My wife and I looking at a vacation in June with stops in the Cotswolds and then on to Windermere. Our rental car will be picked up and dropped off in Oxford. We are planning on taking the train from Oxford to Windermere and spending a week there without a car. Our return flight to US will be from the Manchester airport. Biking and hiking are on our agenda and was wondering if there is enough to see in Windermere without a car and relying on public transportation. Thanks in advance for all the insight and guidance.
Keswick would be a much much better venue than Windermere for outdoorsy types.
There's a good bus service down Borrowdale and can also use to boat on Derwentwater to access the Catbells ridge.
Immediately north of Keswick ,Skiddaw looms great views of the central core of the Lakes from up there.
There will be buses from Kendal ( Oxenholme is it's station) to Keswick.
Penrith ( on the mainline)to Keswick should have a decent bus service too
While not on Brits tourist trails ,Penrith is a nice small town
There's a Booths supermarket in Keswick ,bit of a select northern institution.
The Honister mine tour is good and it has England's only really outstanding via ferrata.
If you have a taste for hide and seek the view from warnscale tarn is not too shabby ,it's about a mile and half from Honister
Looks like there's bike hire in Keswick and a couple if miles west of there at the Winlatter forest with trails set out.
If you are biking it would be quite a feat to ride up to Honister !
Castlerigg stone circle us about a mile and a half from Keswick.
The Cumbrian Way footpath runs through Keswick.
At Rosthwaite the very popular Coast to Coast route arrives after one of the best of days over from Ennerdale.
You could do worse than spend a day ,maybe a day or day and a half on the route and stay at the near unbeatably situated Black Sail Hut.
It's all rather more upmarket than it sounds but I think there's still an open door policy and honesty box if you help yourself to tea/ coffee / cake
Thanks Richard…..we will look into Keswick
Funny enough ,I got to set foot (just)on the AP trail near you and saw sunset on Brasstown Bald
Small world Richard. We love the North GA mountains…safe travels…
If you choose Keswick, I would highly recommend you stay at the HF Holidays country house right on the lake (Derwentwater), and join in their guided walks. They offer guided walks on three levels each day, with transport to and from the trailheads included. They have programs for 3-, 4-, and 7-night stays; all are inclusive of meals, hiking, and social programs. The food is excellent, and you get a variety of options at breakfast and dinner, as well as a packed lunch made to order.
Transport right to the house is provided from the Penrith train station for a small fee. The house itself has lovely rooms—-some looking out at the lake—-and nice grounds with gardens and a lawn sweeping down to the lake. My husband took a swim from there.
The more strenuous walks on offer include Catbells, as well as Scafell Pike, the highest point in England ( but not in the UK). My husband did that one and really enjoyed it. We were there for their 3-night holiday, and are going back in September for another.
The booking schedule is not out for 2023 yet, but you can read about the options and page through photos ( the View Photos button at upper right) here:
This is a member-owned cooperative, but non-members are welcome for a slight extra fee. The hiking guides are trained volunteers and include cultural and historical commentary along the way. We really enjoy the camaraderie of the other guests on the hikes, at meals, and in the evening at the social time.
Even weirder we went tubing at Helen and the lady on the next tube was a Helen resident happened to go to University in my home town here in England.
Beautiful part of the world ,if a mite hot ,was late Aug
I have stayed in a home rental on Coniston Water, and I would prefer a car. I hate driving on the left, standard transmission, and very narrow roads. But I still prefer a car for Lake District. We rarely take "car" vacations, BTW. We happened to have seven days of sunshine. My sister just got an automatic transmission this year for the same house, but I didn't go for Covid risk reasons.
Don't miss The Dog And Gun pub in Keswick. Great food and drink. Lots of locals with their friendly dogs in there. Yes, dogs can go into the pubs in Keswick and in the Cotswolds.
Thanks all for the suggestions….Will revise our itinerary.
You could spend half your time in Windermere and half your time in Keswick.
Windermere is the gateway to the Lakes and also, for some people who never venture further, THE Lakes. As such it does get very, very, busy. It’s actually split into two - the main town, where the railway station and buses run from is Windermere and is set back about a mile from the shores of the lake (also, and confusingly, Windermere). The town that is actually on the Lake shore is Bowness on Windermere and it’s where all the lake steamers and launches run from. There’s lots and lots of hotel accommodation around here as you’d expect and it’s where many coach tours aim for.
While Keswick is better served for straight out of the door hiking and is a smaller, less sprawling town, there are plus points for Windermere. It has good public transport links from its bus station so you can get to good hiking spots - Coniston, the Langdales, even Grasmere is easy within striking distance. There are good introductory walks from Ambleside too, the town at the head of Windermere the lake. All of them are cycleable too but I have no idea what the opportunities for bike hire are in the Lakes, I’m afraid you’ll have to research that because I don’t cycle! Shanks’s Pony in the Lakes I’m much more confident about!
Good hikes I’d recommend are Loughrigg from Ambleside to Skelwith Bridge and back which is an easy introduction to the Lake District hills, although the climb away out of Ambleside is a lung buster! The Old Man of Coniston from the village of the same name is a more challenging climb but the walk via Low Water through the old mines - lots of old ruins, cables, spoil heaps still there - is easy enough to follow. There are options to make a longer walk of this either returning via Levers Water (slightly tricky descent down the Prison Band which is a steep, rocky, somewhat scramble-y path, which may be off putting if you aren’t confident on that type of path). Or you could ascend via Goats Water and return via Low Water (frankly my favourite route). The peaks in Great Langdale are always interesting although Jack’s Rake on Pavey Ark will be too much of a rock climb for many (though exciting!). Helm Crag behind Grasmere has interesting summit rocks ‘The Howitzer’ or dependent on where you view them from, ‘The Lion and the Lamb’.
I guess it all depends what sort of hiking you want to do, but most go to the Lakes (once away from the gift shops, tea rooms and outdoor retailers of the towns) to head for the hills and their summits.
If Keswick proves difficult logistically or to get accommodation, there are options from Windermere and environs. Let me/us know if you need further info on hikes from whichever location you pitch up at. In my view, it’s hard to go wrong in the Lake District.