Where to best stay in the Lake District without a car?

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Relaxing and taking in the stunning view from the summit of Wansfell Pike looking south towards Lake Windemere in the Lake district, Northern England
All you need is right here - Where stay lake district without car

Whether you’re a non-driver, or want to travel more sustainably, car-free breaks are an outstanding idea. Wondering where’s best to stay in the Lake District without a car? We’ll show you how to let the boat, bus, or train take the strain instead!

Be bowled over by Bowness-on-Windermere

Bowness is a bustling village on the shores of Windermere: England’s largest lake. There are restaurants, bars, attractions and even a cinema. Once you’ve arrived, there’s really no need for a car.

Bowness-on-Windermere - Where to best stay in the Lake District without a car?
Bowness-on-Windermere, Lake District United Kingdom

One of the most relaxing ways to explore the area is on a Windermere Lake Cruise. Bowness lies around halfway up the 18km/10 and a half mile lake. These boats head north to Waterhead, south to Lakeside plus Brockhole on the north-east side.

Find out more in: Bowness-on-Windermere

Pub quiz fact: Wondering why Windermere village is by the station and not the lake? Blame the Victorians! It used to be called Birthwaite, but they switched it to encourage tourists.

Getting to Bowness without a car

Change trains at Oxenholme Lake District for Windermere station. The 555 or 559 bus will take you the 1.6 km/1 mile to Bowness village below.

Awesome Ambleside

The small town of Ambleside is 10km /6 miles north of Bowness. It’s 1km/ half a mile inland from Waterhead, at the top of Windermere lake. From here, a spider’s web of bus routes stretches outwards. You can head west to the Langdales and Coniston or north towards Grasmere and Keswick.

Ambleside - Where to best stay in the Lake District without a car?
Ambleside – Where to best stay in the Lake District without a car?

You can head off for some lovely walks straight from your doorstep. Plus if you’re car-free, there’s no need to choose a circular walking route so you can return to the car. Just catch the bus back instead.

Find out more in: Ambleside

Getting to Ambleside without a car

Change trains at Oxenholme Lake District and head to Windermere station. Then take the 555 bus the 7km / 4 and a half miles to Ambleside.

The call of Keswick

Staying in the north Lake District town of Keswick gives you access to a wealth of car-free activities and attractions.

Derwentwater, Keswick.

Derwentwater lake is a stone’s throw away, with the Keswick Launch Company criss-crossing to pick up and drop off walkers at various jetties. The 77A bus does a loop of Rosthwaite, Seatoller, Honister Slate Mine, Buttermere, High Lorton and Whinlatter Forest.

Find out more in: Keswick

Getting to Keswick without a car

Take the train to Penrith, and then the X4 or X5 bus to Keswick. It takes around 40 minutes, and is a great excuse to sit back and admire the scenery!

West Coast wonders

Want to get away from the crowds? The further you are from the M6 and West Coast mainline railway, the quieter it becomes.

Whitehaven Cumbria England UK

An often-overlooked gem is the Cumbria Coast railway line running from Lancaster, across to Grange-over-Sands and round to Ravenglass. It then heads north to towns such as Whitehaven before ending at Carlisle.

From the coast, you can enjoy an 11km/seven-mile steam train ride into the mountains using the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway. Pop your bike on board, as the return cycle track is mostly downhill all the way!

In the summer, there’s often a shuttle bus between Ravenglass and Wasdale, but it doesn’t run that regularly, so check the timetable.

Find out more in: Cumbria Coastline

Getting to the Cumbria Coast without a car

Take the train to either Lancaster or Carlisle, and switch to the Cumbria Coast train line.

Ultimate Ullswater

You’ve probably worked out by now that we love to travel by boat. And a top spot for this is the stunning lake of Ullswater and the Ullswater Steamers. It’s a walkers’ paradise with the Coast to Coast route passing through. There are also bus links to Keswick, Penrith and Windermere when you want to give your feet a rest.

The Ullswater ‘Steamers’ offer trips on the lake throughout the year

Find out more in: Ullswater

Getting to Ullswater village without a car

Take the train to Penrith and then the 508 bus to Ullswater village.

To explore accommodation options in the Lake District click here.

Where do you think is the best place to stay in the Lake District without a car?

We’d love to know! If you’ve any photos of your car-free adventures, please tag in @cumbria_dot_com on Instagram or @cumbriadotcom on Twitter.

Disclaimer: We’ve tried to be as accurate as possible when writing this article, but information can change. Please check for yourself before making any decisions based on this blog.