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.
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.
On leaving Windermere we skirt the northern end of the lake and soon reach the start of our first pass, Wrynose. Whilst difficult to negotiate in parts this is just the warm up for the main event, Hardknott Pass; with gradients of 1 in 3 in places, this is reputedly the steepest road in England. If the weather is kind you can also take a look at the old Roman fort which was built around 130AD. These two old cart track routes used to link the west coast with the centre of northern England and, although sealed with tarmac now, they 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!
After taking in the spectacular views at the top of the pass we drop down into the softer valley of Eskdale where in the valley bottom you reach our first stop, the recently renovated Eskdale Mill*. It is the only working water powered corn mill in the Lake District and you get to see and learn how it was used by folk in the 18th century.
A very short drive brings us to the “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 along this scenic route so hop aboard and enjoy the ride!.
We’ll be waiting for you at the other end, assuming the train doesn’t beat us there, ready to whisk you away to our next destination, Wast Water. This haunting and atmospheric lake is the deepest in England. The majestic Scafell Pike, the tallest mountain in England sits at its head and accentuates the dramatic view even more. No matter what the weather Wast Water always impresses.
It’s now time to sit back and relax as we cover some ground through the west coast lowlands to get to our lunch spot which no doubt you’ll be more than ready for by now.
Once replete you have the treat of a trio of Lakes; Loweswater, Crummock Water and Buttermere. Each with a different character, everyone has their particular favourite. Buttermere is especially loved for its stunning beauty and multiple photographic opportunities with the backdrop of Haystacks providing a photographer’s perfect shot. If time allows we will take a short detour up the Newlands Pass to admire Moss Force, an impressive waterfall when in full flow and conveniently situated near the roadside.
As you leave Buttermere the impressive Honister Pass rises up ahead of us. At the top you will see the famous Honister slate mine which today is used by thrill seekers rather than miners. As we reach the summit we look down into the Borrowdale Valley which, whilst beautiful, has the dubious reputation as being one of the wettest places in England, which, if you know England’s weather, is some claim!
After reaching the valley bottom Derwent Water, arguably the prettiest of The Lakes, comes into view. It is here where you’ll put your sea legs (well, lake legs) on as you embark on the Derwent Launch*** heading for the shores of Keswick. Enjoy the hopefully tranquil waters and we will be waiting for you at the disembarkation point to whisk you away to another highlight of the tour, the Castlerigg Stones.
Once described as one of the most visually impressive prehistoric monuments in Britain the Castlerigg stones date back to around 3000BC. The beauty of these impressive Neolithic structures are emphasised by the stunning “picture perfect” backdrop of Helvellyn and surrounding hills.
It’s now a leisurely ride towards Windermere so sink back into your seats and watch the beautiful scenery pass you by as we take in Thirlmere and Helvellyn on our way south.
We have one final stop in the village of Grasmere, famed as the place where William Wordsworth resided from 1799 until his death in 1850 you will have chance to see the great man’s grave and perhaps treat yourselves to some famous Grasmere Gingerbread.
Those of you on the Platinum package will have a couple of hours to rest before being collected for your Michelin dining experience.
Rydal Water, Dove Cottage, Grasmere, Derwent Launch, Wrynose Pass, Hardknott Pass, Wast Water, Loweswater, Hardknott Roman Fort, Moss Force, Eskdale Mill, Crummock Water, Buttermere, Honister Pass, Castlerigg Stones, Borrowdale Valley, Derwent Water, Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway (La’al Ratty), Thirlmere.
* included in Silver, Gold and Platinum packages
** included in Gold & Platinum Package
***included in all Packages