Thanks to some of the best transport links in the north west of England, you can easily explore the Lake District without a car. Take your time and use the bus, boat or train to get around, and you will find yourself within easy reach of all the main Lake District attractions. Top ways to travel in the Lake District include:
Once known as the Dark Lake, Ullswater has been a major influence on the work of famous poets, including William Wordsworth, who lived close by. One of the best ways to see Ullswater is by taking advantage of a steamer trip across the lake, which will run alongside Helvellyn, the third largest mountain in England. You can combine a cruise on the lake with a stroll around the shore of Ullswater.
Windermere cruises operate every day of the year, and embark from Ambleside, Bowness and Lakeside, (except Christmas Day). The trip takes a total of 3 hours, or you can hop on and off on route, at some of the popular local attractions, including the World of Beatrix Potter at Bowness, the Ambleside Museum and other places of interest.
The Coniston Launch is a unique ferry which runs a regular service to seven jetties, allowing passengers to disembark where they choose and catch a later boat back. The solar-electric powered ferries offer an environmentally friendly way of being transported around the lake, and an informative crew will tell you all about the local places of interest. The launch runs throughout the year, with restricted sailings in December and January.
Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway
This unique steam railway runs a daily service from Haverthwaite to Lakeside from March to October. Travelling through the Leven Valley, passengers can enjoy the breath-taking scenery of the region, and also enjoy lunch or a snack at the station restaurant. Tours may also include a visit to the engine sheds, the souvenir shop and picnic area, plus visitors can see the steam and diesel train exhibitions.
Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway
The River Ert is the oldest working 15 inch gauge engine in the world, and travels around 6,000 miles per year. The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway attracts thousands of visitors every year, and visitors can find cafés and gift shops at each end of the line. If you want to make a day of it, you can hire a bike or enjoy one of the walking trails at the end of your journey. Opening times vary, according to the time of year, but all facilities are open when the trains are running.
If you are a fan of steam trains, enjoy a steam-hauled journey over the Settle to Carlisle Railway on board the Fellsman. The train operates between Lancaster, Preston, Bamber Bridge, Blackburn, Clitheroe and Long Preston, and also offering visitors a full day travelling through the Yorkshire Dales, over the Ribblehead Viaduct, this popular train journey can be booked in advance. You will also have time to look around the popular towns of Appleby and Carlisle before your return trip. It is possible to pre-book seating for dinner, and make the most of this famous train ride.
South Tynedale Railway
Enjoy an incredible journey through some of the most scenic countryside in the region on the South Tynedale Railway. All trains are hauled by preserved stream and diesel engines, and the return journey takes you to Kirkhaugh in 45 minutes. If you want to explore Kirkhaugh, you can look around at your own leisure, and catch a later train back. You will find refreshments and a gift shop at Alston Station.
Buses to and from Windermere run regularly, and this is probably the most economical way of getting around the Lake District. The following services are currently offered, but it is best to check the timetable before you travel:
- Coniston Rambler 505 Windermere - Ambleside - Hawkshead - Coniston
- Langdale Rambler 516 Windermere - Ambleside - Dungeon Ghyll
- Kirkstone Rambler 517 Bowness - Windermere - Glenridding
- Kentmere Rambler 519 Ambleside - Windermere - Staveley - Kentmere
- LakesLink 555 Lancaster - Kendal - Windermere - Ambleside - Grasmere - Keswick - Carlisle
- Open Top Experience 599 Kendal - Windermere - Ambleside - Grasmere
- 618 Ambleside - Windermere - Ulverston - Barrow
- X8/X9 Preston - Windermere - Ambleside - Grasmere - Keswick. (summer service only)
Whether you want to explore the quieter regions of the Lake District, or enjoy the attractions of Windermere, Bowness, Coniston and Keswick, you can reach most points by bus. This not only offers an economical way of exploring the Lake District, but also allows you sample some of the famous Lake District real ales on route, without having to worry about driving back to your hotel.