It’s not just visitors who flock to the Lake District. Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise, Henry ‘Superman’ Cavill and Oscar winner Renée Zellweger have used Cumbria as a Filming Location.
Whether you’re a fantasy fan, or just fond of a certain carrot-stealing rabbit, there’s something for everyone. Watching a film or series before your trip also helps get children and teenagers excited about coming!
We’ve listed them in order of the most family-friendly rated films first.
The Tale Of Peter Rabbit (2018)
This charming mix of animation against real-life backdrops has some top stars providing the voices, such as James Corden and Star Wars’ Daisy Ridley. Keep an eye out for Ambleside in particular.
Swallows and Amazons (1973 and 2016)
Rating: 1973 version: U, 2016 version: PG
Set in 1929, this beloved childhood series is the tale of when the Swallows (the Walker children) meet the Amazons (the local Blackett sisters) in the Lake District. The 1963 version follows the book closest. Whereas the 2016 version spices things up with a spy plotline.
- 1973 version: Coniston, Bowness-on-Windermere as Rio and Derwentwater
- 2016 version: Windermere, Ullswater and Derwentwater
Tip: Author Arthur Ransome’s Wild Cat Island was inspired by Peel Island on Coniston Water.
Miss Potter (2006)
Although much of this film about artist, author and conservation hero Beatrix Potter happens in London, Lake District locations are also used. They include:
- Loughrigg Tarn
- Yew Tree Farm near Coniston, once owned by Beatrix Potter – you can see it from the road or hire it as a holiday cottage.
Brief Encounter (1945)
This black-and-white tearjerker about two thwarted lovers is a cinematic classic. The bridge scene is filmed at Langdale Beck, at Middle Fell Bridge.
And just over the border in Lancashire is Carnforth railway station. Director David Lean opted to film here because of its ramps rather than steps. This allowed his heroine Celia Johnson to move more elegantly.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Star Wars? Really? Yes! When two X-Wing fighters skim across a lake on the planet Takodana, they’re actually swooping down from Walla Crag across Derwentwater. Thirlmere was also used as a setting.
Tip: Certain landmarks have been singled out and sometimes flipped vertically, so it can be hard to get your bearings. Photographer Colin Bell’s Star Wars article goes into all the details.
Mission Impossible 7: Dead Reckoning (2023)
Rating: probably 12A
In the summer of 2022, we stumbled upon the filming of the latest Mission Impossible while walking around Buttermere Lake!
It was unreal with helicopters flying around the mountains and paragliders coming down in droves doing stunts. We didn’t see Tom Cruise, but we did get a picture of Simon Pegg, who plays Benji Dunn.
Snow White And The Huntsman (2012)
Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart appear in this updated version of the classic fairy tale. There are scenes in:
Legend has it the cast and crew drank the Waterhead Inn on Windermere dry during their ‘wrap’ party on the last day of filming!
Withnail and I (1987)
“We’ve gone on holiday by mistake!” While it may not show off Cumbria at its best, this cult classic is hilarious. Locations include Shap and Bampton, as well as a stunning shot of Ullswater. Uncle Monty’s cottage of ‘Crow Crag’ is the privately-owned Sleddale Hall in Wet Sleddale, near Shap.
Tip: Want to watch the film at Crow Crag itself? Picnic Cinema hosts cinema parties there throughout the year.
The Witcher – Season 2 (2019)
During the Covid pandemic, travel restrictions saw Netflix’s fantasy series The Witcher switch to filming locations in Cumbria. The main locations are north and west of Ambleside:
- Blea Tarn – episode 4 and episode 7 [open link to https://www.cumbria.com/great-langdale/ ]
- Rydal Caves – episode 7 [open link to https://www.cumbria.com/grasmere-and-rydal-water/ ]
- ‘Skull’ cave of Hodge Close Quarry – episode 3 [open link to Lake District secret caves blog]
For even more specific screen descriptions, check out superfan Third Eye Traveller’s The Witcher blog.
28 Days Later (2002)
If there was a zombie apocalypse, Cumbria would be a pretty good spot to hide out. The producers of this movie agreed. The film ends with a zombie horde racing towards survivors sheltering in a remote cottage in Ennerdale.
Know about other filming locations in Cumbria and the Lake District?
Please let us know! Or tag us into any of your social media posts, as we always love to hear when we’ve inspired people to come to Cumbria! We are @cumbria_dot_com on Instagram or @cumbriadotcom on Twitter.
Disclaimer: We’ve tried to be as accurate as possible when writing this article, but information can change. Please check for yourself before making any decisions based on this blog.