From high peaks (Scafell Pike at 978 metres) to vast lakes (Lake Windermere is the country’s longest at 10.5 miles), you’ll find breath-taking beauty at every turn. Although there’s so much to see, a day trip is a great way to get a taste for this vast space, and Lake Windermere is the perfect place to start. To help you make the most of your lake district day trip, here’s a day itinerary, covering all the highlights.
07:30 – Set off
The Lake District National Park is easy to access from every part of the country, with various entry points depending on your location – it’s roughly a two-hour journey from major cities, including York, Newcastle and Manchester, and five-hours from London.
To make the most of your day, set off for a 09:00 arrival. If you’re travelling by train to the Lake District, Windermere is the closest train station to see some of the major highlights. This is also well serviced by local bus, stopping at nearby Ambleside. A Lake district day trip by car is also possible, however, parking is limited. Hammarbank car park is the nearest.
09:00 – Arrive at Windermere
The quaint village of Windermere is a popular starting point for day trippers. Expect to see group coach trips and visitors by train arriving first thing in the morning.
Take a glorious walk through the village and alongside Lake Windermere until you reach Rayrigg Wyke. This is a real beauty spot, great for capturing striking images of the tranquillity of the lake early in the morning. From here, it’s a short walk to Bowness Bay, which has plenty of attractions to discover.
10:00 – The World of Beatrix Potter
At the heart of Bowness Bay is The World of Beatrix Potter. This popular tourist attraction brings the magic of her famous books to life for all the family to enjoy. This charming exhibition includes a must-visit to Peter Rabbit’s garden and Mrs Tiggy-winkle’s kitchen amongst other fun parts to explore. If you can escape without a stuffed teddy from its impressive gift shop, you’ll be one of the few!
The Tea Room is a delightful spot for cake and a cup of coffee to perk you up for the next part of your adventure. Adult tickets start from £7.95 and children’s cost £3.95* – little ones under three go free.
11.30 – Bowness Bay
With it being the most popular area in the Lake District, you can easily dedicate a whole day to Bowness. However, in the interests of time head straight to the lake for a 45-minute cruise around the neighbouring area. This gives you enough time to take in the natural landscape and get back on dry land in time for lunch.
Offering unrivalled tranquillity on your lake district day trip, there are local towns and villages aplenty around this peaceful area. Sandwiched in between either coast is Belle Lake, a picturesque photo opportunity for budding photographers.
13:00 – Lunch in Bowness
Arriving back on dry land, head towards the heart of Bowness where there are plenty of dining options for all tastes. For a rustic feel, the Village Inn Bar and Grill is one of the closest spots. Set in shabby chic surroundings, the gastro-pub style menu makes it a popular place, so it’s worth booking in advance. For something more high-end, nearby Jackson’s Bistro combines smart-casual dining with a hearty British menu.
14:30 – Wordsworth County
Refuelled and ready to take on the terrain, it’s time to head off towards The Glebe. This surrounding area is better known as Wordsworth County. However, a visit to his former residence at Dove Cottage in Grasmere is best reserved for another lake district day trip, as it’s a three-hour walk away.
Take a gentle half hour walk past cottages and green spaces in the village before reaching the village of Storrs. Here you’ll find the Windermere Marina Village – a simply stunning spot, littered with yachts, boats, plenty of holiday homes and the occasional boutique shop.
After a stroll around the marina, find your way to Bowness Nab where you can take a quick ferry ride over to the other side of the lake. The ferry crossing usually takes 10 minutes, typically running from 06:50 until 22:00 during the week. For £1 per person*, it’s well worth the trip over.
16:00 – The West Shore
Arriving on the other side of the lake, head to Claife Viewing Station for superb views across the still waters. Enjoy a 40-minute walk through this beautiful part of the Lake District, that’s if you don’t succumb to the many pubs on your way! Finally, you’ll reach the National Trust Hill Top. This twee farmhouse perched atop a hill is better known as Beatrix Potter’s former residence and requires tickets for entry, starting from £11.80 for an adult*.
This 17th-century property is best described as a time capsule of her life, complete with themed rooms containing references to her much-loved books.
17:30 – Return to Windermere
As your lake district day trip comes to an end, the easiest way back to the train station is by taxi, a 25-minute drive away. Well-equipped for visitors, there’s plenty of country pubs and restaurants nearby to enjoy before heading back home.
Stop for a leisurely drink at The Queen pub, an institution in the area since the 1730s, or perhaps the award-winning Crafty Baa, which has an impressive collection of craft beers to enjoy. You may also wish to head to The Lamplighter Dining rooms – a family run guesthouse since 1865. Enjoy a four-course meal inspired by seasonal trends, their Sunday lunch is not to be missed for those who love roast dinner.
As your day comes to an end, don’t be surprised if you find yourself booking another lake district day trip, since there’s so much to see here!
*Prices accurate May 2019