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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.