inhabitant, the Loch Ness Monster. The freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands is surrounded by dramatic scenery and has lots to keep people of all ages entertained. Did you know that Loch Ness contains more water than all of the lakes in England and Wales combined?
Where to find it: Coordinates: 57.3229° N, 4.4244° W. There are lots of spots to explore Loch Ness from – try Fort Augustus at the southern end.
Best adventure nearby: Jump on a boat to explore Loch Ness up close (and remember to keep an eye out for Nessie!).
Best place to eat nearby: Enjoy fine dining Scottish style at The Pibroch Restaurant, Loch Ness Lodge Hotel.
6. Loch Lomond
The Trossachs National Park is home to Loch Lomond, a freshwater lake with some of Scotland’s finest views. There are a number of islands within the loch, some of which are privately owned. Many species of nesting birds call reside here so it’s a popular spot for bird watchers and nature lovers alike.
Where to find it: Coordinates: 56.1114° N, 4.6289° W. Head to Balloch Castle and Country Park, just north of Balloch.
Best adventure nearby: Tour the islands on a speedboat trip.
Best place to eat nearby: Sample Scottish cuisine at the waterfront Culquhoun’s Restaurant.
7. Lake Vyrnwy
Not actually a lake at all but a reservoir, Lake Vyrnwy is a stretch of water in Powys, Wales. It was built in the 1880s to supply Liverpool with water, flooding the head of the Vyrnwy valley and submerged the village of Llanwddyn. It’s home to the Lake Vyrnwy Nature Reserve – a specially protected conservation area managed by the RSPB – making it a popular destination for bird watchers.
Where to find it: Coordinates: 52.7774° N, 3.4881° W. RSPCA Lake Vyrnwy Visitor Centre is a great base for your visit.
Best adventure nearby: Hire a bike and explore the lake on two wheels.
Best place to eat nearby: Enjoy elegant fine dining at Tower Restaurant, with views over the lake.
8. Loch Morar
Location: Scottish Highlands
Loch Morar is the perfect destination for active, outdoorsy holidaymakers. The beautiful lake – which has claimed the title of the UK’s deepest body of freshwater – boasts many walking routes and is popular for trout and salmon fishing. It’s also said to be home to its very own monster called Morag!
Where to find it: Coordinates: 56.9539° N, 5.7172° W. Take the A830 from west from Fort William to Morar.
Best adventure nearby: Take in spectacular views at the Silver Sands of Morar.
Best place to eat nearby: Feel warmed by friendly staff in a welcoming setting at The Cabin Restaurant.
9. Loch Awe
Location: Argyll and Bute
Awe by name, awe by nature. Lush green hills roll into the beautiful blue waters of Loch Awe, in Argyll and Bute, an amazing freshwater lake that is the longest in Scotland at 41 kilometres. The loch is renowned for trout fishing and is home to a number of islands and castle ruins.
Where to find it: Coordinates: 56.2975° N, 5.2276° W. The long Loch Awe stretches from Lochawe in the north to Ford in the south – both good starting points for exploring this lake.
Best adventure nearby: Take a short boat trip to explore the ruins of Kilchurn Castle.
Best place to eat nearby: Feat on fresh locally-sourced food at 18th-century trading post Kilchrenan Inn.