A little history about the Lake District Estates® group of companies

Our story

Welcome to Lake District Estates

Lake District Estates has been helping families and individuals discover and experience the Lake District and surrounding area for over 80 years. Whether you plan to pop into one of our shops, hop aboard an Ullswater ‘Steamer’ or the La’al Ratty, book a holiday at one of our holiday parks or marina, or you’re part of our holiday homeowner’s community, we would like to introduce you to our people, places, and purpose.

Top image: Aerial view of Woodclose Park.

A welcome from our family to yours

Lake District Estates is a family-owned business with a proud and continuing Lakeland legacy. In fact, the company is still owned today by the descendants of Sir Wavell Wakefield, its founder. Sir Wavell had a vision of creating a strong business from the family assets he inherited whilst also conserving important parts of the Lake District’s cultural heritage for future generations. Several of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren serve on the board of directors today.

(Image: Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway. Launch of premium carriages, named 'Ruth' and 'Joan' after the youngest and eldest daughters of Sir Wavell Wakefield.)

A little of our story

Sir Wavell Wakefield formed Lake District Estates on 6th December 1938. He was a World War One pilot, an MP, and an England rugby captain, who would later go on to become Lord Wakefield of Kendal.

In 1954, he saved the Ullswater Navigation and Transit Company from bankruptcy by buying a controlling share in the ‘Steamer’ company. A similar event occurred in 1960 when, in collaboration with stockbroker and railway enthusiast Colin Gilbert, he helped to purchase the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway from the Keswick Granite Company to prevent it from being closed and broken up. Ullswater ‘Steamers’ and the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway have become two of the Lake District’s best-loved attractions, which is a real testament to Lord Wakefield’s vision.

(Image: M.Y. Raven. Launched on the 16th July 1889, her arrival was directly inspired by the tour operator Thomas Cook who voiced his concerns to the directors about the need for a second boat during the peak holiday season. Listed on National Historic Ships Register ID 57.)

Providing the perfect home-from-home

Our six parks and a marina offer high-quality holiday homes in tranquil countryside, for those wishing to make this beautiful area their second home. A wide range of self-catering accommodation for both relaxing and adventurous getaways is also available. From more traditional options to marina-view apartments, glamping pods, and even safari tents, we have something for everyone. Some of our parks also provide seasonal or shorter-stay touring pitches for visitors wishing to bring their own caravan or motorhome.

(Image: Tewitfield Marina, Lancashire, purchased 2016.)

Days out at our award-winning Lake District attractions

Our award-winning visitor attractions have helped countless visitors discover the Lake District National Park, capturing the hearts of many. For a memorable day out, why not take a trip to Ravenglass or Ullswater and soak up the stunning views, whilst experiencing truly unique travel?

The historic Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway is one of the oldest and longest narrow-gauge railways in England. The line begins at the only coastal village in the UNESCO World Heritage Site and runs to Dalegarth for Boot Station in Eskdale. There is even the opportunity to stay on-site in one of our lovingly restored Pullman Camping Coaches, or the former station master’s cottage.

Ullswater ‘Steamers’ has operated lake cruises in a spectacular setting for over 160 years, boasting one of the largest heritage vessel fleets in the world. Our boats connect with many famous walking routes, including the Ullswater Way, to help you explore.

(Image: Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway courtesy of Mark Fielding)

A shopping experience inspired by our love of the Lake District

Our six shops, operating as Peter Rabbit and Friends™ and The Veg Patch, are conveniently located in Bowness, Grasmere, Keswick, Hawkshead, Ambleside and Kirkby Lonsdale, for that special gift or memento of your holiday. Enjoy a quality shopping experience, where you can browse and purchase gifts associated with the legacy of Beatrix Potter’s timeless collection of stories, plus a range of products to help children and families learn, play and discover.

The Veg Patch’s online store sells everything from soft toys and craft kits to children’s clothing, all inspired by our love of the outdoors.

(Image: Peter Rabbit and Friends™, Keswick)

Ideally located for relaxation and adventure

Our parks, marina, attractions, and shops are located in some of the most beautiful areas of North West England. If you are seeking the ideal destination for your next holiday or wish to discover the enviable lifestyle benefits of holiday home ownership, look no further. We have parks in beautiful rural and lakeside settings near Windermere, Pooley Bridge, Bowness-on-Solway, and the market towns of Kirkby Lonsdale and Carnforth.

(Image: Ullswater 'Steamers')

Our core purpose and values

As an influential family-owned player in the Cumbrian tourism industry, our mission is to contribute positively to the economy, community and environment of the region. Our purpose is to create special, individual places, experiences, and memories, in areas of outstanding natural surroundings.

We strive to be personal, respectful, consistent and sustainable, adopting these qualities as our core values. We know the little things we do make a big difference and with a personal touch, we go the extra mile. Our ethos is rooted in active listening, tolerance, support, consideration, and encouragement of diverse perspectives. Embracing innovation and sharing best practices, we continuously evolve.

Through continuous efforts, we are reducing our carbon footprint through recycling, reusing, and thoughtful actions. In our shared environmental goals, we foster a long-term perspective, reinvesting for a sustainable future.

(Image: Hill of Oaks, Windermere. In 1764 (exact date unknown) Hill of Oaks was acquired. It was a farm but it also had coppice woodland to provide the charcoal needed in gunpowder manufacture.)