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Lake District Bus and Tours (Keswick)

Good day RS Forum. I will be solo in Keswick for 4 nights beginning September 5th, sans car, before heading to Glasgow for a night, then flying to Netherlands to meet up with friends. I plan to do a lot of hiking, with some pub visits. From reading my 10 year-old RS England book and this forum, I still have a couple questions I would like to ask.

  1. Is the Stagecoach bus app reliable? I will spend half my time hiking in and around Keswick, but I would like to take a day to take a bus to another area of the Lakes District for some good hiking and a couple pubs, but want to be certain I have reliable bus schedules in the area. Are printed timetables available to supplement the app? Any recommendations to take a bus from (and back) Keswick for a hiking/pub day are appreciated.
  2. Are there any recommended tours that leave from Keswick? Taking a half-day or full day trip to view the larger area also interests me, but it seems most of them (Mountain Goat) leave from other towns. Tacking on 2 extra hours of bus time just to get to and from a tour doesn’t really appeal to me.

Thanks!

Posted by
381 posts

Thanks Frank, I did not see the Keswick departure. Alas, they only have this once or twice a week and this one will not be available when I am there.

Posted by
7031 posts

Jay, there is an app for the Stagecoach bus, which does help.

I vaguely remember some talk about issues when booking tickets from the states (or other time zones). Because of the difference in time zones, the dates were getting a bit discombobulated. I don't know if that's still an issue. I would imagine Stuart (isn31c) will post something about it, as he lives in the the Lake District and uses that bus frequently.

ETA: I had another thought. Lola posted this response about HF Holiday stays. She has done this a number of times and speaks very highly about their organization. It's lodging combined with guided tours. Here is the post where she mentioned it: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/england/vacationing-in-windermere-without-a-car

Posted by
6762 posts

Jay MN,

This is the printed Lake District Bus Timetable- https://tiscon-maps-stagecoachbus.s3.amazonaws.com/Timetables/Cumbria/Lakes%20Connection/Summer%2024/CNL%20SUMMER%2024%20Lakes%20by%20Bus%20WEB.pdf

There really is no need to buy tickets through the App if it is playing games (and apparently even for us in the UK it is being a bit off at the moment for live tracking, not for tickets). Any ticket you need (one way, daily or weekly) can be bought from the driver of the first bus you board. Weekly tickets are purchased on a smartcard. On each bus you just hover the smartcard over the reader. When you buy a smartcard ticket you get a paper receipt. Keep that in case the smartcard malfunctions. The smartcard used to cost £1- a few weeks ago my card malfunctioned and I was nearly issued a new one FOC before the card started to function again, So I'm not sure if the charge is still there. Otherwise wait until you are here and buy on the app anytime before travel if that is your preference. I don't use the app but I believe you have to "activate" an app bought ticket before first use.

Lots of people use the app daily so it must be reliable. I am just old fashioned and prefer something tangible.

Mountain Goat is odd- they used to have a depot in Keswick and run all tours as pick up from there. As far as I can find out they lost School Contract work in town which subsidised that, so closed the depot. Alba Travel also closed their office and Lakes Supertours did not survive Covid- so no one does tours now from Keswick.

Various companies have run from Keswick between the early 1920's and Covid- so it is a strange situation to be in now.

There are many day out possibilities depending on your fitness levels- if it was a weekend I would say use the 509/UB1 to the back of Ullswater (Howtown)- some of which loop round the lake to join the 508 route. Just beware that on the 509 Askham looks enticing. But every time I try to do Askham a bus is used which is too big to go over Askham Bridge, so they have to divert on the way to Lowther. It is a standing joke in the area- if not a joke for Askham residents.

Another very good option on any day of the week is the 555 to Ambleside, then the 516 down Langdale, ending any of many possible walks at the Old Dungeon Ghyll (locally called the ODG) or the Britannia Inn at Elterwater.

Also you could think of doing the 77/77A Honister Pass Circular. Around Buttermere and Crummock Water there are any number of walks for all abilities. There are good pubs at Buttermere, Lorton (the Wheatsheaf- bus stops outside) and Loweswater. The bus doesn't serve Loweswater but I usually get off at Lanthwaite Green and walk down. The 77/77A is hail and ride so stops anywhere that is safe- ask if on board, stick your hand out to join the bus.

Posted by
381 posts

Many thanks Mardee and Stuart.

Stuart, if I just board a bus and pay the driver without the app, can you pay via tap and pay or do I need cash? Otherwise, sounds like the app will be the way to go. I appreciate your other info and may hit you back with follow up questions as I dig into that. Thanks again.

Posted by
16936 posts

You might consider staying with HF Holidays in their country house on the lake (Derwentwater) at Keswick.
They have two walking/hiking programs that fit your dates perfectly, though you would need your own lodging the night of the 5th.

If you are a strong and fit hiker, you might like challenging scramble up England’s 3d highest peak:

https://www.hfholidays.co.uk/holidays-and-tours/helvellyn-via-the-edges-challenge?format=pdf&vid=3710

For more variety you could chose this one on the same dates, which includes the Catbells and Blencathra:

https://www.hfholidays.co.uk/holidays-and-tours/3-night-northern-lake-district-guided-walking-holiday?format=pdf&vid=962

We did that holiday with them several years back and really enjoyed the lodging, food, hiking, and especially the camaraderie of the other guests. The offered hikes were different that time; my husband chose the ascent of Scafell Pike, England’s highest summit, while chose something easier (no scrambling). It was all good.

(Forum members who know me will have seen this coming, but I really think this company (actually a member-owned cooperative) is a great option for people who want to hike in the Lake District but will not have a car. Non-members are welcome.)

Posted by
6762 posts

Most people just tap and pay. But you can pay cash if you wish. But don't tender a big note for a small fare. The other week I paid for a £34 ticket with £40 cash, and the driver struggled to make £6 change (admittedly it was 7am on a Sunday morning)- Stagecoach no longer give their drivers a cash "float" to start their day with.

Posted by
381 posts

Lola, thanks for the tip. I should have posted this before I prepaid my lodging. Maybe next time…