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 things.
As the name suggests the Western Lakes are a bit more rugged and exposed to the elements than the rest of the district and as such has its own unique character. Much less explored than the more popular lakes and hills this area has a serene and ethereal feel not found elsewhere in this region. Even in peak summer you’ll feel like you’ve got it all to yourself which is why it’s our favourite part of the Lakes.
On departing Windermere our first stop is Grasmere. Famed as the place where William Wordsworth resided from 1799 until his death in 1850, and the centre of the Romantic Poets, you will have chance to see two of his homes and the great man’s grave. You may also wish to treat yourselves to some world famous Grasmere Gingerbread while you’re here too.
The journey north takes us past Thirlmere and Helvellyn to the Castlerigg Stones; described as one of the most visually impressive prehistoric monuments in Britain the stones date back to around 3000BC. The beauty of these impressive Neolithic structures are emphasised by the stunning picture perfect backdrop of the surrounding vista.
Leaving the Stones we travel to the shores of Derwent Water where you can, if you wish, enjoy a short cruise on the Keswick Launch* to see the Lakes from a different perspective. Your car will then collect you from the jetty and convey you to Surprise View which affords stunning views over the lake and northwards to the Scottish borders. On the way we will pass over the small, but very famous, Ashness Bridge.
Skirting the southern edge of Derwent Water we enter the Borrowdale Valley which, whilst beautiful, has the dubious reputation as being the wettest place in England, which, if you know England’s weather, is some claim! On the way we’ll take a look at the Bowder Stone, an unusual tourist attraction, before rising up the Honister Pass. At the top you will see the famous Honister Mine, the centre of green slate mining but which today is used more by thrill seekers than miners. As we reach the summit we drive between artist Terry Hawkins slate statues to look down the valley towards a trio of Lakes; Buttermere, Crummock Water and Loweswater.
Buttermere is especially loved for its photogenic qualities with the backdrop of Wainwright’s beloved Haystacks providing a photographer’s perfect shot. If the weather is kind you have the opportunity to walk along the shore path where you can really absorb the beauty of this lake and its surroundings.
A short detour up the Newlands Pass allows us to admire Moss Force; an impressive waterfall favoured by the Romantic Poets and conveniently situated near to the roadside.
The classic lakes scenery continues as we travel past Crummock Water and Loweswater with stories of corpse roads and other sinister tales to our lunch spot.
Once replete it’s time to sit back and relax as we cover some ground across the moors of the west coast lowlands to reach our next destination, 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, the tallest mountain in England, sit at its head and accentuate the dramatic view even more. No matter what the weather Wast Water always impresses.
On the way there we will catch a glimpse of Ennerdale Water in the distance, known as the romantic lake as it’s a popular spot for marriage proposal, and also the Cumbrian coastline which holds many stories from Roman occupation to the last attack on British soil in the American Revolution.
Leaving Wast Water it’s a short ride to Ravenglass where you have the opportunity to board “La’al Ratty”*, a seven mile small gauge track described as the most beautiful heritage railway journey in England. Historically used to move iron ore from the quarries to the main line at Ravenglass in the late 19th century, it is now used to transport tourists into the heart of Eskdale.
As you arrive at Dalegarth Station we will be waiting to continue your journey through the Eskdale valley, which, whilst stunningly pretty, also has some harrowing history including international espionage and more!
At the eastern end of the valley the road climbs up towards the heavens as we enter Hardknott Pass, reputedly the steepest road in England. Half way up we will take a look at the old Roman fort, built around 130AD and after enjoying the amazing views from the top of the pass we drop down only to rise again over Wrynose Pass. Both passes form part of the old Roman road used to link the west coast with the centre of northern England and, although sealed with tarmac now, 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 home!
A sharp turn takes us upwards again towards the Langdale Valley, where, if you haven’t seen them already, you’ll be greeted by the famous Herdwick “Herdy” Sheep. Native to the Lakes they are known for their hardiness to the harsh weather and provide the opportunity for some very cute photographs! You will also pass the serenely beautiful Blea Tarn, used as backdrop for many movies and TV productions, before encountering the vista of the valley itself and surrounding peaks.
We leave the Langdales for the short journey back along the northern shores of Windermere to your lodgings.
*choose one asterixed activity per tour.
Grasmere, Rydal Water, Wrynose Pass, Dove Cottage, Rydal Mount, Hardknott Pass, Eskdale Valley, The Langdales, Wast Water, Loweswater, Hardknott Roman Fort, Moss Force, Ennerdale Water, Crummock Water, Buttermere, Honister Pass, Castlerigg Stones, Borrowdale Valley, Derwent Water, Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway (La’al Ratty), Thirlmere, Honister Pass, Surprise View, Ashness Bridge, Blea Tarn, Keswick Launch.