This tour concentrates mainly on the delights of the Southern Lakes. Whilst not far distance-wise it packs a lot in to the day. The tour will start at the nearest point to your pick up location but all Lakes tour itineraries are shown as starting at Windermere to simplify it.
Our first stop after leaving Windermere is Grasmere, centre of the Romantic Poets. En route we pass the serene waters of Rydal Water, where the most famous of the poets, William Wordsworth would sit on his “seat” gaining inspiration from the surrounding views. You will see Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount, both homes to Wordsworth between 1799 and his death in 1850. On arriving in Grasmere you may visit Wordsworth’s grave or perhaps treat yourself to some famous Grasmere Gingerbread which has been being made here since 1854.
Using one of the little used pack roads we navigate out of Grasmere to Hawkshead, a typical Lakeland village where you can find the Beatrix Potter Gallery and a collection of curiosity shops to mooch around.
A hop and a skip from Hawkshead is Hill Top*, famous as the home of Beatrix Potter and the inspiration for many of her literary works. Here you will have time to enjoy her beautiful house and gardens if you wish. Just around the corner is Claife Viewing Station where you have the opportunity to view Windermere as the first tourists did over 200 years ago via the “Picturesque” windows.
Back in the car it’s time to sit back and enjoy the ride as we pass the western shores of Windermere through Lakeside and Newby Bridge to our lunch spot at Cartmel. Famed as the home of sticky toffee pudding Cartmel is also the food capital of the Lakes being home to not one, but two, Michelin starred restaurants and several other fine eateries. It also boasts a horse racing track, a microbrewery and several small independent shops so there’s a lot to keep you occupied.
Once replete your tour continues along the eastern, and quieter, side of Coniston. Infamous for the ill-fated world water speed record attempt by Donald Campbell in 1967 but also the setting for Arthur Ransome’s tale of derring do, Swallows and Amazons. We will also pass Brantwood, home of the famous art critic and social commentator, John Ruskin, before a brief stop at Tarn Hows. This manmade, yet nonetheless beautiful, water is a feast for the eyes as it comes into view over the brow of the road. It really is a classic “picture postcard” Lakeland vista.
We now cover some ground passing through classic lowland lakes villages and hamlets to reach the shores of Wast Water. This haunting and atmospheric lake is the deepest in England with some foreboding tales to tell. The majestic peaks of Great Gable and Scafell Pike, the tallest mountain in England, sit at its head and accentuate the dramatic views even more. No matter what the weather Wast Water never fails to impress.
Your journey continues into the Eskdale Valley. Home to the Ravenglass Railway, which has been described as the most beautiful heritage railway journey in the UK, this valley also holds some dark secrets amongst its stunning beauty and is bisected by the old Roman road that conveyed centurions from Ravenglass to Ambleside and northwards to Hadrian’s Wall. This road is Hardknott Pass and is reputedly the steepest road in England. Half way up you will get the opportunity to see for yourselves how and where the Romans lived at the Hardknott Fort as the remains are remarkably intact considering it was built around 130AD.
After enjoying the amazing views from the top of the pass we drop down only to rise again over Wrynose Pass. Both passes are sealed with tarmac now but still provide a challenge to those going over. Thankfully, your driver is very used to it and will take the utmost care of you. It’s not good for business if you don’t make it down the other side!
A sharp turn takes us upwards again past the serenely beautiful Blea Tarn to The Langdale Valley where you are met with one of the most stupendous views of some of the biggest mountains and the valley floor below. As we pass through the valley you’ll see the remnants of the slate mines on the hillsides before the short run through Ambleside and back to your lodgings.
*included in tour
Hill Top, Hawkshead, Cartmel, Brantwood, Coniston, Tarn Hows, Yew Tree Farm, Wrynose Pass, Elterwater, Grasmere, Esthwaite Water, Dove Cottage,Rydal Mount, Rydal Water, Windermere, Claife Viewing Station, Wast Water, Wrynose Pass, Hardknott Pass, Elterwater , Scafell Pike.