Rivers and lakes

From a gentle walk in spectacular surroundings to windsurfing and canoeing, our rivers and lakes offer plenty to see and do. Here's a selection of our favourites.

A rebuilt Victorian steam-powered yacht, Lake District, Cumbria
Gondola, a rebuilt Victorian steam-powered yacht National Trust Images/Paul Harris

Coniston Water, Cumbria

Discover spectacular Lakeland scenery and a wealth of wildlife on the shores of Coniston Water, the largest of the area’s lakes. A great way to enjoy views of the area in the summer months is to cruise Coniston Water the old-fashioned way, by boarding our rebuilt Victorian steam-powered ‘Gondola’.

Visitors on the slipway of the boathouse on Lough Erne at Crom, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Watch the world pass by on the slipway National Trust Images/John Millar

Upper Lough Erne, Northern Ireland

Upper Lough Erne is a slow flowing, meandering section of the Erne river. Its islands, peninsulas and bays offer lots to see and do. There are many walks and trails to explore through the area’s woodlands, wetlands and along the shoreline, or you can hire a boat from the Visitor Centre at Crom.

Walkers and their dog around Malham Tarn, Yorkshire Dales National Park, North Yorkshire
Take a scenic dog walk around the lake National Trust Images/Paul Harris

Malham Tarn, North Yorkshire

Malham Tarn was formed by glaciers thousands of years ago. It's the highest upland lake in England and a popular focal point in Malhamdale's classic limestone countryside. The Tarn was later used as a fishery by the monks of Fountains Abbey and also inspired Charles Kingsley's book 'The Water Babies’.

River Dove at Milldale, South Peak Estate, Derbyshire/ River Dove at Milldale, South Peak Estate, Derbyshire
Tred carefully across the stepping stones National Trust Images/Robert Morris

River Dove, Dovedale, Peak District, Derbyshire

Over thousands of years the River Dove has carved its way through the massive limestone plateau of Dovedale, creating a deep, sinuous and spectacular gorge. The area has been popular with keen anglers since the 17th century, while the Victorian stepping stones across the river are perhaps Dovedale’s most famous feature.

Children playing Pooh sticks on a bridge over the River Test at Mottisfont, Hampshire
Play a game of Pooh sticks National Trust Images/Megan Taylor

River Test, Stockbridge Common Marsh, Hampshire 

Stockbridge Common Marsh is situated alongside the River Test, one of the finest chalk streams in the world. The clear, unpolluted waters are home to a huge array of aquatic insects and fish such as trout and grayling, while the marsh provides an ideal location for riverside walks and picnics.