My sister and I are thinking of going to the Lake District in the UK. We will not be driving, but taking the train and public transport when available. Does anyone have suggestions re. where we could stay? We're planning to do some easy walking and just chilling out. Thanks
Firgarth B&B on Ambleside Road in Windermere is a short walk from the Windermere train station. Pam Hornsby & Colin Fishwick tel 01539 446974 were the host/owners when we visited several years ago. Bus service to Ambelside and Grasmere and s ferry across the lake to B Potter of rabbit fame Hilltop Farm.
You'll take the train to Oxenholme and then the bus the rest of the way to your destination. We've used public transport many times in the Lakes and it has always worked very well. Personally, I don't like to stay in the towns on the southern end of the Lakes...to crowded and touristy. I prefer to stay in Keswick. It still has a tourist edge but is nothing like the area around Windermere, Ambleside, and Grasmere. Lots of good walking from Keswick with a small-town atmosphere. Many B&Bs to choose from...this summer we are opting to stay at a farm for something different. Easier parking and walks directly from the front door!
As Anita notes, the towns and villages along the lake are a bit crowded with people, pubs and cafes. The great thing about the South Lakes area for walkers is the herd thins as you take the walking paths that are more vertically separated from the lake elevation. And you get a better view from the higher elevation paths. If you need a mid-day shandy, just drop down to lake level for a short break from your walk.
My opinion of the area is quite different from above posters. Keswick is a nice town; could be anywhere: Germany, Britain, etc. The southern towns mentioned are far more picturesque. Perhaps that is why they are more traveled. I was there in May and did not find them over run by tourists. I don't know about the bus patterns in the area. However, unless I did not drive, I would rent a car to drive around. The driving is very easy with none of the narrow, winding roads found in Cornwall or the Cotswolds.
I have a bit of a different opinion as well. We really enjoyed Ambleside, even though a bit crowded. We were there in summertime, and liked that we could walk everywhere (B&B close to town, close to lake, etc.) We stayed at the Riverside B&B. Enjoy your trip! The Lake District is so pretty.
When coming down into Windermere and Ambleside after a pleasant walk in the surrounding countryside, the lake side towns do seem a bit crowded with the bustle of tourist wandering about. Chiang Lee ("The Silent Traveller in Lakeland", Methuten & Co, 1937, from a 2004 edition) wrote:
"We arrived at Windermere by lunch time.... 'Alas!' I cried to my friend, 'We are back in London again!' For the streets were packed with people strolling about as if they were in Oxford Street or Piccadilly Circus, with the only difference that they walked all in one direction. We came to the lake side. I could not describe my sensations at that time; the people packed in rows looking at the scenery reminded me of a news film I had seen of the University Boat Race...." And those were observations from the traveler's 1936 trip to the Lake District.
Thanks for your opinions. It appears that we will enjoy the Lake District wherever we choose to stay. We're really looking forward to it!
I'd differ with David about the driving, I found the Lake District roads quite narrow and windy! That's what makes the country so spectacular. We based in Keswick and didn't regret it, used local buses to get around, not the most efficient way but OK for us. I took one bus to a jump-off point for a walk in the fells, then got another at the end of the walk. Takes some planning but quite doable.
"Narrowish" and winding, okay. But, not much different from many country locales in the UK. However, nothing like those in the Cotswolds and Cornwall.